“My story can be a pillar of hope for other people in hard situations. I want to give hope to them. If God can take a young boy out of slavery and bring him here, God can help them, too.” ` Emmanuel Crawford

By Kathleen Swift

At the age of three, Emmanuel Crawford was sold into modern-day slavery. Emmanuel was born in Ghana, one of the poorest countries in Africa, and because of the crushing poverty there, many parents are forced to sell their children. For Emmanuel, it meant working for a fishing master on Lake Volta.

But, thanks to the efforts of Touch A Life Foundation, whose mission is to help rescue and protect women and children from exploitation, labor and trafficking, Emmanuel was rescued.

While Emmanuel was being cared for in a Touch A Life home in Ghana, Audrey and Stan Crawford were raising their family while working as dentists in Grove, Oklahoma. Through a mutual friend, the became friends with Pam and Randy Cope, founders of Touch A Life. 

“We have five children,” said Audrey, “and I knew in my heart we were supposed to have another child, and it would be through adoption. Touch A Life does not put the children they rescue up for adoption. They are raised in Ghana. But, in the fall of 2009, there was a rescued boy who the Copes felt God wanted to have a home in the U.S. In January 2010, I went to Ghana with Pam and a group of ladies, and I met Emmanuel.”

“Before I was rescued, I was working on a boat on Lake Volta in Ghana,” said Emmanuel. “I was too little to do many jobs, so my job was to scoop water out of the fishing boat. I remember the man who rescued me gave me a sucker. It was the first sweet thing I had tasted.

“At the home, I learned English. When I first saw Mom, I jumped into her arms, and that afternoon, I fell asleep in her lap. I felt safe with her. It was one of the really happy moments I had had in my life.”

Nine months later, after working their way through red tape in Ghana and the U.S., the Crawfords adopted Emmanuel and brought him home to Grove, Oklahoma.

Emmanuel is now a junior at Grove High School and active in football and track. Audrey recalled, “The rescuers told us that Emmanuel was spunky and that he had said to them, ‘I will wrestle with a white man someday.’ He was only four, living on an island in Lake Volta, so obviously had never seen a white man. Now he has four older brothers and plays football, so he has wrestled with many white men. I think it was God’s way of Emmanuel prophesying over himself.”

Emmanuel said, “When I first came to the U.S., I was surprised by the abundance of everything. I felt comfortable and safe. I knew we wouldn’t be short of food, and I wouldn’t have to be hungry. It’s a great feeling to be with people who love you.

“In my spare time, I write stories and music and sermons. I’ve had the opportunity to share my story and God’s grace. My story can be a pillar of hope for other people in hard situations. I want to give hope to them. If God can take a young boy out of slavery and bring him here, God can help them, too.”

Emmanuel is beginning to think about a career and would like to go into business or acting. He has ambitions to start his own clothing company.  

“I’d also like to start a non-profit to help kids in Ghana,” said Emmanuel. “I hope that sharing my story will help raise awareness of slavery and trafficking around the world and in the U.S. and can raise money to help kids.”

Audrey reflected, “Emmanuel’s story shows how God weaves things together. Why would a couple from Grove learn about a boy in Ghana? He was enslaved on a lake, and we live on a lake. The people of Grove have been good to Emmanuel, and he has been good for them. Everyone has created trust and relationship with him, and he has done the same for the wonderful people of Grove. We know that God can intervene no matter the situation.”