By Kathryn Romine
Ascent 121 is pleased to support the efforts of Unconditional Ministries. Unconditional is an outreach ministry out of the Indy Metro church that seeks to pour into and build relationships with women working in the commercial sex industry. They meet once a month to lift these women up in prayer and also travel to several strip clubs in the area where they can meet and care for the women working there.
I have had the privilege of attending a couple of prayer meetings with a ministry group in Indianapolis called Unconditional. Right in the heart of downtown, they meet once a month to intercede on behalf of those working in the sex industry. While one group is praying, other team members go out to local strip clubs to minister to the women working there. The intent isn’t to try to change them or persuade them to quit their jobs, but to be a reflective picture of Jesus’ love and acceptance to the women in the clubs; to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation are the injustices of my generation. I remember being in high school around the time when talk about human trafficking came out of the woodwork, and many of my justice-driven friends found themselves anticipating a future where their lives were devoted to righting this wrong. Their hearts broke for the young women enslaved. In the midst of their passion, though, they found themselves in a man-hating season of their life. This is what my mind reflected back to as I sat in the room praying for the Unconditional Ministry for the second time.
The first time I went, I prayed with a room full of women. As the night went on, we managed to pray for everyone involved, but the direction the focus of our prayer took was clear: we were primarily praying for the women working in the clubs. The second time I went to the prayer meeting, though, the overall focus was something completely different. This time, my friend and I found ourselves praying with a room full of married men who work in the church, and this time, the focus of the prayer was mainly centered on the men attending the clubs. It is important to note that we still prayed for all parties involved, both the men and women in the clubs, and others involved like the DJ’s and club owners. Each time we had specifics to pray for, and we did so wholeheartedly. But as the night went on and people prayed what was specifically being laid on their heart that the prayers took different directions.
Now, I am a firm believer that each night, the Lord was also interceding with us on their behalf; that the Holy Spirit led us into prayer that was specifically needed each night. I was so grateful after the second night, though, because I had been reminded of an extremely foundational truth: Commercial sexual exploitation is not just an issue that hurts women. It hurts everyone.
Our hearts naturally break for those oppressed in modern-day slavery and commercial exploitation because of the trauma that understandably comes of it. It’s easy to hear such a story and naturally have an inclination to have our hearts break on behalf of the women involved. But too often the men in the stories are shoved aside in our minds. They are the culprits, they are the ones keeping the demand side up: It’s almost as if we are subconsciously saying that they don’t deserve our compassion.
But that is not what the life of Jesus exemplified for us. He was known for hanging out with the people the rest of society had cast aside: the people they deemed as disgusting and not worthy of their time or care. Jesus challenged this with his intense love for every person no matter who they were or what they had done, and that truth still stands today. When I think of the men who enter those clubs on a regular basis, I naturally want to get angry. But when I think of the bigger picture, and see them as human beings, my heart begins to break for them. I don’t know anything about their lives. Maybe they struggle with addiction. Maybe they use porn and going to clubs as a coping mechanism. I don’t know anything about their home lives, or about the losses they may have encountered in life. I don’t know anything about the abuses they may have endured in childhood: I don’t know anything about them to be able to judge. All I do know is that they deserve my love and compassion.
Kathryn is a senior social work major at Taylor University and is currently working as the intern at Ascent 121. Kathryn became passionate about abolishing human trafficking many years ago when she was made aware of the issue at a Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Ever since then she has done what she can to research the issue and learn more about the efforts being made to bring justice. She looks forward to what her future may hold involving working with this population. She is from Granger, IN and considers her siblings and her 15 nieces and nephews her best friends. The dog in this picture is not hers, but she wishes it was.