Author: Celestia G. Tracy
My eyes overflow with rivers of water
for the destruction of the daughters of my people,
My eyes flow and do not cease,
Till the Lord from heaven
Looks down and sees,
My eyes bring suffering to my soul
Because of all the daughters of my city.
In 2009 Mending the Soul Ministries was asked to create Christian curricula for sex trafficked young women and their mentors. We began where we always begin by listening to the voices of the survivors themselves. In the beginning we offered our services free and invited them to come to us—to meet with us in our beautiful and professional counseling offices. Very few girls showed up, and those that did, did not come for very long. So, we began going to them: meeting with them in fast-food restaurants, juvenile detention facilities, and in city parks. These strong, young survivors were eager to have their stories known and wanted help.
Over a two-year period of time we met with 22 women. Sadly, 21 of the 22 had experienced every form of abuse by the time they were 8 years old. Their stories were eerily familiar: early childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. They grew up in families made vulnerable by mental illness, divorce, addiction, and at times poverty. They were desperate to be heard and would talk for hours, incorporating poetry, art, drama and music into their expressions. I would wear out before they would and often would have to make them stop after meeting for over three hours. They were smart and strong and so very angry about the injustice of what they had experienced. So was I.
I knew that their stories mattered and that I would spend the rest of my life giving them and other survivors like them a voice. Princess Lost was that first voice—their voice told in the genre of fairy tale that would poetically integrate the social science research on complex trauma with a breathtaking theology of abuse, healing and redemption. The stories of 22 girls woven throughout 54 pages; Tell our stories they begged us, tell our stories.
In 2011 Princess Lost: The Story of Our Daughters and Princess Found: A Guide for Mentors of Sexually Exploited Girls was published. That same year I retired my practice to focus on resourcing and training caregivers in the darkest places of the world to care for the survivors they knew and loved within their own communities. Caregivers that were helped with their own primary trauma were then trained and resourced to help others with theirs. It’s an elegant and organic model that works because God has created us as people in His image designed for wholeness and robust impact—converting pain into healing and redemptive purpose.
Jenni Jessen is such a person. She founded and directs Compass 31 to “make Jesus known by fighting human trafficking through prevention, restoration and disciple making.” Jenni was sold into the sex trade in the US at the age of 4 and rescued at the age of 17. She now uses the Princess Lost/Found resources with stunning results in their restoration program. She and her team have translated the Princess Lost resources into Thai and now help train others in the model. Her powerful story is told in her book, The Lucky One, which was released in 2016. We highly recommend it. God is using Jenni’s story to heal hundreds of others; He never wastes our pain. Mending the Soul helped her heal from the effects of a traumatic past and Princess Lost/Found is being used to heal her girls. God is invested in our wholeness.
Mending the Soul is supporting young, global leaders like Jenni to use their own stories of abuse and trauma to help others. Love’s potion that transforms sexual exploitation into the greatest love story ever told. It never ends.
Read More »