When I was a little girl, I dreamed about becoming a mother. At night I’d lie in bed, crying over the disparity of my own situation and say, “One day I just want to be a good mom because every kid deserves to have a good mom.” I was about a year old when my mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Despite her chronic mental illness, my family felt she was suited to raise me. Dulled emotions, hallucinations and states of psychoses were my firm realities growing up. After the terror of the day was over, I’d lie in bed confused and crying myself to sleep, hoping my tears would change my circumstance. It was too late for me to escape. I was stuck and bound to live out my time in that home.
Awareness of my hopelessness only grew my desperate burden to never let such hell happen to other children. So night after night I prayed, “God one day please let me be the best mom because every kid deserves to have a good mom.” I believe sore hearts birth uncommon beauty, but only after they are crushed and scoured will they be worn enough to hold others.
My tearful prayer unearthed an undeveloped cry whose purpose remained mysterious until a casual day in the church office turned into a human trafficking 101 lesson. Youth ministers at the time, Chris and I were thoroughly unaware of the current plight of slavery. Then a packet advertising a human trafficking awareness walk was dropped off at church and placed on my desk. Reading the material struck a place in my heart. With urgency, I brought the information to Chris. My spirit was tugged into action and with Chris on board, we brought our students to the awareness walk. From the eye’s view, it looked that little movement came from the meager event but Chris and I left undone, and I knew there was no going back.
Equally terrified and compelled, I applied for an internship to work in a safe home for girls who had been sex trafficked within the United States. Reality of their stories weighed me down to soberness provoking the same raw cry, “all children deserve a good mom and a good dad.” With just a few short months with them, I knew I could not be their mother, and this reality brought me to weep. Doing life with the girls sent me back in the place of wailing in my bed, warring for what is rightfully ours; a mother, a father, a families embrace, the essentials of every child. My heartfelt fight was the catalyst that brought me to the place in which I stand today.
Together with my husband and a good friend, I co-founded Restore One, a ministry motivated to providing restorative care to sex trafficked boys in America. Now we are just months away from breaking ground on The Anchor House, the first safe house in America built to care for sex trafficked boys. I find the illegal practice of buying and selling of boys for sex is thriving yet is rarely spoken of and boys seldom warred for.
A large portion of me rejoices for freedom that will take place at The Anchor House; I see playing, running, jumping and dancing. Regardless, the beauty of the picture does not displace the deep despair I carry for those boys who will never make it into The Anchor House. I’m pained to know that our first cottage accommodating 4 boys will barely scratch the surface of what is needed to provide for the hundreds of thousands of boys needing a home, a valid escape from the claws of sex trafficking. Every orphan deserves a home and his or her care should never be sanctioned due to the sacrament of gender. All boys and girls deserve a chance to be free; to know love and to be mothered and fathered. I’m aware that my childhood prayers have flooded over into a vision larger than myself, one bigger than I can carry.
As I journey closer to the opening of The Anchor House, I’m brought back to the same cry I started with, “God one day I just want to be a good mom, because every kid deserves to have a good mom.” May our mothering spirits continue to cry and war for the orphans in need of us.
src=”http://redtentliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/anna-smith-2.jpg” alt=”Anna Smith ” width=”150″ height=”150″ /> Anna Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Restore One. At Restore One, Anna works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the psychological, physical and sociological needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna is a strong advocate for sex trafficked and sexual exploited males and has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time Anna enjoys biking with Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.
“sore hearts birth uncommon beauty” – Those are beautiful words my friend. Thank you for sharing your words, your heart, and your life.
Anna, I’m stunned by your vision! “The sacrament of gender” is a powerful phrase that encourages my heart…maybe victim doesn’t have a gender, after all.
You would be interested in a brand new book edited by Glenn Miles, Stopping the Traffick: A Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (Regnum Books: Oxford, 2014), esp. Chapter 4: “How can we better work with men and boys?” I was a contributor, maybe you were too, and I just missed your name 😉
Thanks again for your work!
Anna, it is true that out of great pain, stunning beauty has been birthed in you. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story and in walking with Chris and the rest of Restore One into new territory to do battle for the hearts of young men. I love this! And I’m with you… just bought an RO apparel t-shirt (http://www.roapparel.com/designs/#/sir-james-condi/)
Anna, I love what God has called you to do with your life. Your heart is courageous and tender. Blessings to you as you minister to the lives of young men.
Thank you Anna for following that tug on your heart to help trafficked boys! My heart leaps that there will be a place of healing and love for them!
“All boys and girls deserve a chance to be free; to know love and to be mothered and fathered. I’m aware that my childhood prayers have flooded over into a vision larger than myself, one bigger than I can carry.” Oh Anna, I am with you. I love where you are warring and the vision for The Anchor House and more. Bought myself a t shirt today too. Hope we will see back here on Red Tent Living as the journey continues to unfold for Restore One and you.
The cries of your heart are the base for your hearts desire for the boys that will be in your care – bless you and your husband !
Great post. I am reading a book on this subject at the moment, They Call Me dad by Philip Cameron. His story about orphans and how they are trafficked. It has really changed my perspective, his site is awesome, http://www.stellasvoice.org/they-call-me-dad/. Your story is amazing, thanks for sharing I am changed by it as well!
Reblogged this on annasmithblog.com and commented:
An entry I wrote for red tent living