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The Red Corner


Orphan Outreach volunteer and trip leader Courtney Nowakowski shares a very personal, heartbreaking look into the the harsh reality for many young women who are caught in the tangled web of trafficking. We've removed names and locations from this article to protect the girls. In every country Orphan Outreach serves, there is a Red Corner. Would you pray for the Lord to open doors for ministry to those girls?

As we drive through town I hear the group on the bus taking in the sights, sounds, and smells that fill the busy sidewalks as we pass. For my friends on the mission team there is excitement and wonder about what the day holds at the orphanage we’ll visit. For me, on this day, there is only one thing. The place I’ve come to call The Red Corner.

At 8:30am it looks just like the other bars that sit silently waiting to be re-opened later in the day. The red walls are painted with logos for beer and other offerings like any ordinary neighborhood bar. But I know that’s not what it really is. I know that when we return later in the day I’ll see this building lit with red neon and lined with beautiful girls that are tangled up in sex trade.

I’ve seen them more than once. Young women spilling out of the doorway, sitting, standing, some dressed in traditional clothing of the country, some in stilettos and mini-skirts. Every single one with a face full of makeup, red lipstick, caramel skin exposed, and a vacancy behind their eyes. They call to the men that walk by, they understand their job, and they are expected to do it well.

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I don’t fault these girls. I know that many of them work there in order to eat or in order to have money to feed their family. Some are there because they’ve been kicked out or fled from abusive homes. Some of them have been lured there in hopes of finding a place to belong and some have been kidnapped to become a toy for the darkest of hearts. I don’t fault them because without education or opportunity, this is what seems like the best or only option. This is where they have been forced to place their hope for survival. For anything that resembles a future.

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Every time I see it I’m gutted and my heart is screams inside me. I’m angry and what feels like vengeance wells up in my chest. I want to look away, but I can’t. I need to see their faces. I need to remember them. Because I fear they’ve been forgotten. I want to claw and scratch at what got them there. My head swims with questions and solutions, but it doesn’t feel like enough. There’s something inside that feels frantic. I want to jump off the bus, rush to their rescue. I want to save them.

As we leave the city continuing toward the orphanage I find myself praying fervently. “God, I’m angry. Why would you open my eyes and yet leave me without power to help? You’ve shown me these girls, now show me what to do”. I pray this knowing I’m weak and ineffective. If I were really the type of advocate He wanted me to be, wouldn’t I jump off this bus and scoop those girls up in my arms? I’d do more than just go play with orphans, paint murals, and talk about God’s love.

I pass the day with the team in the typical fashion, playing with kids, making crafts, and visiting my sponsor daughter. She and I engage in the usual banter about school, grades, and how life is going. But as our conversation turns to the future, God gives me a beautiful answer to prayer. My sponsor child tells me that when she grows up she wants to be in international relations. She tells me that she knows that God has a plan for her life. That He’s good. It’s okay that things hurt sometimes. He will make them better. And that she prays for me to trust Him too.

I hear all of this from a sweet young lady that has been hurt, sexually abused, and separated from her family. A girl who should be angry and beyond repair. A girl that could easily find herself a slave to The Red Corner.

That afternoon on the bus I’m brought to tears as I reflect on the fact that simply by providing this child with sponsorship I have “done” more than I’d imagined. God has allowed me to be a part of providing what I so desperately want to share with the girls of the red corner. Hope. The knowledge that God fully redeems and fully restores. The promise that these current sufferings are temporary. That they are not alone. The understanding that they are greatly loved and precious in His sight. So precious that Jesus Christ gave His life.

In her current home my sweet sponsor daughter has learned these things. She aspires to something a daring as international relations because her hope lies in her Savior. She looks ahead and truly believes that it’s possible. She has heard and felt The Lord’s hand on her life.

She reminds me that all of my rage and fist shaking, my intentions to do more, and my fervor for justice are nothing outside of the gospel. She reminds me that I cannot save the world, I’m not a savior. Instead, I must share His story in every place He sees fit to take me.

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As we head back that night I see them. Each girl in her place. And my anger is replaced with resolve. A renewed call to share the Gospel with the precious ones God has set in front of me. To keep supporting those that do the daily work of raising orphans. To keep asking Him to show me places I don’t want to see. He may never see fit to take me to The Red Corner. But He’s faithful to answer my prayers that His hope will be shared with the girls that work there.

And He’s faithful to answer our prayers to be able to bring hope to the girls who don’t yet.

You can be be part of a young womans' future through sponsorship. Learn more and get involved now. 


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