Empty Nexter: Praying powerfully in spite of the unknowns

By Carrie Perrien Smith

Last year, KLRC, our local Christian contemporary music station put a focus on human trafficking.

This complex international problem involves acquiring people for use in prostitution or pornography; forced or bonded labor such as domestic servitude, begging, or manufacturing; extraction of organs; as well as other atrocities. Thirty-five percent are under the age of 18.

KLRC introduced their listeners to the One Girl Prayer Initiative. They asked listeners to pray for one girl who had been trafficked into the sex slave industry.

I took the challenge. It was harder than I expected. I didn’t know anything about that world. Who was this girl? What was she doing?

one girlHow was she treated? How old was she? Where was she? How did she end up there? How long had she been in that situation? Was she a runaway? Did anyone still believe she was alive?

Was she really in an international human trafficking situation or was she simply held captive just miles from me? Was she instead in an abusive relationship she didn’t know how to leave? How does someone escape? Was she physically trapped or mentally trapped or both? Did she have a family or support system to return to?  Was she even a girl? Boys are abducted as well. So many unknowns.

Praying — But for What?

When you know someone’s specific needs and prayer requests, it is pretty easy to talk to God on their behalf. Not having any idea who someone is and what they need — not so much.

I prayed in general for all the trapped kids at first. I eventually found it easier to focus on my one girl. My girl never had a face or an age. The average age is 14 for a child trapped in the international human trafficking network. I imagined my girl was a teen or young adult. However, I envisioned her as someone held captive in a situation against her will, not necessarily someone who was a victim of human trafficking.

For weeks, I followed my heart as I prayed. I prayed for her safety and escape. But as I reflected more, I realized she was focused on survival. She had likely lost the vision for what life outside captivity would look like. And it is typical for people in normal circumstances to fear change. Even if the present situation is deplorable, at least the person in it knows what to expect. Unknowns are scary.

This reality for me was the game changer. I was no longer praying for her current circumstances. My calling was to pray for the change in her belief about herself and her vision for her life.

Here is what I prayed for:

  • That God would not only give her strength to endure her circumstances but that He would fill her with a resolve to change them.
  • That her captors would be careless and let their guard down, providing an opportunity to escape.
  • That God would provide her the courage to make the escape when the moment came.
  • That anyone my one girl encountered during her escape would know exactly how to help.
  • That she would envision friends and family members waiting to welcome her back, no matter how broken those relationships were.
  • That God would give her a vision of what her life could look like and that it would reshape what she believed about herself and her potential.
  • That she could envision having the life and career of her dreams.
  • That she would meet people during captivity who would serve as role models and encouragers.
  • That she would develop a plan for her escape.
  • That when she did escape, her support system would be there with everything she needed.
  • That her physical, mental, and emotional condition would be fully healed.
  • That she will be surrounded by mentors as she forms new habits and routines and creates a new life.
  • That she would someday enjoy a safe, loving, healthy marriage with children far away from the current daily reality of her situation.

Over the months I prayed, I never doubted that I was making a difference. I realized I would never know my one girl or what happened to her.

I continued my private daily vigil for her freedom for months. But one day, I quit praying for my one girl. I just knew it was time to take another focus. I would occasionally pray for her, but no longer with the intent focus.

Was my “one girl” Amanda Berry?

When those three abducted girls were freed last month in Cleveland, Ohio, I thought of my one girl again.

Could I have been praying for Amanda Berry, the girl that courageously seized the chance to escape ten years of captivity? It was, after all, a miracle that she could jump into action and capture the attention of a passing neighbor when her abductor accidentally left a door unsecured.

Was my girl the one who had her wits about her enough to make this a call to 911 (click here to read the transcript of the call)? How many more men and women like her were there? Was my girl one of them instead? Could they be so brave to seize that opportunity?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but that isn’t why I prayed. I prayed because I knew that in even the most powerless situation, the most helpful thing we can do is pray. I prayed because I am powerful and influential when I pray. We all are.

Carrie Perrien Smith-51-Twitter-SquareCarrie Perrien Smith is mama to Darcie and a pack of black dogs (Snappy, Jazmin, and Midgieboy — in pack order), grandma to Robert, wife to world-traveler and Walmart-blue-bleeding Tom, daughter to Wayne and Phyllis, speaker bureau and publishing company owner, Business: Engaged! small business radio show host, community activist, singer in a party band, and home improvement junkie. Follow her on Twitter @soarwitheagles or contact her at carrie@soarhigher.com.