Am I awake? I open my mouth to scream. This is a dream, wait I can’t breathe. There are hands around my mouth; it feels like someone is sitting on my chest. My lungs rigorously gasp for air; I’m falling deeper into panic. Where is the sound of my scream? Why can’t I speak? I reach with my right and left hands, trying to push myself up. Get me out of this; I’m dying in my sleep. Am I being held down? Let me up to breathe!

I am awoken, “Babe, babe wake up, you were having a bad dream.” Alarmed, I sit up to find my breath. Through my mouth I’m exhaling, inhaling, continuing to sit there until I’m convinced I can breathe. I never did scream. The next morning I realize this is a familiar dream.

Like the premise of my dream, in reality I’ve writhed with the acquainted struggle of fighting back.

I’ll never forget the day when Gary’s call came. It was one of my lowest moments. A day where evil did not knock, it barged right in, sat at my table and had an enjoyable meal at my seat. I was so very depressed.

After listening to his voicemail, I felt even weaker and completely incapable of offering any type of assistance. My confidence was shaken to the firm belief that I’d lost my fight.

Wearisome I dragged myself to pick up the phone. Hearing the dial tone, my mind raced, “My call is not going to matter to this man. There is no way I can help his son. The Anchor House is not even open. You should give up.”

Gary picks up, I state, “Hello, this is Anna Smith with Restore One.”

We spent the next hour in conversation. He brought language to the absolute despair tormenting their son and the darkness suspended over their family. Miles swung between us, yet I sensed an innate fierceness in his heart. He would not give up the battle for his son.

I hung up the phone. I felt as if there was nothing left in me, so I asked God to give me strength.

With little hope, I contacted the only treatment program in the country that has a few bed spaces for men who’ve been sexually trafficked.

Gary’s and my correspondence continued as he faithfully cared for his son and wrestled to get his son into the program.

Waiting to hear of his acceptance and room availability, the entire family hung on for months.

One morning while in staff meeting my cell phone rang; the incoming call came from an unknown number. I stepped out to answer.

The caller spoke, “Hello, Anna this is Gary do you remember me?”

I immediately respond, “Of course I remember you, Gary!”

He continued, “Anna, I am calling to tell you my son got into the program. God did a miracle. He is now getting the help he needs.”

Tears begin to roll down my face as I listened.

After we finished talking, I began to weep large tears of gratitude that God would let me not just witness but participate in the miraculous. It is brilliant beauty that God took what was so very hopeless and used it to bare unlikely redemption.

God breathes life through the smallest whisper. He takes our simple meek attempts and turns them into a marvelous wonder.

He ensures that our fight is certainly not lost or destroyed but counts it as found and renewed.

He puts people in your life like Gary to remind us that our inner strength to fight is just as close and natural as taking a breath.


Anna Smith nbsp
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.