By Lilly B.
“ For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 LIV
“Right Now” Your Story, Your Value, Your Action to End Human Trafficking is the 5th annual conference for A.C.T. United and is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. What does that have to do with you? What can you do to educate and prevent sex trafficking? It never happens in my community is what you might be thinking, but is that true? Probably not.
My journey began as a young vulnerable child. My family attended church and Sunday school. I went to a public school and no one would have suspected that I was being sexually abused. My grandfather, I believe, was sexually abused as a child. That “habit” carried over to his grandchildren, one of which was me.
I braved up the courage to tell my parents when I was 11 but was met with unbelief. I was accused of lying to my dad. “I don’t ever want to hear you talk about my dad in that way ever again!” He was very emphatic, in fact yelling, with a finger in my face, response. Years of abuse as a young child led to me stuffing my anger and blaming myself for what was happening every time we visited. I made a point of staying away from my grandpa and becoming the protector of my 4 younger siblings. Looking back now, it doesn’t surprise me that when my 5th grade male school teacher and Sunday School teacher began abusing me I didn’t tell anyone for fear I would again be branded as a liar.
Fast forward many years later, a mother of two and grandmother of three with a heart to follow God. Little did I know the path God would put me on. It began with a bible study at church written by the International Justice Mission. My eyes were opened to the slavery and abuse that many of our young children are going through. The study lasted 6 weeks but each week I asked our leader, “What about the children here in our communities and in the United States?” Each week I was told we were focusing on the sex trade overseas. A few months after finishing that study, friends of ours that were in the same study told us about a conference in Chaska with the organization A.C.T. United that focused on prevention of sex trafficking here in Minnesota. They asked if we wanted to go and we signed up. Last year’s conference brought a big change in me.
Through the years I had much professional counseling about my childhood but it wasn’t until last year’s conference that I heard the words that would set me free. “It’s ok to tell.” Through all those years I had never been given permission to tell of my struggles with a family that stayed silent and allowed sexual abuse to happen to me. I came home from that conference and wrote the poem “It’s ok to Tell”.
Step by step the Lord led me to join up with A.C.T. United as I volunteered to do “anything the Lord wants me to do” and ended up writing a blog as Lilly B. The name of Lilly B is my grandma’s name. She was married to my grandpa. She walked in on my grandpa abusing me as a three year old child. Her response was a tear in her eye, pulled the curtain closed and left me there. When grandpa was done, he called to her to come and clean up my mess. In later years, I discovered I wasn’t the only grandchild that my grandpa abused. In fact, during a heart to heart with my dad, he not only apologized for not believing me but confessed that the same thing had happened to some of his siblings. Acknowledging my abuse would have meant acknowledging the childhood abuse he had seen and suffered and at that time the easiest thing to do was to blame me. That conversation, in turn, freed my mom to tell my dad that grandpa had also tried to sexually abuse her and one of my aunts, his son’s wives.
This has been a year of healing for me as I write under my grandmother’s name. I believe it is a tribute to her, allowing her to finally be able to speak up to a subject that gave her so much pain. I believe her prayers are what have carried us all through. Writing as Lilly B. has freed me as well. I am now able to talk freely about my past and that bit by bit has allowed the scars to heal from the inside out.
I don’t know what path the Lord is putting you on. But I do know that if the “Right Now” Your Story, Your Value, Your Action to End Human Trafficking” conference is something that has been in the back of your mind, now is the time to attend. You may need healing from abuse or you may be the ministry tool God uses to set someone else free. The knowledge you gain from this conference could be what prevents your own child or grandchild from being deceived into this sexual slave trade. The belief that someone is going to steal your child off the street is one of the lies that allows this kind of thing to continue. The fact is that most youth are brought into this lifestyle because of someone they trusted, a person that befriended them at school, a trusted family member or the fear of a mistake being exposed or sibling being hurt. I encourage you to attend and see that this is one step that God could be using you to turn evil plans to good and to give someone else the hope they need to be free. You can register online at www.eventbrite.com A.C.T. United Right Now conference.
It’s OK to Tell
By Lilly B.
Years of the Secret had burdened me down
In my heart, I longed to be found.
Will someone listen, please just hear!
I just want to be loved and held near!
Unconditional love, not pain and strife…
I need to be free from this abused life
A Grandpa, a teacher, a close friend,
Broken trust forever, just because they were men.
Used and abused they stole what was mine,
In this little girl’s eyes, they took away the shine.
They stole her innocence, made fear life inside,
Wanting to be invisible, fear wanted me to hide.
“It’s our secret, don’t ever tell,”
Are the words that made life a living hell.
Putting hands and things where they don’t belong,
In a poor defenseless child, it was so wrong.
The guilt, the shame and all that pain
Suffering through life, carrying the blame.
Then I met Jesus, He set me free,
The one who loves me unconditionally.
He himself was beaten, bled and died,
All for me so I could heal inside.
It wasn’t my fault and not my choice,
But with Jesus, I have gotten back my voice.
I can forgive those who used and abused me
I can move forward in life as whole and completely.
See it’s ok to tell, the secret is out…
I’m no longer a prisoner of all that doubt.
I am a worthwhile person, Jesus died for me.
I am his workmanship, his specialty.
I am a child of the King who cried and held me tight,
As the abusers tried to control my plight.
They didn’t know the power of Jesus blood,
It has set me free and rushed in like a flood.
He covered me, he healed my pain,
So I could share and you could gain.
So I bind all that fear and pain in Jesus Name!
It’s ok to tell and get rid of the shame.