It’s been a while since I’ve got to spend a significant amount of time at the girls’ home. Most of the girls I know really well have graduated and I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know the newer girls. So I was really excited when our Volunteer Coordinator at the home asked me to teach a couple of classes, filling a spot until a new volunteer completed her training and took over.
I walk in the home with anticipation, look around, give a big grin to the girls I know and a friendly but not overeager so as not to freak them out smile to the girls I don’t. And that’s when I see her. She’s incredibly cute, somewhere between 15 and 17, her face has an innocent look. It’s the tattoo that gives you an idea of what she’s been through.
Across her chest, she’s been branded. The first word of the tattoo gives possession of her to someone beside herself. The second-a foul word-devalues her and gives someone permission to treat her any way they like.
I’m aware that traffickers tattoo the girls like this regularly. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it-in pictures and in person. Tattoos have included UPC codes, money signs, and phrases like the one on this girl. It’s meant to label her as merchandise, property, less than a person. But, no matter how many times I see it, it is going to bother me. I think about what happened to her before this, the day she got the tattoo, the men who read it and were excited. I’m angry…like incredibly angry. And all through the class, as we talk, laugh and play games, this image is in my head.
After class, on my way back to the office, I am being real with God. I tell Him how angry I am at that man who did that to her. Angry enough I’d like to do physical violence to the guy. How heart broken I am for her and how frustrated I am that this keeps happening.
And God says, “I love him too.”
I choke. I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I choose to forget because it’s uncomfortable and sometimes I am just so overwhelmed I forget.
As hard as it is to imagine, God loves the traffickers and the “johns” as much as He loves me. I don’t know what all has gone on in their lives to make them capable of doing the things they do, but they are broken too. As much as I pray for justice, I need to pray for redemption. These men need help. They need recovery. And the reality is, until that kind of help and recovery are available to both the traffickers and the men who buy sex, fighting this is going to be harder.
So, I’d like to ask you to spend some serious time this week praying-not only for our girls-but for the men who sale them and the men who buy them. That they will come to see the girls as human, as valuable. That they will realize their own brokenness and that somehow, in some way-through a person, a program, a church-they find help and healing too.
There is restoration for the girl who has been branded. And the man who branded her.