Victrix Ludorum

I’m sitting here writing up one of my girls CVs. I’m trying to hold my emotions together as I type. You see every single one of the girls that we care for has a story. None of them chose the sex industry or drug addiction. Not one.

As I type I think about “F”s life, I know how she got to where she is today. I know how the rape of her 10 year old daughter drove F into a severe depression and how she started numbing herself with over the counter pain meds. I know how the pain meds were not enough to kill the pain that she was in, so she turned to harder drugs to numb her, to remove the blame and shame that she felt for her daughters rape.

Soon she lost her way completely. Her great job, her family, her little girl, her home, everything gone. Now homeless, jobless and addicted F found herself fighting daily to survive. Her beautiful child sent to stay with extended family was finally safe and back in school but there is still a long road to healing. F is now full time in the sex trade and living day to day, but she is ready to leave.

So here I am writing down her amazing accomplishments that came before her child’s rape. Victrix Ludorum sports girl of the year, secretary, marine shorehand, courses in first aid, fire fighting and survival at sea. Skippers license. This woman is AMAZING.

We will fight for her freedom and her healing. We will love and pray her back to herself and to the Father.

 

Thank you for your interest in the work that Vashti does with Hope’s Anchor in Durban, if you would like to support the Downs Family  please use PayPal downseyluff@aol.com or email lindsey.toms57@gmail.com for bank details or their Stewardship account where the tax from UK tax payers can be claimed back.

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Girls

9am and their drugged bodies are strewn about the room. 10 women and a small child crammed into one room. Before this room their home was the street. Trying to survive, hustling, begging, selling their bodies, just to get through the day. To survive the next 24 hours. No dreams for the future, trying to forget the trauma of all their yesterdays. Killing the memories, hiding the shame, with whatever drug they can afford at the end of the day. This is their life. This is their reality, their truth. The room was heavy with despair and shame. Half naked bodies, sick and broken. The sun was up but the room was spiritually dark. I could feel the darkness watching me. Evil torment crouching in the corners, watching my every move. I could feel it, see it. I told it to leave. As these precious girls slept their souls vulnerable to the darkness I prayed for light, for love, for peace. As I prayed a couple of them stirred. One fully woke, beautiful smile breaking across her face as she notices me. She crosses the room in just her panties and drops into my lap and hugs me. Her body covered in stab wounds, track marks and sores, she snuggles into me and tells me that she is so happy to see me. She then runs to the bathroom and vomits, the withdrawals already kicking in she frantically pulls on her dress and goes looking for her needle and a rock. This is how my days are starting to look. Things are shifting as I truly learn what it means to fight for these girls of mine. The last couple of weeks I have been putting in more time and effort, fighting harder than ever. I am tired, exhausted even, but it’s ok. This is my life and I LOVE it. #unconditionallove #extravagantgrace #hopeforthesoul #durbansextrade #weseeyouweloveyou

Thank you for your interest in the work that Vashti does with Hope’s Anchor in Durban, if you would like to support the Downs Family  please use PayPal downseyluff@aol.com or email lindsey.toms57@gmail.com for bank details

A stirring.

Something is stirring. For 10 years I have walked the streets of the Point area of Durban, loving and caring for the women and girls who are residents of those streets. One street in particular is incredibly dark. Pickering street is run by mafia, drug lords, pimps and traffickers. Crime and violence has been the norm for years and over the past 4 years it has gotten so much darker.

4 years ago the “church people” were banned from the shelters, no longer allowed to go in to feed and care for the homeless, vulnerable residents. Drug addiction and crime sky rocketed, the sex trade and trafficking kicked up a gear, things got out of control. Even the police had written off the street.

And I am also guilty of walking away from Pickering. As I write that my heart drops, I am guilty of believing that Pickering wasn’t worth fighting for. That her residents were too far gone.

I was determined that the only way to “save” our girls is to remove them from Pickering. This week everything changed. EVERYTHING.

I spent most of Monday morning on Pickering street getting my car window fixed by a Burundian refugee. As I stood in the blazing heat, skin getting burnt and body seriously in need of shelter and water, something shifted in my soul. I watched the street living and breathing for 4 hours. Dealers making their exchanges with addicts. Girls getting in and out of clients cars. Children weaving in and out of parked cars, chasing each other. 2 elderly Gogos cooking fish on coals. A number of young refugee men fixing cars in the street. And me. And suddenly I felt at home again.

On Monday I stood and watched 14 of my girls and their babies trying to live live outside on the street. Their shelter had been closed down a few day ago and they could not afford to stay in the more expensive shelter next door. So here they were, all their belongings out on the street, trying to make the best of a terrible situation. I sat with them on the sidewalk as they bathed their babies and did their laundry, right there on the street. I took a couple of the toddlers with me to the grocery store and got everyone some food. But a few food items are not going to make much of a difference, I knew that something had to be done. So I decided to book all of them into the more expensive shelter for 2 nights. 2 nights because that is all we could afford.

But that also was not enough. So I did a facebook post and asked for help. Pretty soon we had them covered for a week. God is so good.

As I book the girls and their babies into the shelter the manager informs me that this shelter is also closing down on the 28th of February. When it closes close to 200 vulnerable people will be sleeping outside on the streets, many of which are women and children. I felt sick when I heard this. There are no answers for our girls. No help. Nothing. I was angry and frustrated as I drove home. What can I do Father? You love them more than I do, help them.

That night I had a dream. In my dream I was standing on Pickering street with my pastor from New York. I asked Pastor Bill “what should I do?” And he replied “be the light. Just BE it!”

As we stood on Pickering facing this more expensive shelter building, Victoria Lodge, light started to shine out of the Windows. Suddenly it was a lighthouse, guiding my girls to safety. Away from the drug dealer, away from the pimps, away from the clients. Leading them to the Father.

On Tuesday I had to return to Pickering street for my refugee friend to finish fixing my window. I walked into Victoria Lodge to check on the girls. And the manager informed me that the owner wants to sell up and get rid of the building… she didn’t know how much. Didn’t know when or how, but the owner is done with the place and and to get rid of it. Something started to stir. I felt a smidgen of hope rise in me. Could it be possible? Could Victoria Lodge become Hope’s Harbour? Father, what is your plan?

Now I don’t have any money. Like nothing. So I know that if this happens it is 100% the Father. And I know that miracles happen, I’ve seen them, but this one is MASSIVE. So I send my team a message, tell them everything and just ask for them to pray.

Last night Geela and I go to Victoria Lodge to pay for the girls rent and as I am talking to people about the place being a lighthouse I look up and see the picture above painted on the wall of the entryway of the building.

A LIGHTHOUSE!!!! WHAAAATTTTT?!?!?!?!

Father are you serious? A lighthouse painted on the wall, hidden by old beds and doors. We move the rubble out of the way and see that not only is there a lighthouse but it has a light shining.

So there is a stirring, a shifting, please pray. Please lift the situation to the Father and trust for a miracle with us. Our girls deserve this.

There is an urgency and the Father knows. We trust Him.

Who cares?

Some days I just don’t know. Like I feel like I literally know nothing. About anything. Last night and today have been one of those days.
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She is 19, has the mental age of around 11. Has very worrying behaviors, has no family. She came to us last night, she is 4-5 months pregnant and now HIV+. Due to her developmental disabilities she is not registering any of this information. One of our other girls tries to translate everything into Zulu so She can understand. As she translates she fights back the tears. Heart broken for this young girl. “She’s so young, she doesn’t understand, she can not have this baby.” She cries to me. I know baby girl I know.
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She has been sleeping on the beach, turning tricks for food, for survival. Last night we put her in a safe shelter, and today I personally covered her until Monday. But we spent today calling organizations, so called “places of safety” and each one told us that she does not meet their criteria….. sorry but WHAT THE HELL???!!!!
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Every man who paid her for sex was actually raping her, she does not have the mental capacity to consent to sex, she has mental health issues, severe ones, and these men are abusing her, giving her HIV and making her pregnant, and she does not meet the criteria of your organization???!!!!
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There are so many words I could use right now.
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Today I don’t know anything. I don’t know who really cares. I don’t know who actually does what they say that they do. I don’t know where all the money goes that these organizations raise in the name of caring for abused women, when they can not find a place for this highly vulnerable girl and her unborn child because they “do not meet our criteria”.
I JUST DONT KNOW.
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We REALLY need a property for our precious ladies because it seems that no one else really cares.
#unconditionallove #extravagantgrace #hopeforthesoul #durbansextrade #weseeyouweloveyou

The fight

Last night we were early to meet our girls, so I went and stood in the ocean. I needed to feel the sand between my toes and the water hitting my legs. I needed to breathe.
I have committed my life to fighting for those who have given up. For those who have had the fight knocked out of them. Precious individuals who have lived lives of severe abuse and trauma. Those who have been drowning in despair and pain their whole lives.
Many people do not understand this commitment. When girls jump the fence of rehab, or they fail over and over again, it’s hard for people to understand why I keep fighting for them.
When for years I invest my love, energy, money, only for the individual to yet again run away and hide, either physically or emotionally, why don’t I give up?
I’ll tell you why… because He has NEVER given up on me. Not once have I fallen so far that Love couldn’t come and pick me up. Not once.
I fail daily. Every day I have to ask LOVE for help, for forgiveness. And every day His Grace is sufficient.
So many are confused as to why I fight for the addicts. Why I believe in them and their futures. When so often that same addict runs away from their job, their church or their family.
I have committed to fighting. And this commitment is for life. It’s not a seasonal decision, it’s not a decision for when things are going well. It’s a commitment for life.
Today one of my dear friends has been under heavy spiritual attack, the enemy does not want her to succeed. He is trying to throw her past in her face and distract her from what LOVE is calling her to. We talked, we prayed, we fight.
I’ve walked this journey with her for 10 years. She has failed over and over, she lives on the edge of quitting. On the brink of returning to what she knows best, drugs and street life. It’s a fine line and years of trauma and abuse keep trying to pull her backwards. But I WILL FIGHT.
For generations there has been a battle for the hearts of her family. Grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, children, Satan has had a field day destroying them.
We say “enough is enough”. This pattern of addiction, poverty and pain stops now.
#unconditionallove

Living in Africa.

There is a level of frustration and exhaustion that comes hand in hand with living in Africa.

It’s hard to explain to anyone who has never lived on this continent.

There is a constant power struggle, racial tension and classism (not a real word) that is simmering at all times. It drains me and it makes ministry life harder than most other places.

We are still fighting for our work visas, getting to Home Affairs at 3am in order to get seen by an official, only to be faced with a racist torrent of “go back to your own country”.

They do not care that our children are African. Black African. In fact they are angry that these white people have black children. It is held against us. It’s exhausting.

I miss the safety of the streets of New York. The hustle is the same here, but as a woman with no car I’m so much more vulnerable. I find myself walking the streets of Durban, from meeting to meeting, random men rubbing up against me, asking favors of this out of place female. Last week while walking down town to a meeting a group of men stopped me at the street crossing to ask me about my tattoos, then 2 of them proceeded to stroke my arms. Thankfully the traffic lights changed and I was able to cross away from them, as they catcalled after me.

But then at the next crossing a frail old Gogo took hold of my hand and asked me to help her to cross the street. She held my hand for 3 blocks, kissed my hand, told me “ngiyabonga ngane yami” (thank you my child) and hobbled into the market, the market that I long to go in but can’t because I am an “mlungu” (white person)

I have finally started to fall in love with my city, it’s taken 14 years, but I am getting there. The more time I spend walking her streets the more I uncover her true identity. A beautiful city who has endured years of abuse from those who claim to love her.

Art deco apartment buildings now degraded to squats. Beaches covered in hypodermic needles and trash. Homeless bodies sleeping everywhere.

Her beauty tarnished by years of abuse. Maybe restorable, maybe not.

Durban I love you. I love your streets, as dirty and dangerous as they are. I love your architecture, even though so much of it is in shambles. I love your people, as broken as they are. Durban I love you. I believe in you. I will continue to care for your broken women. I promise to love them, to fight for them. I promise that I will continue to love you beautiful Durban.

if you would like to support our family and the work we do here in South Africa please go to

http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

or PayPal at downseyluff@aol.com

thank you x

An open letter…

I am writing this letter because I need to give a voice to the woman who you just sexually abused.You might ask why? Here’s my answer… The act that you just performed on her has rendered her voiceless. The “good time” that you just had has broken her a bit more. That “good time” has added to her layers of trauma.

What do you think when you pull up next to her? What do you think when you call her to make a booking? What goes through your mind as you drive the strip taking in what each girl has to offer?

Do you think anything or are you letting your penis navigate the way? Are you letting your perverse urges dictate where you stop or which woman you choose? What’s your criteria? Long legs? Blonde hair? Dark and exotic? Young and innocent? Or are you not so choosy? I’m thinking that you take little into consideration other than the urge burning in your broken soul to feel powerful and in control.

So let me burst your bubble… You are 100% out of control. You think you are powerful, that you can just pay for whatever you want, that she is at your mercy, that she should be thankful that you chose her.

Ha you fool! Any man who has control over his life, any man who truly is powerful and strong would never consider paying for sex. He would never have the urge or desire to break a woman, any woman, A real man has integrity and honor, he would never cause a woman pain, he is no ruled by his urges or his penis. A real man protects all women. He fights for the vulnerable, he does not add to their trauma.

To the man who pays for sex, did you know that she despises you? Everything about you repulses her. Oh she will act for you, she will put on a brave smile, tell you how manly you are, how she wants you, how good it feels. And all the time she is hating you with every ounce of her being. You repulse her. She will do whatever it takes for you to finish as fast as possible. so that she can run. She knows all the tricks, not because she loves sex, but because the qucker you finish the quicker she can get away from you.

You think she enjoys sex? She would enjoy it if it were with someone who loved and respected her. But right now she hates it. She despises you. She looks at your naked body and bile fills her mouth. She switches that switch, turns off her emotions, her feelings, and just gets the job done. She hates you because you are causing her trauma.

Did you know that she has to shoot heroin into her veins just so that she can be with you? Did you know that she is using every ounce of strength that she possesses to not fall apart and break? Take a moment to think about that… She can not have sex with you without heroin in her veins… What does that say to you? You still think that she is having a good time? Still think that she enjoys having you abuse her?

And when you are done, And you have gone she can try and breathe again, until the next man comes and abuses her all over again. Breaking her, pushing her to her limit, right to the edge, teetering on the edge of complete devastation. She won’t let you see the pain. She is stronger than you, she has to be. She has to survive. So she holds on. Determined to hide her pain, her devastation. She doesn’t want to give you the pleasure of seeing her vulnerability. She is strong, stronger than you.

She puts on a sweet voice, tells you everything that you want to hear, meaning none of it.

Did you know that her body is sick? Did you know that the guy before you paid her extra to omit the condom? Did you know that she is dying? Do you even care? You are sexually abusing a dying woman. DO YOU CARE? Did you know that she is sick because of men like you? Did you know that men like you have signed her death sentence? Does your wife or girlfriend know that you are going to one day bring home her death sentence because of your lack of care? That soon you will be carrying an illness that will rob her of her future? Do you even care?

Did you know that she is a mother? Did you know that she has little ones that she has to provide for? Did you know that their fathers are men just like you? Did you know that she is an AMAZING mother? Do you even care?

Did you know that every man who pays for sex is consumed by shame? Shame is a heavy weight to carry. Does your mother, wife, girlfriend, daughter know that you need help? Do you even care?

Oh and one last thing… Did you know that we know? We know who you are. You think that you get away with it. Pulling up in your new BMW, sons of wealthy families, gang raping a girl with your friends, masturbating on her face and humiliating her and making a movie of it. Prominent doctors keeping girls as sex slaves. All races and religions, unable to control your sexual urges. Too much pornography , an urge to play out what you have filled your brain with. Your perversions out of control.Your warped, weak, broken soul telling you that she wants it.

It’s all a lie. ALL OF IT. You are a sexual abuser.

DO YOU EVEN CARE?

I care. I care deeply. That is why I am writing this letter. You behavior, your actions, repulse me. Your abuse of these precious women and girls anger me more that I can put into written word.

And yet I can not help but feel sorry for you. I can not help but wonder who broke you? Who hurt you you so much that you now find it acceptable to hurt others? What happened? Was there abuse? Was there neglect? Is there an underlying mental health issue? What happened that turned that once sweet baby boy into a predator? What triggered this behavior? Are you an addict? Is that why you cant get enough? Or have you just lost your way? Have you forgotten who you are? You were created for greatness, but for some reason you have settled for abuser.

Did you know that His grace is sufficient? Did you know that there is freedom and forgiveness? Freedom from the shame, the urges, the addiction. Forgiveness for the acts, thoughts, weakness. But the choice is yours. Continue to carry the shame, give in to the urges, continue to abuse, or lay it all down at the feet of a Heavenly Father who still cares. A Father who hates your behavior but can still see His son who He created for greatness. A Father who’s plans for your life are pure and true. The choice is yours.

You have a choice, she does not.

Yours sincerely.

Someone who cares.