Camille* was sold for sex her whole life. Completely uneducated, she doesn’t believe she can rise above and be anything other than what she is. Lies are entangling in her mind causing devastating damage. As a result, she has run away from Safe Refuge, on more than one occasion.
Camille says that when she works as a prostitute it’s simple: she knows what she is and what she will always be. When she is at Safe Refuge, she feels like she can be something more, which can be overwhelming and confusing. These lies that resound in her ears take her far from the truth and my heart is broken over this little girl.
"I will heal their waywardness. I will love them lavishly.” Hosea 14:4
When we first began our work in Manila in 2004, a social worker told me that 80% of girls rescued from prostitution will go back. She told me that the work was too hard and the burn-out rate huge. These women and girls are survivors; they fight. Everyone is seen as competition. Jealousy is so intense that it is almost suffocating at times. They lie and are often hard to love. Right now in Manila, there aren’t any other residential facilities specifically for women and girls coming out of the sex industry.
You can sell a person over and over; it is non-consumable, resulting in a huge income. The Philippines’ entire manufacturing force is equal in number to those in prostitution (500,000). Now the Philippines is ranked 4th worldwide for having the most child prostitutes. The need is great.
Chesa’s* bondage is beyond description. A third generation prostitute, she was sold into prostitution as a child. She came to Safe Refuge suffering from a severe “seizure” disorder; but now, she has been seizure free since Oct 2010. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I wanted to give up on this little girl; it just felt too hard. Now, every day she gets closer to Jesus, her eyes get a little clearer, and she doesn’t run away anymore. Chesa recently celebrated her one-year anniversary as a resident in Safe Refuge. Every day that she continues on her road to healing and wholeness is a miracle.
Recently, before school started we sent two of our discipled girls on a missions trip to an isolated tribe on another island. When they got back, one of them asked me, “Why can’t we just work with the tribal people who would never steal from us or lie or run away?” I answered her, “Because we have to follow what God is asking, and he wants us to reach these girls here in Manila who are living a life of slavery.”
Tears ran down her face as she told me God had been telling her the same thing, but her missions trip was much easier than the familiar darkness of Manila. She said “It’s so hard to rescue; going after Camille, bringing her back only to have her run away again.” I told her that the truth is, she and others who have stayed are miracles. It should be normal that our girls run away, or go back to prostitution, but it’s not. We press on because God tells us to, and we do not lose heart as we thank him for every miracle!
"If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?" Proverbs 24:10-12
*Pseudonyms used for protection.