Thank you for your encouragement and your question. I will be praying for you as you share the gospel with your son and in your workplace. My prayer will be specifically that you can hold on to the hope for them.
You are absolutely correct that for many of the victims the image of a Heavenly Father stirs up a lot of negativity. The word ‘father’ brings back painful memories that may have played a huge role in placing them on their current path.
It is interesting that with the issue of prostitution, there is often an assumption that the women ‘chose’ this profession. And because of that ‘choice’ there seems to be a distinction at times between prostitution and trafficking. The reality though is that at the core for both of these categories is often a little girl who was molested by a father/uncle/brother/family friend. Her sense of boundaries and self-respect were violated at such a young age that when she grew up, she believed that a life in the sex industry was all she was worth and that left her with little choice at all. She carries a deep shame, trauma scars that have manifested in a variety of different ways (often addiction), and as you mentioned, negative views of men in general, but especially fathers.
I remember vividly one young woman telling me her story of living on the streets, caught in a life of addiction and prostitution. As she concluded, she looked up at me and gave me an empty smile and said, ‘maybe my life would have been different if I had a different father’. I have never forgotten those chilling words. The role of a father truly cannot be underestimated.
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 68:6a, “God sets the lonely in families”. I referenced that verse a lot during my work with women as I walked with them through their pain while also encouraging them to embrace the new family the Lord was giving them. In my own personal life, several years ago I went through a devastating divorce. At the time, everything felt completely hopeless. When my life was unraveling, I remember feeling painfully alone. I was living in Missouri at the time, and I did not have any family nearby. I was at church on Mother’s Day, sitting in a pew by myself while quietly crying when I felt a warm hand on my back. This woman who I had never met prayed with me. Afterwards she asked my name. When I told her it was Rachel, she smiled and said she had a daughter named Rachel. She then told me her name, and it was Linda. My mom’s name is Linda. It was Mother’s Day and her daughter and my parents were all living out of state. She asked if she could take me out for lunch. It was the beginning of what I believe was a divinely appointed relationship. In that deep, dark season of my life, she became another mother to me. She was someone that held me as I cried when my own mother was so far away.
While in many ways, my situation was very different from the women I worked with, that experience showed me how personal God is and His Father heart for me. When I felt truly alone, He saw that need and met me there through Linda. It is a trait of the Lord I found so deeply true in that season: He was near to me, and He placed me in a family.
While that personal illustration is not one I always share, it has etched deep within my heart the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the Lord. Things that I believed beforehand held a new meaning as I experienced God’s father heart toward me. Years later when I sat and held another hurting woman, I was able to pray and believe for her that she was not forgotten or alone. Her image of father or mother may be tainted with deeply painful memories and that holds its own heaviness. Yet, my firm belief that the Lord sees her and knows her needs gave me the strength to encourage her and to believe that in time he will bring healthy people into her life to help demonstrate His unending love and father’s heart towards her.