The Unexpected Thanksgiving

Olivia B.

Our plates were overflowing with all the essentials of a Thanksgiving meal – turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie – but the true essentials of the evening were meaningful conversation and a warm space for two young women who are survivors of human trafficking.

I sat around the brightly decorated table with nine other women, some volunteers with 121Hope and the two survivors, and felt the cramps in my stomach from a mixture of too much food and too much laughter. One of the survivors kept us all entertained by asking fun questions like, “What is your favorite dessert?” or “favorite animal?” The other survivor threw in a curve ball when she asked the table, “What is your greatest accomplishment in life?”

I never imagined that I would share a Thanksgiving meal with women who have come out of human trafficking, and honestly, I never imagined I would laugh so much. Perhaps you’re like me and have an idea in your head of what a person who has experienced an exploitation like trafficking would be like. Perhaps that idea does not include laughter, heartfelt conversation, and the simple joy in making new friends. I had to be reminded that sometimes our brokenness is the very thing that can bring us together.

We weren’t at that table to save someone, to coddle or to counsel or to convict. We were there to eat together, to laugh together, and to give thanks together. How I thank God for the table where He invites us to do just the same. At His table, He knows our pasts. He knows our struggles and our hurts. And He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.  

121Hope is a ministry of Northland that seeks to bring hope to victims and survivors of human trafficking. A dedicated and passionate team of individuals invest in building friendships with the survivors that they work with, advocating for them as they build life skills to get jobs and live independently. They encourage them to volunteer and give back, to grow in their faith and to build healthy relationships. Visit their page to learn more about how you can support and be involved and follow them on Facebook