His name was A, and he was nine years old. He lived in a motel up the road and his parents were nowhere to be found. They said they were painting, but they wouldn’t answer the phone. His mom and dad shared one phone number and didn’t have a car. They had been gone all day and it was 10:30 at night when I found him.
He was on a street corner and a man was talking to him through his car window. Immediately I felt that something wasn’t right and came to a stop. I waited and watched for a minute as another car pulled over and two Hispanic men got out of the car. From where I was sitting, it looked like all parties involved were trying to find directions to a place. I decided to step in.
“Everything alright?” I said as I walked up to this group of three men and one little boy at 10:30pm. We were on a busy street corner and I wasn’t worried about being a solo woman. I wore sweatpants and old, ugly t-shirt that doesn’t belong to me. I sized up the scene and saw that the two Hispanic men were probably in their late twenties. The older, white man was preppy and appeared wealthy. I was going to threaten him if necessary. If I sensed any sort of funny business at all.
As the story goes, apparently A was left alone and told to stay in his motel. He got scared and was on his way to a friend’s house. He would have to cross a couple of major roads to get to his friend’s house. Late at night. As a nine year old. Where he could easily get picked up and taken away forever. But he didn’t know. He was nine years old, after all. Nobody sets out to be trafficked. But it happens all. the. time. Trafficking is most common in the United States. It’s said that there are between 20 and 40 million people in this type of “modern slavery” internationally. 50k new people are trafficked in the U.S. each year.
So A agreed to let J (the white guy) drive him back to where he was staying. The Hispanic men and I followed behind him in our cars. The motel was right around the corner and the door was unlocked. Inside, it smelled like dog urine. A small, barking dog was in the back corner of the room. God knows how long it had been in its’ cage. I wanted to take the dog outside but there was no collar and no leash.
It grieved me, seeing the state of this room, this boy’s life.
“A, you have to stay in this room. Will you promise to stay here?” J asked A sincerely.
“I don’t like it here. I don’t want to be here.” A said with sadness in his eyes. He was lonely and scared, and his parents weren’t responding to any messages. The man at the front desk said that A and his parents checked in five days ago. God knows how long his parents had been away or when they were coming back.
A looked at me and said something that about broke my heart. “Will you stay here with me?”
“I can’t…” I told him with sad eyes. It was such a tough call but we had to call the police. A wouldn’t stay in the motel alone (he shouldn’t have done so anyway) and his parents were M.I.A. We didn’t want A or his family to get in trouble but there was nothing else we could do. The police arrived on the scene soon after.
After some questioning and phone calls, and thankfully, even a couple of laughs, it was discovered that A had been in this situation before. In fact, more than once. CPS had been in and out of A’s life. They came and took A away that night. They left a note for his parents and at the front desk.
Meeting A made me wonder how many other children are in the exact same position as him. He was tired, lonely, scared, confused. He could’ve been trafficked or killed. His parents had to work at night to make some money (supposedly, though God knows all the details). They didn’t have a car. Maybe they had been kicked out of their prior residence. A had been left alone times before. I wondered how it was possible that they really had nobody to help. Not even one person? How does somebody get into that situation?
I don’t know. But I do know this: I thank God that I was in that time and place when I was. I thank God that A is okay now. I thank God for my life and friends and connections and opportunities. I thank God for the ability to make a difference in a child’s life and to make darn sure that my future children will NEVER suffer in that way. No matter what, as long as I can help it.
I’m praying for A. I’m praying for his parents. I’m praying for his little dog. I’m praying for all of the people and families that A represents; people that are suffering in the same exact way. And maybe worse. With drug abuse or sexual abuse.
I was only able to give A a few hours of my time, but I wish I could have given him more. I wish I could have stayed with him. But I can pray. And God moves when we pray according to His will. And it’s His will for all people to be saved. Therefore, He will do it 🙂
Don’t give up hope. If you know someone in a seemingly hopeless situation, remember these words: while there is breath, there is hope. And if something doesn’t seem right, stop. Help. Lend. Serve. Look. Listen.