In 2013 our Intervention team at Exodus Cry pioneered a new model of outreach, texting girls from online ads on websites where girls are sold for sex. According to this model, if a girl is open to meeting with us we take her out for lunch in a public setting. From there, relationship begins and we come alongside them, offering support and empowering them to escape exploitation and reach for their dreams. The journey to freedom is sometimes long but we are committed to be there with them at each step.
Myself and another Intervention volunteer connected with Gabriella* after she responded in a texting outreach. We met nearby at a fast food restaurant where we heard her story and her desire to leave “the life.” She had run away from home as a teenager and, as commonly happens, exploitation soon followed.
She ended up being prostituted on the streets in various places all over the United States. Gabriella felt that getting a job would be her only way out, and she was motivated, though aware of her lack of work experience. We arranged to meet her again to help her write her first job resume.
Over the next two months we met Gabriella twice a week and helped her apply for jobs, both online and in person. In the midst of providing the practical support of rides and applications, these meet-ups were intertwined with building trust and friendship. We had many opportunities to pray for her and empower her with the truths of how God sees her.
In my own personal prayer time I had asked the Lord for a scripture to consistently pray over her, as a weapon of warfare. He gave me Hosea 11, which speaks of His “cords of human kindness.” I felt that every act of love in His name was a cord drawing her towards Jesus.
Gabriella adored the Bible and journal we gave her in the Hope Bag and copied out scriptures she liked as well as quotes from a little devotional book. Her favorite verse was Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
The weeks went by, but no jobs opened up for Gabriella. Places weren’t hiring or just never returned her calls. One restaurant seemed interested but she didn’t make it past the initial interview, despite having complete availability. After applying for over forty jobs, she began to feel frustrated and despairing that she could ever get out of her current situation.
Gabriella’s life was quite dysfunctional and chaotic at this stage. She moved from motel to motel with her “boyfriend,” who took her earnings from exploitation to support his destructive lifestyle habits and pay for the motels. We were aware that even if she obtained a new job, she would still be living with her boyfriend who would likely take her money and want her to still make more. We began to think that the reason the Lord hadn’t opened any doors was because He wanted Gabriella out of Kansas City.
Around this time my ministry partner and I met up solely to intercede for her. We strongly felt she was on the cusp of a breakthrough. Together in agreement we contended for an open door to appear in the natural, and completely surrendered our own human solutions in exchange for God’s answer. After praying we both felt that something had shifted and had great faith that something was about to change.
The very next morning Gabriella texted me to tell me that her father had contacted her the night before, inviting her to permanently move back in with him and the family, who lived out of state. She had not seen them in many years. In the time since she had run away as a teenager, her parents had kept in touch with her but had never once asked her to move back in with them. It was as though her father had a wake-up call that his daughter was in a dangerous situation and she needed to get home.
She couldn’t contain her excitement, “My Daddy wants me home! They’re giving me a second chance! They’re paying for my ticket and I’m leaving this weekend in time for Thanksgiving!”
We had one last meet-up with Gabriella where we treated her to a professional makeover and bought her a new pair of shoes to symbolize a new identity and the new season she was entering in to. In exchange she gave us her old silver high heels that she used to wear during her life of exploitation (pictured above). We rode a carousel together and she couldn’t stop laughing. Upon arriving at her parents’ she was able to obtain a job immediately and she is still with them to this day, rebuilding her life.
A few days after she left I re-read over the scripture the Lord led me to pray over her before we first met. The last verse said, “‘And I will settle them in their homes,’ declares the Lord” (Hosea 11:11). I saw that the Lord had a plan all along and His ways were higher than ours. His desire for Gabriella was not just to get a job here, but to leave Kansas City (and her boyfriend) and be reconciled to her family.
Through this journey I realized how vital it is that we minister to these girls from the place of prayer, connected to the Lord’s heart and plans, and not merely based on human logic which offers temporary solutions. The ultimate breakthroughs come from God’s intervention. We must commit to intercede for His heavenly solutions to be released in the lives of these precious girls who long to exit a life of sexual exploitation for good.
Abolitionists like you help transform lives, like Gabriella’s, through generous giving. YOU are abolition. Please help bring new life to many more through monthly partnership in any amount.
*Name has been changed for safety and privacy
Photo Credit: Helen Taylor