Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trusting God and Leaving the Brothels: The Story of Fabiola's Faith

During our trips to Brazil, we reach out to a variety of people in a variety of ways. We go to prisons, favelas (slums), rehabs, and the crowded city streets of Belo Horizonte, but our main focus every year is reaching out to the women who work in the brothels. Over the years, we've seen many come out of prostitution and give their lives to the Lord, and some have even become missionaries. The transformation we've seen is remarkable. It's only explanation is God. I am grateful for the opportunities I've had to serve and care for these women. It has truly been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

One of the biggest and most famous
brothels in Belo Horizonte
We went into the brothels one morning to host a breakfast for the women who were working the night shift, to provide some nice food for them right when they got off work. We brought all the food into a small side-room near the front desk of the brothel. Once we got everything set up, we went to invite the ladies.

It's a heartbreaking environment in the brothels. The hallways are narrow and dimly lit with rooms on either side. The women stand naked in the doorways of their rooms, presenting themselves to try and attract potential customers as men walk up and down the hallways and essentially go grocery shopping for women. When a man finds a woman he wants, he goes into the room, pays her, does with her as he pleases, and then the process starts all over again. It is a horrifically dehumanizing experience for the ladies, which is exactly why we make the effort to reach them with the Lord's love and compassion.

As we walk the hallways to invite them for breakfast, many of the ladies will grab a towel to cover themselves. They know we are from the church, which can make them feel embarrassed to be in our presence. But we just look them in the eyes and greet them with a warm smile, paying no mind to their nude or scantily clad bodies. We refuse to treat them the way others do, and, as a Christian man, I refuse to look at them the way their customers do.

Some of our team members evangelizing
the men outside the brothels
After the first round of invitations, several women gratefully joined us for breakfast. We sat and talked with the women as they came in and out. It wasn't too eventful until one lady grabbed me, another girl on our team named Yudy, and our translator, Gaby, and asked us to come into her room to pray for her. It was obvious that she wanted privacy. I knew something interesting was about to happen.

Her room was small, with just enough space for a twin-sized mattress and a sink. After we crammed into her room, she closed the door and locked it. She then turned, sat on the bed, and introduced herself. "My name is Fabiola." she said, "and I want you guys to pray for me." When Gaby, our translator, asked her what she wanted prayer for, she looked at her with tears in her eyes she said, "I went to Church on Sunday and when I was there I decided to trust God and leave the brothels." We were stunned, but we quickly responded with positive words of encouragement and affirmation, letting her know how happy we were for her and that we supported her in this decision.

Fabiola was now sobbing. It seemed like this was the first time she had told anybody about her decision to leave the brothels. She was experiencing a lot of emotions that manifested themselves in tears. It was a mixture of joy, relief, and trepidation. She was joyful to share this good news and confide in us, and she was relieved to finally be leaving a profession that exposed her to some of the most horrendous experiences imaginable. But she was also experiencing feelings of fear and apprehension about her future. After all, what is a woman with little or no education that has been working as prostitute supposed to do to support herself and her family? 

These were the thoughts running through her head, so we seized the opportunity to encourage her with the promises of God's word and other scriptures about God's faithfulness. I told Fabiola that I was honored to be in her presence because she was a woman who was brave enough to trust God with her life. And after talking with her for a while about the trustworthiness of God, I remembered the passage from Exodus chapter 6 and the prayers I had been praying in preparation for the trip.

I asked her if she was familiar with the story of how God saved the Israelites. She said that she used to go to Church when she was younger, but had forgotten the story. So I took some time to remind her of the oppressive slavery that Israel experienced in the land of Egypt and how God delivered them from slavery and brought them into the Promised Land. I explained that God had compassion upon the Israelites and that he exerted all of his power to deliver them from their bondage so that they would know that He is the one true God and serve Him the rest of their days. Then I told her, "Fabiola, this is the same God that you are calling upon, and He is able to deliver you and lead you into a better life, just like He did for the Israelites. All you have to do is trust Him and follow Him one step at a time."

"I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great acts of judgement I will take you to be my people and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord, your God, who has brought you out from under the burden of the Egyptians." (Exodus 6:6-7)

Every building on this street is a brothel
She was weeping. Our words seemed to wash over her and God alleviated every fear and anxious thought. I was also starting to tear up at this point. I couldn't believe God allowed me to be there with Fabiola to encourage her. I didn't know it until that moment, but all those prayers we had prayed to see God deliver women from prostitution - those prayers were for her! God's been pursuing Fabiola, and now she's redeemed. Our translator took her phone number so that they could stay in touch, and now the Church is starting to come around Fabiola to help her in this time of new beginnings. By the end of our time together, Fabiola eyes were filled with life, and she had the biggest smile upon her face. It was as though God sent us there that morning because his new daughter, Fabiola, needed some support and encouragement. 

Words cannot capture that moment. I cannot explain what an incredible honor it was to be with Fabiola in that moment and see first hand the work that God is doing in her life. I am truly humbled by God's power and Fabiola's faith, and I am so grateful to God to be His servant.

Fabiola has a long journey ahead of her. It's not going to be an easy journey, but I am confident that God will prove himself faithful. Please pray for Fabiola, that she would keep her eyes fixed on Jesus, the "author and perfecter of her faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

1 comment:

  1. As a believer in the love and power of our God ,I KNOW God has the Whole situation well in His Capable hands. Fabiola
    has an exciting future now walking with her God. God is faithful to all His promises. I will personally keep her in my prayers. LOVE IN CHRIST ...PASTOR CURT.