This afternoon we visited Rehab Uganda, an organization that is working towards rehabilitating women that are being exploited. Many are young, are forced into this lifestyle to provide for themselves and/or the children they have or to help pay for school fees. There were about 30 women at their Drop-In Center this particular afternoon. The fact that they are there and eager to spend the afternoon with us meant to me that they want and desire more for their life. Freedom from this bondage and lifestyle they feel trapped in.
We had planned an art activity where each woman would paint and decorate a wooden frame, and we would take their picture to help create a framed portrait of themselves. I had the honor of photographing these women. Some were thrilled with the idea of posing for a picture, while others were shy or tried to hide themselves or preferred a group shot. With each picture that I took, I prayed that I would see God’s heart for them. We were meant to be reflections of His image. He sees their beauty and their worth. I was reminded of a verse in Corinthians that talks about our beauty as a reflection of what Christ sees in us and for us. We are being transformed.
The women at Rahab House are in the process of being transformed. It’s not easy. They are being taught life skills, new trades like sewing and hair dressing, they are counseled and spiritually fed. I pray that when they see the pictures of themselves they would see not how men see them or see their shame and guilt but how God sees them. He sees beauty in their freedom and a new creation. They are image bearers.
I’ve given hundreds of presentations about sex and healthy relationships through Reality Check, but for the first time I was stumped. I was minutes away from speaking to a group of women, many of whom were forced to have sex through abuse, exploitation, or economic desperation. To them, sex is a job. A job that places them at-risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, abuse, addiction, and a sense of worthlessness. What was I supposed to say? How was I supposed to encourage these women, girls and their children?
In that moment, I said a prayer, took a deep breath, looked at my fellow team members, and we began!
What started off as blank stares and skepticism turned into a growing curiosity and grace that went beyond their experiences! We educated on STDs, prengancy and birth control, dispelled myths, shared testimonies, and encouraged them to pursue their goals of becoming tailors, cooks, engineers, hair dressers, and moms. It turns out that these were the exact words they needed to hear!
Today’s presentation helped me realize that the message and the heart of Reality Check transcends continents, circumstances, and history. I was incredibly proud of our team for their transparency and vulnerability, and I’m thankful for this safe place that encourages women, all women, to believe that they are valuable and to strive to become who God has called them to be.