Ready to Redeem
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.
The fog is thick, black; there is no space for light. The dog squeals, its neck is broken - dinner. A teenage girl is asleep in the dirt, her body covered in ripped cloth. Next to her sits an older man, he is weaving fishing net. An abandoned shop whispers uninvited but the loneliness brings me peace. If I get inside I can escape the darkness for a moment and just be. I leap over the trash filled sewer and quietly enter. Thousands of pirated movies fill the space and a native man greets me.
“Children movies,” I say; he leads me to a table.
I pick up a stack of movies and examine the cover. The woman’s eyes make my heart grow cold. Who made this woman pose naked and spread her legs? Who made her believe she wasn’t worth something more? Men flood into the store and I can’t think straight, the smell of alcohol and sweat make me nauseous. I squeeze between 2 men and push myself out of the store grasping for fresh air.
A baby is tied with authentic African fabric on his mother’s back as she sells fly covered fish on her head. Next to her stands a small boy selling water sachets. I ask how much for one and he says 1 cede. My eyes gaze in the distance and I see a small girl. Her eyes pierce mine - they are dark as night. She lay nude on the dirt floor, her legs covered in blood. She reaches for me but says no words. She is as starved for love as she is for food. I walk to her slowly, my heart pounding in my ears. I wrap her in my arms and she weeps.
It's the end of the day and I'm back at the volunteer house. I close my eyes and I pray. I ask God why. Why me? Why here? Why now? Why did you lead me to her today? I recognize that emptiness, that vulnerability, that hopelessness. Human trafficking is real. Why must you ask ME of all people to do something! A tear rolls down my cheek and I’m screaming now. I want to go home and shut my eyes to the darkness. I want to go to dinner with friends and go on dates and curl up in my big comfy bed. I want to do what other people my age are doing. I’m staring through the cracked mirror at my own reflection, the words “why, why, why,” fall off my tongue and I’m losing myself. I collapse on the floor and surrender.
It’s been 6 months since I left Ghana. Wow – I miss those humans so much. I look back on the season God had me in while in Ghana and I stand in awe at all He has done since then. I thought mission work was the peak. I thought I had finally reached the summit of the mountain I’d be climbing for 23 years. Silly me. I landed in Colorado after missions – and by landed – I really mean it. I didn’t choose this as a dwelling place, it kind of just happened. I needed somewhere to stay while I got back on my feet and my mom opened her home. I applied for jobs all over the country but God seemed to want me here. So, here I am.
I should have known that when I left Ghana – I didn’t leave God. He would be with me wherever I went. I should have known that He wasn’t done with me just because I was no longer in Africa. I should have known – but when you come home from missions and feel lost and confused by the American way and you are trying to resist jumping on the societal conveyor belt without looking like a total homeless / hippie / peace fighting / story telling weirdo – believing that God is still with you can be difficult.
I knew He was up to something the first Sunday I walked into church. I’m not a big church person – I mean I love Jesus with all my heart – but I’ve never considered myself “part of a church.” I sat down awkwardly in the chair and nervously looked around. A woman started talking to me and to my surprise, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy when I gave her a glimpse of my story. She invited me to her bible study “Human Trafficking: God’s Perspective and Yours.” A church that I stumbled in had a bible study that screamed to my soul. ..okay God, I see you.
Over the next few weeks I learned so much about the human trafficking industry in Northern Colorado. I learned that I spend 2 hours each day commuting to work on the most trafficked highway in the Nation. I learned that the truck drivers who place a lizard on their window are in no way interested in human trafficking. I learned that the average run-away is on the streets for 8 hours before they get trafficked. I learned that the average lifespan in the sex industry is 7 years – and while these facts were hard to swallow, I was reminded that God loves – and He loves deeply. He loves those trafficked but He also loves those who are trafficking. He loves the prostitute and He loves the pimp. Happy with poor choices? No – but ready to redeem? Yes. We have such a good, good God.
I asked my small group if I could share with them a dream I’ve been having.
“I keep having this dream of working in a strip club. The dream is so colorful and it all feels so real. I am always with the dancers and for some reason they trust me. They welcome me and they listen to my words as if I’m their lifeline. I can’t remember exactly what I say to them but I know that it isn’t me speaking. God shows up and He gives me all the right words to say. In every single dream He leads me inside of the strip club and He makes Himself known. He’s telling everyone in that place that they aren’t alone – that He is there refuge and He calls them Beloved.”
“Have you heard of it?” someone asked. “It’s an organization in Denver that does strip-club outreach. They love and serve people by giving gifts, doing hair and makeup, and connect people with helpful resources.”
And at that moment my messy Colorado life started to make sense.
“I have you exactly where I want you. I watched you be uncertain in the waiting and I’ve been with you every step of the way. You’ve kept your eyes on what is unseen and because of that, I can reveal myself to you more fully. I did not set you aside, I set you apart. I have given you a belt of truth and a shield of faith. Utilize these gifts, and I will be with you. Now go.... and make disciples.” - God
I’ve had the honor of volunteering on the prayer team for this organization for the past 2 months and God has shown up in ways beyond what I can comprehend. We are welcome at the clubs – and that itself is a miracle from God. Holy Spirit calls us each to different dancers, customers, bouncers, and workers. He calls us each to pray a different prayer to intercede for those in the industry. He gives us protection – grace – empathy – compassion – discernment – and much, much more. He softens the hearts of those in the club so they do not feel condemned in any way – but rather they feel excited when we come – because we are a safe place. He provides us an ever-flowing spring that we can drink from and never run dry. He fuels us with his love and kindness and flows through us to meet people where they are. God, you are so good I cannot even comprehend it. Thank you for calling me yours. Thank you for calling me Beloved.
If you’ve made it this far – you are one heckuva warrior. You are not here by mistake – God doesn’t make mistakes. You are in exactly the season that God wants you and if He hasn’t already done so – He will reveal His plans for you. It is so normal for us to be discouraged in the delay and grow weary when life isn’t looking the way we had hoped. Where are you in this very moment? Are you satisfied with where God has you? Are you trusting in God and believing in what is to come? You may not be able to see the answers but you can see God’s greatness and you can trust Him.
God, I believe in you. You are so good. You took care of me and even though I do not have all the answers, I am going to look back at what you have done and I am going to look up at what you are going to do. I am inspired by how amazing you are and how faithful you are to me. Your track record to me goes unmatched – you are loving, faithful, and full of grace. Though this delay and season of waiting is challenging and bringing me down, I trust that you are developing in me a character that can hold the blessing once you give me the promise. I know that you make all things work together for good and today I put my faith in you and I call you my Lord and Savior. Amen