June 18th, 2013 by Kristi Stephens
I’ve read much and have posted quite a bit about human trafficking over the past few years. My husband NP even put on high heels and walked a mile with me. I have felt strongly about trafficking for a while now, but a few days ago this issue became much more personal as I read through the story of a lovely young woman who found herself trapped in sexual slavery in New York city and was nearly sold in Saudi Arabia.
It was personal because I knew this girl. We wore matching ugly maroon plaid uniform skirts at our Christian school. I made a fool of myself line dancing with her brother in our friend’s garage. She was a sweet girl that we all loved… and this story just was too horrible to be true.
But sadly, it is true.
I knew right away that I had to introduce Rachel Louise to you all and spread the news of her story; I want to encourage you to read her book, not just because of the importance of the issue of trafficking, but because of the power of her testimony. As she says in the introduction to her book,
“This book is shouting of His miracles. It is the story of God’s movement to save my life from becoming one caught in a life of sexual abuse, God’s saving my life from becoming one potentially lost in a foreign country, and God’s redemption of my life to bring me to fullness and healing.”
Rachel has truly walked through the “valley of the shadow of death,” and she found God to be faithful even in the midst of horrific times. Her experiences also are critical for us to be aware of because she stands in stark contrast to who most of us typically imagine to be the average victim of sexual slavery and human trafficking. She was a young woman who knew and loved the Lord, seeking to save herself for marriage. She didn’t find herself interfacing with a trafficker out of destitute circumstances or desperation – she was just trying to do her job.
So with that introduction, I want to introduce you to my friend and share our conversation regarding her book, Almost Sold. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your heart with us today.
What do you most want people to take away from your story? How have you seen God work through your testimony in the lives of others?
I want people to take away the pure miracles that God did, and with that, the reassurance and praise that God will always protect and provide for His children. I also want people to take away the tactics that I describe in the book regarding how I was caught and held captive by Hassan. There are some basic manipulation tactics that we can arm our loved ones against so that they are not caught.
I have seen God doing so very much through this testimony! I have had people tell me they are now educated based on my story, had people tell me they received Christ though this testimony, and had people tell me that listening to this story gave them the confidence they needed to speak out about their own troubles so they can get help.
During the time when you were captive in New York, were there particular Scriptures that the Lord used to speak to you and comfort you with His presence? What role did your own background in the Word and Scriptures you had memorized earlier in your life play in how He ministered to you?
There were some scriptures that God used to help me, absolutely. One was “I will never leave you or forsake you”. It not only reminded me that God was with me, but I held onto that fact of God not leaving me like a lifeline. I remember thinking “God you CAN’T leave me alone because you promised!” It was the only real thing I could hold onto in such an unknown situation.
He also spoke to me the verse that there is no condemnation or shame in Him. Also that He hears our cries and counts our tears. It helped me to know He was aware of how horrible it was and how desperate I was.
What three or four pieces of advice would you offer to young women? What do you wish someone had told you before all of this unfolded?
#1 As cliche as it sounds, the real world is not like television (example, meeting someone you don’t know for a business dinner at 10pm)
#2 If you are uncomfortable with the situation, there is nothing wrong with saying no. Or saying you can’t today, perhaps another day (so the pressure of urgency is off).
#3 Make a plan right now for various life troubling scenarios. Such as, now, I have practiced what I would do if I were in some kind of trouble- I would go to the police station and ask for help. A suggestion is to even write out what you would say or ask. Such as, I need to speak with someone about a bad situation I am in, can you help me? I did not have this plan in place, and it felt like my brain froze when I was actually in the situation.
#4 No matter what, you do not have to agree to anything you do not feel 100% ok with. There will always be another solution, even if you do not see it. Even if you are broke, have sinned, have promised, have bragged about it, have pressure to do it.
How would you recommend we educate our families (and specifically our daughters!), churches, and communities about trafficking and sexual slavery?
Education of our families is so very important. I think that we need to explain to our daughters, especially while they are still in high school, about the dangers of these predators. We need to tell them about the manipulation tactics, about waiting at least 24 hours to think when someone is pressuring them for an answer to a decision, about stories like this and that it can happen to anyone.
People who prey on girls in this manner pick those who are naive or people pleasers. We do not have to be graphic to explain these dangers. I honestly might have boarded the plane to Saudi Arabia if it had not been for the high school assignment of watching “Not Without My Daughter,” as I explain in the book. Making sure our daughters and all loved ones know that they can always talk to you no matter what situation they have gotten into is also very important.
How has this experience and your subsequent journey of healing impacted your relationship with God? Your relationship with others?
This experience, and journey of healing after, has grown my relationship with God in a very sweet way! Because God was the only One I had to talk to while in captivity with Hassan, I began to develop a very intimate relationship with Him. It was literally just God and me for weeks!
Once home, that intimacy remained. God began to speak to me in the “short hand” vernacular we had developed in that isolated and devastating time. Now that I have experienced emotional healing, moved onto a career and school, moved on to other life issues, that special vernacular and intimacy has remained and is priceless. He has walked me through all the healing, and been the most loving and gracious Savior.
Today I also have the privilege of giving away two copies of Almost Sold, in your choice of ebook or print formats! To enter to win a copy, simply leave a comment below telling us why you’d like to read Rachel’s story, or who you would like to share it with.
Want an extra entry? We’d so appreciate you helping to raise awareness about this issue. Tweet or share this post on facebook and leave separate comments letting me know how you helped to spread awareness about trafficking and Rachel Louise’s story.
Winners will be selected randomly from the total number of comments. Giveaway will close at 10pm EST on Friday June 21, 2013.