“We didn’t want to do this.”
The speaker for the SutiSana Women’s Retreat made this statement about her time as a “legal” prostitute.
She mentioned the reasons why prostitution was the best option at the time:
- The responsibility of buying and preparing meals for the family
- Unable to trust their “spouse” with finances and support
- Bills increasing and deadlines approaching
- Sending children to college, so their lives would be better
The Artisans shared their stories of hopelessness, fear, shame, and desperation. They wanted better for their family but knew of only one way that could alleviate all their burdens at once: working in a brothel. Their path is split between short-term (Let’s pay for food and bills with immediate money from prostitution work) and long-term gains (Employment through SutiSana meant a smaller paycheck, but they would gain social security, medical, and retirement benefits).
It resonates, doesn’t it?
“We’re facing the same problems just in a different part of the world.”
This was another statement made at the retreat by a woman on my team. As we went around our small tables, asking for prayer requests and sharing our stories, we all shared the effects of sin in our lives and relationships.
It often feels like our problems are isolated to just our family. Just our job. Just our finances.
But the common statement uttered at the retreat was “I understand.”
The speaker at this retreat was SutiSana’s first retired employee! She spoke from Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
No matter how discouraged, exhausted, or hopeless we feel in our season, we’re encouraged to remain faithful to God’s work.
Each one of the Artisans has an enormous burden of taking care of their family (and sometimes their sister’s family, too). Yet they all said that their lives are 10000x better since knowing Jesus Christ, leaving the brothel, and having more dignified employment with SutiSana—praise God!
Life in God is difficult but so much more peaceful, hopeful, and refreshing.
Carrying Hope Forward
Our trip to Bolivia isn’t the “typical” missions trip—there were no houses to paint, day camps to run, musical productions to perform. It was a trip of “Work and Wait.”
We encouraged yet felt discouraged.
We listened yet felt helpless.
Through their stories and, though, God’s consistent and unwavering hope was truly brighter and more resounding than anything else shared.
We must remember that these stories aren’t just isolated instances. They’re representative of countless other women still trapped in the cycle of exploitation, not just in Bolivia, but all around the world. Just as we empathized with these Artisans’ testimonies, let’s allow their stories to broaden our empathy towards those who are still trapped in a cycle of exploitation.
So how can we channel this empathy into action? Let’s take a cue from the Artisans themselves, who found hope in their faith and the power of prayer. James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” So, I invite you, wherever you are reading this, to take a moment, and pray for these women—the ones who have found their path out of the darkness and the ones God is still guiding and calling to Himself.
- Pray for their strength and resilience.
- Pray for their peace and healing.
- Pray for an end to the exploitation.
- And pray for more initiatives like SutiSana that can provide these women with dignified work and a chance at a better life.
In the face of such challenging realities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless.
But God is faithful and consistent, giving us hope and strength.
In the next article, I’m excited to share more about the first half of our mission trip: how we partnered with the business and used our “non-traditional” skills to serve.