God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave. —Psalm 49:15 NLT
Lailai’s prostitute mother owed a debt she could not pay. She arranged to give her young daughter, Lailai, to the old man as payment.
Lailai had other ideas. She stood up to her mother, refusing to be anyone’s payment—and was beaten unconscious. When she awoke, she ran away to the island of Cebu, where she might easily have become just another statistic, picked up by any of a number of sordid child predators or traffickers.
But God had other ideas. A social worker found the child and connected her with Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch, a place of refuge and long-term care and schooling for at-risk kids. Lailai’s life was about to change dramatically because someone—someone like you—had made payment to provide a home with lots of love and care like HHCR.
It took a while for Lailai to adjust to this different life. Her past had taught her to be independent; to stand up for herself, to get in the face of authority without bending. A born leader, Lailai could always persuade someone to break the rules or run away with her. Although bright and likeable—she has a smile that lights up a room—Lailai guarded her heart. She trusted no one. A full year passed before HHCR staff discovered that Lailai had given them a false name to protect herself. Only when her mother showed up at HHCR (a terrible embarrassment for Lailai) hoping to get money from her daughter was the girl’s name and her deception revealed.
But perhaps that helped Lailai see things more clearly. She began to understand God’s love through the loving and caring people who wouldn’t give up, toss her aside, or use her for their own gain. She learned that she had value and that a loving God had given her special gifts and special opportunities. Slowly her mistrust, hurt, and embarrassment were transformed to hope and dreams for the future.
Once doomed to be a payment or a prostitute, Lailai is now a “pastora” who helps impoverished families in a remote mountain barrio of Cebu Province find the hope she found in God as a girl at HHCR. She and her husband are full-time church planters with two children of their own. In the face of persecution, they’re working hard to see their community come to Christ.