by her wounds I am healed...

Wednesday June 22nd.

Our team of four sat on the rickety bus going 1 mph up a hill that was so steep I had to pray we made it up. We were headed from Katau to Patong for our weekly prayer walk down Bangla Road to bathe the bars in prayer during the day before going out at night. I was people watching (my secret addiction), humming to myself, sweating (as usual), and began to pray. Suddenly, the Lord gave me a distinct vision as I closed my eyes of a gigantic Elephant Head.

I told my team about it, but I put it to the back of my mind. He would reveal himself to me in His timing. The unknown used to frustrate me, but I've learned to love His mysterious character.

Thursday June 30th.
Over a week later.

As we were driving into Patong, almost to Bangla Road, we passed huge jungle animal statues...for some reason the sight of them made my heart jump. My spirit stirred. I told Jenna we needed to go there--to Soi Tiger II. We led our team there.

We went to Boxing Bar. It was by far the most frustrating experience yet--the girls were uninterested, stuck up and cold hearted. I felt a letdown, and a little humiliated. Why did God tell me to come to this bar?? We went next door, to Dude Bar. Conversation was good, we were all laughing. Jenna got to tell a woman about the ministry we were doing, and Andrea got to rip one of the girl's bracelet off that read "Lady for Rent."

All of a sudden, I couldn't tear my eyes away from her. She was so young. She was dancing more provocatively and sexually on that pole than I had ever seen. It hurt me to watch. Everything in my mind, body, soul, spirit, heart screamedSTOP. It wasn't how God intended. God did not create this little,
girl to dance like that with the world watching.

Our bodies were created for one man our entire lives. In a bedroom. Behind closed doors.

The perversion of pure love nauseated me.

I told Rachel, because the Spirit's prompting was so strong, "I am supposed to get that girl off that pole. I need to talk to her. But I don't know how." She was in the bar next door to ours. I tried to push her out of my mind.

We finished up our conversations and said bye. My team walked out to head back to Bangla Road. The girl was not on the pole...she was nowhere to be seen. I brushed it off. It was nothing. Forget about it. It was just a....
I saw her as I looked back one last time. "Guys, stop, wait...I...have to talk to that girl." I was nervous, I hesitated, but the Lord drew me to discomfort and the Spirit led me to obey. Before I could think I was running to her. Bar moms and other servers stared apprehensively, watched me with suspicion. She offered me a drink menu and I awkwardly said "no thank you I just need to talk to you." The next 5 minutes consisted of me telling her in every way I could think of how beautiful she was. They were filled with the Holy Spirit speaking through me...I don't remember half of the things I said to her. Truth and urgency and boldness gushed out of me. I somehow managed to tell her that it broke my heart to see her dance like that, because her body was not meant for all to see. I passionately explained to her that I believe in a loving God that made us for one man and one man only. That this man is the only one who should see our body and enjoy it, that sex is sacred. That she deserved someone who she didn't have to impress, someone who could laugh with her, listen to her heart, who cared about her deeply. I told her it was worth it, beyond worth it, to wait.

Then, in a rush, God laid on my heart and brought to memory my own sin. I had shared truth and knowledge, yes, but He wanted me to use my messy, broken experience, my jagged painful past, to relate, to love, to heal. And not just to heal her, not just to reassure and cover any humiliation she felt by comforting her with my brokenness and understanding...

but to heal me.

So I shared my past with her, things that I have done that I am ashamed of. Things I have done that broke the Lord's heart. I told her how good it feels as a woman to be desired, to feel sexy, to crave and long for love. I told her I understood how having sexual power over a man is a temptation. But then I started weeping as I told her how much it hurt me. It exposes our hearts and bodies and souls before we are ready. Power and confidence poured out of me as I shared my story with her. She had to know this truth. I got to share the grace of my God, the restoration He has given me.

It's overwhelmingly beautiful how my confession to a 17 year old prostitute about my own brokenness set me free.

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
James 5:16

He comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort others in their troubles. It is beautiful that "by His wounds we are healed..." Isaiah 53:5, but by each other's wounds we are also healed. He has a powerful way of using brokenness and pain to create immense beauty.

I told her I came all the way around the WORLD to tell her that. To tell her that she is beautiful, worthy, pure in God's eyes. She is worth more than that bar, more than those men, more than those poles, more than those clothes, more thanANY amount of money.

Luckily for me, but of course God knew, she spoke English. She had understood all that I had said and kind of laughed in disbelief at everything I told her. She asked me urgently and anxiously, "how long will you be here?" I was so thankful I could tell her I would be here another month.

Is it too much to hope for that she longed for escape that night then and there but felt too pressured and threatened to say so?? I pray that she did.

She asked me for my email, and desperately asked me to "message" her. I promised I would.

As I walked away, searching for the name of the bar so I could come back, my eyes fell upon the giant rock formation above the sign "Lar Lar Bar," where a gigantic statue of an Elephant Head rested.

Our God is faithful.