I walk into the brothel district.
I didn’t exactly know what I was doing.
Until someone told me, “You are right in it.”
This is where I spend my days.
This is where I sit and sing with the women.
This is where my friends are.
It’s a 10-minute journey.
I walk past outdoor urinals, past men bathing at a public water spout.
I hold my breath past the mini garbage dump, where people sort through the mess and load it onto a truck.
Always on that corner there’s the woman who braids her daughter’s hair for school.
And the children who call out in English, “Hello Auntie!”
Bicycles ringing their warning, “Look out behind you!” and bales of paper being loaded onto carts and trucks.
I don’t notice until my final mornings—that building labeled Night Lovers, those made-up women standing in doorways down that other lane.
You can easily miss seeing where you are.
And in the last days I notice something else.
An inner sense of not walking alone.
A towering invisible presence at either side.
It is this presence that has give me courage to see.
To notice. To look.
To cover ground not only with my feet but with my heart.
Yes, I walk into the red-light district.
And I join my friends singing words I am just beginning to understand, of freedom in Jesus.
This is our journey together.
Finding freedom from fear.
Learning we are not alone.
Living on the front-lines of battles we do not see.
And learning to see our situations with new eyes.