One of the most important lessons I have learned so far in my time with Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries is to know and understand a given population and meet them where it is at, in order to share the Gospel accordingly.
Women who have been trafficked and women in the sex industry desperately need HOPE – that there is a better way.
This requires that we be sensitive to their various needs and specifically tailor outreaches and interactions with them according to these things – not just tell them trite sayings, such as “Go to Jesus,” and assume that we have, in fact, done our jobs as evangelists and that it’s now just a matter of time whether or not they will turn to Jesus.
The same applies to any population of people. While it’s true that going to Jesus will give us and these women lasting hope, we should not bypass the facts that they have deeply-rooted wounds and heart issues we won’t fully understand, and that God is sovereign enough to bring them to Himself on HIS timing, not ours.
God came down to us and served us. He ate with prostitutes. He offered them and all other populations great hope – he didn’t force hope on us. We are to do the same – to go to where others are, understand those places, and persevere in loving them and continually serving them unconditionally, no matter what choices they make with regards to following God.
From shadowing and supporting staff, as well as being an advocate for a woman who has been trafficked, I have seen the dire need to understand the population we are reaching out to. Every population can hear and receive the message and hope of Christ, but every population is different – therefore, we need to understand as much as we can their various needs, situations, and cultures or subcultures they are in, since knowing these things will help us communicate the Message the way they would best understand.
I once heard a story of a pastor who was alcoholic and almost resigned as a member of the church, but His congregation had great love and hope for him and “loved him into sobriety.” They didn’t just look down on him and provide him with trite statements; they walked with him where he was at, believed he could overcome, and represented the Gospel to him in the way he needed to see it. They loved him so well, he heard and responded to God’s invitation for him to live a new life.
There is a woman currently in a bad situation, and she is selling herself and possibly being sold by another. She has seen and heard us reach out to her for the past few months, but had never opened up and accepted our gifts and blessings, until recently. After a long time of showing her we will continue to love and be with her, she has decided to accept our love and gifts and finally open up to us about her life. Undoubtedly, it is because we have represented a place of hope and realness for her; a place of love and understanding.
Having recently become familiar with what is known as the grooming process used by traffickers, I was surprised to learn of the patience traffickers show in luring their victims. Beauty From Ashes™ recently helped a woman whose trafficker was patient and persistent with her for many months until he was finally able to exploit her.
It is not unusual for traffickers to operate in this manner; they wait many months, maybe even years, as they build trust and relationships with their future victims.
If this man persisted this long, how much more patient, hopeful, and persistent should we be as advocates and evangelists in pursuing people with the hope of freedom through Christ?
The one thing that a trafficker and an advocate/evangelist have in common is persistence. The main difference between the two is love; love drives us to be sensitive, patient, and hopeful toward others and their situations, as we hope and pray for their salvation and restoration from the things they have done as well as the things that have been done to them.
If we have faith in the Lord and believe He loves us greatly and mightily enough to save and restore, then we will love others greatly and have a persistent faith in believing they can be saved and restored.
Galatians 5:6 - "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
Kelly Bolton is a senior at the University of Florida (UF) majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences who is a summer intern with Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries. Kelly is involved in Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) at UF and leads the International Justice Mission, UF student chapter. Her talents and hobbies include playing the drums, creating art, writing, and horseback riding. As a believer for 13 years, her passion is to serve the Lord, and seek justice for the poor and oppressed, through ministry and her future career.