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"The Greatest Tragedy is indifference"

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Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver

Friday, January 21, 2011

A journal entry from The Red Light District

We have to look for those who have no one.  These are the victims of the worst illness:  that of not being wanted, not being loved, that of not having  any attention shown to them.  We can find Christ in them, Christ who is in the poor and the abandoned.... Mother Teresa
International Crisis Aid (ICA) and Faith that Works (FTW)partner to help girls escape the horror of forced prostitution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  
I am in Africa.   Last night ICA and FTW board members and volunteers walked the streets of Addis Ababa’s “red light district.”  We spoke to girls in the doorway of their shanties, and entered at least two shanties to speak to the girls and love on them.  Betty, who operates ICA’s programs in Ethiopia spoke of the girls in the red light district like this, “see these girls?  these are all of our girls.”  The aim is to offer these girls a hope of a better life.  FTW helps in ICA’s efforts by providing funding for Mercy Chapel, a community outreach center on the edge of the red light district.  
As our team drove into the district the vehicle became very quiet, we prayed, some were afraid of what they were about to see.   We heard a thump, a rock thrown at our vehicle, the pimps do not want us here , we are taking a commodity away from them-the girls.  When we parked, we stepped off the bus and a beautiful young girl, no older than My daughter Sadie (15), walked toward us.  She was striking with her long Ethiopian style dress, her hair woven with an ornament of some type.  She knew ICA-she loves ICA’s President, Pat Bradley.  As she ran toward us she yelled, “Pat, you are here, come to see me.”  Pat embraced her, as he whispered to me, I met her 6 months ago, she wants to come out of this life, but our homes are full.  As soon as we have room, I will come and get her away from this life, so she can have a home,  and attend classes at Mercy Chapel.  She will have a family there, people to love her, and she will be safe.  But for now?  We visited her shanty.  It was a tad nicer than many-because she is very beautiful and those girls have better situations, but still horrific.    It was still the size of many closets.  She brought me in to show me something- a beautiful baby girl sleeping peacefully on her bed, in the glow of the red light.  I caught my breath, nothing I have ever experienced could possibly describe my feelings-anger, pain, despair, sadness..even those do not come close to the brokenness I felt, standing there watching a girl that could be my daughter show us her small space, so proud of her child asleep under beautiful Ethiopian fabrics.   The child will be moved under the bed when she has a customer.   She walked with us along the alleyways of the red light district, leaving the baby asleep in her shanty.    She helped us invite  others to Mercy Chapel for the next day service we would hold in their honor.    As our walk came to an end, the girl grew quiet and her eyes looked sad, she wanted to come with us, not stay behind.  Everyone except Pat and Betty got back in the vehicle- Pat said, “wait here.”  We waited, he wanted to walk her back, promising he would come again, hopefully next time to rescue her from this horror.  As I sat in the vehicle, my stomach twisted and I prayed, “Oh, God, we can help her, show me how.” 
We will go to the red light district again tonight, letting the girls know- we see, we know what has happened to them, we offer a smile, a hug, a hope..that someday we will back, and take them out for good, where they can sleep in peace, have a family, and a hope for a future.  We share ourselves with them and we do it in the name of Christ.  Jesus has sent us, and they somehow know that.   They know- they have despaired, but something has kept them hoping for a better day, when the hell they live in everyday will end.    I know FTW is called to come to their aid.  This is God’s work..helping the oppressed, the widows, the poor. 

God gave me this scripture right before we went down to the red light district, it seemed to help calm some of our fear as we headed down there:  When God calls you/ He protects and provides for you, as he did for us in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s red light district.  
Acts 18:9
“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going  to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 
Our goal?  To bring local women together and raise $100,000 to open a home for the rescue and renewal of many more girls. We have a place in sight, we will purchase it, supply it, and travel with our donors to open this home to bring hope to 100’s more.  God will accomplish this through a few good women!  
help us and see / 314-560-5802

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