Trafficking and Prostitution: A Litany for the Wounded

My friend Michelle and her partner had to take a spur-of-the-moment trip into Seattle today and are staying the night with us.  A treat to see her since we don’t get to spend time together very often.  She works up in Vancouver for the rights of women who have been trafficked into the sex industry.   Below is a prayer she wrote for a gathering.  I invite you to pray for these women, to spread wide your imagination, and to live into freedom and possibility for all those who have been oppressed.

Opening Prayer

Scripture
For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
-Isaiah 42:14-16

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
-Colossians 2:15

Setting the Stage
The dominant culture, now and in every time, is grossly uncritical, cannot tolerate serious and fundamental criticism, and will go to great lengths to stop it. . . the church has no business more pressing than the reappropriation of its memory in its full power and authenticity.
-Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

Prayers of the People
God of all Mercy,
Forgive us for the ways in which we remain silent about systemic oppression and reinforce the dominant culture that tolerates the buying and selling of women’s bodies.

Offer your own petitions (in silence or out loud)
Response: Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of all Freedom
Hear the cries of your children who are sexually exploited and dehumanized. Bring them into the light. We remember the women and children in our city, nation and world who are living in pain and shame.

Offer your own petitions (in silence or out loud)
Response: Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of all Compassion,
Our hearts break over the pain that causes men to use vulnerable women and girls for selfish gratification. We ask that you release them from the bondage of addiction, meet their emotional needs, and restore them to wholeness. Thank you for men who treat women with integrity and may you spur both men and women to speak out against exploitative behavior.

Offer your own petitions (in silence or out loud)
Response: Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of all Grace,
We stand before you in the knowledge that we ourselves are wounded and in need of deep healing. Forgive us for the ways in which we dismiss our selfishness and locate evil as outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that we are complicit with oppression both through our actions and apathy.

Offer your own petitions (in silence or out loud)
Response: Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

God of all Hope,
We affirm that you are the Source of life and are making all things new. Give us the strength to resist! Foster a biblically informed critique of dominant culture! Give us wily ideas on how to stand against sexual exploitation! Empower us to live into the biblical vision of peace. . .

Offer your own petitions (in silence or out loud)
Response: Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Closing

Michelle Miller at Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity, (REED), Vancouver, BC

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10 Responses

  1. You are such lovely people! Thank you for standing with us for justice and mercy in the lives of exploited women. Story Midwife asked, “How might I help?”

    While many of you may not live in an urban center there are still ways, all important, that you can participate in the liberation and dignity of women oppressed in this particular way.

    First, question the legitimization of the sex industry. Do we think that women are lining up to fill these “jobs” (pornography, phone sex, web cams, escort agencies, etc.)? If there was no sex industry then women would not be trafficked, domestically or internationally, to be sexually exploited for the gratification of others. Ask questions around this. Think deeply.

    Second, the very things that perpetuate trafficking – greed, selfishness, apathy, dehumanization – entangle us all at a personal level. So live with an open hand. Honor ‘the other’ over yourself. Get your bootie movin’ and care about your community. These are very real and tangible ways that we can resist exploitation in the grit of our lives.

    Third, if you are so moved you can support our work financially. I list this last because I wouldn’t want it to hold you from another act you are being called to initiate. If you are feeling nudged to support us this way send me an email at
    michellemiller36@yahoo.ca.

    Peace.

  2. I too join in this prayer. Being an incest survivor I can identify here in a sense, so its extra healing to hear the praying here…

  3. Thank you wonderful women: Britt, Bette, Cathleen, Trish, for joining me in this prayer.
    Michelle just left, we had an amazing breakfast of eggs with feta and sauteed kale and mushrooms to nourish the body (she timed her visit right by coming the day after my Pioneer Organics delivery!) and conversation to nourish the soul. Too short, but always a gift.
    Love and blessings, Christine

  4. Christine,
    Thank you for posting this from Michelle. Have a delightful time! I just got to spend an overnight with my wonderful friend and her partner. So joyous!

    Blessings for fun and luscious conversation.
    Trish

  5. Stunning. Thank you, Michelle. I hold you and your compassionate work in my heart.

    Though I am living life tucked into the hills of Iowa I feel compelled to ask: “How might I help?”

    Deep bows to you, Michelle, and to the women you serve.

  6. I pray with you and your friend. Here in Trondheim the police are successfully (well at least pasrt) working with these issues, and several Albanian (and other) women have been helped. Keep on this important work and praying.

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