Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Begin & End With Prayer

We began Friday with prayer.

In Vegas there is a weekly scheduled prayer meeting.
The workers in the non-profits, Christians in the government system, Pastors,  and people who are passionate about ending human trafficking gather together in prayer. 
They unify and become a stronger force against the evil that has penetrated the city, infiltrated the world, when they join together and take their concerns and requests before the throne of God. 
It's a time of giving thanks, entreaty, and restoration. 
A time of building each other up and empowering one another to go out into the world and tear down evil. 
It is probably the most powerful weapon a Christian can wield.
Prayer changes things.
Because God works through prayer.

 We met Rachel and Caroline there that morning.  They would be joining us that day for our adventure out to Pahrump and our brothel visits.  Each of them has their own amazing testimony that they shared with us as we got to know them throughout the day.  Each of these women had been a lost, broken and hurt woman in their past.  They had each been through some really hard life experiences, they knew first hand the damage and hurt that comes from a lifestyle of prostitution and gang living. But most importantly, they had each experienced the redemption and love of Jesus Christ in their lives.  These women are now passionately serving Jesus and are singing his praises in so many ways.  It was amazing and wonderful to listen to them and hear what God had done in each of their lives. He has restored years that were stripped away. He has restored relationships that were broken and hurting. He has healed their hearts, healed their lives.

Rachel is on the far left, Caroline is next to her in the white shirt.

 After eating at In-n-Out Burger for the first time in my life, we left Las Vegas for Pahrump. In-n-Out burger is owned by Christians and they print bible verse references on their cups and burger wrappers and stuff.

We were driving out to Pahrump to meet with Kay, a sprightly woman in her 70's, who along with her friend Lupe has had a ministry traveling to the brothels throughout Nevada.  Lupe was unable to join us, but Kay dedicated her afternoon to meeting with us, telling us about their ministry and then guiding us to 2 of the brothels we visited.

 We first met at the park to chat and learn more about Kay and the ministry she and Lupe have.  She is a lively woman who has dedicated much of her time and money to love on the women who work in the brothels.  Her and Lupe have been, for the past five years, driving a circuit of over 1000 miles to visit most of the 24 brothels in the state.  They do it in 3 days time.  They stop at the brothels, talk to the women working there, give them small gifts, encourage them, and love them. Recently, a couple of new women have come alongside of them in their ministry and now they have been able to turn over a few of the brothels to these new women. This is enabling them to shorten their own drive time and make the trip easier. Kay grieves not being able to see all of the girls each month, but she is ready to step back a little, since it has been a lot to handle.  She would love it if someone would come along who would be their driver, because they love the ministry, but the drive is getting to be very challenging for two ladies their age.
I was very inspired to meet Kay and hear her passion and love for these women.  It is refreshing to meet someone who is retired but understands that you don't retire from serving God.  I loved seeing someone her age that was actively serving in a vital ministry.  What I saw up close is how much the women at the brothels love and respect Kay.  Her ministry is vital.  There are not many people beating down the doors to a brothel to simply build relationships with the women and love them like Jesus loves them.  Her approach to sharing the gospel is subtle.  It takes time.  It requires trust.  She isn't there to tell them that what they are doing is sinful and wrong.  They already know that.  They feel the shame of their profession.  You can tell especially in the women who refuse to show their face in their pictures.  Kay isn't there to add to their shame, she is there to share the love of Christ.
We went with her to visit two brothels and then we went to a third without her later on that night.
The reason we had to drive over an hour away is because although brothels are legal in Nevada, they aren't legal in the same county as Las Vegas. 
This was not an easy part of the trip for me.  I have never pictured myself walking into a brothel in my life! I was really nervous about the whole thing and asked my room mate Sarah for some tips.  It wasn't just the uncomfortable atmosphere I imagined I would encounter inside, it was the fear that I wouldn't be able to comfortably talk to the girls. You should understand that I am chronically bad at small talk.  Although we work at a camp and I meet strangers all the time, I really struggle with keeping a conversation going if my first three prepared questions don't get the ball rolling well enough.  It usually dissolves into an uncomfortable silence where I either look for any reason to excuse myself or hope that the other person thinks of something to say.  Soon.
My roomie Sarah helped me to learn something new about myself.  I have always considered myself to be an extrovert.  I like being around people and have no problem speaking in front of a group.  However, certain situations have always struck fear into my heart and as I was asking my roomie for some pointers (she has a ministry to the strip clubs in her home town) she told me I was an introvert. An introvert! I've never been called that in my life! But it makes perfect sense when I'm in certain situations.  So I have recently dubbed myself an introverted-extrovert and I understand myself a little better now.
Which doesn't really help me miraculously become good at small talk, so I decided to pray.
Can I tell you that God answered! 
He will equip you to do that which he calls you to do!
You know, I don't really ever want to go into a brothel again. In fact, I wish they would all spontaniously combust (with no one in them of course) But I now know that I can, and I know I will, if God wants me to.

That's our friend Rachels 15 passenger van with the words Christian and Church painted in bold letters on the sides.

The brothels themselves are like a beautifully decorated cake that looks really delicious and tasty on the outside but when you cut into it, anticipating a bite of yummy, moist, sweet, chocolate goodness, you discover that it was actually just a cardboard form covered in frosting. 
Did you know that most brothels give free tours? 
Yep, they do.
I was thinking that they might think it was wierd that a large group of women showed up wanting a tour, we had 11 people in our group, but they didn't bat an eye when we all walked in. Partly, I know, because Kay was with us and they recognized her. I'd love to know what they were saying when we all left!
At the first place we were given a tour by a pretty young girl called Miami.  The girls never use their real names.  She was undaunted by our large group and in fact seemed happy for the diversion.  There were only 2 girls and a bartender working and no 'johns' in the place but it was only late afternoon.  She gave us a look at the rooms, most brothels like to have different rooms with different themes to offer their customers.  This particular brothel was not as well done as the other two we visited. As if that matters.
What did matter though was all Miami had to tell us.  She seemed very uninhibited and open.  Her reason for working there was because she wanted to have a breast enhancement proceedure.  However, her babies daddy said he wouldn't pay for something she didn't need.  So she decided to earn money by working at the brothel. As she talked to us more and more I had a hard time believing that was the whole truth behind the story.  Miami works at the brothel for 3 weeks at a time.  She stays at the brothel that whole time. But back home in Vegas, she has 3 kids.  She regailed us with story after story of her children, her 5 year old daughter sounds like an adorable little fire cracker. We also learned that her and her boyfriend and kids moved here from Milwaukee WI.  She talked to us for over an hour. It was evident that she loves her children and takes delight in them.  What mom would spend 3 weeks away from her kids, one week at home and then leave again for 3 weeks, continuously repeating that cycle, if they just want money for a boob job?
Doesn't sound right to me.
Some of the women working in the brothels also have pimps waiting for them at home.
Pray for Miami.  She needs to know the love of Jesus. She needs to see how much she is worth to Him. She needs to understand just how much he loves her and would do anything to bring her to himself. Even send a couple of 70 year old women to brothels, just for her.
Pray for Kay.  Pray that she would be able to build a relationship with Miami that would allow her to share the source of the love she is already bringing with her each time she visits that brothel. 


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