we have a few areas in the city that we do outreach in and because my time here is so short ive decided to concentrate on one area for the rest of my time as i really feel like God has been connecting me with the women and girls we meet there. maybe a month and a half ago I met a girl in that area named Emily or Ems. It was not her real name but her bar name that she’d given me, which is very common for the girls to do both as an alias for protection against police, buyers and against family finding out their ‘work’ and also is used as a way to disassociate themselves and their ‘real life ‘and the life they have to live to get by.

When I sat with her and her friends that night on a wooden bench in front on the shacks in which they work, her pimp sat nearby and only smiled. our organiztion is good friends with this pimp/bar manager: she is a 40 something woman that dresses and looks like a man and its only clear that she is a woman when she smiles and laughs which is something i like to see every friday night. its interesting because this woman comes to our medical mission every 6 months and brings her family and is a mum, and then on friday nights she just ‘goes to work’ and pimps girls who could so easily be her daughters. although we dont support her role in all this – this mama-san is a great person to have on our side. she knows our intent and yet she wlecomes our visit every friday and almost always breaks the cold managerial face with a smile when any of the foreigners ask her how she’ sdoing in terribly hacked up tagalog. so its an odd dynamic being outside that bar beacuse we are both welcomed and yet are litterally trying to steal her business(in Jesus’ name!).  i often wonder about the series of events that moved her from looking beautiful and enticing on the bench,  to the plastic lawn chair where she sits every friday with her stern ‘bouncer’ face and her clothes that dont even hint to the fact that she is a woman.

This pimp looked on while i sat and spoke with Ems and her friends on the bench with our flip flopped feet less than an inch from the mud .  In speaking with Emily i found out she was only 19 and she looked at me with eyes  both full of trust and fear, like a kid on the first day of school. For all the women we meet on a Friday night I really remembered meeting Emily that first time because her name was ‘Emily’ and and not ‘Rose’ or ‘Ana’ or another Filipina name. She chose to be Emily and even that night as we spoke I thought of the great authors and characters from England that held that name and how in meeting ‘Emily’ i was also meeting her desire to escape to another land as someone with another life.

I didnt see Emily again until this past Friday when she came to our weekly fellowship with some of her friends who have kids in our scholarship program and she greeted me with a hand hold and a smile and even remembered my name. she sang and danced and acted silly in our games and all the rest. She looked full of joy when she left at 5pm. 5  hours later on outreach I happened to run into her just as we were leaving her ‘bar’ and likely just ‘finishing’ with a buyer,as she was just wearing a  t tank top and shorts and was still sweaty when i hugged her. Her eys looked defeated, thats all i cant descibe them as. It was the first time for me to know a girl in one setting and then see her as the someone else that she needed to be to get by only hours later. so it was all very shocking, but i trust that God allowed  us to cross paths for that breif moment on Friday night for a reason.

What was even more shocking than friday night was to see her come in yesterday (Tuesday) for an ‘intake’ of sorts. I ran to her and gave her a hug without  regard for if it was the right thing to do or not, but i still think it was. I asked “Kumusta ka?”  aand she replied ” Ok, lang” which in Filippino culture is the most polite way of saying “things are really NOT good” she held my hand and i gave hers a squueze and a smile and left her with the women who have been there, sitting awkwardly and almost-shamefully on (ironiclly) the ‘welcome’ couch.

Later i came downstairs and passed the counselling room where Emily sat with one of the missonary trainees (a victum/survivor of prostitution herself). At the door their sandles lay beside eachother: one for the woman who has walked many days in ‘her shoes’ and now stands firm on Holy ground, and other set for the other asking to be carried in this time of transition between the two lives.

now, the best part is that today at 9am she was back!

She woke up!

this may not sound like a great feat but as one of the very wise victim survivors pointed out about her transition into a ‘normal’ life the hardest thing  was not to leave her friends or her pimp or the moeny she knew she could get – but that one of the hardest things she faced was seeing the sun again.  as most girls do they wrk the night shift which goes to the wee dark hours of the morning (sadly about the same time here that im posthing this). and because many of the girls live in the bars and are saving money to send home to their families there is little reeason to leave the bar/brothels and even if they are one of the lucky ones who are trusted not to run away their speratic hour instantly paints them as ‘that’ type of girl, and many avoid the judging looks at all costs because they are too often the judgemnst that girls make about themselves.

so a life of darkness is sadly fitting for the life they are living and for many girls who have made the walk towards truth and well, light  – readjusting to sunshine is a very real and very difficult challange for them.

so that was yesterday. she made the treck ain the sunlight and even stayed the whole day, for both morning and afterwork prayer.!

so it is a glimmer of hope in a very DARK ministry butmore importantly  it is the first glimmer of a new life for emily, so i REALLY NEED you to be strategic and pray AGAINST the darkness.

as many of you probably know every time we take a step closer twards the Good things God has for us we are ACTUALLY retaliated against spirituallly. I know for me in happened many times but the most recognizable have been when i first decided to follow Christ and then just a few months later my mum got cancer. so please stratigtically pray for Emily (her suedo name, as her real one is too precious to blog about).

pray for her now and every time you think of her pray for her strongly.

as one long-time missionary in this area of ministry pointed out “It is challenging to help people understand that it is still a long process once a woman starts the program. It is hard when people think it is the end point once the woman walks through the door. ”

here are a few more points that were taken from a conference I attended while here regarding protition and trafficking in Asia.

let them be a reminder to you and me (when i edit this long ramble  in the morning!) that this isnt just about a woman coming to prgam, but this is about a woman choosing to walk away from assuredness of the darkness that shes been living under into day-light and many new unanswered questions.

and as many of you know this WILL be coupled with spiritual… retaliation (for lack of a better descrition). it happened to me when i first made the choice to follow Christ and then a few months later my mum got cancer, and MANY times in my life since then when Ive made the difficult choice to walk in the good things God has for me. So please pray for Emily, stratgically pray againts the darkness and for to be strong. pray while she sleeps and pray any time you think of her.

Here are the Points from that conference that really speak to the LONG and Difficult process that usually happens when a women decides to walk through the door:

  • The gospel we live is a hard gospel and we live it because of the hope we have in the next life and the joy we receive in this life. It is a hard gospel, but it is worth the hardship.
  • Some supporter’s theology is based on an ideal rather than experience (especially concerning time).
  • We might not see the fruit of our labor until heaven:
    • Hebrews 11: Biblical heroes who never saw the fulfillment of their faith and their hope.
    • Let it be enough that we are reflecting the character of God and loving people who He has asked us to love.
    • Knowing that we are on a continuing journey, This part is not the whole story, and not even the most important part.
    • Psalms – we do not have to be perfect before coming into God’s presence, and we can still dialogue with God in an honest way – being really real!

Please pray!

and most importantly, THANK GOD FOR WHAT HE IS DOING IN EMILY’S LIFE!

Salamat sa Dios!

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