I know these streets so well.  I’ve walked them hundreds of times.  Yet, somehow they seem foreign now in the
dark.  Nighttime transforms them into a
world I do not know.  Nor want to know.
“Let’s just drive a couple laps around and pray for those
we see,” Rachel comments.  It’s our first
street night.  Since my brother and his
friend Tony have come to visit for 10 days, Rachel and I take full advantage of
having men around.  It was Rachel who
arranged tonight, our first night seeking out prostitutes. 
None of us knows what we are doing or going to do.  Or what we might say.  My heart tightens with memories of four years
ago and the dangers that came along with the ministry.  But that was a different place.  These are my streets, my home. 
It’s the library. 
A place of safety during the day where people from around the city can
enter into a world of wonder wrapped up in books.  But at night a haven for lust-drunken men, on
their way in or out of town, who stop for a few moments of pleasure.  No one will know.  The night keeps them in a different
life.  One girl later tells us that some
of these men are sometimes policemen, who have beat them before in the day,
when in front of their fellow policemen, but now at night, alone, they too pay
for pleasure from a prostitute. 
We pass the library and see a few girls getting into cars
and few on the street sides, laughing and holding bottles of alcohol.  “Honey, please don’t get into that car,” I say
to myself as we pass a late teenaged girl talking through the window of a black
car.  She gets in.  The car drives away.  When the car returns she gets out and finds
another post on the side of the street. 
Garret and Tony decide to walk while Rachel and I stay in
the car for safety reasons.  We drive a
couple laps and come back to pick up the guys. 
As we pull over to the side of the street, a few young women eagerly
approach and then shutter back when they see it’s just Rachel and me. 
“Hi sisi,” I smile as the women frown at us.  “Do you need a ride home?” the words come
quicker than expected.  The young woman
looks puzzled and shakes her head. 
“A lift, do you
need a lift home?” Rachel clarifies since they don’t understand ride
The first girl shakes her head no again, but the older
one says, “Yes, please!”  And she jumps
in the car.  Seeing her friend enter our
vehicle, the younger one decides she’ll do the same.  Garret and Tony enter and we all talk together
as if we don’t know what was happening. 
They pretend not to be prostitutes and we pretend not to know.
The second street goes a little differently.  Our first pass at the library leaves us with
nothing but empty, quiet streets.  “Maybe
they’re not out tonight?” we say with childish hope.  But five minutes later when we make another
pass, the streets are all of a sudden alive with noise and laughter and girls
with short skirts and tight clothes and beer bottles. 
We pull over and ask a couple if they want a ride
home.  One, bold enough to approach our
car while the others shy away (and one jumps behind a pole to hide) comes to
our window and laughs.  “A ride
home?  No way, it’s too early.  Come back at half twelve,” she giggles and
walks away. 
We come back at twelve-thirty. 
“Ready for your ride?” we ask as Rachel rolls down her
passenger side window.  The girl who told
us to come back leaps back in surprise when she sees it’s us in the
Her name is Dani.  She doesn’t get in.
But her friend looks at her and then to us and then to
her and says, “Uyahlana” (you’re crazy) and gets into our car.   Dani pauses,
unsure if she wants to end the night of work and finally decides to get in with
us.  We pull forward a couple feet and
two more jump in.  On the way to drop
them off, we pick up a fifth. 
We have no planned conversations, questions, or
objectives.  We don’t preach to them or
quote Scripture or ask what they were doing. 
Our only goal is to meet them and show them love.  And this night it comes in the form of a ride
During the drive, the women talk freely, especially Dani.  She wasn’t ready to go home.  As we drop the first girl off, Dani complains
that it’s too early and that work brought no money tonight.  The others try to hush her.  Two girls decide to get dropped off and keep
working.  Dani lingers, not wanting to go
home but not wanting to be back on the streets either.  We drop the second to last girl off and Dani
finally agrees to go home.  Her friend in
the front seat is upset, as she was trying to convince her to stay out.  The friend in the front seat follows suit and
asks us to drop her off at home instead. 
As we drop off the last girl, she enlightens us briefly on her life, her
difficulties, and her wish to not be a prostitute.  “Once they find out we’re prostitutes, they
don’t give us a chance.  But it’s like,
we’re human too!”  She tells us about the
policemen who beat them when they are all together during the day but at night,
when they are alone, they come to the women to pay for sex.  “Please pray for us.  We need jobs so we don’t have to keep
hustling.  It’s a hard life, ya know. Especially
when you’ve got kids.”
Five years ago, Sister Mary Jane told me, “Maybe helping these young prostitutes is a life-calling.”  I laughed then because that was not a dream or plan of mine.  But I ache now to help these women, who have indeed become a life-calling.  
Please join us in praying for these women and that our
ministry can grow financially so we can hire women for our workshop ministry! 

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