Imagine waking up in the morning. It’s already hot, and for some reason this morning it is all coming back to you. You were raped at gun point and taken to a hotel to serve multiple clients a day like Jacy at House of Hope. No talks on guarding your virginity for you. Its gone. Tammy, also at House of Hope, is dreading the upcoming school day. In class, she’s the slow one, always behind because while everyone else was learning, she was being smacked around for “not cooperating with the client”. That which ought to have been a firm pillar of support, her family, was the very one that sold her into the business.
Imagine again, working hard to get better grades, like Jessica in our girls group. Some nice missionary folks told you that was important, part of the expression of your faith, part of the hope for your future. So you study hard, get a 100% on your math exam, come out with an outstanding report card, and win the prize of $8 put up by those same missionaries for the best report card. On your way home from group that night, you imagine all the things you might buy with the money: clothes? A game? A movie? But when you get home, there’s no money in the house; there never is money in the house. Mom’s been begging for work for months now. All thoughts of toys go out of the window. You know your duty; your prize goes to buy that day’s food. How many kids in the US are faced with such decisions if they get report card money? And this mature decision came from a girl who has been moved around her entire life from grandparent to step-father to father to mother… no place to call home. She’s moved twice in the past 8 months right before our eyes. At one point she was caught cutting a plastic table up, not crying, not angry, just destroying. When her grandmother asked why, she replied, “I don’t see why everyone else should have things to call their own when I don’t.”
Or put yourself, perhaps, in Bianca’s shoes (also in our girls group). You were expelled from school for getting out of hand when someone called your sister a reject. You got angry because that’s been your identity for so long that you can’t bear to have your sister called the same thing. You have brought nothing but shame on your family; all the sins you were in before coming to Christ have followed you right into your Christian life and now your one driving passion has become to be recognized for something good, to NOT be that kid. So you decide to stick up for your sister and challenge the girl to a fight after school. Things escalate, the police are called, and you get expelled. Afterward you realize you have only brought more shame on your family. Everyone is ashamed of you. The entire community is asking all of your friends, even your family “you hang out with her?” So you think about running away, since you can’t seem to do anything right. A missionary tells you not to; tells you that that is exactly what many of the girls at House of Hope did and they ended up in brothels. So you stay home, but home is an inferno because you live with your aunt who has had to put up with your bad decisions for way to long. If only you could start over… so you call your mom, who has failed you dozens of times, in desperate hope of living with her again. But your mom has an excuse ready at hand, as always, and deep down in your heart you wonder if your mother doesn’t feel ashamed of you too. You know your dad does… he spent the greater part of the day telling you how stupid you were; and although you agree with him, would to God you had a new life.
Or Ferlinda, a non-Christian in our girls group who comes, we think, because she feels loved, who is still scraped up from a few weeks ago when her aunt was about to beat her and she got so scared that she charged backwards through a glass door. Her life is not much different from Bianca’s except that Christ has not yet become the cornerstone she can cling to amidst the pain.
One of the things I least anticipated about being a missionary was the change that would have to come about in our “hope economy”. In the US our lives were filled with hope, and the amount of times we had to encourage someone to stay in the fight were few and far between. Now, however, we are faced on every side with bad news, surrounded by unresolvable problems, and continually assaulted with diabolic attacks on our ministries.
“Praise be to God who gives us the victory in Jesus Christ.”
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Thank you for giving these girls hope in the midst of all their pain. Your support makes it possible for us to be here, and your prayers protect us from every evil attack and give us strength to face up to every loss with a burning determination to see a brighter future for these girls through Christ.
-Scott and Bethany McEwan