So this past Thursday, we finally had the divine opportunity to go to Northern Jersey and meet with the Love Links Outreach team and the ministry’s beautiful team leader for our joint outreach. Excitedly, the car was filled with the love bags for the ladies and my niece Danielle and I were on our way!
We drove the hour long ride into Jersey not really knowing what to expect. All I knew was that there were a group of women at “LoveLinks” whose hearts were touched and moved with compassion for the hurting and the broken women just like ours at Fierce Woman Found and we both knew that it pleased the King for us to come together in unity to bring Love and Light to the forgotten and lost.
(Pictured: LoveLinks Ministry Team)
Why a ministry to women in strip clubs you ask?
70% of females who are trafficked are trafficked into the commercial sex industry (this industry includes Porn, Strip Clubs, and massage parlors in the US). 89% of women in the sex industry said they wanted to escape, but had no other means for survival.
As a woman, you may even be asking yourself: “But, why would you do that to yourself anyway?” Well, there’s a scripture in the bible that I believe may say it best:
“… to the hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet.” – Proverbs 27:7
When brokenness is all you know, brokenness is all you believe you can have.
That is…until someone shows you otherwise.
As LoveLinks Director Marisol MacCheyne so aptly put it:
“We are ‘daughters of the King’ seeking out ‘ other daughters of the King’.
And so, with “Purpose” before us, we sat at the table sharing a meal together and listened as Marisol shared her heart and how the vision of the ministry came about. She too had been ‘ruined’ when she heard Christine Caine preach about the modern day slavery of sex trafficking in the world today. I listened as she shared with me the ‘heart’ of LoveLinks to pour out the love of Christ to the women in the strip clubs who were so vulnerable and at-risk, not just for being trafficked but for being abused and addicted and completely broken and lost.
Research related to women working in various aspects of the sex industry indicates that women working in the sex industry are faced with higher rates: drug addictions[ix], sexually transmitted diseases[x], violent assaults[xi], and mental health problems[xii] such as Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than the general population.
“Women in the sex industry experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at rates equivalent to veterans of combat war.”[xv]
According to a study by Silbert and Pines, 70% of interviewees noted that childhood sexual abuse had an influence on their entry into prostitution[xiv].
Moreover, between 66% to 90% of women in the sex industry were sexually abused as children[xiii].
*For the source of all these statistics and much more, visit the “Treasures” website.
…66 to 90% were sexually abused as a child.
Working with victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse since 2008, I knew full well the truth behind that statistic. After all, 80% of the women who came to me about their abusive relationships and/or traumas had been molested/abused as a child and years later, they were still trying to work through the damage.
Women in the sex industry face a myriad of issues that impact their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Many feel desperately isolated and alone. In this instance, there is not much difference between those in the sex industry and those who have been abused or violated…the healing that is needed is deep. It is multi-layered, spirit, mind and body. And because their hurts and needs are multi-faceted, the approach to assisting them in the recovery process needs to be holistic as well.
So…after a delicious homemade meal made by the blessed hands of Mr. MacCheyne, we got to work preparing the final additions to the LoveBags for the evening…the homemade deliciousness of Lanie’s baked goods!
When it comes to ministering to broken and hurting women, most especially those who have been victimized and abused, one thing is crystal clear….it is GOD who is in the details.
…Every single tray was put together with loving care and excellence.
Every tray, every bag, every gift is made with tender loving care and made beautiful because its of utmost importance that the ladies know:
They ARE worth it. They ARE precious. They ARE valued. They ARE loved.
“For too long the church has ‘passed by’ the broken women sitting at the well dying for a drink of living water because of their sordid past/lifestyle…
It’s time for a change. It’s time to go to Samaria and bring the LIVING WATER of Life — that is Christ.”
– pastor m, fiercewomanfoundministries
As someone who has lived at broken cisterns, I remember what its like to seek water and come up dry and deserted. I also know what its like to find THE WELL of Living Waters. And my encounter with Him didn’t happen inside the church. Not my initial encounter of salvation anyway. Nope. That happened in Samaria, the most ungodly of places, while I was alone, away from the crowd. The outcast. The unbecoming. The sinful woman. You see some people are hurting so bad, you have to do more than preach a message to them…you have to BE a message to them.
Due to confidentiality, we cannot share details such as names, places, etc.
But suffice to say, that night we joined this courageous team as they visited the clubs.
Each time we went in, we witnessed the deep joy on the girls faces as we entered with their ‘love bags’. And though they loved the cookies and the treats, it wasn’t hunger for food that caused their spirits to leap. It was hunger and thirst for that which we (the church) take so lightly nowadays. It was hunger for the presence of hope. Hunger for the presence of God. It was the ‘presence’ of the Love Links team and the GOD-Hope and Light within them that brought the smile to their faces and the desperation in their hugs. As one woman said over and over, “I thought you weren’t coming. I figured we were ‘unsave-able’….that we were too contaminated for you…”
But, what pit is it that our God won’t reach into to save us? What black hole didn’t He deliver YOU from? Is there anywhere that we can go that GOD won’t seek us out and draw us to Him with cords of Love???
And the Word of God says:
“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:39
Christine Caine shares the story of the time her little girl wanted the flashlight in the supermarket, and when she wasn’t able to see the ‘light’ amidst the brightness of Walmart’s fluorescent lighting, she excitedly tells her, “Come on, Mum! Let’s go find some darkness!” (To read more on this story, click here).
Listen to me…if you want to be ruined for church as usual…GO.
Go to the dark and broken places and bring the Light. You will never settle for lukewarm christianity again. As Christians, we MUST stop hiding from the darkness and we MUST Go and FIND some darkness and DISPEL it with the Light of the Gospel!
You see, while others are busy preaching about it, reading about it, writing about it and blogging about it…the LoveLinks team and others like them are just plain DOING IT! While we (the average church) are busy criticizing and arguing about whether we should be going into these kind of ‘establishments’, these women are going in and touching lives for the KINGDOM of Light and defeating the darkness on its own territory.
And I know I speak for all of us at Fierce Woman Found Ministries when I say, we were proud to be a part of her posse that night!
One final word…work like this simply cannot be done without a group of people who provide the love, prayers and support behind the scene.
And so, to our beautiful team of #FreedomFighters:
Pastor Maria Garcia, Mary DeFina, Gabrielle Oliveira, Bernice (Nicee) Moran, Jennifer Torres and Iryna Makaruk….Thank you for believing, for praying and for supporting the ‘heart work’ of God and the vision to advance HIS Kingdom!
Want to know more about how to support these amazing ministries?
If you’d like more information on “Love Links” Ministry and the Justice Network of Northern Jersey, click here or visit their website at http://justice-network.org/love-links or email Marisol@Justice-Network.org.
For more information on Fierce Woman Found Ministries, visit our facebook page or email pastor Michelle Soto at firstname.lastname@example.org.