How I Know Jesus Believes in You

In September of 2015, almost two years ago, I sat in a building built of only corrugated metal. The sweat poured down my face, a constant stream flowed down my back. The sign on the front of the building featured a crude painting of a naked woman and the inside contained a row of doors to small rooms. People from the outside peered in at us as we handed out coloring books and crayons to a group of women who looked at us with curiosity. “Not many come to visit us,” they said. I stood quietly in the corner. I had never been to a brothel and I wasn’t sure if the sweat was from the Haitian heat or the way my heart was pounding as my brain tried to process the situation. Reading and talking about prostitution are worlds away from actually standing in the place where it all happens. I studied their faces, listened to their voices and somehow, I knew that this would only be the beginning of the story.

“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do, but on what God saw he would do.”
Romans 4:18 (MSG)

I returned a year later, in the fall of 2016, this time to spend a bulk of the time with those very same prostitutes. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how we would accomplish what we felt God so clearly telling us to do, but our team was determined to be obedient and expect big things. We laid out a plan to them, to train them to become beadmakers, giving them a sustainable way out of their current lifestyle. My friend, Neile, spoke with hope and confidence as I anxiously looked from face to face. Would they understand the opportunity they were being handed? Could this actually work? “If you were given the chance, would you leave the brothel?” she asked them. Our translator looked at her with confusion.

“You can’t ask them that question,” she said, quietly. “They are prostitutes and now they have no other choices.”

“Just ask them the question.” Neile told her. So, our translator repeated Neile’s words in Creole. The ladies, staring down at their hands, slowly began to shake their heads no. My heart sank. It was going to be over before it even began.

There’s a woman in John 4, at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry who went to get water from Jacob’s well and found Jesus there. It’s safe to assume she’d been rejected from society because not only was she alone, but she came at noon, an odd time of day. Normally women traveled together in the evening to get water, when it was cooler, when all the day’s tasks were finished and they could chat together. But this woman was alone, living a life of immorality, an outcast of society. Jesus spoke to her (something that later surprised the disciples since Jewish religious teachers rarely spoke with women in public) and told her of Living Water, water that would never leave her thirsty again. He gently questioned the woman, with love and truth, revealing to her, of all people, that He was the Messiah.

The woman was so anxious to return to town that she completely abandoned her water jar, and told the very ones who rejected her, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29; WEB)

We don’t know any more about this woman except for this hour or so of her life. Did she completely abandon her old way of living or return to it? Did her actions forever change the community she lived in? Was she accepted into society? All we know is that she arrived empty, with no way backward or forward, hoping not to meet anyone at the well who would scorn her or call attention to her failures. When Jesus reminded her of all that had gone wrong in her life, it wasn’t to mock her, but to restore her hope. Everyone else had marked her as hopeless, but Jesus didn’t look at what she couldn’t do, instead He saw what God would do in her life. She arrived at the well empty, but she left full.

Jesus didn’t wait until she cleaned up her life. Fully knowing her story, he spoke to her with dignity and with hope. He awakened her soul with what could be, He reminded her of who she had been created to be. With her life still in shambles around her, she become a sort of missionary—calling people to something bigger, something amazing. Because of that woman, many people believed in Jesus. Sitting in the Haitian heat, surrounded by seven women who live in a hell I can’t even imagine, I began to pray. Neile was undaunted. She rephrased her question and asked it again. “What if you were able to start over? Would you leave prostitution to become beadmakers?”

After the third try, the ladies looked up and began to nod, the smallest glimmer of hope in their eyes.

Is there an area in your life where you’ve given up? Where have you felt the deep sting of rejection like the woman at the well? What if Jesus has good plans where you only see a dead end? He makes what seems impossible into something possible. It takes work and it takes courage, but when Jesus offers you living water, it will change everything about your life. You know how I know?

There are a group of women in Haiti who no longer live in the brothel.

Today they are beadmakers.

And if He can do it for them, He will do it for you.


Sarah Damaska is a regular contributor to Soul Care Community. Thanks, Sarah!

{Sarah lives in the Thumb of Michigan with her husband + 3 kids, stirring the soup, folding the laundry and sitting at baseball games. She drinks her coffee with a bit of cream and if you check her bag, you’ll find a book (or three), just in case. Sarah graduated from Asbury University with a degree in Christian Education. She writes at sarahdamaska.com.}

Sarah Damaska

Sarah lives in the Thumb of Michigan, stirring the soup, folding the laundry and sitting at the soccer games in between drumming up a few words on her blog, sarahdamaska.com. She drinks her coffee with a bit of cream and if you check her purse, you’ll probably find a book (or three), just in case. Sarah loves Jesus with all her heart and graduated from Asbury University with a degree in Christian Education.

Comments

One response to “How I Know Jesus Believes in You”

  1. Aileen says:

    Wonderful reading of grear story.

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