I sort of hesitate to write this...
Most people, when you are in ministry, want to hear the good stories. They want to hear the positive changes, large numbers of people coming to Christ, happy smiling faces all around. But in so many areas, the ground is hard. I know missionaries working in countries where they've been for several years and can count on one hand the number of people who have come to Christ. It's because cultures, attitudes, beliefs and personalities are so embedded that first that has to change, to almost be removed, to make room for new things. It's true of the girls' home as well.
You gotta admit...it would be difficult to live in a house with a dozen teenage girls who had no "baggage"
Human tendencies and teenage hormones would mean discord at times...
Now think about that many teenage girls with baggage.
It's tough for them. Everything they knew or they thought they knew is changing. They are working incredibly hard to deal with what has happened to them. To rebuild their lives. To get along. And they are teenagers. They can't be expected to always act mature.
It's been a tough couple of weeks at the girls' home. I knew last Monday that there was a tension in the air. I had talked to the Logistics Coordinator on Thursday about some things and she mentioned that there had been a fight. It's funny because she also mentioned that while the girls tried to be on their best behavior when there were new people around (my Grandma would call this your "company manners") the longer a volunteer came around the more comfortable the girls were about "acting up". I guess I thought I was still safe as a "newbie"
I was wrong.
This Monday I knew the situation was "rough" because Debbie mentioned that she'd heard from one of the teachers that they'd thought about cancelling classes but decided against it because they felt the girls having at least a semblance of schedule was important. I started praying right away and had the staff at the admin office praying too. When Debbie, Merridth and I walked in, all the girls were quietly sitting watching a movie. I was quite pleased at the effectiveness of my prayers, feeling pretty sure it was through my efforts the Holy Spirit had brought peace to the house. The 'smug' didn't last long.
One of the teachers brought us into the classroom...normally we have class in the common area but we needed computers. This ended up sheltering the three of us from a lot of what happened but not all...
I'm not going to go into details but suffice to say there wasn't a lot of work accomplished that day. The atmosphere was too heavy and too stressed. The girls who weren't involved too busy trying to keep it together to concentrate. Or too busy trying to figure out what was going on..
There was screaming, fights, and busted pumpkins. There were tears from the girls and staff alike. Despite the fact I hadn't been touched, I felt bruised. I later somewhat jokingly likened it to feeling like "a bouncer on the Jerry Springer show" Oddly enough, I never felt "in over my head" or like I needed to escape. Before you think that the "smug" had returned, I was aware the entire time it was through the Holy Spirit that I was able to deal with what was going on. My background tends throw me into panic mode whenever there is this much conflict and violence. God has done so much work in me but the "flight or fight" is somewhat instinctual that I have to sort of slam the door in it's face before it can take over and logic and calm are my second reaction. I am so thrilled that because of the path He has walked me through, my second reaction now occurs almost at the same time as my first. I'm still praying that it becomes my first reaction!
We worked with the girls who wanted to work but really gave up on trying to teach the class. We actually left an hour early because we were asked to by one of the teachers. It was just easier for them to get things calmed back down if we were gone. Before we left, the three of us spent several minutes praying for peace, for strength, and for healing...for the girls and the staff. I spent the rest of the day praying for them as well. I can't even begin to tell you the admiration and reinforced respect I have for the staff that works with the girls on a daily basis. The ones who love the girls even though they've been cussed at and have bruises from seperating them as they fight. The ones who work through all those emotions with them, encourage them, walk the path of recovery with them...sometimes pulling the girl along when she can't or doesn't seem to want to walk on.
I guess my hesitation in writing this is because I don't want to depress people with the negativity of it. But anyone who has been through any kind of recovery program knows it is messy and it is hard. It's difficult for these girls to be friends...they don't trust. And many of them have lived in situations where the trafficker deliberately sows seeds of jealousy and mistrust amongst them. Because if they are fighting each other, they aren't coming together to go after him (or-the reality is-her...because while it is unusual for a pimp to be female, it does happen). Emotions are always high. They are constantly dealing with what they've been through and the fact it is a long road to healing. They are angry at what has been done to them. Sometimes they are angry they are there. Unlike the women's program where the women have voluntarily entered, the girls in the program are often placed their by the courts or their parents. Not all of them have come to the point that they think this program is good for them. And on days like Monday, the girls who do think so don't want to be there because of the drama.
My decision to write this is because I want you to know. To be aware. To see how brave and determined the girls can be. To see how brave and determined the staff can be. So you understand how important prayer is in helping the girls build relationships and new lives. To find new truths! Please, please take time every day to pray for these girls, for the girls in other programs, for the ones in jail...and please, please pray for the girls who are still out there! Who haven't been rescued.
If you are committed to praying for the girls and women in the program, as well as for Wellspring Living's ministry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly add you to our prayer team! You'll receive emails with specific prayer requests and the chance to meet with others to pray!
Thanks so much!