The face behind the faceless prostitute

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[notice]A new fortnightly column by a team of real people dedicating their lives to the fight against human trafficking, exploitation and social injustice. This week’s writer is Bertha Bresler of STOP and Prevention vs Cure[/notice]


National Human Trafficking Resource Line

4am, the phone’s ringing. At 4am it’s never good news.

“Hello, am I speaking with Bertha?”
“We’re calling from ICU, we have Lea* here and you are listed as an emergency contact on her phone.”
“What happened?”
“Well…she’s in quite a bad state. Would you be able to come down here?”
“Yes. Definitely.”

She’s been sedated. She’s on really strong pain meds, obviously. There’s a lot of talk about reconstructive surgery, and medical terms that I don’t understand.

All I want to do is see her. I sit beside her bed and just stare at her. She doesn’t have a face anymore. All I see is red and black. How the hell can one human being do this to another human being?

My mind naturally goes to the state the world is in. It goes to rotten systems and thoughts about how nothing is being done and how the light (“the church”) of this world is switched off. It thinks about how darkness is the absence of light, so whose fault is it that the world is dark?

And then, within seconds, I become aware of the evil that I am capable of and all I can think of is how I want to rip off the face of the person who did this to this sweet girl. I become afraid of myself. All I’m hearing is beeping noises and God’s voice in my ear saying, “Be angry but do not sin in your anger…”

And then suddenly my eyes fill with tears, because in this dreadful moment, probably one of the worst moments of my life, the Word becomes flesh. As I stare at the mutilated face of Lea, I see Jesus before me, mutilated, for the world. Mutilated, because I am bad. For the first time, and for a very fleeting moment, I get what He did. I get the cross. I get His love. And for a moment I weep at this immense love that kept Him on that cross. For the sake of the world, He stayed there.

I sit with her for a couple of hours. I pray for her. God tells me she can hear me, I just need to speak to her. I have no idea what to say. I get out the Bible and flip through it, pondering which part to read. For the first time in forever I read Psalm 139 (without it being totally pulled out of context). When I hit verse five, the heart machine starts beeping like crazy, her heart rate went up. During verses five through twelve the heart rate machine goes nuts. Right then, I hear God say, “I am with her, for all her moments. Her moments are my moments. However this turns out, I will never leave her. I will never forsake her.”

I guess in the most horrible days, the most horrible moment that lasts for hours, we forget that God is there. Closer than our skin, more necessary than our next breath… and He watches. Even though we are filthy. Even though we just got out of bed with the devil, He’s there. He’s watching over us. And He beckons us to come. Come to Him.

He is everything we’re searching for.

*Not her real name

Some context: I go out to the streets to build relationships with the girls trapped in prostitution. To let them know God’s not angry and to get to know their hearts. Sometimes they put me as an emergency contact on their phones. This is one of the many stories that I got to live through.


  1. Precious! Absolutely precious! God bless you abundantly, Bertha!