It was a day of contrasts in a city in Southeast Asia. Of good versus evil. Of light and darkness. Of beauty and desperation. It was an afternoon spent with beautiful women living in abject poverty and yet finding life and love and hope in Jesus. It was an evening walking the narrow walled in streets of a red-light district, feeling the darkness swirling around us and witnessing the hopelessness, despair and depravity of life without God.
We were unable to bring cameras, so I will attempt to paint a picture of all that I saw and experienced that evening.
Venders were selling everything from street food to sticks of wood. The streets were filled with pedestrians, motorcycles, vintage yellow taxi’s and rickshaws powered by running men. We made our way gingerly around it all and paused to split our group up into threes to pray and walk the red-light district. It’s not a very safe place to be and my heart skipped a beat as our little group turned the corner and headed into the narrow walled in street. Incense from the many temples, the odor of many unwashed bodies and other smells accosted our senses.
To say I was uncomfortable bordering on terrified, would be an understatement. I have never ever experienced anything like this before. But if I’ve learned anything from this new journey I’m on it is that God calls His children to carry His light into the pit of darkness. To face the enemy knowing HE has won the war.
Knowing this doesn’t remove the pain of it. Knowing this doesn’t make it more comfortable or any easier. It feels like it is more than I can bare. It is more than I can take in and it shakes me to my core.
Walking those streets, I was confronted with my apathy in regards to human trafficking. Honestly, I haven’t wanted to really expose myself to what is being done day after day to these precious souls. After all what can one human being really do? And what do I do with what I’ve seen? I can’t bear to think about what might be happening to young innocent girls in places like this. My selfish heart tells me life is so much more comfortable when I don’t expose myself to such evil.
But God hasn’t called us, His children, to shy away from sin and darkness but to step into it bravely as we carry the torch of His brilliant light.
And so we did.
We walked the dirty, narrow streets with our inadequate prayers. Because really how do you pray for this dark overwhelming place of sin and degradation? Yes, I know there are no inadequate prayers but honestly that is how it felt in that moment. In that moment I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t think of anything because I was so overwhelmed with the enormity of the depravity and darkness that coiled around us.
So I cried and prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His.
Why do I pray prayers like that? Because once again, I felt my heart crack into a thousand pieces as I looked on woman upon woman standing in doorway after doorway plying their wares. Heavily made up, robed in brilliant clothes hoping to attract a customer. They were like dolls in a shop – objects to be used and discarded at the owner’s convenience. This is the life these women have always known. They don’t know they’re loved and treasured by God. They don’t know they can be something more than an object in a window. They don’t know there is a better way. And the really heartbreaking part is most would never choose the better way, even if it were offered to them.
It left me reeling and unsettled, uncomfortable and troubled. It was a restless night as I prayed and cried and brought this burden to my Father. How brokenhearted He must be to see what humankind has done to His beautiful gift of sex. How angry He must be that our beautiful sisters are treated as objects to be discarded never knowing His great love for them. How saddened He is that we the church have stuck our heads in the sand and pretended this doesn’t happen in our city. That we hesitate to step into the darkness to carry His light. That we choose to walk in apathy because it’s easier than facing into the darkness.
I’m convicted and wrecked.
I know I can no longer live with blinders on, no longer sit on the sidelines, no longer live uninformed. What this will look like, I truly have no idea but I do know He will be with me. He will be my shield and my rock in whom I can trust as I carry His light into the darkness.
Spilling His grace,