Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Elisa Gave a Face to Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is ghastly. All sin is ugly, but human sex trafficking is so repulsive that we find ourselves avoiding its reality. Because it makes us uncomfortable, we ease ourselves into thinking that it exists in other places, not here, not next door. It’s easy to remain insulated until we meet someone like Elisa. Elisa gave a face to sex trafficking and yet her appearance was that of any other woman that ventures into a First Care Clinic. Only this mother of two young children had been kidnapped and held for weeks in Mexico.

Daily, Elisa endured physical and sexual abuse. It was two months before her boyfriend was able to secure her freedom. The cost of Elisa's liberty was $6,000, but the toll the kidnapping and abuse had taken on her was much greater. In the middle of the night, Elisa was set free in Texas. Eventually, she and her boyfriend landed in Florida, but Elisa remained in darkness. Plagued with nightmares, she often awoke with night sweats, screaming and trembling. She knew in her head that she was safe now but often, Elisa couldn't eat. Her captors had drugged her food to keep her drowsy, and unaware of her surroundings. She was still afraid. 

It was by "accident" that Elisa passed through the doors of First Care. She was in a doctor's office when a complete stranger overheard her speaking in Spanish to her boyfriend. The stranger realized the couple was in a desperate situation that would also be compounded by the fact that neither spoke English fluently. Elisa was clueless as to where she could find help. Even if she did find assistance, she would be unable to effectively communicate her situation. The stranger was convinced in her heart that she was supposed to help Elisa.

Audriana had just moved to the area and remembered a time when she herself had needed assistance and found it at a pregnancy resource center. If there was a similar facility nearby, she felt confident that Elisa would find the help she needed there. Inserting herself into the situation, Audriana asked the receptionist if such a place existed in Palm Beach County.

The receptionist directed Audriana to First Care‘s Belle Glade clinic, which happened to be right around the corner from where they were. The two women, strangers just moments before, made their way to the clinic where Audriana translated between Elisa and a First Care client advocate. 

Elisa poured out the whole story through Audriana and into the heart of the First Care client advocate. She told them of the kidnapping, abuse and how she and her boyfriend had reported the events to the police. There was a warrant drawn up for the arrest of those responsible for Elisa's terrible ordeal. It became more and more apparent as the conversation continued that it was no "accident" that Elisa was directed to First Care! 

When she saw that the pregnancy test result was positive, Elisa wept. It was clear that the couple needed extensive counseling and First Care would see that it was received. Understandably, Elisa's hurts were very deep. She was adamant that she would not carry a baby that was conceived through rape. Jake, her boyfriend agreed. The couple was frightened by the uncertainty of the future and Jake was furious with the events of the past. He was extremely angry with those who abused Elisa.

Elisa and Jake left that day undecided on the fate of the unborn baby that rested in Elisa’s womb—a baby that was the result of sin, violence and hate.  

Elisa didn’t return the following week for her follow-up visit. Calls to her cell phone went unanswered and eventually the number was disconnected.  First Care staff and volunteers prayed for Elisa, Jake and her unborn child. While they held out hope that Elisa would keep her baby, the silence made them fear for the worst.

Three months after her initial visit Elisa returned to First Care for a follow-up ultrasound. Her appearance had changed drastically. She was eating again, and the nightmares that had once plagued her sleep were starting to finally subside. She also informed her First Care client advocate that she had decided to keep the baby!

We serve an amazing God, a God who can and does intervene in even the direst circumstances. We praise God that Elisa was able to find peace in the midst of her struggles and that He paved the way for her to get help in a loving and caring place like First Care.  

This is why First Care exists: To help women in crisis make life-affirming choices for their unborn babies. We help them eliminate the crisis, not the child.

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