by Laci Knieper
I went into the experience of the Prayer Journey pretty well aware of the issues at hand. I have fostered children. I have mentored survivors of sexual trauma and trafficking. I myself am a survivor of sexual trauma and commercial sexual exploitation, and not a stranger to some of the places we visited. I have walked the same streets we drove on. And I know first hand how those streets and that life effects those who dwell there. There is a reason it is called ‘the trap’ for those who have resided and still reside there.
The Prayer Journey was utterly realistic and laid to rest any suspicions that the problem is not just an opinion or idea that I have formed based solely off my own experiences and knowledge. It’s not just an epidemic I read about or heard on the news. It’s not part of some political propaganda or agenda…it is real and the story line was all too familiar.
I would describe my emotions as ambivalent. On one end I am grieving and broken inside at the constant reality of depravity of mankind in its many forms. On the other end I feel greatly encouraged and inspired by the work that is being done to cultivate change and raise awareness, as well as God’s heart moving for the fatherless and orphaned children.
The Prayer Journey brings to life cultural dynamics, illusion of choice and the depth and width of the issue.
The Prayer Journey brings to life cultural dynamics, illusion of choice and the depth and width of the issue. I have noticed that many times we think of trafficking as the problem. The truth is, trafficking is a byproduct of much deeper issues. As I was on the Prayer Journey, the sensationalism attached to trafficking fell away and it was seen for what it is. Trafficking victims are rarely kidnapped, like we see in movies like Taken. Most of the time, these children are products of abuse and seeking approval, love, affection and shelter. They find those things in the arms of a pimp/boyfriend who provides them in exchange for turning tricks and producing income. The Prayer Journey walks the participants through the life of a young child beginning with her first trauma and describes, from her perspective, what led her to the places she ends up. It brings a sweet child like innocence to the victim and humanizes a once dehumanized and marginalized group. It reveals the deep, deep need for places like Ascent 121 who are focused on healing trauma, not just fixing behavior.
My biggest take away from this experience was the need for action. I saw a broken system trying its best to help an overwhelming number of broken people, mostly children and teens. The main topic in our car was, how to break the cycle. These are some of the needs we saw in conclusion of the journey. First, the need to be educated and aware of the issue, both in society and within the Body of Christ. Second, the need to be praying in the workers – believers in the field of social work, psychology, law enforcement and first responders. Third, the need for men to rise up and step into missions with fatherless sons. Most pimps grew up without fathers or in an abusive home and have little to no healthy male influence.
In addition, the need to take action, whatever that looks like individually and corporately, both in the church and society. It is no longer ok to sit in silence while the weak and oppressed are suffering. Lastly, we need not fear. As the Church we can trust God in all things and as we are confronted with extreme darkness and earthly realities, we can rest in Heaven’s reality. We can rest in His goodness and trust that He is working all things together for good. There is no hopeless situation in Heaven’s reality. While we partner with Him in bringing Heaven to Earth, we can know it is not contingent on us alone, but on His power working in us, through us and outside of us.
I would encourage anyone who goes on this Journey to be prepared for a sobering dose of reality in regards to cultural issues that can challenge our core beliefs and faith in humanity. However, if when entering into this situation with the understanding that no situation is hopeless and an unshakable trust in God’s ability to work all things out for good, there is a special invitation into the glory of Christ’s suffering.
Laci is first and foremost a passionate lover of Jesus. She is a mother of two, future wife and Survivor Consultant for Ascent 121 and other agencies through White Stone Project. Laci is currently furthering her education in social work, specializing in sexual trauma. She has dreams to use that degree to help children, teens and adults heal from trauma through the creative and performing arts.