January, 2020 Monthly Reflection

Who is God?

By Jeanne Christensen, RSM

Two hands of an elderly person hold the hand of a younger person

Photo by Lisa Kristine

In my city, there is a woman of great courage, resilience, and dedication. Her name is Kris. She is a survivor of human trafficking who broke free, put herself through college and graduated with a degree in criminal justice. Today, several years later, she ministers among women on the streets of our city. She is my colleague in fighting to abolish the tragedy of domestic human trafficking. I am awed by her stamina, commitment and profound knowledge of how to minister to victims and survivors and how to educate others on the risks and abhorrence of human trafficking. She is respected by law enforcement, judges and courts, and most especially by the women to whom she reaches out and with whom she ministers. I asked her one day how things were going – her response, “It’s a good day, none of our women are in jail and no one is sleeping on the streets.”

Once a week she, her part-time associate and a few volunteers gather with the women for a free meal at the local One Café and a meeting to socialize, discuss issues, concerns, needs, and available resources. They are the only safe group for transgender women to join. I wondered who God is for victims and survivors of human trafficking and how does their endurance of daily repeated physical, emotional and sexual abuses shape their image of God. The trauma that trafficked persons experience is very complex and complicated. What is their understanding of God? Is God compassionate and loving?

Here is what some of the women said:

  • God is my protector.
  • God is good all of the time.
  • God is real love..not fake love.
  • God always found me when I was lost.
  • God is a spirit who always loves me when nobody did.
  • I used to think God was punishing me but now I know I just didn’t let him help me.
  • Without God, I would be dead.

Which of these descriptions of God most strikes you? Why? Take a few moments to reflect. How would you talk with one of these women about God?

Conversation with the women also brought out that they don’t like the God-name “higher power” because it’s too abusive. They might consider “deeper power.” Their Native American transgendered woman talked about the native belief that God is everywhere, takes all forms, has many names and is in all of us. Almost everyone voiced their belief that God is always with them. The women also believe they have choice to act as they decide. The overall belief is that God is a loving God, but that God is very capable of, in their term, “kickin’ your ass.”

What do these women’s reflections about God say to you?

These women amaze me. I receive more than I ever give. I hear their stories but have no experience to compare with the horrendous treatment they survive. Their courage in making the transition out stuns me.

To respond fully to our calling for ministry with them, we must simply walk with them until we understand. It is a slow and arduous journey; let us gather in unity with all persons exploited in the epidemic of human trafficking. As we journey with the enslaved and those who have escaped to freedom, we pray:

Compassionate, tender God, you desire that all persons have fullness of life and invite us to care for them. We know you are present and we ask for your grace to strengthen us as we hear the call to confront the reality of human trafficking. May we respond as you would.


Jeanne Christensen, RSM, is a member of The Alliance Board of Directors and the Justice Advocate on Human Trafficking for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Two women stand next to a human trafficking sign in a government building

Sister Jeanne Christensen, RSM, and Kris Wade at Missouri State Capitol for Legislative Day, January 2019