I was watching her as her eyes lit up, a smile streaked across her face and she grabbed a pillow and drew it tight against her chest. She was watching the end of an animated princess movie and I was puzzled by her response. It was the happy fairytale ending that every little girl dreams of, but she seemed afraid. I finally asked her what was wrong. Her response continued the mystery; “I am nervous, daddy!” She said it with a smile and tugged the pillow tighter still. I glanced at the screen and girls were joyfully dancing. Now I was completely confused. “Why are you nervous sweetie?” I said with amazement. The answer she provided defines the innocent little heart and mind of my six year old princess; “He is about to dance with her!” she exclaimed. The couple had finally wed and would join in the close intimacy of a glorious dance.
My tenderhearted daughter’s world consists of giggles and dolls and princess movies. Just like a lot of precious little girls. A lot, but unfortunately not all. I had attached my mind to the statistic that the average age of a girl sold into sexual slavery was 13. A sobering age to digest. Any age is categorically unacceptable. But I managed to abandon the thought that any danger surrounded my little girl for now.
Reality hit me like a sledgehammer when I unwittingly accompanied my wife to a recent theatre production called The Princess Cut*. It shares the story of a girl named “Sarah” who became the victim of sex trafficking at the hands of her cousin. I knew I would come face to face with the true story of one girl’s horrifying ordeal with the dark world of slavery. I thought I had adequately prepared myself mentally and emotionally. I had not. I felt the intense sorrow and life altering agony of a little girl robbed of her innocence and joy by one guy after another, not at the age of 13 but at the all-too-familiar age of six.
My mind was engulfed with the thoughts of my own little girl twirling around the living room in a princess gown wanting daddy to dance. How could this happen? “Sarah” was undoubtedly like any little girl. But in an instant her nervousness at the innocent embrace of her one-day prince was shattered into a million pieces. The fairytale turned into a nightmare that lasted not days or week, but years. Someone’s daughter would never be the same. Her life of dolls and cartoons and cuddles were stolen and sold to temporarily satisfy the sick and twisted desires of others.
The play forces us to come to grips with the horrifying act of sexual exploitation and the countless dreams lost in a sea of filth and depravity. There are real girls, right where we live and work, experiencing hell on earth; either because they are currently being used or because they’ve been tossed aside like trash with the trauma locked deep inside their heads. Someone needs to set them free. That is why my wife and I put our passion and energies into making a place for them.
They deserve one last chance at the fairytale ending. No, they can’t go back. But I believe with all my heart that they can go forward. Jesus came to bring life. With Him and His healing touch there is real hope for true restoration. He is the only true and lasting hope. And just when we think it can’t get any colder, His blazing light races across the frozen land of Arendelle, thawing the hardened earth and setting that little girl free to dance once again without fear or shame. Do you believe?
*The Princess Cut is a play by Yellow Rose Productions out of Knoxville TN