The Day the Brothels Closed
“Good Friday is the only night of the year when the brothels close here,” wrote our contact for one of the programs Wellspring supports. Located in Bolivia, they work in a country that bears one of the highest poverty rates on the continent, with 70 percent of its population living on less than $3 USD per day. Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) is home to largest indigenous population in Latin America. The realities of poverty we speak of commonly relate to education, job opportunity, and basic living needs like food, water, and clothing. But in addition to these hungers, the daily realities of such a difficult life include depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, addiction, and violence.
It has been reported in the US that there are two industries that thrive regardless of the state of the economy: gambling and pornography. What is it about human nature that compels an individual to take the few hard earned dollars made that day, and exchange his hope for a meal, a better life for his family, and even a portion of himself, for a momentary pleasure that does not satisfy? What does he tell his wife and children when he next returns home, a family who was counting on that money to provide food, sustenance, and even a sense of security? We can recognize the sadness and even nonsensical nature in human behavior, but the truth is each of us have known it in our own lives. Whether a similar battle or one of a different nature, we too, experience the times in this life when darkness prevails in our desires and behavior–where sin seems to find momentary triumph. Yes, each one of us is intimately familiar with the crutch of our fallen humanity that insidiously steers us into destructive behavior. Not once, but repeatedly.
“Good Friday is the only night of the year when the brothels close here.”
Michelle continued, “For me, it is a poignant reflection of what Christ died for: to intervene in the sin, inequality, and isolation of our world.”
How significant, how symbolic is it that this on this day alone even the brothel doors close; the powers of depression, of poverty, of the loss of hope, of seduction, and of desperation are held at bay. And for one night, client and sex-worker, father and mother, husband and wife, man and woman lock the brothel door and spend a day on the other side–a respite from what normally enslaves them inside.
On that Good Friday, the Son of Man took all of the darkness of humanity upon His very body until it crushed Him. And so it is that today, we can walk up to the table with our own shattered story, cup our hands together and hear the words, “This is His body, broken for you.” When he breathed his last, he uttered the words “It is finished.” And because it was, we too, will be able to breathe, “Ah, it is finished.” But it will not be in acceptance of impending death. No, we will leave this world, finally free from its entanglements and sorrow. The battles and peppered prevalence of sin in our life will be over. As was the bearer of an unjust punishment, He rendered us the recipients of an unjust mercy and the opportunity to step into life, where he will make all things new.
The day before Good Friday, the team visited the women working in the brothels and delivered Easter eggs. One woman remembered them from when they brought her a pink rose in celebration of Women’s Day in February.
“You’re the only ones that remember us,” she remarked.
But there is one other. One day, she may know the one who created her. She may realize that he remembers her. She may discover that he can liberate her and hand her not just a symbol of life, but life itself–a redemption that will never wilt or fade.
For now, though we recognize the salvation found in Good Friday, we live today amidst a battle between good and evil. Our limited perspective and internal war with the flesh tempts us to allow Good Friday to close down brothels within our city and heart for a day or even a season. But it offers us so much more than this. We can participate in the Kingdom here on earth, taste redemption and find victory with His strength to overcome. For He is at work to make all things new, even now. The sacrifice on Good Friday gave us an ultimate promise of a grace and reality far greater than a temporal respite. A new day is coming.
“I’m struck by how broken and violent our world is, and how remarkable it is that Jesus lived here,” Michelle concluded. “It’s amazing how he loved this world, died for this world. And we know that when he comes again, all brothels will finally close–and not just for the night.”