By Melody Maxwell
What does the face of a child rescued from trafficking look like? The question raced through my mind as our plane taxied down the runway in Kathmandu. I was one of five women on a mission trip to minister to children rescued from unimaginable situations.
I had learned about sex trafficking and other forms of exploitation before the trip — an estimated 27 million or more people worldwide are held in some form of modern slavery — but cold facts aren’t the same as looking someone in the eye.
What would I see? Perhaps hollow eyes would stare back at me blankly. Angry eyes might glare from a distance. Maybe broken eyes would well up with tears. Or scared eyes would shift back and forth, not knowing whom to trust.
Spending time with girls and boys recovering from unspeakable horrors, however, my anxiety turned to amazement. During my time in Nepal, I learned that children who have been trafficked are just that: children.
The face of a child rescued from trafficking looks like the face of any child. It is lit with laughter one moment, wrinkled in pain the next — full of gap-toothed grins, wide-eyed curiosity and mischievous giggles.
My own eyes gleamed as I laughed, danced and sang with the girls and boys. I smiled with gratitude for ministries that restore the gifts of childhood and hope. And I was moved to tears by the faith of the workers who dedicate their lives to such a mission.
All in that place is not smiles and laughter, of course, and my face falls when I think of the trauma these children have endured and the lingering effects they may experience. But I am comforted by the fact that God knows and responds to each upturned face.
God knows the number of hairs on Daya’s head, whether Ruth has dimples and how many teeth Anish has lost. God hears each secret cry and offers beauty for ashes, joy in place of mourning and peals of laughter to replace tears of pain.
Isn’t it just like God to provide a glimpse of hope through the face of a child?