God’s Sabbath Rest Encounters Human Trafficking (Guest Post)

December 6, 2011

Guest Posts, Missiology, Testimonies

{Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Laura Davis, who, with her husband, Nate, spent a year with Converge Worldwide in Manila, Philippines discovering the needs of young women caught in the snare of human trafficking, and building bridges to meet some of those needs.}

Rain hammered the tin roof and seeped onto the cement floor. As Gloria spoke and the translator repeated her story one painful sentence at a time, I realized that Gloria’s was the kind of story I used to read about—the kind of story I couldn’t believe was real.

I first learned about human trafficking in a 2003 issue of National Geographic but the idea that would take me overseas for a year came first. I was sitting beside my husband-to-be listening to a sermon on Leviticus 25, where God tells the Israelites to take a Sabbath year every seven to break from ordinary work and trust in His provision. We had gone on short-term mission trips as teenagers, but never felt called to full-time missions. We were pursuing writing careers (mine in fiction, my husband’s in advertising), and could hardly imagine moving across the world. But that day we asked ourselves how life might be different if we took a Sabbath year.

For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.

Leviticus 25:3-4

The idea was to reboot the system, to put life in perspective. We’d spend six years working, and then one year serving God overseas. We saw the lure—and the danger—of climbing the social ladder and enjoying the good life. We got married, moved to California, bought a house, and began putting down roots—but the Sabbath year was not forgotten.

a bar in Manila that is trafficking young ladies – Photo by Steve Babuljak / http://www.babuljak.com

Then a friend lent us Not for Sale, where we read that there are 27 million slaves today. We watched Call+Response, a documentary on sex trafficking and prostitution. We had found the focus of our year.

We planned, saved, networked, and applied for a Fulbright scholarship to fund research on my novel about sex trafficking in the Philippines. We raised the remaining funds needed, packed up our lives, and two days before our flight, found tenants to rent our house. On July 25, 2010, we flew to Manila.

Eight months later, I recorded Gloria’s story of traveling to Malaysia to waitress—only to become enslaved in a brothel she could never leave. In the past I had mourned but insulated myself from stories like these but meeting Gloria and women like her made that sort of psychological distance impossible.

Now that we’re back in the United States, sharing our experiences** in churches, book clubs, and through my upcoming novel potentially entitled The Low-Flying Dove, Gloria and enslaved girls like her are no longer just stories to me. Gloria is a changed life, a constant reminder of what I can never leave behind.

Laura and her husband, Nate

Read Part 2 of Laura’s story entitled Short-term Mission Trips:  Take a Year to Change the World – And Yourself where you will read about an organization in the Philippines that is rescuing girls like Gloria.

**If you would like Laura and Nate to come and speak about sex trafficking, the Philippines, and ministries involved in rescuing girls, you may contact them at http://freeisaverb.org/

Read more about leaving home:  Leaving Home Is at The Heart of Mission

Read more about courage:  The Brave and Broken Missionary Heart

Search for short-term mission opportunities with Converge Worldwide

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10 Comments on “God’s Sabbath Rest Encounters Human Trafficking (Guest Post)”

  1. Anitra Carbo Says:

    Awesome! Intrigued to hear Gloria’s story of God’s redemption!


  2. Brian Stankich Says:

    Laura recently finished her book where we’ll be able to hear Gloria’s story and those of others. I’m grateful that these stories are now being told.


  3. dddamaris Says:

    Wow.. this is inspiring. Happy to see God’s hand in so many lives.


  4. Brian Stankich Says:

    Damaris, you are so inspiring in what you do so your words are meaningful. Brian


  5. Emily Fitchpatrick Says:

    Great article
    I went to the “free is a verb” website and wanted to contact them to let them know about the work we do at Hope House http://www.hopehousenc.com but I could not find a link to contact them on the site?


  6. Brian Stankich Says:

    Emily, thanks for your comment. I’ll see if I can find something. I know I have Laura’s contact info.



  7. Brian Stankich Says:

    Yeah, so I noticed that before too, Emily. I did find this link to leave a comment: http://freeisaverb.org/free-is-a-verb/

    I will contact Laura and let her know about your site and see if I can give you her email address.

    Be blessed!




  1. Short-term Mission Trips: Take a Year to Change the World – And Yourself (Guest Post) « FULFILL - December 8, 2011

    […] Read Part 1 – God’s Sabbath Rest Encounters Human Trafficking […]

  2. The year after–and the life after « Free Is a Verb - December 8, 2011

    […] If you were busy from July 2010-July 2011, but are a little curious about what it’s like to quit your lives for a year and go overseas, this is the perfect time to catch up: Laura encapsulates our process leading up to the sabbatical year, and what we did, in just two posts. Please click over to read here. […]

  3. Top 5 Most Popular FULFILL Posts for Converge Missionary in 2011 « FULFILL - December 29, 2011

    […] God’s Sabbath Rest Encounters Human Trafficking first sense of coming alive on the mission […]

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