“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” — John 10:9-10
Right out of college, I got the opportunity to serve as an evening/weekend staff member at Refuge for Women’s home for women coming out of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. The incredibly brave women living in this home have managed to escape from unthinkably horrible situations, and they are choosing to fight for their freedom by participating in nine months of aftercare — an intense rehabilitation program designed to help them heal from their trauma, discover a God who deeply loves them and has a purpose for them, learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, and develop skills that will enable them to live independently without ever having to sell their bodies again.
It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that this environment — a place wholly dedicated to helping women find freedom and healing from deep-rooted darkness and bondage — was exactly the kind of place Satan hated the most. And he would do everything in his power to hinder it. Throughout my time there, I witnessed frequent conflict between residents, disregard for program rules, and disrespect of staff — the very people who were trying to help them. Residents who had shown incredible progress for months would suddenly decide to quit and go back to their old life, or they would make an uncharacteristically poor decision that endangered the rest of the residents and, consequently, would result in their dismissal. It was heartbreaking, and initially, it made no sense to me whatsoever. But I eventually came to realize what was actually going on — there was an all out war against this home, what it stood for, and everyone in it.
While some women who begin this journey to freedom do not survive the spiritual battle that rages for their soul, I can tell you that the ones who recognize the seriousness of the battle and who commit themselves to the fight, these women have become absolute world changers for the Kingdom of God. And while their journeys haven’t been easy, they would tell you that their lives are now more rich and satisfying than they could have ever imagined, and it’s all because they chose to keep their hands up no matter what and trust that the Lord would make it worth their fight. More than anything else, walking alongside these women taught me what it looks like to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).
So when I’m feeling tired, discouraged, and I just don’t want to fight anymore, I remember them. And maybe you will, too.
Are you feeling discouraged in the fight against the enemy’s schemes in your life or the lives of those you love? Meditate on Psalm 23:4-6, and ask the Lord to strengthen your resolve to fight and your trust that no matter what happens, His goodness and love will remain.
— Hannah Gilbert, Southland Christian Church
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