By Colleen Smith
Pretty in Pink is a ministry God birthed in my heart 12 years ago. Since it started, I’ve witnessed 12 lives change for better. Many girls made hard decisions and escaped that life. Unfortunately, I’ve also witnessed girls who’ve stayed. The endings to their stories are tragic.
I work with girls who are being sex trafficked. Sex trafficking means a person is sold by a person or is trapped by an addiction. The latter is snaring many of my girls. Many came to Baltimore from small suburban towns for college or for work, but they were given a taste of something that made them feel good. They wound up addicted and are now fighting through those addictions.
The solution may sound simple. Go to a rehabilitation facility, join a program or simply go home. Call family or friends. Get help. But for many, it is not that easy.
Most of my girls have been cut off from their families, so going home is not an option. They don’t have the proper medical care to get the help they need. And if they do, there is a waiting list miles long. Also, a small percentage of my girls genuinely don’t want help and believe this is the life they have to live.
The girls who break my heart the most are ones who believe they are stuck. Their stories typically end like the one you’re about to read.
A few weeks ago, I got a phone call in the middle of the night from a number I didn’t recognize. The caller didn’t leave a message, and I didn’t answer. But the phone rang a few hours later. I answered that time. One of my girls was calling to tell me another girl had committed suicide.
*Emmy had been on the streets for a little over a year. I found her through a website I use as a tool to connect with girls and get them some help. Emmy said she wanted to get help, but she just wasn’t ready. We chatted regularly, but she was never quite ready. Then one day, Emmy said, “Colleen, I think I’m getting close, I don’t know how much longer I can live like this. I think it’s time I consider getting help.”
That was the last conversation I’d have with her.
Emmy had gone on a “date” later that night for work. When the man dropped her off, she left to get some “medicine,” which on the street means pills or heroin. Emmy didn’t return to her house for hours. Some of the girls went to a known drug house to look for her. They walked in to find Emmy with a needle in her arm. She’d overdosed.
Later, they found out she’d overdosed on purpose.
Emmy had said she couldn’t live anymore. She’s one of many who are killing themselves daily because they feel hopeless. They are dying emotionally, mentally and physically. They are also dying spiritually. Emmy is not the first girl to take her own life. Yet it hurts every time I hear about it.
Stories like Emmy’s need to be told.
They are stories of moms, sisters, daughters and friends. And they are my friends. Whether it’s on a street corner at 3 a.m. or sitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts at 3 p.m., I meet them where they are. I want them to know they can be found, and Jesus is waiting for them. I want them to know there is hope.
Every girl in every city needs to be loved. They are often overlooked. Who is telling them they are worthy and valuable? Who is sharing the unconditional love of Jesus with them? They need to be cared for, and they need to be aware of Jesus’ love.
Here’s what you can do right now.
- Pray for my girls, and pray for people on the front lines working to help these girls.
- Put together care packages.
- Send missionaries encouraging notes.
- Dig deeper into God’s Word to see what your role in this ministry could be.
- Pray for wisdom and opportunities to love those around you who are doing what you don’t feel called to do.
*Name has been changed.
Colleen Smith is a team member of Captivate Church and serves as a missionary in her neighborhood.
Published August 15, 2018