Lacy: As a young teen, I didn’t get to go to a real school, and I didn’t get to have a prom or any of the stuff that normal kids do. I didn’t get any of that, because of what happened to me. So, there was so much anger and bitterness inside and there was just this one point in time when my youth pastor talked to me, and he was a man, so I always just disliked him. And even though he was a pastor I didn’t care, but he never gave up on trying to reach me.
And then one day, he just says, “Hey, do you want to go to a baby shower?” I didn’t like kids back then because it reminded me of my brothers and sisters and that hurt a lot, and I didn’t want to see kids, especially babies. And I don’t know why, but I said, okay. It may have been that he offered Starbucks before, but you know, I went. At that time, the school I went to, had a program for teenage mothers. And there were all these Christian women who came to this baby shower. And I’m in my head thinking, you know, well, they shouldn’t be rewarding her, because they’re Christian. And Christians, don’t help you if you’ve done wrong. That’s what I was thinking in my head. I grew up in a Christian church, but no one helped me.
So, in my head, they shouldn’t be helping this girl who had sex, you know, before marriage and got pregnant. They shouldn’t be showering her with gifts and love. And there was just something in these women that, when they smiled at me, it got to me, but I didn’t smile back. I was just watching them. I stood in the back of the whole baby shower and watched them, and they were giving gifts that were brand-new, you know, expensive things. And they weren’t just buying things for the baby. They were buying things for the mother, as well.
And I just watched and they had this happiness inside them. And I got angry for a second and I thought to myself, I said, “See, God, that’s what You stole from me.” And then, I just kept watching for probably about two hours in the background. I didn’t sit down. I didn’t have anything to eat. I stood in the corner and I watched these women, these Christian women how they had this happiness. And every time they walked past me, there was something they had that I wanted that drew me towards them, where I wanted to just stand next to them. And finally, there was just this feeling, like I was so heavy. I couldn’t stand. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I couldn’t breathe, so I pulled my pastor to the side. I grabbed him by the arm (and I didn’t touch men back then) So I said to my pastor, “Whatever those women have, I want it now.” And he prayed with me, and as soon as I said ‘yes’ to Jesus, it was like that feeling, that overwhelming sense of depression, everything was lifted off. All in one moment I could breathe again.
It was a few weeks later when I decided that, you know, my trafficker took everything and I’m not gonna let him take my name. That’s one thing he can’t have. And he can’t take my happiness. And he can’t take everything that he tried to. That was when I decided to be Stephanie again. And after that, there was this connection between me and God that can never go away. It’s like, you know, it’s like when married people go through so much together and there’s that bond, that strength that can’t be moved. That’s how it is with me and God.
I listen to Christian radio every morning, and this guy told everyone, “When we’re going through trials and we feel like God’s left you, that’s not true, because when you’re in school and you’re taking a test, the teacher is always quiet.” That’s when I realized that during that awful time, God never left me; He was just quiet.
And now I can see there were times when He did try to speak, and I ignored Him, because I thought He blamed me for what had happened to me, and I didn’t want anything to do with Him. During those times when He was quiet, I felt deserted. And it’s not bad for God to be quiet, because the truth is, He’s still with us. I used to lead worship for my church and for the youth group before I got married and had my son and I feel the love of God today and those broken fences in my heart are mended.
Sometimes I think about the baggage in my life. But I think about if I could go back and have the choice not to go through what I went through, or go through what I went through, and have the chance to speak out against it and have the chance to save hundreds of girls, thousands of kids, then I think about if I didn’t go through it, I wouldn’t be able to become that voice to protect other kids.
Now I have this need to speak out against it, this need to teach and this need to reflect the Bible verse that God showed to me a lot, was “Behold, I’m making all things new.” I have this need to help these kids make their life new. And if that means just sharing my story every now and then, making the Chosen video and having that, that’s what touches my heart. If that’s how I can spend my life, then that’s what I want to do.
Receive your free copy of the video Chosen here featuring two survivor’s stories.