The year was 1996. I was entering the second trimester of the school year, and money was needed to buy textbooks for classes. But I had none. I had already spent my school money to feed my drug addiction and alcohol cravings. Classes were just starting and assignments were being made. Read these chapters from these textbooks. Write papers and reports. But there were no textbooks, because there was no money, because there was a beast that needed to be fed.
And then a friend told me that I could make some quick cash. Nothing dirty, more artistic. Just a few photographs. Just take off my clothes, do a few decent poses, I could change my name.
At first I laughed, bashful. I could never...
But then another day of class came and went. No books. No assignment to turn in. And the cravings from the beast were becoming painful.
Maybe I could...just a few...it would be quick...and I could call the shots. Nothing dirty.
So I made the phone call, picked the time and place. Took a shower, took a few shots of liquor, grabbed a few changes of clothes, threw back a few more shots, and walked out the door.
I call the shots. Nothing dirty.
The session was a hour long. And he paid me $300. Enough for a few textbooks. And I wanted to just walk away.
Pretend. It. Never. Happened.
I did that a lot back in those days. And I thought I could rationalize my way through it. It paid for my books, and what was the harm, really? It's not like it was porn. Just a few shots of naked poses. Nothing dirty.
Except that it was. It was my body, my precious sexuality, my precious treasure, the temple, put on display for a stranger with a camera. Sold out for a few coins.
And for as much as I thought I could just walk away like it was nothing, I wanted to run and hide, to put on every article of clothing in my closet, just to make sure that everything was covered. There was a sense of shame, and yet I wanted to be tough. So the hard wall that I had built up around my heart got another layer added to it, hardening me even more, protecting an empty shell inside.
So then when a friend told me that I could do that every weekend while dancing, and make about a grand a weekend, I entertained the idea. And every time the beast needed a fix, I entertained the idea. And every time I wrote a hot check to pay for a few groceries (and beer), I entertained the idea. It would be nothing. It might even be a little fun. I could numb myself with some booze and some drugs, and just go dance. Who cares if someone is watching? It would be nothing. I had already put one foot on the slope. What's another?
By God's grace, He loved me before I ever knew Him, and my foot was caught on that slippery slope to not slide down any further. There were some who were crying out on my behalf, long before I ever knew anything about it. He spared me and saved me, and now, His redemptive grace has come full circle.
More women are currently employed in the sex industry than any other time in history. Our culture has glamorized and desensitized the people to that which is sacred and treasured. There are more strip clubs in the US than any other nation in the world, and the sex industry in Tucson, AZ is just downright overwhelming.
There is much shame and secrecy which surrounds this shadowy industry. Many secrets to be kept. Studies that have been done reveal that between 66-90% of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children. Compared to the general population, women in the sex industry experience higher rates of substance abuse, rape and violent assault, STD's, domestic violence, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Fear and distrust holds them captive to the life they know, rather than reaching for the freedom they do not know. Many need a lifeline, but don't know how or whom to ask.
Tomorrow night a community will gather. They will hit their knees and weep on behalf of our sisters in the sex industry. They will cry out on behalf of our brothers, those who are contributing to the system. They will gather on behalf of their siblings, and then two by two, teams will go out as ambassadors of God's redeeming grace, to tell our sisters that we love them, to tell our brothers that they are cherished. These teams will deliver gifts crafted by the hands of a family in longing, selected and prayed over as beacons of Light, and they will stand in the gap, whispering the Savior's Name.
Jesus told us that the Shepherd, upon realizing that one of his sheep has strayed, would leave the 99 to go after the one.
We are asking You, Great Shepherd, Go. We are missing our siblings.
Bring my sisters out of darkness and into Your glorious light. Bring her home to the family, and refine us to be nothing but Christ to her. The world has been harsh and cruel, and the enemy has been shouting lies her whole life. Give us hearts that would not judge, and eyes to remember the height from which we fell. Give us tongues that would speak slowly, gently, compassionately, Love. Give us arms that would hold her till the crying stops. And give us patience to hold her more.
Bring my sisters out of darkness. Tell her that's she's beautiful. Tell her how much she's worth. Overwhelm her with the Truth of Your love. Tell her she's not disposable. Tell her she's not worthless. Tell her she's not stupid. Tell her there is someone who cares what happens to her. Tell her, Father, that there is no flaw within her. Tell her, Lord, because it's been a long time since my sister heard Truth. Tell her she's not worthless. Tell her she's worth the blood of Your Son, of the Shepherd who has gone after her. Oh, speak tenderly, as the Lover she's never had.
Tell her that You have come to redeem her from the slippery slope that is taking her life.
Will you join us? Will you pray for the lost? Will you pray for the hurting? Will you pray for the marginalized? Will you prayers for our sisters and brothers? Will you seek them out to show kindness and love?
Because love covers a multitude of sins. And stops the sliding down a dark and dangerous slope.