“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, and to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV
I remember like it was yesterday walking up and down the streets of Phuket, Thailand, through the rows of bars that daily sold young girls to the highest bidder for a moment of sexual pleasure. I remember the feeling of hopelessness overwhelming me as I looked into their eyes and saw the pain that years of abuse had brought upon them. I remember thinking, “What can I do to bring them freedom? How can I change this depravity?” There was one night in particular that the darkness of this evil weighed so heavily upon my heart. It was as if the sexual slavery around me was so tangible that I could reach out and grab it. Our group of a few young ladies went into one bar and sat with this one young girl, probably no more than 16 or 17 years old. Her face revealed the pain of constant abuse and slavery that she desperately tried to cover up with excessive makeup and scandalous clothing. We sat with her for only a few minutes, laughing, getting to know each other, providing even moments of escape from the reality of what the rest of her night would bring. Then, we prayed for her. I’m not even sure she knew what was happening as we bowed our heads and grabbed her hands to pray. I can assume that no one had ever done that for her before in that environment, but as we said “Amen” and lifted our eyes to her face, she was holding back tears. Her English was not great at best, so I’m not sure she even understood a single word that we prayed, but God heard our prayer for her. And whether or not she could translate one word of our prayer, the Holy Spirit was present among us. As she smiled at us as we left her bar and went on our way, there was a glimpse of hope in her eyes, true joy represented on her face, even if for only a moment.
Not everyone will have the opportunity or receive the calling to physically go to a place like that, but we all are called to pray. Do you? Have you ever prayed or perhaps even fasted for those that are bound by the chains of injustice? Have you ever sacrificed your own needs being met to meet the needs of another? I remember feeling slightly awkward that night as we asked her if we could pray for her. There were so many “customers” surrounding us on every side, people that were there for one reason and one reason only. And we sat there and befriended her and prayed for her. The manager of the bar she worked in stared at us with questioning eyes. But we prayed. Perhaps some of you are called to go, to be present among depravity and to physically bring hope to the hopeless. Are you willing? Will you commit to praying and even fasting for the cause of freedom?