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Overcoming Trafficking

Leah Daughdrill delivers a sobering message to young people.

After changing her mindset from victim to victor, Leah Daughdrill is on a mission to make heaven more populated through her work with Say Something School Assembly.

Leah came from a home full of drug addiction, alcoholism, and being left on her own for extended periods. She temporarily used school sports as a coping mechanism. At 15, her mom wanted back in her life, causing a struggle with pain and confusion. Another relative offered Leah her first illicit drug. She attempted to cover up her subsequent habitual drug use.

“The Bible tells us our sins will find us out, and they did,” says Daughdrill, now 31. Her high school softball coach noticed her drug use and told her she had two options: quit or get kicked off the team. When she refused to surrender her addiction, the coach dropped her.

After graduating high school, Daughdrill left her grandparents’ home and began staying wherever she could find a place to lay her head. Then her life took a devasting turn. She entered a relationship that resulted in her worst nightmare.

“I was taught to exchange my body for not only my addiction, but just for my basic needs to live,” Daughdrill recalls. “It was an exchange of values.”

At the time, Daughdrill didn’t recognize the reality that she had become a trafficked individual. After all, a trusted family friend had set up the arrangement.

Nine years of living in a constant altered state and being forced to perform sexual favors for others, she walked in the doors of Adult & Teen Challenge of Mississippi, a decision that would change her life forever.

Daughdrill gave her life to God after meeting Gene and Teresa Emswiler, senior pastors of Three Rivers Assembly in Moss Point, Mississippi. Gene is also assistant superintendent of the Mississippi Assemblies of God while Teresa served as executive director of Adult & Teen Challenge of Mississippi. The Emswilers provided much-needed mentoring to Daughdrill.

“God gave me everything the devil took from me,” Daughdrill says. “I decided I was never going back.” She says God made good on His promise to be Heavenly Father while also sending her an earthly father to help her understand godly love.

After completing a one-year Adult & Teen Challenge of Mississippi program, she served on staff for three years before becoming a Say Something survivor advocate. In her missionary associate role with the Mississippi-based organization, she shares her story to help others facing similar situations and to bring awareness.

Say Something, directed by U.S. missionary Jody Dyess, began in 2013 and has since held assemblies attended by more than 500,000 students. The program, which is part of the U.S. Missions program F.R.E.E. International, tackles tough topics teens face today such as bullying, suicide, cyber safety, and human trafficking. The program’s premise is that every student should know how to recognize and respond to issues that threaten his or her future.

Say Something goes into schools with high energy in an effort to gain the trust and attention of students through engaging activities such as competitive TikTok dances. Say Something presenters take students through a wave of emotions gearing them up for a survivor advocate to share a personal testimony.

“By the time the survivor advocate gets up to speak, you can hear a pin drop,” says Dyess, 52. “The students are invested and focused in.” Daughdrill and Dyess both passionately speak of students who have come up to them at the end of assemblies and share stories and cry out for help.

“Dealing with the pain when telling my story and elaborating on the details, I am telling the story of an old dead girl,” Daughdrill says. “But the new has come.”

Nevertheless, Daughdrill experienced much trauma in life.

“Sometimes there are night terrors, and it can be emotionally draining, but it keeps me going because at the end when someone comes up and says they needed to hear that and they share their own story, I am reminded that this is why I am doing it,” Daughdrill says. “I want to be able to share with whomever the Lord places in my path so we can make heaven crowded!”

Daughdrill shares that several family members now are sober and an aunt that completed an Adult & Teen Challenge program has joined the staff of that center. Daughdrill recently became a foster mom to a 22-month-old boy.

“Being a foster mom was God’s idea for my life,” Daughdrill says. “When the baby came along he taught me so much about love. I hope I can provide the emotional, mental, and spiritual support he needs.”

Jenifer Metzger

Jenifer Metzger is a wife to Jeremy and mother to Lylea, Jacob, Jeremiah, Brittany, Grace, and Zach. She and her husband serve on staff at The Hill Ministries in Shawnee, Kansas. Jennifer also is a devotional author.