On Thursday night last week, I made a big decision: I will give myself and my life fully, 100% to helping people escape prostitution, and helping survivors recover. This decision has been four years in the making. I think it is good idea that God gave me this desire years before I was ready; this allowed me to ponder it intensely and get prepared. My wounds were too fresh before so it was not really an option for me to help other victims (not to mention that I had no courage whatsoever), but it seems that the timing is right somehow.
I often feel that I’m not in the driver’s seat of my own car. My life is so random and unpredictable. So check out these VERY CRAZY THINGS which have been going on in the past eight days.
First of all, I met a survivor of child sex trafficking just 24 hours after my car accident which should have killed me. I’ve never had the courage to find out about how to apply for positions working with sex-trafficked survivors, but by the time I read his story (which took me and hour and a half) I was completely resolved. This is the reason I did not die last Monday. This is the reason I’m alive. Again, I’ve known this for four years, but I did not have the courage or the resolve until Thursday night.
Second, I’m realizing that this decision I made will have its rewards and joys but it will also have its challenges and tough times. I cannot express the joy I feel from hearing my new friend – who was trafficked as a little boy from age 6 until age 10 – asking me, “How did you get to where you are today? I’m having trouble in my recovery. I don’t know if it’s possible to recover. I don’t feel that I deserve to recover.” This is a flicker of hope, a flicker of life inside someone who is somehow still alive against all logic and all reason. He wants to recover. He’s not sure how, but if there is any flicker of hope out there he wants to grab hold of it.
So this is an exciting thing about being involved in the lives of survivors!
But then today I realized that by surrending to God’s will – in having me advocate for victims of prostitution and help in whichever way he tells me to, travel anywhere he tells me to – IT’S A LITTLE TERRIFYING!!!!
Today at work, business was slow and so I was reading a book in the front of the store and noticing the people who walked by the window. A petite and very beautiful Chinese girl parked her car and then walked by my store’s window and for some reason halted and turned around and looked at me, almost fearfully. She must have felt me watching her I guess. Her fearful demeanor made me curious, in addition to the fact that she was extremely beautiful and I had no idea what type of business the Asians were running next door, as it is brand new.
Having posted ads on Red Book in the past, I’m aware that of the thousands upon thousands of ads that are up on Sacramento’s Red Book at any given second, a high percentage of them are ads for Asian massage parlors. Before I tried out Red Book, I actually had thought that sex is only sold in Asian massage parlors in San Fransisco, or possibly Vegas or L.A. – the sin cities. But Sacramento?? Yes. Sacramento.
Knowing what I know, I clearly could not ignore the business next door. I would be being an irresponsible steward of the calling God has given me. I had to find out if it was a massage parlor. I found out that it was. The windows were heavily curtained with no way of looking inside. I decided I would stop in after work and ask about their prices. But then I saw that the prices were right on the door. Darn What excuse could I come up with to walk in there and take a peak inside?
I watched the customers go into the massage parlor. All the customers were men. And all the employees were women. I tried not to be paranoid or jump to conclusions, but just to investigate rationally and calmly. The cheapest massage was $30 and the most expensive was $60. How can you run a business on prices like that? Aha! I decided that was my ticket indoors; I would ask, “Are your prices this cheap because you just opened, or are these your regular rates?”
When my shift ended, I very strongly wanted to walk right by that place and ignore it. Ignore the suspicious pricings on the door. Ignore that all the customers were male. Pretend I didn’t find out that it was an Asian massage parlor. Pretend I didn’t see the curtains.
“NO!” my other voice in my head argued fervently. “Go in there! Now!”
As I swerved abruptly left instead of continuing straight, I grumbled, “Really, God? I mean, seriously?”
My hand had already begun pulling the door open when I noticed a little sign posted above a doorbell which read, “Please ring doorbell.” What???? So they did not want to be sneaked up on obviously. That was the fourth red flag already.
Since I’d already opened the door, I just walked in anyway, not heeding the sign. I found myself in a very tiny, squished place which served as the waiting room I suppose, dimly lit, with a long narrow hallway off to my left, which I could not look down from where I was standing, but I could see it on the surveillance cameras. What massage parlor has surveillance cameras anyway? Fifth red flag.
A terrified – completely anxious and nervous – little petite Asian woman came out eventually, staring at me as if to ask, “Why in the world are you here?” She was a different woman than the beautiful one I had seen earlier.
I shared my question, but she did not understand it because she did not speak English. So she called someone else, who was also a petite woman and was slightly older than her. Both the women seemed to be in their thirties – whereas the first one I had seen was much younger. This older woman understood me after I spoke very slowly and pointed to the pricing sign. She smiled a lot and gave me their business card, saying “Same, same” meaning the prices would always be the same; they were not cheap because of the grand opening.
Both of them were so sweet, and all three of us laughed when the older woman said, “She no understand you. No English.”
Then I went outside and I cried.
I will update you guys on this story after I’ve decided what specifically to do. There are different options, and I want to weigh all of them. The last thing I want is for the sweet girls to be arrested and lose their means of supporting themselves, so I have a lot of questions and yeah, just a lot of questions that need answering. I’m getting in touch with a cop friend of mine to get some info. And I have a lot of praying to do. God revealed this to me, and I really like the women I met. They’re really special and I want to be a blessing to them, not someone who reports them to the cops. If anything, the clients need to be arrested and the prices for actual massages raised so that they can support themselves without doing what I think they’re doing.
So this is the direction my life is now going. I’m more dedicated now to reading the blog posts of other survivors and commenting on their blogs, keeping them encouraged. My obsession is first Jesus, and secondly this. I do not want to become so obsessed with the restoration of survivors that I forget my first love, my primary passion: which is Christ and Christ only.
If you’ve read this far please pray for me to have courage, to be faithful and obedient, to go to the people God tells me to go to, and to be okay with not being able to save everyone. I just want to go where he sends me; nowhere else. I don’t want to be the driver of my own car; I want to be in the passenger seat. And especially pray that I would stay really closely entangled with Jesus in constant prayer and that I would be humble and teachable.
A desire I have is to be a public speaker after my book is published and out there. My writing is going well. A friend in Guatemala has asked to translate some of my posts on Spilled Perfume into Spanish and publish them in an online magazine over there. So I see God really doing many things. I never pictured myself as ever being an advocate for prostitution victims, but this is what I am and this is what I always will be.
I believe God’s heart breaks every time a human being is raped, and every time a human being is raped for pay.
I will follow this God of justice wherever he may take me – in the rewarding times and in the freakishly hard times – because if he’s the one at work, nothing can stand against his plans. My part is merely to be obedient.
Please join me in prayer for all that God is doing! And praise him because he is aware – so aware – of the sex industry. These precious souls are not overlooked by him. Thank you, Jesus, for all you are doing and all that you are yet to do! Amen.