I stepped foot into my first brothel a year ago last Thursday. Wow, can that sentence be taken out of context, ha!
I can’t believe that it’s been a year since my first exposure to the darkness that exists in this world through sex trafficking. I remember meeting up with the rest of the team at a Starbucks before heading over to the section of town just a few minutes away that is polluted by rows and rows of “massage parlors.” You can read my thoughts about that first trip here.
I would’ve never guessed that that trip would play such a huge part in my journey to be in full-time ministry now. Although I’m not currently as focused on this industry as much as I was in the beginning, it still holds a significant part of my heart. It still breaks my heart to think about the dozens of customers these women are forced to service daily. It breaks my heart to think about how numb the house madams are to answering phone calls for services like they would answer take-out orders at a restaurant. It breaks my heart to think about how desperate and lonely the men who frequent these parlors must be. It breaks my heart to think about the children and families involved, directly and indirectly. All I can do for now is pray for everyone involved and bring the issue into the light for those who have not yet heard. Would you join me in doing the same?
The interesting thing is that those brothel doors not only opened my eyes to the darkness of that industry and underground crime, it also opened my eyes up to the brokenness that truly exists in each of us. Everyone is longing to love and be loved. You don’t have to be trapped in this industry to understand the pain that comes from loneliness and hurt. I recently heard that the one thing that all humans have in common is our experience with pain; pain is humanity’s baseline.
When God created the universe in the beginning, he stopped and said that it was good after He made each thing (light, sky, land, seas, plants, sun, moon, birds, fish, animals, etc.), but after He made Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and He created Eve to be Adam’s companion. God didn’t just tell Adam to hang out with Him more, or to go and tend to the animals more; He created Eve as a solution to Adam’s aloneness. God solved Adam’s problem of aloneness through another human being.
We, too, have this same problem of aloneness. And we are each other’s solution to it!
Knowing this truth is like knowing everyone’s poker hand. It’s your trump card in relating to others. If everyone truly has this problem of aloneness, then they must truly appreciate and need any act of kindness and love extended toward them, no matter how much of a defensive front they may put up.
God extended the greatest act of love and kindness towards us by sending Jesus to earth for us. None of us are good enough to weasel our way into His holiness. We all struggle with our own junk: pride, selfishness, envy, lust, anger, self-righteousness, bitterness, gluttony, etc. To God, we are no better than the men who frequent the brothels and take advantage of innocent young girls—we still fall short and do not deserve His love and mercy. And yet, Jesus still came to die in our place and wipe our mistakes away, offering us a clean slate in His Name. That’s crazy!
It is out of the overflow of my thankfulness to God for His love, forgiveness, and grace, coupled with this understanding that every human on this planet has the problem of aloneness and need for love that allows me to step out and “love all peoples” with my team and in my daily interactions. Of course, I am far from perfect and more often than not choose my own comfort in remaining silent instead of listening to God’s gentle nudge to encourage or pray for the person I pass at the grocery store or on the street…but when I do listen to God and take that leap of faith in looking someone in the eye and asking how they’re doing and if there’s anything that I can pray for them for, their eyes always light up and we both leave feeling encouraged. I really believe that being present in these daily interactions is part of the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.
Jesus came to earth not to be served, but to serve. He came to demonstrate what true love is (“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:13), so that we could have an example to follow. You don’t have to be in full-time ministry to do this!
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another…We love each other because God loved us first. If we say we love God, but hate our brothers and sisters, we are liars. For people cannot love God, whom they have not seen, if they do not love their brothers and sisters, whom they have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: all who love God must love their brother or sister also.” (1 John 4:10-11, 19-21).
I think the one thing that I’ve learned during my time in ministry so far is that I have nothing to offer but Jesus and His love to others. If we truly carry Christ’s love with us, then we owe it to God and the world to shower it everywhere we go, no matter who we’re with or where we’re at.
Dear reader, you have access to people in your sphere of influence whom I don’t have access to. The people you brush shoulders with at work and in life are people whom God has entrusted to you to love for Him. How are you going to love them today? With a genuine “how are you”? A hug? A prayer? An encouraging word? There’s a treasure in every single person you pass by each day. I pray that we all pause to consider this truth before continuing on with our todays. You are needed in this world, dear friend! Please don’t hold back.