I met Anne* two years ago in February. She emailed us to share her story. She had been in the industry for four years at that time and said it got worse as time went on. This is some of what she wrote:
"I am scared that I will never meet the man of my dreams and have a family and children. I am ashamed and dont tell people I meet anything about me. I never leave the house anymore cause Im just a train wreck, Alot of my friends and family have lost a lot of respect for me. Im scared to go to church if they knew what I was doing for money. I drink heavily at work just so I forget who I am and try to make money. I want to finish school. I want to have a family. I want to travel the world. I want respect. I want real honest love. I dont want to always be looked at as a sex object, I want to be a real woman who takes pride in her work. Im scared of my own life. Im scared men follow me home. Im scared I will never be respected by anyone. Im terrified that I can never get past this and transition into something else something bigger and better and honest and not hurtful to others and myself."
Like many women I've met, Anne had healthy dreams and desires but was trapped by something she started that snowballed into something she never expected. Working in the sex industry stripped her of her dignity, her self worth and even her dreams, and because she felt so far gone she had no idea how to turn it all around and had actually said to me: "Since I got myself into this I should just figure a way to get myself out". We know what happens when we try to carry our own load without the love, support and guidance of others so naturally I wanted to offer whatever I could to help her create a life plan with obtainable goals and some accountability.
We tried to help Anne. She visited Las Vegas often where we had a team presently working and did meet up with a team member on one occassion but as much as Anne wanted to leave the industry she didn't. The bible tells us in the book of Galatians that there is a war going on between the spirit and the flesh. All I could do was continue to pray for Anne, reach out to her on a regular basis and believe God for her.
Last month I reached out to Anne to wish her a Merry Christmas and to let her know I was still praying for her. I was so excited to hear back from her and moreso to hear she was not currently working in the industry but had found what she called "legitimate work". She also said this: "I am also starting to think more about god and thinking I need to learn more about him and all that stuff. I have no idea where to go..."
This is where our (XXXchurch) relationships with churches across the nation is crucial. Thankfully we have several church partnerships in Anne's area but Anne is hesitant and still feels the shame of her past. Like so many of us before we come to the Lord Anne isn't quite sure how she'll fit into God's family. She wrote: "I know your going to think I'm silly but I don't think I belong in a church. I mean I've done so many things wrong. I sometimes wonder how in the world did I just forget about my morals?"
Truth be told it is people who hold onto the past of others' and shame them with it- not God. Even when girls get up the courage to step their feet into a church often times they are immediately judged by their appearance or their past. It breaks my heart. None of us are immediately cleaned up when we walk into a church or into God's heart. God does the work (sanctification is a process) but He also needs us (His followers) to step up to the plate and walk the walk of true Christian love with others who may look different or are different than we are. This is the test to our own relationship with God.
I am happy to share with you that Anne and I are going to be doing an 8 week bible study via SKYPE and the telephone starting in the coming weeks. We just bought and shipped her a women's devotional study bible and I am so excited AND honored for this opportunity! Please pray for Anne. Please pray for me as I lead Anne through God's word. Please pray that Anne will desire to give church a try and that when she does.... she is received with open arms.
*name changed to protect identity.