Had she kept the hand she was dealt, Vanessa Morris might be a prostitute today.
Morris’ story is undoubtedly a testament to God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. Born of a prostitute, Morris spent much of her childhood ping-ponging between her mother and her aunt and uncle, who were preachers.
“I was being groomed to follow in [my mom’s] footsteps, because she didn’t know another way,” Morris said on the latest episode of “The Prodigal Stories Podcast.” “There weren’t resources out there for her at that time.”
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When she was 14 years old, Morris finally moved in with her aunt and uncle, whom she said introduced her to Jesus “in a whole new way.” Soon thereafter, she went to a church youth camp — a trip that proved providential.
“I just remember each night, seeing all the other kids who had grown up [in Christian homes] and they knew how to do it,” she remembered. “They knew how to worship, they knew how to talk, they knew how to dress, they knew how to be the part, and I had no reference for that.”
“I remember laying in a bunk and being like, ‘God, I’m not mad at You. I’m not anything, really. I’m just shut down. I have nothing. I’m like this shell. So if you can make me want to want You — if You can just show up, then I want to serve You. Make me want to want that,’ and I never turned back after that,” she added.
Several years later, Morris’ mother found her own freedom in Christ.
Her mother’s salvation, Morris said, is a miraculous product of persistent prayer.
“Because of a praying family, a family who would unceasingly seek the Lord and tried to rescue and meet her where she was at, [my mom] was able to escape and come into a safe place where my family could take care of her and, in those last years of her life, I really think it’s the grace of the Lord that took her home,” she explained.
Unfortunately, Morris’ mother — whose dark journey through prostitution was the tragic result of enduring years of sexual abuse as a child — passed away at age 51.
“Her entire life had been surrounded by abuse,” said Morris. “So she was able to finally get to a phone, get to a place where she could connect to our family and they brought her into a safe place, and eventually, her heart just started to soften. That’s what the love of God does to us. And she really, really encountered God in a very real and tangible way at the end of her life and surrendered her heart to the Lord.”
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Despite the difficulties and trauma associated with her story, Morris’ testimony has not gone to waste.
Morris is grateful for the opportunities she has to work to raise awareness about the evils of sex trafficking, awakening a new generation to slavery in the modern era.
Now an anti-sex-trafficking expert and the communications director for the nonprofit advocacy group The Foundation United, Morris is able to “use” her story “to help others.”
“We are — on a global scale — fighting to eradicate sex trafficking so that no child, no mother has to go through that ever again,” Morris said, later adding Christians should “look to Jesus” as they seek to compassionately care for people like her mother. “Jesus inserted Himself in difficult situations with difficult people and He was never afraid to go there. We have to be willing to emulate that in our own lives.”
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