Everything I know on earth has a beginning, and this adventure is no different. Before I begin, I would love to give you an inside look at my life so you will understand why this journey is so “God ordained.”

My story begins in Dallas, Texas where I was raised in a hardworking, loving and church-going family. My parents did a great job of giving me security, stability, everything I needed, and more. Life was full with friends, school, youth group activities, family vacations, and just “normal” healthy living to me. Being the youngest and only girl with two older brothers brought a little spoiling, of course. My family was not perfect. We had our share of disagreements like everyone else I knew. However, we did not hide any secrets; we were the same at home as we were in public. Abuse, in any form, was not in our home.

At a young age, I understood that I was guilty of sin and because of that I would never have a relationship with God because He is holy and cannot be around sin. (Romans 3:23) Jesus solved that problem when he took the punishment for me as he died, not just for me, but also for the world. (John 3:16) My personal relationship with God began when I trusted in his death as complete payment for my sin. God’s spirit came to live inside of me to teach and guide me. As I matured physically and spiritually, I began to understand God’s love and care for me personally. God has been and remains my source of true wisdom, steadfast love, and peace throughout all circumstances.

Going off to college was a significant time in my life. It is where I first began to know myself and gain confidence in who God created me to be. God began to chip away at my shy, introverted, self-conscious shell. Here, I met my best friend and the love of my life. We were married three weeks after I graduated from college and began our married life in the youth ministry.

The next thirty-two years were spent being a pastor’s wife, mothering our daughter and three sons, developing deep friendships, and experiencing God’s powerful hand in so many ways. God had given me every childhood dream and I was so happy and content.

As my last child was finishing his senior year in high school, I began to ponder what life would be like as empty nesters. I was actually dreading it but also looking forward to having my husband to myself. My prayers were always, “God what do you want me to do with my extra time?” I loved the idea of having more free time but wanted to be careful to spend it for eternal purposes and not waste it. (Getting older seems to encourage me to make the most of what I have left on earth.)

Being an empty nester gave me the opportunity to attend a conference with my husband. One speaker was a woman who shared about her life growing up in a poor family. A well respected woman in their town talked her father into letting his little girl live with her, understanding that she would be well fed, clothed and educated. He had no idea that she would soon be trafficked even though she was very young. As she shared her journey through this horrific experience with us, my heart was sick as I thought of other young girls who were living this same horrific experience. That was and is so WRONG!! God did not create women to be treated like a commodity and then trashed. It was hard for me to believe that people can be so wicked and do such evil. This was so far from what I had experienced in my life. My heart began to ache to hold each and every one of these girls and tell them about God’s hope, healing, and restoration for them.

I could understand how a father would want the best for his child and how he could innocently make this decision in a poor country. But not in the US! Young girls would never be trafficked in the US! Oh, I know there is prostitution going on everywhere, especially in large cities and even Wichita. But not trafficking!! Oh, how wrong I was about a lot of things.

This began my journey to a place I’ve never known or personally experienced, but I do believe it is “God ordained.”

Cathy Cooper