Image of Ginger Stache sitting in a church with Ashley, talking to and consoling her.

All for the One

- by Rachael Athearn 5 MIN READ

It was 1 am on a Tuesday, and the dark night was punctuated by brake lights. It was like a parade but not a celebration. There were new cars, old cars and even minivans continuously circling several neighborhood blocks. The drivers were eyeing strung-out women and young girls in lingerie. Many vehicles were double-parked because the demand was so high. Some customers were hanging out their windows. And all of them were shopping for sex. 

As we slowly drove the streets with a team from the Los Angeles Dream Center that Joyce Meyer Ministries partners with to help rescue girls, two women begged to hop into a truck with a guy playing hard-to-get. My heart told me those girls really didn’t want to go...but in they went. The situation in this residential area was unbelievable and devastating. Your mind wonders...Where are their parents? What if that was my daughter? How does a nice little neighborhood like this one transform so drastically at night? How is this happening in America?

It’s not just taking place in Los Angeles, though the city is named one of the worst hubs for sex trafficking in the world by the FBI. This is a hidden- in-plain-sight problem in many cities in the United States and around the world. When it confronts you face-to-face, it’s nearly impossible to go home and do nothing about it. That’s especially true when you hear the hope-filled stories—when you can see what really is possible when you are able to help pull a girl out of this terrible situation. 

Ashley is one of those women. Her parents divorced when she was 5, and by the time she was 18, she was using drugs to try and fit in and feel accepted. 

“I didn’t really experiment with many other drugs before using meth,” Ashley shared. “It dragged me down very, very fast.” Within a few years, Ashley lost everything that was good in her life. Her relationship with her family became shattered, she got fired from her job, and she became homeless. Her options for survival were looking grim. A friend texted her and shared a way she could support herself...he offered to help her work as a prostitute. 

At first, the idea was completely foreign and she turned him down, but eventually she agreed to it because she believed his lie that she had no other options. He took Ashley to a hotel to meet a woman who helped her create an ad online. She trained her for the job and helped her get her first customers. Then Ashley’s friend went to work setting her up with dates in the room across the hall. 

“Getting into prostitution opened up a whole other realm of darkness that I definitely did not expect nor was I prepared for,” Ashley said. 

A few months later, her “friend” became greedy and abusive and ended up in jail. But by that time, selling her body had become a way of life so she stayed in the business. Again and again, the cycle of controlling, abusive relationships continued, and her mind and emotions were a mess. 

“In my head, I felt like I was going crazy...I was just like, Is this really happening to me? Am I really at this point? .... I never really thought it would get this far,” she remembers thinking. 

In what she now sees as a miraculous God-intervention, her then-abusive boyfriend took her to the ER to get help for her state of mind. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, he could not go in with her, and that meant she could finally speak freely and ask for help. 

The hospital staff connected her to a short-term shelter, and after 30 days, she became a resident of the emergency shelter for women at the Los Angeles Dream Center—an outreach supported by Joyce Meyer Ministries’ Project GRL initiative. 

For nearly the past year, the Dream Center has been a safe haven for Ashley, helping her get clean and find healing for some of the deep wounds she’s carried since she was a little girl. It’s also been a place that’s empowered her to make her own choices about what she wants next for her life. The staff has loved on her, provided her with support, taught her the joy of serving others, as well as how to apply the Word of God to her life. And through those things, she’s developed a close, personal relationship with the Lord. 

“The way God used such a dark situation that I was in and the way He pulled me out made me realize that He’s really mindful of me,” Ashley shared. “With everything else going on in the world, He cared enough to pull me out.” 

It’s no doubt a big job to put a dent in this problem of human trafficking. But as long as we are able, we will keep rescuing them one by one. Through Project GRL, we will fight for girls like Ashley. We will fight for the many other incredibly brave women whom we met at the Los Angeles Dream Center and in other parts of the world till they are free. Because the truth is every time you help one girl, that’s one less girl who is out there suffering on the street...and she deserves that and so much more. 

“‘Thank you’ doesn’t even sum up how I actually feel,” Ashley said. “It’s just incredible how one person following the leading of the Holy Spirit can impact so much.” 

To read more stories and get involved with our Project GRL initiative, visit joycemeyer.org/ProjectGRL 

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