Do or die, just know this may cost your life.
Wet grass sinks beneath my high heels as I dodge insects that hide waiting to jump off high grass stems onto my knee length dress. I take a breath in. The cool whispers in breezing by, cutting the thick southern humidity that holds the hot membrane of the day in place. The grass is up to my knees and I am rethinking my choice of open toe shoes and the dress. One of our board member’s Michael states, “Come ‘on little Anna,” I quicken my pace to catch up with the guys.
Despite the sun dancing at 12 o’clock and beaming beads of sweat on my forehead, I am abnormally captivated by the steady presence of peace camping in clouds of humidity. This swift consciousness is unfamiliar to my ordinary; yet it is a lovely find. This time and place zips my thoughts back, recalling the many moments that brought me to this place.
Planting my feet to a soul conscious choice of starting Restore One, I realize our choice was not a motion of direct caution, but a move of zealous faith.
Months leading up to the start of Restore One, Chris had grown deeply ill with a strange sickness categorized as leaking gut. He spent many days home from work, exhausted and discouraged. Once a month we made a trip to see a specialty doctor who treated the body holistically using eastern approaches to healing and recovery. Even with a firm special diet consisting of fruits, brown rice, yellow and green veggies, organic meats, olive oil and almonds and natural medicine, the movement toward curing leaking gut was slow and seemed impossible.
His distress inclined his heart to a raw position and to what we believe hearing from God. Chris in the midst of distressing pain postured a question that beckoned a cosmic change for our family. The appeal happened while sitting at the epicenter of our home life, the dining room table. In between bites of chicken and brown rice, Chris eyed me, and stated simply, “Anna, I think God is calling us to leave our jobs and start our own ministry.” I followed with my rebuttal, “Are you serious, we cannot just leave, we’ve barley started.” Minutes following that comment were somewhat awkward. In all honesty I did not think Chris was serious. Out of fear and lack of consideration I fluffed him down. At the time Chris and I were both working full time for another anti-trafficking nonprofit. We’d spent a year raising donor support to get there and then to flag in a timeout within the first 6 months of starting seemed like a failed attempt.
He was uncomfortable and now so was I.
Next evening at dinner Chris again stated his case matching it with a stronger angst grounded in holy confirmation. Oh man I was terrified but Chris was firm in his activation to move. Looking back now, it is clear that his body screamed for change and I am thankful his eternal cravings for wholeness brought him aching before the throne of grace.
The next weeks are semi-blurry. Despite our hushed approach, God’s voice seemed to leak in through unexplained confirmations of reaffirming scripture and a reaffirming hunch of ‘yes, we are to walk this way.’
Next move, we resigned from our jobs, and called our supporters to give them the news we are moving back to our hometown of Greenville, NC to start an anti-trafficking ministry.
The commitment to move forward was a full headfirst dive. It was either all in or all out; there was no middle ground.
Greenville was the last place that I desired to land. I’d prayed for the move to be any place, anywhere but there. In the disposition of my personal flavor of choice, I wished to be found someplace but not there.
In that time, I yearned for a dwelling that was stable and contained. My emotions, body and soul felt out of control. It was scary to face the unknown quest. I was bitter to start over. Calamity encamped around our family as we struggled to get Restore One off the ground. Darkness lodged itself closely to our bosoms. Many days I was not sure if we were going to make it out alive. Some days I still hobble, holding my side as I remember the deep sorrows we held in starting this ministry.
Faith leads us to life of high cost, yet we’ve been blessed to see just a few of the extraordinary rewards.
As I walk through the tall grass, down to the gurgling stream I pinch my arm. Can this be real? For this peace leads me to be still. It feels holy, unearthly and utterly real.
It is as if my good commander just called cease-fire and looks over to us saying, “You’ve brawled and pushed back hell to gain this land, now enjoy the plunder.”
The Anchor House land was just purchased a few weeks ago. In a lovely yet grueling journey, it all has been worth the cost.
Here in body
Soul barely present
This feels too costly
I’d say this dream might be better to burn
Go run back
There is no life
Only death’s stench
Too late you’re in
You’ve been tainted
You’ve been pulled in
May you rest knowing unrest
May you be centered without a stability
Your bones are bare
Yet they dance in the place
Holy unrest pushes back darkness
Draws light into this space
Calling evil to lie down to its death
Anna Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Restore One, where she works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.