This was what we thought she would say. We assumed this was, understandably, going on in her heart when we saw her agitation build. But what she said when our caregiver spoke with her was much more profound. She said something that I will never forget, something that still echoes in my heart and mind years later and helps reinforce our purpose and focus.
“We learned about a 13-year-old girl in Thailand, a virgin, who was going to be auctioned off at a brothel; the police started planning her rescue and asked ZOE to get involved,” shared Carol Hart, ZOE Founder, and President. “The situation was complicated because of who owned this brothel. We had to proceed with extreme caution, yet quickly.”
When rescue day came, the team found the girl they knew would be there and found and rescued another young girl who had been in the brothel for months.
“The second girl we rescued had seen unimaginable horrors – daily, men would pay to torture her and rape her multiple times a day, realities that are hard for us even to wrap our minds around,” continued Carol. “Usually, in a situation like this, we prefer to separate the survivors right after the rescue to give them time to process and heal in the safest way possible. But with the complications of this specific situation and necessary increased security, we had to keep the girls in the same location and room, which was the safest place we had.”
When the girls arrived at ZOE, they spent time with our loving caregivers and staff, who loved them unconditionally.
After a few weeks, the girls learned who Jesus was by asking the question, “Why are you helping us?” After several weeks the girls asked if they could ask Jesus into their lives. AND they also asked, “CAN WE HAVE A BIBLE?”
“Both girls read their Bibles every day, but the second girl we rescued, who was at the brothel longer than the first and had endured great trauma, read her Bible voraciously,” shared Carol. “It was as if she was looking for something. She couldn’t get enough of what she was learning and discovering in the Bible.”
The concern with having both girls in the same room directly after rescue began to grow as the second girl who had seen horrors became agitated and angry. The team wondered if she would start comparing her experience with the other girl who had been rescued before being sold.
“Our caregiver saw her pacing, tears in her eyes from frustration. They slowly approached, preparing for what was going to be a tough conversation,” continued Carol. “But she said something shocking and unexpected.”
With passion, she exclaimed, “WHAT TOOK SO LONG FOR SOMEONE TO FIND ME AND TELL ME ABOUT JESUS! Why didn’t anyone tell me about Jesus sooner? For 16 years, I’ve had so many questions…Who made me, where am I going when I die? Does anyone see me? Is this going to be my life? Do I have a future? I’ve found my answers in the Bible you gave me!
After I gave my life to Jesus, I felt freer and lighter. The weight on my shoulders was gone! Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner? You are Christians, right?! What takes so long for you to share with others about Jesus – my whole life, no one ever told me about Jesus!”
This girl, who had experienced unimaginable emotional and physical pain and abuse day after day, was angry, but not for the reasons we assumed. When she gave her life to Jesus, that was the most important thing in her life. She said, “My rescue from the brothel is nothing compared to knowing Jesus, my eternal Rescuer!” She truly understood the power of the gospel.
Carol shared, “That moment and those words from her perspective changed me forever. Yes, we will work until our last breath to rescue children who are trafficked whether they want Jesus or not – that’s 100% their choice, but we are missing true HOPE and FREEDOM if we aren’t reaching people with the gospel.”