Today we bring you Part Two of Ofelia Flores’ compelling “God Story” – how she was rescued from a life of misery and abuse after being trafficked by a member of her own family.
Today, Ofelia is a successful Kern County mother of five with 13 grandkids who works with law enforcement and serves at-risk youth by sharing her story. As cautionary tales go, hers is truly chilling.
At age 16, Ofelia was lured into a life of heroin addiction and trafficking by her own sister. And she says she escaped only by the grace of God.
Because January marks National Human Trafficking Prevention Month – and with “The Exploited” as one of CityServe’s major compassion initiatives – we wanted to share Ofelia’s miraculous story of God-given redemption with you. Here is part II of a three-part story that offers important lessons on how the body of Christ can step up to protect “the least of these” in our society:
CityServe: Ofelia, thank you for sharing how generational trauma and physical abuse lured you into a nightmare of heroin addiction and sex trafficking. How did you escape?
Ofelia: I was addicted to heroin and I hated it. I didn’t want to keep doing it. But I didn’t know how to get off of it. I tried. Nothing worked.
One night I was crying because I couldn’t stop using. So many things had happened where I wanted to quit along with compounded trauma. But I had no one to turn to for help. I had tried getting off heroin before so I knew how sick I would get coming off of it. I had a bunch of heroin. So I used all the heroin to give me courage, because I decided to walk into the Sheriff’s Department and just tell them.
So that’s what I did. I walked into the Sheriff’s Department and told them what was happening to me. They took me to a room where they interviewed me, and then after I gave my statement they said, ‘Put your hands behind your back. You’re under arrest for being under the influence of heroin.’ But I felt at that moment, ‘I don’t care, whatever it takes. Get me out of here.’
That put you on a path to getting clean and starting a new life. What role did your faith play in all this?
My Mom was Catholic. I didn’t understand the rituals. I had to learn the rosary and recite prayers on Ash Wednesday. It was very confusing. For confession, she would drop me off outside and say go confess your sins. But I didn’t know what to do or how.
For about six months, when we were pre-teens, my Dad turned Christian. He stopped drinking, smoking, and using drugs. He invited us over, he and his wife would have a Bible study and they included us at the table. We would read the Bible.
He bought me a Bible. It was like a 180-degree change in him. He’d load us in the back of the pickup and off we’d go to church. After that, I was so intrigued with Christianity.
Two weeks before I went into the Sheriff’s Department, I prayed without reciting things. ‘I don’t know how this works,” I said. “Do I pray to Mary, Jesus, or Joseph? I don’t know. I don’t even know how to pray to you God. Who do I pray to? Well, if anybody’s listening, help me! I need out! I need to get out. Somehow, someway … this has to stop and I can’t do it by myself. So if there’s anybody up there, please can you help me???’
Two weeks after that prayer, I walked into the Sheriff’s Department, told them everything, and was arrested.
When I got out of incarceration, I went to a church and I had such a release at that altar.
God knew everything. It was just like a huge weight I’d been carrying around was suddenly off of me. I didn’t have to carry that anymore.
It was a brand-new start. It was ‘Don’t look back. Keep going.’ I felt that, and so I kept going to church and I loved it. But I still had to deal with what happened to me.
You still needed help processing your trauma….
Yes. I blamed myself. I had never said I was a victim. I never said I was just a teenager. I said I should have known better.
Eventually I sought counseling through the faith-based Kingdom Community Ministries. And later I attended a church-based women’s group. That was when the trauma began to heal.
In her life’s darkest hour, Ofelia Flores bared her soul and begged God for mercy, confessing her utter inability to save herself … and the Lord heard her cry for help and gave her “beauty for ashes.” [Isaiah 61:3). Today, Ofelia stays busy caring for her grandchildren, helping local law enforcement, and visiting at-risk youth to show they too can find hope and restoration.…
Next in Part III of her story, Ofelia Flores explains how each of us can make a difference in the war to end trafficking forever….