this week has been full of thanksgiving and time well spent with my sweet Aaron before he leaves for three weeks on Monday. It's been a beautiful time full of yummy coffee drinks, bike rides and dog walks, lazy movie nights and cooking together. We were so blessed by our Thanksgiving dinner with friends from Kaleo, a church community we found here that made us feel at home. I've been counting the days one by one, remembering that they are full of gifts and time to forgive and be forgiven.
On Tuesday I went on a human trafficking awareness tour around the city. I finally saw the scars you've been carrying and the brokenness of the city. Each brothel and site we drove by made my chest heavier and my heart ache for a different world. I learned about the pregnant girl in debt who had to rent her own underwear for $25. I learned about the counter-top abortions and the truth about cantineras... that some of them don't even know what city they are in and are hidden behind secret rooms whenever activists disguised as consumers try to end it all. There are loop-holes, there is corruption and heinous acts and wickedness veiled with ambiguity because it is a spiritual battle, this slavery. There are politicians who don't believe it's real, as if it were a global warming plea, and brothel owners and pimps who have friends and lobbyists in high places. Some of them don't even make an effort to hide that they are selling sex.
Houston, my heart breaks for you. You are a beautiful, diverse city. You are one of the largest hubs for human trafficking because of the transnational highway I-10 and accessibility as an international air-and-sea port. Each strip club and illicit sex store and pornography shop and bar and massage "spa"... they are dark and full of young girls and boys and older women, they are full of fear and manipulation and questions of what we're all worth. They are weighed down with shame and I want to go there, to every ritzy, wealthy-white-business-man place, the Korean "spas" and the cantinera back houses where they move these girls from room to room. I want to give them baby showers and clean beds, I want to tell them they are worth more and that they are loved by a Creator who is angry and weeps for them. I want to tell them that Jesus does not weep alone, and that there is an army called the church and it is rising up as one body. I want to tell them I'm sorry that we live in a world where sex is solicited, that I'm sorry for what they've seen and done. I want to tell the young boys that their testimonies must be heard, that they all have a voice and one day it will be heard. That the Creator is holy and just and filled with righteous anger that someone has devalued and belittled them because they are made in the image of God. I want to share the good news of the gospel and tell them they can be made new.
Houston, we have to let your cries be heard. We must be in the light, fellowshiping with the heart of Jesus, exposing the dark places and rooms hidden by mirrored doors and bared windows. These voices must be heard, because where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. I see your brokenness and I have been far removed. But prayer will reach the lifeless places. He is mighty to save, and he is our refuge.
Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
If you're in Houston and want to learn more about how to get involved in the fight to end human trafficking, visit the following sites for details.
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