God uses our story so others can be free
As a child, Alina** had a difficult home life. One of twelve children living in an impoverished community in the Philippines, she and her family never seemed to have enough to go around. When a distant aunt asked Alina to stay with her family to care for her child and to assist her around the house, Alina saw a chance for stability.
In her new home, Alina had food to eat. She had enough money to take the bus to school. She was part of a family.
However, everything changed when her aunt’s husband returned home. As a high-ranking police officer, he had been assigned to a far-off municipality when Alina first moved in. Upon his return, he sexually assaulted eleven-year-old Alina and threatened her with violence if she told anyone about the abuse.
Alina had no voice. She was a young girl from a poor family, and her assailant was a man of influence in the community because of his position on the police force. For several months, Alina remained silent–afraid to speak against him or even to tell anyone what had happened.
“With [my uncle’s] return, I faced a prison-like existence. I was trapped in my brokenness, my silence, and my fears for a long time,” Alina recounts.
But someone was willing to speak up for Alina. IJM Manila’s team of attorneys learned of her case. They worked with local authorities to secure her attackers arrest and prosecution. After more than nine years in court, the case has finally come to a close and her abuser was not only dismissed from the police force but he also was sentenced 6-12 years in prison. Alina never gave up, and neither did the IJM attorneys that stood with her.
Today the girl who once had no voice is a young woman of presence with a strong passion for justice. Alina pursued her goals and attended college, where she majored in mass communications.
Alina also pursued her passion to help others by advocating for and supporting other victims through IJM Manila’s Standing Together to Advocate Rights (S.T.A.R) program. As part of S.T.A.R., Alina helps victims of abuse to testify against their perpetrators in court–a process that can be extremely difficult. “I can put myself in their shoes and understand them,” she says. “I do this to help them come out triumphantly from the situation.”
Today Alina is a voice of hope to new clients in the Manila office, sharing her story and encouraging them through the process of seeking justice.
We are all beautiful creations designed by a loving Creator, and God beckons us to freedom. No experience, sin, mistake, misstep, offense, or weakness can keep us from all we were meant to be in Christ. Even when we make mistakes or people hurt and offended us, freedom is available right here, right now, in the midst of the mess. Never underestimate the full extent of your purpose, passion, and potential. In Christ, you have a beautiful future.
Our past doesn’t determine our future, but what we tell ourselves about that past does. The Bible calls us to take our thoughts captive, but all too often our thoughts hold us captive. How we think about what we’ve done–and what’s been done to us–either will lead us on the path to freedom or on the road to destruction. What we believe in this life directly affects how we live. And what we do on earth directly correlates with how we will live in eternity. That’s why freedom matters so much. And freedom is possible in every season, every scenario, and every situation.
*Excerpts taken from Susie Larson’s book, “Embracing Your Freedom”
**Not her real name
Father help me to move on from my past and give me boldness to stand up for what’s right. I desire inner freedom and choose to trust you with my future. I want to use my story to help others experience freedom.