After Hours

Last Friday night a girl caught in prostitution taught me a little lesson about God. About a month ago I was introduced to a ministry called After Hours which reaches out to the pimps and prostitutes on the streets of LA. I’ve been searching quite literally for months for an organization that I could work with that works directly with sex-trafficked women or prostitutes & was surprisingly finding very little opportunity around the area ‘til this ministry opportunity quite literally fell in my lap last month through a connection I got through my church, Reality LA.

Our first night out marked one of THE most emotional nights of my life…watching these girls (some of them as young as 14) walk up & down the streets dressed in next to nothing, flaunting their bodies in hopes that one sex craved man might give her 2 minutes of his lustful attention. As we spoke with the girls I realized I could throw all of my preconceived notions of prostitutues out the window. What I was finding is they’re just like me…women with lives and families…in search of love & validation. The only difference is I’ve found my love & validation in what I believe to be the right place. They’re searching for it in this business simply because it’s quite literally all that they know! Some of them raised by a prostitute mother and a pimp for a father. One girl told me she just started doing it because in junior high “it was the cool thing to do”. To go out on the streets and sell your body and worth to men who only know you for the two minutes of pleasure that you give them. That was the cool thing to do!? I felt sick to my stomach driving home and almost angry at God. I found myself weeping out of brokenness for these women…but also, to my surprise, out of anger with God. Asking him questions on his reasoning and choosing. How & why was I ever saved from all of this junk when such an overwhelming amount of women in this world live sexually, emotionally and physically abused and are raised to think that they are not worth much more then what their body can offer a man. God reminded me of Romans 8:20 (“…shall what is formed say to him who formed it ‘why did you make me like this’?…”)…still struggle with this but it offered some reprieve.

Theology from a prostitute

2 weeks later we hit the streets again. This time we met a girl who I’ll call, Amy (to protect her identity). As we walked up to Amy and her two friends they greeted us warmly as they recognized part of our team from a few weeks before. They accepted our gift bags and even asked us for prayer. From the moment we approached the girls Amy’s countenance stuck out to me. She seemed almost relieved to see us and had such a sense of urgency about her. As soon as we finished praying for all three of them Amy told her friends to go ahead without her so that she could stay and pray more with us. Her two friends walked away joking and laughing and flaunting their bodies at passing cars. Amy grabbed ahold of the hands of one of the girls on our team and just began to cry and pray. Her prayer sent shivers through my body and brought tears to my eyes. I can’t recall the exact wording but it was something to the effect of, “God save us from this lifestyle and show us that we are worth more than this. Show every girl out here that you love them and help us find a way out.” Her prayer went on for a good 5 minutes. Every word even more sincere and passionate than the last. When she finished praying, my friend Jen prayed with her and told her about a recovery home that we could send her to if she ever wanted out. But with not much thought her response was an abashed, “I can’t”. I could not get her off my mind as I drove home. It was quite apparent she had been raised in a Christian home or at least had some type of Christian influence. She knew the way out…she knew what to do yet refused to take those steps to freedom!

Location change vs Identity Change

I couldn’t help but ask God why on the way home and realized the answer. Simply put, this is ALL that these women know. In their minds they are a just a piece of flesh only worth the weight of gold held inside a man’s hands. In their minds they are not worthy of ever being legitimately loved. I had the revelation that in a deceptive state of being you’ll only seek that which is already your identity instead of that which could someday be your identity. Otherwise put, they cannot see themselves beyond prostitution. In their minds, it is not just what they do but it is who they are. Dreams, aspirations, hopes blackened out by their present identity. This led me to realize that our job going out on the streets is not to just try to save the women out of their physical circumstances and put them in a different location because then all we have done is put a woman, who is still a prostitute in her own mind, in a more comfortable living environment. These women literally need a complete identity transformation. I realized our most important job is to love them into realizing their identity… to help them remember who they are in Christ, that they are worthy of love. No matter how cliché that sounds…it is a completely foreign concept to women who have no perception of what it truly means to be loved. The process to that could very well be a recovery home but a simple location change in and of itself will do little.

A world of pimps & prostitutes

Through this experience I also realized the extent to which the majority of women (and men) in our culture are just another form of prostitutes. We give our hearts and bodies away to one person after the next in an effort to somehow feel more validated about ourselves. Too often we loose our identity in a relationship or dating or marriage. The root issue here is, where are we placing our identity? Is it in whether or not a man is validating us by telling us we’re beautiful. Is it in how many guys we’ve dated or how many guys have pursued us. Is it in earthly validation of any kind.? Even in a marriage.? If you’re ever looking to any other human being to fully validate you as a person you will end up very lonely, discouraged and frustrated with God & life.  Just as you can’t take the prostitute out of  a girl caught in prostitution by changing her physical location…we can’t take the brokenness out of us by trying to disguise it in a new (seemingly safe) relationship. The only place we’re safe from that identity crisis & state of mind is when we’ve reached the point in our walks with God where we can say that we are %100 validated by him and him alone. Then and only then are we free to walk into a romantic or marriage relationship in a healthy, Godly manner & by His grace alone watch it flourish. I’ll be the first to say I’m not there yet but I think it’s a noble goal.

The song posted above, Silence & Noise is a song I wrote for Amy shortly after this experience. 

August 22, 2011

Mandy Dobbelmann

Founder and editor of Forte E Bello. Mandy is writer, singer/songwriter, and music teacher with a love for life, people, adventure and living simply. She is passionate about using her gift for writing and music to be a voice for change.