I first heard about human sex trafficking on TV. The depth of evil astounded me, and the thought of a young girl or boy living in this hellish nightmare plagued me. I began to ask myself how I could know about this and do nothing. How could I live my life like normal, waking up to a cup of tea and quiet time with the Lord, knowing they awaken in fear and desperation? As I am off to work, the store, the mall, they are still being tortured and abused in unthinkable ways. It tormented me to know that as I go about my day-to-day business, they are still trapped in hell. I could not just look the other way and knew if it were my son or daughter that I would long for help.
And so the journey began. While at dinner one night with Marilee Dunker I shared my heart about the desire to help somehow in the area of human trafficking. She told me about a Christian ministry in Mexico called Breaking Chains that rescued women and girls from sex trafficking. She had previously met the founder, Steven Cass, and she felt he was in need of help.
I decided to call Steve and set up a meeting. He is rarely in the states but as God would have it, he just “happened” to be in San Diego for a couple of days. So we met for coffee and after talking about my desire to help and the needs of the ministry, we agreed that I would pray about it and get back to him.
After praying, it seemed the best option was to do some fundraising. So with the Lord’s help we did several events to raise funds: a dinner/auction, a huge yard sale, and a comedy night. I had no intentions of moving to Mexico as part of the ministry, but I knew I could at least help in providing funds for the rescues.
Eventually Steve moved the ministry to Nicaragua and by this time my husband had retired, so we decided to go to Nicaragua to work with Steve and his wife directly. We sold most of our belongings and bought one-way tickets to Nicaragua. We went with the intention of staying as long as we felt the Lord calling us to stay. We had no idea if it would be a month or a year. We helped in whatever way we could and it was a great experience but after three months we decided to return to the states. We lived in deplorable conditions by American standards—though sadly as kings by Nicaraguan standards. The poverty and hopelessness was staggering. Men would drag little carts up hills loaded with wares in an attempt to earn enough money to buy a meal for the day. Horses and dogs were so skinny that their fur hung on bones. The empty stares in the eyes of men, women, children, and even the animals reflecting the hopelessness that had overtaken them after years of struggle was haunting.
After we returned to the states I had a rough time. I hated the living conditions there, but elt unsettled when we got back. I struggled with wanting to serve the Lord somehow and getting back into the routine here in America. I started to question our coming back and I questioned if I was just too concerned about my comforts. I wondered if we came back too soon. Did we leave for the wrong reasons? Why didn’t we stay? Am I a bad Christian? All these thoughts circled in my head.
I cried out to God and He comforted me in those dark and uncertain times. I knew God had a plan but wasn’t sure what it was. He opened other ministry doors after we returned but none of them worked out. I started working full time so little time was left for pursuing anything else.
Eventually God opened another ministry opportunity to help a Christian couple ministering to the Lakota Sioux Indians in South Dakota. We prayed and asked the Lord to make a way for us to go and to bring the funds to travel there and get the time off work. God worked it out perfectly. Our friends, the Paines, listed their home with my husband Robert and it sold the first day! That commission check allowed us to be able to join the team going to South Dakota.
So off we went. It was a great experience and hearing the amazing testimony of the ministry’s founders Greg and Lorie was inspiring. Their perseverance and commitment was a testament of God’s grace and sustaining strength. It was a short trip but packed with helping to prepare for their Thanksgiving/Fall Festival. We fed 500 people, distributed bags of groceries to the adults and bags of candy to the children, along with a pumpkin for each child. We sang worship songs and listened to the testimony of one young man whose life has been radically changed by Christ.
It was a great time in so many ways and as I look back fondly on that time it reminds me of how precious it is to serve our Lord. He provided a way. He blessed us as we blessed the people on the reservation. As we were saying our good-byes, the founders asked us to pray about returning in the summer for a few months to help. In my humanness I began to think “I can’t get the time off work,” and “we can’t afford that,” and “how could we possibly do that?” But we serve a God much bigger than our thoughts can fathom and I trust He will make a way if it His will that we go. There is nothing more exciting than serving our God and I pray that God would use us to His glory if not in South Dakota, then where He chooses. With so much need in the world I pray that God would use us for we are richly blessed and He says in His word, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle Ludolph. I was born in southern Indiana, a farm-working girl with 12 brothers and sisters. I left home after college with the desire to see and experience more than what small-town life offers. Consequently, I ended up in California, where I met my husband of 30 years. We have one son who traveled the world playing ice hockey until last year when he decided to hang up the skates. He currently lives with us and is starting a new career in mortgage and refinance loan business. I currently work at Meadowbrook Village Retirement Community as Catering and Dining Room supervisor. My husband is a realtor and we live in Escondido.