Dare to Hope, Inc.
Four. It is the number of times before 9:30 A.M. she was solicited for sex.
Each time, a buyer would drive up with windows rolled down and casually ask her if she needed a "ride." They both knew what that meant. A swapping of favors. He would pay her or help her get to where she needed to go, but for a price. She would need to give him a piece of herself.
She's known men like this her entire life and is well-equipped to deal with them.
Each time that morning, she asked, "Are you a Christian man? Because if you were a Christian man, you would know I was hungry and offer me something to eat, not a 'ride.'"
She understands, better than anyone, there is a correlation between her vulnerability in the moment and their solicitation.
Demand to purchase sex drives sexual exploitation. Without buyers, there would be no profit. Without profit, there would be no reason to commoditize the female body.
In a city like Dothan, it is easy to dismiss the reality of sexual exploitation. Assumptions are made about the safety and solidity of our community based on how many churches lay at the corner of streets or how well-versed someone can recite the words to a hymn. The reality, though, is that there is a demand to purchase sex here that affects women and girls we know and love.
In the midst of hunger, homelessness, and other basic unmet needs, predators prey upon vulnerabilities. It is a common misconception that solicitation is born out of revealing clothing or sexual provocation, but in reality, the core of solicitation is built upon vulnerability.
What the buyers that morning did not know, however, was how strong and resilient and caring and wise she was. They didn't know how much she matters to us, but more importantly to the Lord. They didn't know that she is more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:15), worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31), and chosen for His purposes before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
They didn't know that she was on the sidewalk just waiting for a ride to Bible study at our office.