Three years ago, Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch was struck by the destructive rage of typhoon Kate.* The 12-year-old, who had been rescued along with her younger siblings by the International Justice Mission before being sent to the safety of the Ranch, seemed a brooding, perpetual dark cloud—when she wasn’t exploding in anger or storming away to hide. Kate often refused to cooperate with those trying to help her, sulking in silence during counseling, refusing to communicate. She rebelled against the rules of the home and school, bucking every authority. Then, at the mildest word of correction or discipline at school or in the girls’ dorm, Kate would shout vile curse words and run away.
She was quick to tell her teachers they were stupid. She told God he was stupid. She often wrote on her arms, her desk, and the walls, “I hate God! God is stupid!” She would occasionally erupt in rage: “If God is real, how could he let this happen to us?”
Yet Kate’s outer turmoil was dwarfed by the storm within. Before coming to live at the Ranch, Kate and her siblings had been rescued from a traumatic life of child pornography. Perhaps the worst part was that those exploiting the children were their own parents. On top of that, Kate felt caught in the middle. She loved her parents and understood that the pornography was how they provided for their family. But as the oldest child, Kate felt responsible to protect her brother and sister. Her court testimony was instrumental in sending her parents to prison for more than 20 years.
No wonder Kate felt angry and hurt. She had built a strong wall around her heart, and she diligently defended it against all who tried to breech that wall with love.
Over the years, the counselors, teachers, dorm parents, and pastors at the Ranch kept reaching out to Kate with steady, healing compassion and love. “I would love to tell you that today Kate is happy and carefree, but she isn’t,” says Kelli Williford, missionary at the Ranch. “She is, however, slowly learning to trust some of the children and staff here at HHCR.”
Kate’s progress is slow, but it is unmistakable. She has been on the honor roll at school for the last two quarters. She smiles—still not often, but more than before. She has stopped saying bad things about her teachers and God. Whereas she used to sit sullen and alone at the back of the church, now she sits with her friends; and every now and then, she even stands or dances to the songs with the other children. Slowly but surely, God is breaking down the strong wall around Kate’s heart.
“Kate still has a tough journey ahead,” Kelli says. “Her memories and pain won’t ever disappear. But they will fade, and we know that what the enemy meant for evil, God can use for good.”
*Not her real name
Read more about Happy Horizons Children's Ranch in the ALO Update Vol 26 No 1.