Victims of human trafficking need not lose hope with their lives. There is always Jesus who will be there to restore their dignity, accept them for who they are, and make them live worthwhile lives. Jesus will cure their loneliness and their guilt, no matter the circumstances.
PUBLISHED ONAug 2018
I was in that place by chance, and when a friend introduced Mary to me I sensed fear in her eyes. It took time to take that fear out of her chest.
Mary was born in a minority tribe in Southern China. Her family was Catholic and poor. She never attended school and she is still illiterate. At 15, she was sold by her father to a human trafficker, who in turn handed her over to an older man in a far-away province as his wife. She was unlucky. That man never took care of her basic needs even after the birth of their three children. Life was so bitter that she tried to commit suicide, unsuccessfully.
She tried to run away and return home, only to find out that her father, for fear of retaliation by the human trafficker, forced her back to her husband. Soon the husband got sick and she even had to become the bread winner, going to other cities as migrant worker. So lonely, poor and desperate was she that she gave herself to any man who showed her a little care, only to find out that she became more lonely and guilty when those men regularly disappeared.
Miraculously, the seed of faith was still in her heart. She tried to find a Catholic Church nearby only to find rejection and condemnation for her sinful life: no priest gave her time to tell her story, let alone to help her. Even in the village where the husband lived, she was considered a “good for nothing” woman.
While listening to her long story, I couldn’t help thinking of the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4). None of the many men she stayed with could fill her thirst for true love. The Samaritan woman, like Mary, was longing to recover a sense of dignity and of purpose in her life. Jesus let her understand that the fountain of that love, dignity and purpose she was thirsting for was inside her, a spring of living water coming from a love which is unconditional: God’s love. Mary immediately recognized herself in the figure of the Samaritan woman, surprised that Jesus understood so well her situation and her feelings!
Looking straight into her tearful eyes, I added: “God is a Father who would never sell you away, no matter what. And we know this, because He sent Jesus as a ransom for you. Jesus freed you by paying with His own life. After all the pain you endured, God knows you are not simply a sinner to be punished, but a hurt person in need of healing to restart again, with dignity. Cling to Him, and you will never be lonely again. If you will fall down, just get up and restart again, through His mercy! Remember, you are a precious woman in His eyes! ” Few words, but enough to make a woman be reborn. She left, smiling.