I begrudgingly left home in the dark on Christmas Eve because I had made a promise to a very lonely woman that she would not have to spend Christmas alone.
Two years prior, at 1:00 am on a Friday night, we met Gail during our street outreach to women. On the night of this divine encounter, we learned that Gail had no family and had spent most of her life making a living as a sex-worker.
So, I drove the quiet, dark road from north to south where Gail lived. I knocked on the door with a Christmas gift bag in hand. Gail happily opened the door and greeted me with great joy. “I thought you were not coming!” she exclaimed.
As I walked in, my eyes had to adjust to the opaque lighting. I found myself sitting on the corner of the bed where everything was pink – the bedspread, the pillows, the lighting and the décor were all hot pink.
Although I thought it strange, I remained in a pastoral care role as I aimed to be fully present and embrace the spirit of Christmas and my friend Gail.
We sang Christmas hymns and I read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. I was blessed to be celebrating Christmas with this woman — a sex worker — who said that she had been alone for many years at Christmastime.
I have heard it argued that prostitution is not actually human trafficking, but I beg to differ! I argue that when one is told when to sit down, when to stand up, when to sleep, when to wash, where to go and even who to have sex with at any given moment, then that individual is being trafficked.
Psychological restraints or bondage of the mind can be just as debilitating as bondage by physical force.
My prayer is that we would have compassion on sex workers. Compassion on those who may have been victims of those whom they trusted in authority and for those who may have simply made one wrong choice that took them down a long dark path.
As January is Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month, let us do the following:
1. Pray that captives will be set free (Luke 4:18). Those like Gail more probably need to be as according to Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”
2. Educate our girls and boys at age-appropriate levels about their self-worth as image-bearers of God.
3. Provide some level of support for families with children who are struggling financially, socially, spiritually or recreationally.
4. Adopt a homeless shelter to help meet needs or house a teen who has aged out of foster-care.
In the streetwalking ministry I launched years ago, we reach women and girls by hearing their stories, offering prayers, helping them to dream again and providing resources. We have relocated about five women to undisclosed locations in other states and sent a confused 16-year-old home on a Greyhound bus one night.
With Gail on this Christmas, we sang hymns. It was beautiful. While singing Silent Night, I asked God to forgive me for not wanting to be there in that hot pink room. We were together and, no doubt, God was present.
Again, for about two years, our team visited Gail on the streets, in Wendy’s Restaurant for Bible study and in that same hot pink room until one day we did not see her anymore. She never responded to our knock on the motel room door again.
Although we have not seen her, our encounters were divine. Just perhaps our small missional efforts to what some would determine are “the least of these” among us will yield fruit for the Kingdom of God.
Will you go and do likewise?
Editor’s note: This is the final article in a series this week, calling attention to January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The previous articles are:
To Address Sex Trafficking, We Must Reduce Demand | Pam Strickland
Bringing Freedom to the Captives | Jennifer Allmon
Executive director / treasurer of the Women’s Missionary Union of Virginia. She is passionate about uplifting women which has led to a “streetwalking ministry” reaching sex workers in her city for 14 years.