I don’t think I had ever felt so overwhelmed in my whole life.
Tonight was my first night out in the bars. You go in to something like this knowing it is going to be tough, but there is no amount of explanation that can get you ready for what you see.
The area I live is about two blocks away from the darkest of places I have ever been. We started out the night in prayer, something I feel like there can never be enough of before going into a place like this. Then as a group we grab something to eat and head out towards the bars.
As soon as you pass the Starbucks there are countless girls standing by the curbs. The foreigners go to Starbucks and foreigners are their number one customers…
“The one’s facing away from the street are prostitutes and the ones facing toward the street are just waiting for a taxi,” I was told. I though how odd it would be to flag down a taxi while surrounded by all of these girls in obvious need. But I suppose one must live with a certain amount of compartmentalization to live here…or perhaps its just numbness to most.
The streets are where you find most of the women who are trafficked in from other countries. Here they are mostly from Uzbekistan and different parts of Africa. The people in my group would occasionally stop to start conversations with these women. They can’t be legally hired at Nightlight but they can be helped back to their own country.
It’s more complex than I thought, these girls were trafficked in against their will, but eventually just begin to accept their lifestyle. Most will not take the offer for help for quite some time and some never. The devil is horrible. And sometimes going home for them is no better off than staying. What an awful way to feel… like there is no way out.
The eyes were what got me the most. There is so much sadness in them. Standing there, waiting for a client, I’m sure there is a lot of time to think, to not want to do it but believing that that is the only thing anyone will pay you for. Knowing that if you don’t get a client that night you won’t be able to eat or pay the rent. That must be an incredible paradox to live in. Wanting someone to pick them up yet really not wanting it… all at the same time.
It was already too much… and then we entered the bar area.
So many bars to choose from. And it was easy to spot them, all the foreign white men, sitting down with these girls. I couldn’t look at one of those men for too long, because anger would start to well up. To have lost so much respect for the humanity of women, to view them simply as objects for pleasure, not caring how much damage they are doing to them, its too unreal, too sick. Nothing in me could understand. God’s beautiful creations, abused and objectified, it’s just too much.
The sights and the sounds were already chaotic and we hadn’t even stepped inside a bar yet. We walked past bar after bar until finally entering one.
I know the shock could be easily seen on my face. It was a nearly nude bar, girls wearing next to nothing. “Most of these girls come from a place where they never even wore bathing suits swimming, always fully clothed,” someone explained to me. They were on top of a platform moving seductively to the blaring music, which of course was all American… I can imagine how I am never going to be able to hear that music back in the states the same again.
Each girl had a number pinned on to her… as if they were something simply to order, like when you are at Mc Donald’s and order the #6 or something…
After each song they would shift spots so different people in the bar could get a look at them. After three songs, that group would leave the platform and a new group would come on.
I thought I should be stronger but everything in me closed up. I tried to pray but my mind wouldn’t focus. It was nothing less than oppression from the enemy. I was bound up in shock wondering how the heck I could ever talk to one of these girls, how could I ever get past the shock of it all?
I needed to focus on God I needed to pray but the spiritual oppression was so heavy and I really was not used to this type of sensory attack. The enemy and his chaos, its powerful.
“Have you even been in a place like this?” someone on the team asked me. “No,” I said but in my head I was thinking why would I ever willingly go in a place like this?!, almost offended… then I realized I was in this place willingly.. and the people on my team willingly go to places like this, subject themselves to the images and heartbreak week after week all in hopes a saving just a few.
We finally walked out of the bar and someone asked me how I was doing… all I wanted to do was cry and tears spilled forth… I wanted so much to help, to be a light in that darkness, to overcome the shock.
Its just so much worse than you could possibly imagine. And if you are not praying regularly for this problem in the world you need to be.
Breaking down I believe was a necessary step, a step in the direction I am going with my life over this next year. I know with Christ I will be able to overcome that oppression I felt so strongly and I will help these lost and broken ones.
It is a battle out there that I know God is preparing me to fight.