Speaker 1: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we’re here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.
Tera Melber: Welcome back to the Adopting and Fostering Home podcast. Lynette, we’ve talked many times before about this issue, this dark evil issue of human trafficking.
Lynette Ezell: Oh yeah.
Tera Melber: And we know statistically speaking that up to 80% of the children who are coming out of human trafficking or who are involved in that have come out of the foster care system and that the average age is 14 to 16 years old. And so we want to take this time in January as we did last year to be able to stop and take time to shed light on how the enemy is destroying young lives.
Lynette Ezell: Yeah, the enemy truly is preying upon the most vulnerable. John 8:44, he’s the father of all lies. He’s the destroyer. He’s been lying from the beginning. There’s no truth in him and he is preying upon vulnerable in our culture and it can happen anywhere.
Tera Melber: It can.
Lynette Ezell: Tera, it’s often referred to as the crime hidden in plain sight. But today we have a beautiful story of the Lord’s redeeming rescuing love. Christa Lynn came to know Christ during the most dark, painful season of her life and we are so honored to have her share today. Welcome Christa Lynn to the podcast.
Christa Lynn: Thank you so much. I’m so grateful to be here.
Tera Melber: Well Christa, we would like for you if you would, to paint a picture for us about your early years living with your mom and then how life began to unravel for you.
Christa Lynn: Absolutely. I would say first that my mom had a deep love for us children, but her own experiences and childhood trauma really had life unraveled before I was born. She was trafficked as a teenager and my father met her as the stories have been shared, while she was being trafficked on the streets of Virginia. At that time we didn’t have the laws we do today protecting teenagers and we also didn’t understand trafficking. And so the way she shared the stories were that she was a teenage prostitute when my dad picked her up and helped her get clean off of drugs. They had two children and it was not a fairy tale because she just had a load of childhood trauma as well as the being trafficked for that season.
Christa Lynn: It is our understanding as children that after she had us and and left and kind of went on the run with me and my sister, that she was trafficked again for a good period of time as we were young. There’s no, my mom has passed away now and there’s no way to confirm that. How we have been told it is that there was different boyfriends in hotels and a lot of violence and so that we can put together that most likely she was being trafficked at those times.
Christa Lynn: Being raised by a mom who just had so much trauma, started life off, like I said, unraveled. By the time I was four and my older sister was I think six, six and a half, we would be, we would meet, she would have a stepfather that she would marry and he came from childhood trauma and they really did their best to break the patterns of getting her away from any trafficking situation. Yet the effects of the trauma were just completely evident. And so, you would say they tried but we were exposed to mom who had the drug addiction and alcohol abuse that was absolutely tied to the trauma she endured and that would affect us as children. That would affect her parenting.
Christa Lynn: We would come in contact with the Department of Children and Families a few times as children that we know of. We were only removed once for a few days as children. By the time I was 13, I would be raped for the first time. And really just having a lot of problems in the school system. Today I think the Department of Children and Families would remove a child in the situation that I was in. But back then 25 something years ago, even more. Goodness, 35 years ago, that wasn’t the case. And so the vulnerabilities just kept increasing. And by the time I was 14 I would be bouncing from different out of home placements, mostly people, friends’ parents that I had met at school or that the school system would find me placements. None of them ever lasted very long.
Christa Lynn: The vulnerabilities just kept increasing. My feelings of being rejected and unloved increased. And I ended up at one point having the choice of staying with my mom and we were fighting terribly or leaving and a boyfriend who I thought was a boyfriend asked me did I want to come to live with him? And the reason my mom was saying either get rid of the boyfriend or get out tonight was because he was hitting me. But to me, she was hitting me too. And so at that age it didn’t seem, it just seemed ironic that you’re saying, get rid of him when you’re hitting me too. And so, naively I left and that night he brought me to his house, took everything I owned and the exploitation started.
Christa Lynn: It was just everything you can think. It was horrid. It was lasted about two and a half months from my best estimations. I was able to escape. When I escaped I was still 15 but turning 16 soon and by then, the school system just had no help and I think didn’t know how to handle me. No one asked what happened to me and instead I was looked at even more so as a delinquent, choosing a troubled life and just kind of accepted the labels that society was putting on me and by 16 was on my own and choosing a path of destruction.
Lynette Ezell: Yeah. You shared with me that survival depended on a severe detachment from emotion.
Christa Lynn: Oh absolutely.
Lynette Ezell: And yeah, no, the brain just goes into survival mode. I’ve seen it. And how did that help you face the darkness you were living in by just going into mental survival mode?
Christa Lynn: Yeah, I would say, and I’ve said this so many times, and just trying to think back on those years, being with different non-family placements when the hope that I was going to have people love me was high. But at that time especially, and still today, they were untrained families. They had no idea what they were getting into so it would never last longer than a couple months. I remember that hope and being capable of attachment at that time and reachable, in my opinion. Each time a placement would realize that my trauma was too much for them to handle, my hope was decreased and I think I just would cut off attachment and was continuing to determine each time that I’m not going to accept the love from people. Now that ends with the night that I went to the trafficker’s house thinking it’s a safe home and this is the best place for me to live right now. And then realizing what a mistake I made within hours that night, I knew I was in big trouble.
Christa Lynn: I think that you took already that I was learning not to trust people and learning to detach from the hope of anyone being able to love or care for me and then enduring the violence that he immediately started putting on me. I just very quickly determined, I think I for weeks stopped speaking and was just trying to shut off all emotion and all feelings of caring. I later can say there was a point when I had tried to jump out of a moving car. I had tried to run away a few times in that few weeks of not speaking and shutting down and just trying to fight in every way I knew how and that I shut off all feelings of caring about love from humans.
Christa Lynn: And I can remember just deciding I will never try to be loved again by a human because this is what it brings. After that, in a good way, my survival skills started kicking in and it was the time when I was then able to start thinking clearly of how am I going to get out of here? I don’t know. I watched my mom have the trauma bonded attachment, wanting love her whole life. And I always have looked back and said, it’s why she never was able to fully break free from people hurting her. Where I look at myself at 15 and say, it was so sad that the way I had to survive was decide I’m never going to want love. But yet I don’t know if I would have gotten away from him had I not done that because my brain needed to turn on and I needed to be able to say and do anything to paint a picture of compliance so that the oversight would decrease a little so that I could break free.
Lynette Ezell: Oh yes. Well, I know you know when all this is going on, the Lord did a sweet miracle and you had a huge life change at 27. And you’re talking about learning to love others. But when you held that sweet daughter, something had to spark in your soul.
Christa Lynn: Oh absolutely. And 27 was definitely when God just put a desire for life in my heart, I would not go on to meet Jesus as my savior and break free from the destruction and trauma for two more years. But I’m at 27, 26 I got pregnant and just for the first time truly wanted to know, is there a different life? Is there a way to raise a daughter in any other world? And I really at that point had been disconnected from mainstream society for so many years that I was not exposed to parents who raised in any type of healthy community or strong family. And so I really was shooting in the dark thinking is there another way than what I know?
Christa Lynn: I really tried to get sober while I was pregnant and did a good job for the nine months, but went right back to all the drugs and by the time she was one, my heart wanted a different life for her and wanted, I loved her as much as I do today and my heart wanted the life I now have given her just as much when she was born and when she was one. But I did not have the skills. I did not have community support. I did not have a relationship with Jesus and instead, I started repeating the cycle and bringing her right back into the same scene that my mom had brought me into when I was a child. And I am so positive that she was on her way to being a third generation but for God.
Christa Lynn: When she was two years old, I was arrested, which in and of itself really didn’t do much. I still was just so high on drugs and had been just shooting up crystal meth, crack cocaine, heroin, and was by that point hopeless and did not think it was possible any longer for me to give her a different life or be a mother at all. And I loved her, but I really didn’t think there was any chance and so I was not sitting in jail with a wake up call. I was sitting in jail thinking it’s over and how do I get out of here and continue on my path of destruction? And that night I just had been really trying to figure out who was going to get me out of here. I was angry, aggressive to any people who would answer the phone like her father.
Christa Lynn: And then my mom, who really, even though she never fully found sobriety herself and never won this fight, she knew how to guide my daughter’s father to get me the right help. And she had him stop answering the phone. And so I was just alone. And all of a sudden some things that people had said in 12 step meetings years before, just started coming to me that at the time they didn’t make any sense because it wasn’t coming from Christ followers who were able to share it from what it means, what God is saying to you. They were sharing it as like mute rote sayings that are supposed to help you to do better and they kept saying, “If you pray over and over again,” now mind you, I was told you could pray to the door knob, you could pray to anyone.
Christa Lynn: I was really told that and that you just need to pray thy will not mine be done. Thy will not mine be done. Today, those words have so much meaning to me.
Lynette Ezell: Oh yeah.
Christa Lynn: But when I was, yeah, when I was told that, I didn’t know what the word thy even meant, so I had no relationship with God. I was not a church person who understood. I had been to churches a few times, often just on drugs when someone would bring me, but I did not have an understanding of church community or language. The word thy had zero meaning and if you say thy will not mine be done, that does not have any meaning if you don’t know what the word thy means. And so I would say it over and over again and obviously nothing happened. And I was like, okay, that was silly.
Christa Lynn: Well that night in jail, I don’t know how all of a sudden it hit, but the thought thy must be God came to my head and I think the Holy Spirit, God literally was bringing things to my head that night, drawing me into a relationship with Him and I was able to just think if thy is God and He has a will for my life, then He must want this life. And my simple prayer that started me on a relationship with Jesus was just if you want this mess of a life, you can have it. And I woke up the next morning, I did end up going to sleep. I woke up the next morning and in the holding cell where you’re at before you’re sent to the more permanent place in jail, you the next morning get your court things for either first appearance or anything else that you have to go to court for.
Christa Lynn: And so they came to me with the first appearance thing and the papers saying that Marissa, they were, that her dad had filed rightly so, to have custody removed from me. I just had a peace come over me and I just kept knowing in my head that was beyond my understanding that if you get to know who God is and you live for Him, that it will be okay. And I didn’t know what that meant. I knew that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll get to be her mother, but I knew this piece in me that God was going to use it to help her no matter what that looked like.
Christa Lynn: And from there I asked for a Bible and just was able to start reading God’s word and thinking about it and really reading who Jesus was. And in that I started realizing I have no idea how to make decisions of what would be best for me from this point. And so I started playing the opposite game that what God would probably want would be the opposite of what I would think is best, so from that, I know. For that season, it was the best wise thing I could do.
Lynette Ezell: I love it.
Christa Lynn: Is I have made a mess of every decision in life. Yeah. It was humorous because I was like, okay, what would I do? And so the choice of what kind of rehab to go to, because we were asking the court to release me to a rehab. I had thought for sure it would be a 28 day local so I could still see Marissa and fight to have custody. That all made logical sense. And so I asked myself, what would Christa do? And she would obviously choose a 28 day program local in Fort Myers where Marissa was and fight to get custody back. And then I thought, well what’s the opposite of that?
Christa Lynn: And I had heard about this year long program that was two, two and a half hours away. And so I thought, well it does not sound like what I want to do but it’s the opposite of what I want to do so it’s probably the best decision. And that was how I decided. I ended up going to Faith Farm Ministries and doing a year there. Somewhere around six months I remember making some decision one day and realizing that I didn’t have to play the opposite game anymore.
Lynette Ezell: Oh wow.
Christa Lynn: That my decisions were lining up with what Christ would want for my life.
Lynette Ezell: Amen.
Christa Lynn: It was just a beautiful, bizarre realizing that my brain was changing.
Lynette Ezell: And now the Lord is taking all of that and you are pouring in to other people and I thought about you that Psalm 145 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him. He hears their cries and He saves them.” And He saved you behind prison bars in jail.
Christa Lynn: Out of jail, absolutely. He does.
Lynette Ezell: And He has to get us alone where we can think clearly and just remove all of the pain and we can just, He can get our attention. And that is absolutely a story of how He did that in your life. It’s just beautiful.
Christa Lynn: I so, am so grateful that whatever it takes to get us alone and remove some of the destruction that we’re causing, while I feel so much compassion on my younger self for why I was causing so much destruction after what had happened to me, but I’m still so grateful that there were things that stopped me from hurting myself anymore and forced me into a spot of calm and quiet where God was able to reach to me.
Lynette Ezell: Christa Lynn, you have been sharing just an amazing story with us of how the enemy truly wants to destroy the family, but how God’s redeeming love is always working behind the scenes and drawing us to Himself. And like He did when your daughter was born. And so you have so much more to share with us, to offer us from your life experience and the ministry you’re involved in now. We’d like for you to just hang tight and let us do a part two with you. And I know this will be a blessing to our adoptive and foster families.
Speaker 1: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.