So that’s the story; here are my thoughts…

I just cannot understand Tenele’s situation. As much as I wish I knew what exactly was going on in her head, I can’t. I do not understand how she can pass up opportunities for a better future. I can’t imagine her actually wanting to be in prostitution or to live in the environment she does. But then again, I was thinking today, I’m sure alcohol is the only way she can cope with prostitution.

It breaks my heart to sit here and watch her, not being able to do anything. I have the tools and resources and anything she’d need to get her a better future, a better life, and it just blows me away that she won’t take it. What is she waiting for? Why is she holding back? What is she afraid of? Does she even want a better future? Maybe she is perfectly fine living the life she does and doesn’t want to change. These are all the thoughts I am battling with.

It crushes me time and time again to put myself out there, hoping one of these times she’ll get it—one of these times she’ll understand. I get frustrated and disappointed. And then I remember… she’s only 14 years old; she’s been selling herself for two years now so I’m sure she wonders why stop now?; this is the life she has known for the past two years, so it’s comfortable, it’s “safe” because she knows exactly what happens; she’s afraid of being let down; she’s afraid of the unknown; she’s afraid to even dream of a better future because she doesn’t want to get her hopes up. I couldn’t imagine why she would stealthily deny my attempts to help her out of her situation, but then when I put myself in her shoes, the vision changes. Who I am, a white American who comes waltzing into her life now and again, to think I can help change her life? Yes, I am here until May, and to me that seems like a long time. We can get so much accomplished by then! But not to her. She lives here, I am only staying here. If I get her out of this situation, what’s going to happen when I leave? She knows I am leaving in May, and while I’m thinking, girl, let’s get on this changing your life dealio, she’s thinking, I can’t; she’s only here until May, how could she possibly help me?

Whatever is really going through her head, I do not know. Sometimes I see that girlish ambition inside her, and other times I just see the fake act she puts on. She really wants to believe I can help her, but she won’t let herself trust me. She really wants to believe God is good, but I don’t think she can embrace it. She really wants to go to school, but I think her “friends” talk her out of it.

So where do I go? What do I do? How do I proceed? What now?

I. don’t. know.

I wish I had a team, people who can partner with me in offering these girls an alternative lifestyle to prostitution. I wish I had funds that I could start an organization right now to build at least just a small home to house these girls, to get them out of these poor environments. I wish I had a team, people who would help run this home, teach them life skills, self-worth, values, virtues, and to show them the love of Christ. If I can’t build a home, I wish I could have a place set up where they could come during the day…like a mini youth center with a mini library where they can read or learn to read and write. I wish I could sit down with each of them and listen…to hear their life stories, to offer encouragement, and to teach them about love. I wish I could have bible studies with them…and sing, pray, and worship with them. I wish I had a team, people who can join me in searching for the prostitutes at night, and offering them a place of peace, even if it’s just for one night. I wish I had a place right now where I could move into to house Tenele and Nomphilo and Khanisile. I wish there was something more I can do than just watch this all happen…

I know the best thing I can do for her is pray, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is painful to feel so helpless. I need to remember this is not about me or what I can or cannot do, but that is much easier said than done.

Feed my lambs.
Take care of my sheep.
Feed my sheep.
-from John 21:14-18

Though Tenele may sometimes act like a lion, she is really just a tender lamb.
Help me take care of Tenele by praying for her. Like, literally getting on your knees and praying for her—for her change of heart, her attitude, her openness, her brokenness, her willingness to change, her surrender, and ultimately her victory and freedom in Christ.

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