Her words were clipped and different than the melodic lilt that usually rolled from her tongue. Something wasn’t right. We had known it for weeks, but had not been able to put our fingers on what exactly it was that was wrong. Even without translation, and with the little Amharic that I have grasped, I knew her announcement wasn’t good.
She was leaving.
My heart increased its rhythm, at the bold, almost stubborn proclamation that she made with the slight lift of her chin but eyes that couldn’t quite meet ours. She would not only be leaving, but she would be flying countries away from us. Everything was all set, and was hinged on picking up her visa as soon as it was ready. Days she had told us, when we questioned the time. The remainder of breakfast was spent in awkward silence, as we pieced together what little of the information she gave up. The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere, but hindsight always sees clearer, and the pieces started to stumble together in a jagged picture. The odd weekends away with “friends”, the loud phone calls, the crying, the secret-ness and out-of-character behavior, it all merged together and pointed toward this announcement.
We huddled and whispered and prayed, and decided to gently prod for more details. But the details were scarce and strange and not consistent. Fear grabbed my heart and strangled my thoughts. Something wasn’t right. Something was really off. We asked what country, and even though she was very far down the road in the process, she didn’t know where she was headed. She wouldn’t know until she had her plane ticket, and that could be the moment she arrived at the airport. We squeezed out more details as carefully as we could, praying to keep our relationship intact, and her defenses down.
I swallowed down the panic as the picture became horrendously clear. I had read about this, prayed against it, watched documentaries on it, but I wasn’t prepared for its evilness to wiggle its way into our home and entangle someone whom I loved. I didn’t even know how to protect her from it, because I didn’t know that I needed to. I didn’t expect it. She’s nineteen, with no living birth family, no education, and a life that, until about a year ago, consisted of her being a house slave. She had tasted freedom with our family for the past year, and a desire for adventure, and a new life was lit inside of her – none of which is bad, but all of which made her the perfect prey for this evil.
She was being trafficked. Right out from under our care, provision, and love, she was being deceived and manipulated and preyed upon. Evil had hit close to home. Human trafficking and slavery was making an appearance, and we were totally unprepared, unqualified, and caught off guard.
But our God wasn’t….