I thought I knew what I was passionate about. I thought I knew what lit a fire under me, what stirred me to righteous anger.
Then I walked into chapel one Wednesday last October.
Corban has called attention to human trafficking* several times this year, but I'm going to be honest, until they did it, the most exposure to the topic was scattered stories on the news, seeing prostitutes on crime shows, and the movie "Priceless." None of that had really incited me to action. I'd missed Monday's chapel, where someone from the organization Shared Hope had come and spoken. Today's was IJM (International Justice Mission), and I was intrigued.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see.
They stared back at me from the screen. Well, not really. Their faces were pixilated out. But their body language said everything about where they'd been, where they'd come from.
Our speaker told us their names, which I have since forgotten. "They were both sold into a sex trafficking ring in Vietnam by their own mothers. When we got them out, they were twelve."
I'd viewed the message from a cold, detached exterior, until it suddenly hit me.
I have a cousin who's twelve. We've been pretty tight over the years. I remember when she was born, and I call tell you, this girl is one of the most cherished children I know. She's also one of the most innocent. (Shout out to her parents. Y'all are doing something right!)
They're Haley's age, I thought. God, they're the same age!
There are few things that make me physically ill to talk about, read about, hear about. But in that moment, sex trafficking reached the list. These girls had been slaves for about two years when they were liberated. Which means they were sold by their mothers when they were ten.
I had never had the personal connector before that. I'd never had a point of reference; any type of human trafficking had never broken my heart before. In that moment, it shattered it. I fought back nausea.
I thought I knew what I was passionate about. But I didn't realize that to be passionate enough about something to devote your life to it, it has to break you somehow first.
*I realize that over the course of this article, I mention human trafficking and then specifically refer to sex trafficking. Please understand that I acknowledge human trafficking is greater than the singular issue of sex trafficking. But my story is specifically spurred on by sex trafficking, so that is what I've chosen to acknowledge here.