Let God Write Your Story: A Sex Trafficking Survivor’s Walk to Freedom

Sioni Rodriguez

Sioni Rodriguez has earned a Ph.D. in Hope. Raised in an abusive home, sold into slavery, and helpless to save her daughter from prison, she’s had no earthly reason to stay positive. But a chance encounter during her childhood introduced her to Christ, and her life has become a testament to the power of prayer and hope.

Born in India, Sioni immigrated to Costa Rica when she was five. Raised in poverty by alcoholic parents, she suffered harsh and frequent physical abuse, but it didn’t compare to the horrors of the sexual abuse that started after toddlerhood.


At nine, her mother sold her for the first time. Sioni escaped and returned home to more abuse. But when she was twelve, she went to the store for her mom, and everything changed. “I heard a tambourine next door to the store,” she said. “As a little girl, I was curious. I went to the house and found they were having church.

I felt so much love for the first time that I’d never experienced.

The pastor asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and I jumped up.”

Finding Hope in Darkness

After that, Sioni expected her life to improve, but things worsened. Her mother sold her again, this time to a brothel, where Sioni lived for three years. Many of the girls there used drugs and alcohol to dull the pain, but Sioni resisted. “I knew that God was going to set me free from that place,” she said.

“The girls laughed at me, but I knew as surely as the sun set that that was not my destiny.”

When she finally left the brothel, her mother sold her one last time to a man who married Sioni and took her to the United States. There, he abused her until he left her and her two children to fend for themselves. Despite the emotional and physical pain, heartbreak, and struggles, Sioni never lost hope.

“The devil had a plan to destroy me, but he’s not the author of what will happen to us. God is, and he’s a good God.”

Sioni met people who helped her and her children. She found a job that led to a better job, which increased her confidence. Today, she is remarried to a man who loves and fears God. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a good job and a supportive church family. Her faith in God and unwillingness to give up hope sustained her through her trials and into God’s promises. Finally, she could rest in the peace of God’s blessings.

Faith Tested Again

But then, in 2007, she got “the call”—her seventeen-year-old daughter Scheila had been arrested and was facing fourteen years in prison in Seattle. Sioni was at work when she received the call and didn’t know what to do.

“I had created a fake image that, as Christians, we don’t go through anything hard,” she said. “I looked around and thought, what will people say about me if they know the truth?”

She ran to the bathroom and cried. After everything endured, why was this happening to her family?

Despair threatened to consume her, but Sioni’s unstoppable faith stirred, and she started praying. One morning, God answered her prayer by waking Sioni before dawn. “He told me clearly to go to my computer and email churches in Seattle.” She contacted over 100 churches, asking someone to visit her daughter and share God’s truths.

One pastor replied, but that was all God needed. Every Thursday, this pastor visited Scheila. As he did, her heart changed from blaming God to accepting the consequences of her actions.

Eventually, she accepted the truth—she could live a life of misery or abundance inside or outside of the prison. The choice was hers.

Scheila accepted the gospel and dedicated her life to serving God when released. Now, with a Master’s of Theology, she and her mother minister to incarcerated women. These days, with overcrowded prisons and lawlessness abounding, the need is great, and the imprisoned women they meet all need the same thing—the hope that only Christ can give.

Spreading a Message of Hope

“I believe we have to take back what the devil tried to take,” Sioni said. “Prison is like the church. It’s full of people with all kinds of pains. Scheila and I tell them God can change that. If he can do it for my daughter, he can do it for you.”

Her faith in God’s promises inspired her latest book, Rebuilding What Was Destroyed: How a Mother’s Bold Faith Changed Everything. In it, Sioni and her daughter tell Scheila’s story by weaving it together with other women’s testimonies. “It has restored people’s lives and given them hope,” Sioni said.

She plans to take that hope and share it with more women internationally. The first step was made possible this year with the Spanish-language release of her first book, Three Times Sold. Sioni hopes to take the Spanish translation into Central and South American prisons to reach even more women.

Between her survival story and Scheila’s restoration story, Sioni can relate to the broken and hopeless women in a way few people can.

And when she finally gets the chance to share her testimony, she knows exactly what she’ll say:

“Prayer changes everything. When the answer doesn’t immediately come, keep praying. Sometimes you want to give up on hope, but hope doesn’t want to give up on you.”

If you want Sioni to speak at your event or to your group or church, click here.

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