Reclaimed and Restored (Volunteer Testimony)
Updated: Jan 22, 2022
This blog content and its accompanying image originally appeared on the Watermark Community Church website and has been re-posted with their permission.
“Trauma entered my life at a very young age,” said Bailee Webb. “My dad’s struggles with alcohol and drugs defined me and my family. Before I was even in school, I had a front-row seat to the ups and downs of addiction and saw the toll it took on my dad.
“I felt burdened with the responsibility to take care of my dad, and that only grew throughout childhood. When my parents divorced, my mom took my brothers and I halfway across the country to Kansas City. And there, in daycare, an older boy sexually abused me.
“Back in Seattle, my dad continued to spiral downward. His addictions led to unemployment and then illegal activity. At seven years old, I visited my dad for the summer, and he began trafficking me (dropping me off with different men who would pay him money to sexually abuse me). I was forced to do whatever they told me to do. I remember being tied down, raped, and forced to watch pornography.
“I blamed myself for the abuse. Even at seven, I thought this was a choice I made. The weight of that burden and shame was overwhelming. So, I blocked out what happened to me to keep moving forward. This withholding resulted in a lot of brokenness and distrust in relationships, especially with men, and I resorted to a life of isolation, depression, and anxiety.
“In high school, my friends started becoming interested in boys, but I couldn’t fathom being in a relationship with a guy. I told my mom and classmates I was gay, and I was met with bullying and harassment at school from guys who claimed to be Christians. I knew nothing about Christianity, but I hated Christians because of how I was treated.
“I became involved in LGBTQ organizations and advocacy in my community. At one of the events, I was immediately impressed by a speaker who argued so clearly against the truth of the Bible. I found his speech later, listened to it repeatedly, and even memorized it. Then, I watched a response video from a Christian pastor who rebutted the speaker’s claims with Scripture. I realized I didn’t know what the Bible truly said, so I decided to figure it out myself.
“What better way to learn (and disprove) the Bible than from Christians themselves? In college, hoping to be armed with more arguments, I started attending a Bible study and going to church with some new friends. They gave me my first Bible. Before I knew it, I was reading John, Genesis, and Psalms – three very different parts of the Bible – simultaneously. I always heard that the Bible contradicted itself, but when I read it on my own, that didn’t seem to be the case.
“My friends continued to ask me questions about what I believed and answered anything I asked. Even in our growing friendship, I was afraid that if they knew I was gay they would kick me out. When I finally told them, one of my friends responded so gracefully. She was open about her own struggles while boldly calling out my sin. Her kindness was so encouraging to me that I went from wanting to learn about Christianity to actually considering becoming a Christian myself.
“I thought through everything I learned. What is holding me back? The Bible is cohesive not contradictory. I believe Jesus is God, and I believe He died for my sins. There, I accepted Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior. My sin no longer defined me. ‘Daughter of Christ’ was the only label or identity that mattered.
“Soon after coming to Watermark, I began serving in Reclaimed, Watermark’s anti-sex trafficking ministry. This made me look at my past and all the trauma in it. For a while, I tried to muscle through on my own, but that led to much more sin. Alcohol abuse, sexual sin, overeating, self-harm, etc. I desired a life with Christ, but I was running away from confronting and accepting what happened to me.
“Relying solely on the power of our Savior while serving in Reclaimed and fighting against sex trafficking in Dallas gave me the courage to do the same in my life. I sought help through re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, and then Courageous Hope, a sexual abuse recovery ministry. I finally admitted to myself and others what happened and learned that although awful things happened to me, God is still good.
“I reached a place where I forgave my dad while in re:gen, shortly before his passing. In my period of grieving, God reminded me through His Word and His people that He can handle my anger. He can handle my questions. He is a God who comforts me and sits with me in my pain, for He is a God who is well acquainted with pain and sorrow.
“When I read the story of Jesus praying in the garden (Luke 22:39-46),I see He experienced such pain and cried out to the Father to take it away. There is no shame in not wanting my story. I found freedom and rest in that truth and allowed God to care for my heart in a way I hadn’t previously.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46 ESV)
“Before, I didn’t let anyone close to me, including God, but He provided His Word to comfort me and close friends to walk through healing with me. My trust in the Lord has prevented me from continuing to run away. It is a long journey, but when it comes to suffering, grief, or any difficult circumstance, I now know I am not alone.”