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Rescuing Monica

As was our normal routine, my Mexican colleague Al and I wandered the dark streets of the inner city, interacting with street kids, homeless folks, and drug addicts, offering them a sandwich, the gospel, and a prayer. We found our friend Fabian in his usual spot on the sidewalk and gave him a sandwich. We talked and he told us he was out of his diabetes medication and asked if we could get him some. I promised I would. We prayed with him, then continued on our way, giving out more of the delicious sandwiches that Al's grandmother had made.

A little later, we came across a couple sitting on a bench in a tiny plaza. They were huddled under a blanket and as we approached, we noticed that the girl was sobbing, between swigs of cheap tequila from a plastic bottle. Her companion seemed to be consoling her. We stopped and offered them some sandwiches and asked if everything was OK. The man told us that his friend Monica was crying because he was leaving the next day. He showed us his bus ticket. He told us that he had to go home, but he couldn't take her with him. He explained that he was her only friend and he protected her from a local violent street gang that used her as their sex slave. They often drugged her and raped her, but whenever he could, he would try to help her. Now she would have no one to protect her from them.

I asked if she had anyone else, or anywhere she could go. The answer was no.

Al and I were both thinking the same thing. Monica was a good candidate for rehab. It would get her off the street and into a safe place. We proposed the idea and they both agreed.

Just then I sensed a presence nearby. I looked up and saw a young man standing next to us, staring at us menacingly.

"What are you doing?" he demanded to know.

"Nothing," I replied, "Just talking to some friends."

"I heard what you said. You're not taking her anywhere. She's ours." He growled.

I stood up. I was bigger than the kid and told him that if she wanted to go with us, we would take her.

He snorted, turned and left without another word. I was pleased that he was gone until Monica’s friend Juan spoke up. "We gotta get out of here!" he urged.

"Why?" I asked.

"He's going to get the gang! They will kill us!"

My heart started racing. I turned to my colleague. "Al, go get the car."

He took off running.

The car was at least three city blocks away. I did not know how far away the gang was. We could only wait. I sat at prayed with Juan and Monica in the meantime. "Lord, you brought us here for a reason …. Please keep us all safe tonight …."

When I said "amen" I looked over my shoulder. Across the street there appeared first a few, then more gang members, maybe a dozen. They appeared to be armed with clubs, bottles, and who knows what else.

It was only a matter of seconds before they would be on us to reclaim their “property.”
At that moment I heard the squeal of tires and saw the familiar white car peel around the corner and screech to a stop. Al jumped out and opened the back door. Monica had drifted off to sleep during the prayer, so I scooped her up in my arms and dove into the car as Juan ran around and got in the front seat. The gang members were dodging traffic, coming across the street toward us.

"Where do we go?" asked Al, once again behind the wheel.

"Just drive!" I urged. He floored it just as the gang descended upon the car which sped away just out of their reach. We drove at high speed for a few miles and finally pulled over to figure out what to do next. It was the middle of the night, so we decided to take Monica to a hotel and put her to bed. We took Juan to a different hotel and did the same, arranging to take him to the bus station in the morning and recounted our plan to take Monica to rehab. I went home and tried to sleep, but my mind kept replaying our narrow escape from the gang.

The next morning I woke my daughters and asked if they had any extra clothes they could donate to Monica. They filled a small suitcase. I went to a pharmacy and bought the medicine for Fabian and a supply of personal care items for Monica, then headed downtown to the hotel where we had left her the night before.

I went up to the room and knocked. Silence. I wondered if she’d left during the night. I used the key and opened the door. The she was right where we left her, still filthy, her hair tangled. I tried to rouse her.

"Monica, buenos días."

She stirred. "Buenos días." she replied "Where am I?"

"You are safe. You're in a hotel room. Do you remember anything about last night?" She recalled the events, including our conversation before she passed out on the bench.

"So, do you still want to go to rehab?"

"Yeah."

I gave her the suitcase of clothes and other items and told her I would wait downstairs in the lobby while she got cleaned up. When she finally came down, she was unrecognizable. Clean, attractive, and ready for a new start. I took her out to breakfast and learned more of her story.

Her father abandoned her and her mother, then her mother died. She lived with her aunt and cousins for a while, got pregnant, had a daughter then fell in with the wrong crowd and became an alcoholic, drug addict. Her aunt kicked her out and she had been living on the streets for the past four or five years, doing whatever she had to do survive, a slave of the streets, addicted, abused and exploited.

I shared the gospel with her and told her about a God who loved her and a savior who died for her and wanted something so much better for her than the only life she had known until then. I gave her my Bible, which she gratefully accepted and promised to read.

After breakfast we met up with Al who had taken Juan to the bus station and we went to the rehab center with Monica. There we were informed that there was no room for Monica until Monday. That was three days away! What were we going to do with her until then? We couldn't leave her on the street. I remembered that our church had dorms for summer teams and so I called one of our elders and explained the situation. I said, "I know we are not a rehab center ..."

“No,” he interrupted, "but we are a church. She can stay here over the weekend."

We went out to lunch and I called on my daughters again to see if they would be willing to stay with her at night so she wouldn't be alone. They readily agreed to take turns. After lunch, we headed to church.

Monica went right to sleep and did not wake up until the next day. The next morning, we picked her up and we met Al again for our "church without walls" meetings in the park. Monica was quiet and shy. So far so good. After the meeting, I told Monica that I had to drop off the medicine to our homeless friend, Fabian. I was hesitant to go back to the same area where we had rescued her, but took a chance. I parked and got out, instructing Monica to stay in the car while I delivered the medicine to Fabian. When I returned to the car, Monica was gone. I didn't know what to do, when suddenly she appeared from around the corner. Just as I opened my mouth to speak, she said, "What are we waiting for? Let's get out of here."

She explained that she had gone to say goodbye to another homeless girl nearby. By God’s grace, she was either not seen or not recognized by anyone from the gang.

I took her back to the church, where she had a restless night. The symptoms of withdrawal set in causing anxiety, panic attacks, and nightmares, which freaked out my daughter, who didn't get much sleep. The next morning she was a little better and attended church with us. I introduced her as my friend and she was warmly received. After the service she spent Sunday afternoon with a family from church who invited her over.

Finally Monday morning arrived and we took Monica back to rehab where, after hugs and tears, she got into a van and was taken to a center in another state for her protection and rehabilitation. We all breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God that this first step to her recovery was finally over. 

A few nights later, Al and I returned to the same place we found Monica. We parked and bowed our heads to pray. When we finished praying and looked up, we found our car surrounded by members of the very same gang who pursued us just a week before. We looked at each other. What should we do? Drive away?  No, these were the very kids we were trying to reach. We opened the doors and got out. 

"Where is she!" one of them demanded. 

"She's in a safe place, far away from here.” I replied. “She's not coming back."  He looked at me. I held my ground. Then he looked down. 

“Good.” he said. “She deserves better than the way we were treating her. Thanks for getting her out of here.” I couldn’t believe my ears. We hung out with these guys for a while and have since actually become friends with many of them, praying with them and sharing the gospel.

Monica spent a year in Christian rehab and returned to Guadalajara, got a job, fell in love, and got married. Today Monica is a chubby, happy housewife and mother who knows the gospel and by God’s grace is finally free from the slavery of gangs, drugs, and alcohol.

There are so many girls like Monica still trapped on the streets of Guadalajara and around the world waiting to be rescued by the hope that only Christ can give. Please pray them and for the ongoing outreach of NACL, a ministry of MTW, in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Paul Fisher serves with MTW in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

Paul Fisher, Guadalajara Mexico Apr 6, 2016
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Pray for women forced by poverty into sex work. Pray for MTW ministries around the globe seeking to rescue and minister to these women.

Pray for those living in poverty in Guadalajara, Mexico, and for the gospel to bring life and hope to people there. 

Pray for the men and women who cross paths with missionaries in Guadalajara to come to know Christ personally and to find a church home.

Last summer, Claudia came to faith through a summer trip. She has since been baptized. Pray for those who come to faith in Mexico as a result of short-term trips to plug into the church.

Pray for church-planting efforts among the Purépecha Indians outside Guadalajara, Mexico. Pray for national missionaries and short-term teams serving there.

Pray for God's work among migrants and refugees on the U.S./Mexico border. 

Pray for the national pastors serving in Mexico and Cuba, many of whom are bi-vocational, and the work God is doing among them.

Pray for the kids in Aquiles Serdan neighborhood of Reynosa, Mexico, and the outreach of Isaiah 55 ministry there.

Pray for a woman in Mexico City who recently came to faith in the midst of a personal crisis. 

Pray for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and our church-planting work there. Pray for God to grow, expand, and deepen the churches and draw many to Himself.

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