Are There Really Second Chances?

It used to be just a normal, unimportant street corner.
Whether I was walking or driving past, it meant nothing. Until about six months
The first time I saw them, I thought maybe they were waiting
for ride. It’s not the usual “working” corner. I knew those corners. This was
not one of them. But the second and third night I saw them there, I began to
realize this was a new selling point. The location by the traffic circle made
sense to this particular group of girls/women. For, the majority of them were
from Mangwaneni. A close walk and decent source of traffic made this place now
their corner. Oh, my Mangwaneni girls. Oh no, my heart.
It’s different when you know them. I could share all I want
about the corner, my heart for these girls and women, their lifestyles, etc.,
but it’s just a story to you. We can talk about sex-trafficking and
prostitution all we want, but it’s just a distant problem to you; either that
or not a problem at all because some think it’s their choice, their lifestyle,
let them live it.
But she is not a problem. She is not a story. She is not
free to make what we take for granted as “choices”. She is your daughter. Your daughter. Your sister. Your girlfriend.
Your mom. Your friend. She is someone you love deeply. Now it changes things,
doesn’t it? Now it’s not a distant problem or a lifestyle you wouldn’t fight to
save her from. It’s real.
And it hurts. Especially when you know them.
I drove by that corner nightly on my way home. My stomach
flipped, my heart raced, my hands tightened on the wheel. I wanted to do
something. But what? What could I possibly do driving by, just me and the two
little ones in the car. What did I have to offer them? How would they view me?
So I drove by again and again doing nothing. But doing
nothing made me sick to my stomach. Finally, one night as I drove past, I said,
“Lord, I can’t drive by one more time and do nothing. I promise the next time I
see them, I will stop at least to say hi. I don’t know what you want from me. I
don’t know what to do, but I will at least stop and let them know I care.”
The very next night.
I have two volunteers in the car with me. I remember my
promise to God.
“Hey, do you guys want to stop at the corner and see if any
of them want to join us for dinner?” I ask Lora and Alyssa, and they eagerly
As we slow down, a few women approach the car, thinking we
are customers. As soon as they see us they laugh and turn away.
“Hey ladies! Anyone want to join us for KFC?”
“Ha! We don’t want you. We want money!” one girl responds. I
know her. It’s hard seeing her like this.
I ignore her and call again so all the women can hear me. A
few converse with each other and come closer.
“What are you saying?” a brave one approaches the car so we
can see her more clearly.
“We’re asking you to join us for dinner,” Lora smiles.
“Okay! I’m in!” she says and tells the other three next to
her to join.
“Are you taking us to the house at Coates Valley again?”
another one asks. She had been picked up before on one of our ministry nights.
“No, we are going to KFC for dinner, not the house this
“Okay!” she gets in and tries to convince a third to join.
After much hesitation, she finally says, “Okay I’ll come on
one condition: no preaching.”
I smile. “No preaching. We just want friendship.”
She smiles and hops in.
“Thanks for joining us for dinner, ladies! I’m Mary-Kate,” I
Instead of returning my greeting, they suddenly look uneasy
and start whispering. Luckily, Kalli is also in the car and can translate. She
speaks to them in SiSwati and then says to me, “They know you, Mama Kate.”
“Oh really? How?”
“They know you from Mangwaneni. One used to stay with Tbelle
and the other says she knows of you.
But they thought you were old,” she laughs. “They asked if you are the same
Mama Kate who convinced T not to abort Joshua. The same Mama Kate who keeps
loving T no matter how many times she disappoints.”  Sphe, TK, and Sile. All three know about me
through umntfwana wami. And all three
have worked with umntfwana wami as well. And somehow, God is still using the
pain and heartaches of our story to touch others, too. Beauty from ashes.
When we get to KFC I park and turn the car light on.
I see the three for the first time. Sphe has a black eye, TK
avoids eye contact with me, and Sile is attentive but quiet.
“We can’t go inside,” Sphe interjects my train of thought.
“Why not?”
“Look at us! We can’t go in looking like this,” TK affirms,
pointing to her skin tight, short skirt.
The confident and carefree attitudes on the corner have
completely evaporated. They are now filled with fear, shame, and condemnation.
“It’s okay, no problem. We’ll order take out and bring it
back to the car.” So, Lora and I order the food while Alyssa and Kalli are in
the car chatting with the three women.
When we return with the food, they are in the middle of a
deep discussion about God. They said no preaching, but beautifully enough, they
were the ones to bring it up.
Alyssa and Kalli are overflowing with the Holy Spirit and
filling them with hope.
“Are there really second chances?” they ask Kalli.
“Yes, of course. We all need second chances.”
“Even for us?”
A pure, stinging question that reveals the truth of who they
think they are or who society thinks they are: unworthy. Unworthy for second chances,
for hope, for a future.
They begin dreaming. What would they do with second chances?
All three of them say, “Finish school.” All three have dropped out, all three
yearn deeply for the chance to say they are educated, they are good enough.
Then they ask if we can teach them. Can we homeschool them,
too? Can we help them finish school?
The more we talk, the more questions they have. “But if you
teach us, who will pay for our rent and food and children?”
I’m confused. How do the two relate? “What do you mean? I’m
not asking you to stop selling yourself. You can still work at night and do
school with us during the day.”
The three exchange glances as if I’m stupid. “No, you don’t
understand,” Sphe says sadly. “We wouldn’t do this if we had the chance for
school. These two lifestyles… they don’t mix.”
I wish that I could tell you that I promised all three a
right to education. I wish I could tell you that I have time to teach them. I
wish I could tell you that all three are no longer on the corner.
But I can’t. What I can tell you is this: a long time ago,
before I started Hosea’s Heart, my first dream was for a school. But I learned
that school alone couldn’t “save” them, for only Jesus can. But now that Hosea’s
Heart is growing rapidly, the dream is returning. The dream for a school where
these prostitutes can get one-on-one schooling and attention so they can have
at minimum a high school certificate. A dream where, as they said, the two
lifestyles don’t mix. So choosing school means leaving the streets behind. A
dream where they can work at our workshop in coordination with the one-on-one
schooling they would receive, so that we prepare them for life after school. To
give them the opportunity to sell other things than their bodies. No, we can’t
save them, but we can give them opportunities. Isn’t that what you want for
your loved ones? Your daughter. Your sister. Your girlfriend. Your mother. Your
friend. To give them opportunity?
That’s all I ask of you. Help give them an opportunity. If you are a teacher, or training to be
one, and want to spend a year abroad in missions, please choose us!
If you
can’t volunteer your time or talents but feel called to action, please support
us! We are raising money this year to build a campus, which will house up to 56
girls/women, and it includes a school and workshop!
In America, we live in a land of opportunity. Are there the
same problems there that I encounter here? Sure, but to a much, much lesser
extent. Why do I say that? Because America is full of opportunities. People don’t
always take them, people abuse them, people misuse them, or people run from
them…but they are there. We can’t save the people we love or the people we are
called to minister to. But we can, and we SHOULD, at the very least be willing
to sacrifice a little of ourselves, our privileges, our surplus, our hearts to
give to those who desperately need proof that there are second chances.


Recent Comments

  • Emily

    Sunday, 29 Jan, 2017


  • Liesl Allen

    Sunday, 29 Jan, 2017

    Be there as soon as I can.

  • Peg Martin

    Sunday, 29 Jan, 2017

    Oh how my heart is aching right now to serve, teach and love.


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