There is no mistaking part of the world we live in as dark. I find myself working in this darkness day in day out. It is where I have been called to “do life” There are days when this darkness almost seems like normality. The red-district is the neighbourhood in which I grace my presence with every day. I love the people who walk the streets, who sleep in brothels, who dance on tables. It’s where I have been called and the familiarity of it is almost welcoming. There are some days where it couldn’t be any further from normality and I have to catch myself. The reality of where I work and the job we do sinks in from time to time and it’s fair to say I am consumed by the struggle. Last week that struggle was evident in my life.
At Nightlight we help a variety of different women. As mentioned above we make ourselves know in many different parts of the red-light district. A community of women we are particularly drawn to is the homeless women working on the street. We have developed over time, a relationship with these women and some come to us in times of need as well making a regular appearance at our beauty salon.
There is one woman we work who for today we shall call *Jiin. Jiin trusts us and has no qualms about coming to us when she needs help. It’s a beautiful relationship and she is well loved. There is still however a void in her heart that no human affection can fill. She is still so unaware of how truly loved she is. That love comes from something greater than us. Until she knows that love for herself, the chains will not be broken and she remains in her current situation. I have come to a realization that it doesn’t matter how in need people are, until you are willing to accept that you need help, the cycle continues. This is clear in the lives of addicts of all kinds.
Mid-week a few of us bumped into *Jiin and her mental well being had deteriorated. My heart breaks for her more every single day. What I wouldn’t give to pick up and force her off the streets and get her clean. Isn’t this just a slavery in itself? We stand for freedom and free will plays the most part to this.
At the time of seeing her on that morning she was with a man who has known her for a long time. He was heavily intoxicated and out of his brokenness for her he yelled at me and my two colleagues asking “Why have you given up on her? “If I had paused even for a moment to hear the heart felt cry in his voice the actions I took next would not have happened. Sometimes something in us snaps. Sometimes we forget ourselves and the defensive parts of us burst right through. Usually this happens when I’m tired, battling with something or am overwhelmed. It’s not from God and it isn’t pleasant. My shoulders went back, chest puffed. “You have no idea what you are saying, all we’ve done is help! “These words did not spring forth from my mouth in a kindly fashion. This did not come from a place of love, it came from a place of frustration. Needless to say, I had to take this to God and ask for his forgiveness. It transpired that this man had his own story of brokenness. None of us are perfect and we are called to take a step back and see people for who they really are and not judge them.
This is a journey that I will continue to trudge and it takes me to slow down, rest up and listen to what God is saying in the moment. I don’t tend to hear God’s voice as clearly when my brain is fogged up and exhausted.
Following on from this incident, our team had our weekly outreach of which, at the time I was not certain if I should participate. I was feeling particularly vulnerable but something in my heart told me that I should go. That night we went into a bar that we had not visited in a few months, we felt this was the bar that God was leading us to. Something truly beautiful happened. That night it appeared we had favour in the bar. The girls came to us and were very open to conversation. It really was a special evening. A girl that I had spoken to in the past came up to me, screamed and gave me the most amazing hug. It was like two best friends meeting at the airport after having been separated by distance and time. We had a beautifully open chat about all manner of things. I was able to let her into my past experiences and share things that related to her own story. God had planned this meeting from the beginning of time and we were walking in that plan. That conversation has not left me, infact her face would not leave my mind. I spent the rest of the weekend praying over her life and weeping for her. It seemed that my heart had broken for her. I felt her pain as if it were my own. There is a chance here that Vicarious trauma has a large part to play here in regard to my emotional well being, I do also believe that I had the opportunity to experience a portion of the father’s heart for this girl. If the Holy spirit does indeed live inside of me then I will get an insight into God’s feelings. His heart breaks tenfold for all he sees here.
The weekend after the outreach, was for me a struggle. The darkness of the red-light district overcame me like it does now and again. Truth be told I couldn’t see God’s goodness. I was so broken by the pain that I witness every day. I had to get myself into the presence of God because what I have come to realise is that just because we feel something it doesn’t mean that it is reality. Just because I didn’t feel God’s goodness doesn’t mean that he isn’t good. His goodness is astounding but where there is good there is also evil, I couldn’t let that evil dictate my life in that moment. Yes, I believe it’s ok to feel those emotions but it’s imperative that straight away we take those emotions to the father so he can speak truth and love over us. He wants our heart so let’s not allow the enemy to claim ownership over it.
That Sunday in church our pastor felt lead to simply worship in our service. No preaching, we allowed the holy spirit to take control and we gave all praise up to God. Funnily enough when we are in our most painful moments God shows up. It may not always look like the way we expect but he’s there eagerly pursuing us, chasing after our hearts. In that service somebody prophesied and made the proclamation that there is no place for hopelessness in the church. We are the light of the world and we partner with God to bring hope to the broken.
We must not give up. We must hand the battle over to God and claim victory.
This did not merely whisper to my heart, it shouted loud. It was the breakthrough I needed to keep going. There will be days that are tough, there will be tears and questions upon questions but God has given me the tools to fight the battle. Firstly, I must submit the battle into his hands. Secondly, he has blessed me with a community to walk alongside me and finally if all else fails he gave me heavy barbells for therapy. 😊
“So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” Galatians 6:9