I wanna start by telling you a story on how I earned the nickname "Mujer Fuerte" or "Strong Woman." We were loading into the bed of the truck we take when we travel (a process that I've pretty much mastered), and our amigo, Pastor Ezequiel, grabbed my elbow to help me get in. He threw off the balance that I had perfected and nearly made me fall face first, so I yanked my arm away and said very loudly, "No!"
The problem is this: Pastor Ezequiel doesn't speak English, I don't speak Spanish, and "No!" is universal. He looked slightly offended and was obviously starting to explain that he wasn't trying to do anything wrong. In broken Spanish, I tried to explain that I didn't need help and that everything was okay. Nate or John were able to explain it a little more clearly. Pastor Ezequiel seemed to understand and pointed at me with a smile and said, "Mujer fuerte." If you know me at all, you would know I find this nickname very fitting (despite feeling really embarrassed about the origin of it).
I came to Nicaragua knowing that the majority of the women have been sexually abused and that children are extremely vulnerable to this kind of treatment. If you know me, you know that I really, truly hate this. For months I have been praying for this country: that the women and children would be protected and that the predators would have a change of heart. I thought I was prepared for being here where this type of treatment is not only the norm, but a part of culture that is out in the open and tolerated.
While we were on the way back from the prison (which you've probably read about in Nate's or John's blog), our host, Cheyenne, started to tell us how his ministry of rescuing girls started. He had already found several places that he wanted to check for sex trafficking, but one day, he passed a certain hotel and the Holy Spirit told him he needed to check it out. The thing is that Cheyenne is a well known minister in the area, so if he went to a hotel where something sketchy is happening, the word would get around. He decided he would wait until a team of missionaries came down so he could send a pastor there for a night to check it out. For three years teams came and he asked the pastors to go check that hotel. For three years pastors said that if they went and were offered porn, that they wouldn't be able to resist.
Finally, through a complicated process, Cheyenne was able to make a connection with a team who's main purpose is to seek and save those who have been lost in sex trafficking. They came and went to the hotel, and within a few minutes were offered an eight year old girl. For three years, this hotel had been in operation and no one was able to help. A plan is being made to go into this hotel, along with several others within the area, to rescue all that are imprisoned as sex slaves.
I've heard the statistics and I've read stories about this. I've seen the 'X' written on people's hands. I believe it all becomes a little more real when you realize that daily you've been driving past a hotel that has children and women trapped inside for the purpose of being sold for sex.
Hearing all of this for the first time is like a punch to the stomach. All the breath is knocked out of you and you just wanna cry. You're questioning everything-- why haven't we done something, why haven't these people done something, why couldn't those pastors do something? What can I do to help?
I did what any mujer fuerte would do, and I talked to my Heavenly Dad about it. I got some peace and was reminded of some encouraging scriptures, and then decided to call my earthly dad. (Dadvice is real, y'all.)
He reminded me that what I'm doing here- preaching the Gospel- is the fix to this broken world.
The Gospel is the power of God to salvation for all those who believe. The Gospel is what will change the hearts of predators.
The Gospel is what will heal the hearts of victims.
I will continue preaching the Gospel, and I will trust that it will do what God has said it will do.
Since Cheyenne told us about the hotel and his mission for rescuing women and children out of sex trafficking, we've had opportunities to minister to women and children. Every opportunity is a chance to give them a solution to this broken world. We have also had the privilege to meet women who have their own businesses, churches, and ministries despite being in this pro-masculine culture. These are the true mujeres fuertes.