Joy

Beautiful. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Intricately woven together with such intentional and thoughtful detail. Each of us is so incredibly unique. Sure, some of us have similar physical features but our personalities, our thoughts, our dreams, what makes us who we are rolls into a complex creation. 

I recently delivered my third baby girl. She is perfection; so sweet and so beautiful, I was instantly in love with her. I am already learning little things about her personality. Her determination, the fact that she always knows exactly what she wants, her love of cuddles (especially from mom), and her desire to take in the world around her. She is beautiful. 

I began working in this ministry when my first daughter was just a little baby. I was working in a red light district in Northern Thailand working with girls being sold in bars. This is where I really discovered my passion and this is where our ministry began. Coming into this ministry with a daughter caused both my husband and I to view each girl we met as a daughter. Our hearts for the men eventually grew, but it really all began by seeing precious daughters selling their bodies; many of them doing so for the gain of others. Even as a young 23 year old, mother’s heart broke. 

Years later I still see them as daughters. When we go out on the streets of Los Angeles I feel a sliver of what God feels for these girls knowing that they are His daughters and that he is aching for them to know His true, authentic, unconditional love. I hear them share their dreams and fears and interests and it is so sweet and so real. They are people; they are beautiful, they are complex, funny and sometimes a mess but its all a part of who they are. When they let their guard down and allow us to see a bit of who is really inside, it is such and incredible and celebrated moment. It brings me so much joy. 

This past week our team went out from 3am to 6 am once again spreading the message that these girls matter. We have been faithfully doing outreaches for awhile now. The girls know who we are now. They often wave us over and say things like: “Hey! You’re here! Can I have a gift?” or “ I was hoping I would see you tonight.” Or “I’m glad you are here, I had something really scary happen. Will you pray with me?” 

We are building real relationships. The last night our team went outa few of them had an encounter that was so beautiful, so real and so heartbreaking all at the same time. They met a girl they had met before and asked her how she always remains so joyful despite how long she has been working the streets, forced to sell her body. She responded: “Because it’s the one thing they can’t take from me. They can take everything else, but the pimps can’t steal my joy.” 

After being robbed of everything that weaves her into who she is, after being told to act a certain way and even to sacrifice her body over and over night after night. She wouldn’t allow her joy to be stolen. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is based on the things that are happening, but joy is something deeper. It is something deeply rooted, knit into our spirits that rises up and breaks through conditions. And this sweet girl who is being sold EVERY night refuses to give up joy.

I pray that one day we are able to establish enough trust with her that she is able to know that the hope that we are offering is real, that we don’t want anything from her, and even more importantly that there is more for her in life. Hope for her future.