Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking in El Alto, Bolivia

I received an email from GHO about a new opportunity to serve the vulnerable population of women going through sexual exploitation in the red light district of El Alto, Bolivia. My husband and I had volunteered at some local anti-human trafficking organizations, so we thought, "Let's do it!" When we arrived, we realized the gravity of the darkness there has pulled so many into the sex trade. We partnered with a ministry called "Word Made Flesh," who tried to rescue women out of the brothels and provides rehab services for them. There was concern for causing harm by pushing the women away from the ministry if we were not careful with our actions and words because of the trauma that the women have been through. During clinic, I quickly realized if you showed genuine compassion, these women opened up their hearts. There is one young women that stands out in my mind. Her medical symptoms were easily explained by some education about side effects of certain birth controls, but the visit dove deeper as we started to discuss her spiritual health. She stated that she was unsure about any "God" and that because of her job, felt she would never go to heaven if there was one. There was so much guilt and shame in her eyes, that my heart just broke. The holy spirit urged me to continue and to speak truth. The words came rolling out - "you are a daughter of Christ; you are valuable; Jesus has been there with you all this time and has always been holding on to you; he wants a relationship with you because he loves you..." As I witnessed her trying to comprehend what was said, she began to cry. I wasn't sure what was running through her mind, so I turned to my translator to ask what she was saying. He replied, "She has just never heard this about Jesus." She wanted to accept Jesus as her savior so we prayed with her and gave her a bible. She then admitted that she "hated her job" and wanted a way to get out. She didn't even realize that she was sitting in the very place where there were people who dedicated themselves to rescuing women like her stuck in sex trafficking! We were able to get her set up with a social worker to start the rehab program at Word Made Flesh. The next day she returned for dental services and found me at my medical station. She grabbed my hands and had the biggest grin on her face and said "Thank you! Thank you!' It was one of the best experiences of my life. The smallest truths that I took for granted was the simplest answer to this young women's yearning heart, which God prepared for that moment. It was amazing to witness God's grace on these broken women and support an organization that is a small light in one of the darkest corners of the world...but in a dark room, a small match can shine so bright.

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