Where the Spirit of the Lord is There is Freedom
“We won’t talk as we walk through” Andrea said as we walked through the Witches’ Market in El Alto, Bolivia. Andrea is the Director of Word Made Flesh, an organization Wellspring supports that works to honor women in prostitution. We walked together down a dusty road, lined on both sides with witch doctors performing sacrifices. There were stalls where one could purchase a sacrifice, such as a baby llama fetus. In front of the stalls were small fires where sacrifices were currently happening. The sound of either a bell or something resembling a firecracker signified which type of spirits they were encountering-evil or good.
As we walked through in silence, the darkness was palpable. I was struck by compassion for the witch doctors as they were so entangled in dark deception while leading others down that same path.
Andrea later explained that traditional religion is prevalent in Bolivia, especially among the less educated. The women the organization works with often have a mixed religious view as they combine aspects of traditional worship of spirits with Christianity. A woman may go to these witch doctors to break a curse over her life or to receive a blessing. As she told me stories of some of the encounters they have had with demonic presences through women embracing the worship of spirits, she said she knew she sounded crazy. This was not something she had ever seen or experienced before. I understood as I told her stories of my own work with women in a safe-house and the many times we encountered spiritual oppression and deception. We talked about how while there are many issues we face when working with women in the sex industry, more than anything else, it is a real spiritual war.
She shared with me how she deeply desired spiritual freedom and understanding for the women. She and the staff had begun gathering regularly to fast and pray together for spiritual breakthrough on behalf of the women. She said she was thinking about having a baptism for some of the ladies who have committed their lives to Christ. I remember vividly the irony and beauty of that moment as we talked about freedom for the ladies while still hearing the sounds of sacrifices with bells and firecrackers in the background.
Yesterday, the most beautiful picture was sent to me. After much prayer and discipleship, eight of their women decided to be baptized. As I saw the photo of one of the women coming out of the water with a huge smile on her face, the verse that immediately came to my mind was 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” Freedom has come to those eight women: freedom from their past and from spiritual deception. What a beautiful reminder it was to me that while darkness and evil have a stronghold in that community, when the Spirit of the Lord is present and accepted, there is true freedom.
Word Made Flesh works to honor women in prostitution by building relationships with them, and when desired, offering prevention and support services to leave the industry. To support this work, click the button below to donate and choose Word Made Flesh from the drop-down menu.
Written by Rachel Davis, Operations Manager and Senior Project Analyst of Wellspring International.