Are there any problems in the world that don’t have solutions?
I have always believed that answer is no. My conviction has always been that for every problem I run across, there is a solution if I look hard enough and don’t give up.
Realistically, of course, there are many problems that any one person is not capable of solving. Finding a cure to cancer will require the collaboration of the finest scientific minds. Stopping global warming will take the collective commitment of humanity. Some issues are not meant to be tackled alone.
The problem that The Flashlight Project works to solve is no different. It will take the collaboration of many people. The Dallas area has approximately 120 erotic massage parlors. From visiting roughly 21 or 22 of them, our volunteer outreach team has learned that they are full of people who are lonely and discouraged. They feel ignored and despised by society. They desperately crave acceptance and acknowledgement of their humanity.
The sad thing is that they are ignored by society. The parlors we have visited are not hidden. Traffic whizzes by them every day on Harry Hines, for example, and they are often surrounded by legitimate businesses. They are in full view of society, and there is nothing to stop us from going to them if we want to. They are only as isolated as we let them be.
So, what stops us from going?
My opinion is fear.
I understand why. I have been afraid. A parlor is not a place I would ordinarily go to. I prefer bookstores, and if the movie is really, really good, possibly a cinema. In the Philippines, where I went into the sex tourist bars to do outreach to the women, I sometimes caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and wondered what on earth I was doing there.
Fear is understandable because there are so many unknowns. When I walk up to a parlor and into the lobby, I don’t know what will happen when I ring the doorbell. I understand that moment of nervousness. Will the door open? Will we be rejected? Will we be accepted?
The moments of rejection, which unfortunately do come, can feel crushing. When you have nothing but good intentions and goodwill, to be rejected can bring you down.
But when you are accepted, what a moment that is! When the woman takes your gift and you know that she will read the affirmation inside it, your soul lifts. When she stays to talk with you for a few moments or minutes and you hear her prayer request, there is a peace and humility that settles over you. You are privy to her innermost pain, which she may not have anyone else to share with. When she allows you to hug her, you smash through a societal barrier that is artificial and unnecessary, and you wonder why you were ever afraid in the first place. You feel on top of the world, and you believe anything is possible if you persevere.
And it all happened because you were willing to walk into the lobby and ring the doorbell. God meets you there in the parlor and does the rest as He chooses.
The erotic massage parlors in Dallas are a long-standing institution. That they are full of lonely women with no one to reach out to is a problem we can solve. Can you imagine what will happen if teams of volunteers regularly go to all 120 parlors every month? What an impact that will be! Women in 120 parlors will be visited, and they will receive affirmations they can reflect on. Their self-esteem will increase, and they will know they are not despised.
All we have to do is go up to the door and ring the doorbell. God will take care of the rest.
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