Since I was nine years old, when I began playing classical guitar until the age of eighteen, music was my whole world. For most of my childhood, I was a victim of child trafficking. When I realized I couldn’t escape physically, I began to find my escape and my voice through my art and music. Even though I was being trafficked, I still went to school and was in choir and band. There were times, that I could say for certain art and music saved my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to find the strength to get through those difficult years.
A few months after I became a Christian, escaped child trafficking, turned eighteen, and moved into a homeless shelter; I played hymns for a short time during worship at my first Christian Church. Not long after that, I quit playing music for several years, because playing was too painful and brought back too many memories of my childhood. God still used that experience to bless someone else by giving away all of my instruments. I felt that if God wanted me to ever play again, He would confirm it by bringing me back new instruments in just the right timing.
Even though I wasn't playing music anymore, worship was still a huge part of my life. While I was in college, there was a K-love radio station behind my dorm. For the first time, I had discovered Christian radio and it was life changing. When I was growing up, the only styles I knew how to play was classical music and old classic rock. After I discovered my love for Christian radio, it was a relief to get rid of all my classic rock CDs. Before this, the only Christian music I was exposed to was old church hymns. I remember one day while I was driving, Revelation Song came on the radio. In the same exact moment as the part in the song where the lyrics said "clothed in rainbows of living color", I glanced up into the sky and there was a rainbow. That was the first time I had experienced a moment that just burst into worship and intercessory prayer. If ever there was a moment in my life I would describe as baptism in the holy spirit, that was it.
In 2010 during worship at church, the band played the song "Our God is Greater". It was during that moment, God revealed my life’s calling. On July 23, He called me to come forward about my trafficking experience as a child, and to become a survivor leader in the fight against human trafficking. Everywhere I went during the fight to expose a child trafficking ring, I listened to a Passion Conference CD on the way, which had the song "Our God" on it. It was worship through that music, that gave me the courage come forward, even though I was in danger from former traffickers who wanted me to keep silent.
At first, it seemed like my choice to speak up wasn't making a difference. Yet, at the time I had no idea that the very CD I took with me everywhere, was recorded at an event which raised awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. At Passion Conferences, thousands of people from all over the world would gather during a time of worship to pray for the fight against slavery. Their prayers were an answer to my prayers. In 2012, a new song was written about raising a white flag against slavery. The writers of that song could not have known, that there is an American flag trafficking rings would use to signal it as a sign they are about to harm someone, by dropping the flag from its pole. When that song came out, thousands of people gathered outside of the Georgia Dome at a Passion Conference to raise white flags in the representation of each of the estimated 27 million people currently trapped in slavery.
In front of the property where that flagpole is located, there is a billboard that for many months said in huge letters the name of Jesus. Seeing this reminded me on a regular basis how much more mighty and powerful God is than the entire human trafficking industry. It only occurred to me years later, where I was driving past when I had that private worship encounter with God while listening to Revelation Song on the radio. I was driving past that flag pole. That rainbow was the sign of a promise.
In 2014, I started to feel the urge to use my music to grow closer to God through worship. A missionary friend prayed for God to bring me back my music. At that time, I was also receiving threats from former traffickers. Two weeks later, instead of taking an opportunity to change my identity and leave Texas permanently, my husband and I felt lead to leave Texas temporarily and go on a vacation.
Originally, we were planning on hiding out for a while. Ironically two weeks later while on vacation, we signed up to go to K-love fan awards which we thought was just a concert, but when we got there discovered we had by accident signed up to attend what turned out to be a red carpet event. Incognito quickly went out the window, but that was okay because that summer turned out to be an incredible answer to prayer. That summer, we got to meet two of the people who wrote the passion conference songs that had such a huge impact on my life.
At K-love fan awards, my husband placed a bid on a guitar. Not only did God answer my prayer by bringing me back a guitar, but it was also signed by one of the artists who wrote the songs "Our God" and "White Flag". That day God brought back my music.
Near the end of that vacation, we got to go to Passion City Church. That night they played "Our God" and "White Flag for me". I felt that God was reminding me His promises, when I realized that by no plans of man, God made this happen on July 23, the same date that a few years earlier God first used the song "Our God" to inspire me to come forward, speak up, and become a survivor leader in the fight against trafficking.
Since then, I have slowly begun to relearn to play the guitar again and also a keyboard I was given. At first, I didn't know where to start. It was hard to figure out how to transform my style from classical to contemporary Christian music. Then, I remembered my love of hymns. Through the sheet music, I felt like I was rediscovering what I had once lost.
I have felt called to learn to become a worship leader, but have only been playing music in secret and haven't felt ready to play in front of anyone yet. I started to wonder if I would ever feel ready. Through a family member, God kept reminding me to never give up on that dream. For the last few months, my prayer to God has been that even if I don’t feel ready, I would do anything, anything at all to be able to worship Him completely openly if He would show me how.
Recently, I was listening to a local Christian band play at a house of prayer. My artwork was hanging on the walls in that building. The band asked if I would paint while they played for a night of worship. I may not have felt ready to play music in front of others yet, but I learned God can use anything to draw us closer to him, even painting. During this time of praise, God has used a night of music, painting, and dance to help me overcome my fears of worshiping in front of others. Watching others praise God with dance while twirling flags was also another reminder to me, that God has raised a flag and the Lord is my banner.
PSALM 60:4-5 Yet you have raised a flag for those who fear you so that they can rally to it when attacked by bows and arrows. Save us with your powerful hand, and answer us so that those who are dear to you may be rescued.