Nadia

Not Ashamed

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(Please listen to Nadia’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.) Photo Credit: Jen Dixon

The people who say, yeah, the Bible’s true, and I live my life to reflect that truth. It just starts with a simple, yes. And so as the Holy Spirit nudges, “Hey, I want you to go pray with the guy sitting on a corner of the street in a wheelchair.” Okay, yes. And you do that. And then there’s, a brick that’s laid, right, and it’s faith, and it’s laid, and then God asks you to do it somewhere else. And then you do it. And there’s another brick. And before you know it, you have this foundation. Then if God says, “Hey, I want you to walk down the street, and all of these people, they’re armed. And the guy, you’re sitting next to, he has a machete on the ground, right by his foot. And I want you to sit down next to him. And I want you to tell him that you just saw him as a little boy playing with a toy truck in the sand.”

It’s not like I just said yes to Jesus and God asked me to do something like that. It’s just continuing to say yes to Him in knowing that he’s got you. And he’s not going to lead you into a situation where he’s going to abandon you, because from the foundation of the world, he’s never, ever, ever let anyone down. I mean, the devil lets people down. And then people sometimes think it’s the Lord, and they get upset at the wrong person. But God doesn’t let anyone down. And so if he asked me to go, I know he’s got my back. And if he asked me to open my mouth, I know he’s going to give me the words.

We go out onto the streets and we look for girls who are caught in the sex trade. And we offer them gifts, and resources and an opportunity to leave the current life that they’re in. If they’re interested in taking it, we also offer encouragement. Our real goal is just to share the heart of the Father, just to share love, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to meet them where they’re at.

So there’s this one time specifically when I went to a pretty rougher area of town, and went in to minister to the ladies who are caught in that lifestyle, offer them a way out, and parked, and started walking down the street. And instantly, on the opposite end of the street, about a block away, I saw this man sitting there. And I felt like God was saying to me to go to him. And my response was, “Could you speak a little louder, please. I see a lot of ladies I’d rather talk to.”

At the time, I didn’t know who he was. But it turns out that he is one of the most notorious heroin dealers in that part of town in Miami. I really felt like God was saying, “Him. He’s the reason why you’re here.” And that’s when God gave me this picture of him as a little boy, playing in a sandbox with yellow and black plastic, dump truck. Filling it up with sand, holding it up in the air and dumping the sand and making little sound effects. And my heart just shifted completely. And I really felt like the Lord was impressing upon me, “That’s how I see him. He’s my little boy. Yes, you have a heart to go reach out to the women. But I also have a heart for my boys on the street. They’re mine, my sons.” And my heart just became so filled with compassion for this man sitting on a mattress. I don’t even remember walking up to him, I just remember standing in front of him. I crouch down to his level. And said, “Hi, my name is Nadia, you don’t know me. But I’m actually out here to give free gifts to the ladies that are working on the streets. I just really felt like I needed to come up and introduce myself to you and see if I could pray for you, see if I could bless you, or if I could encourage you in any way.”

He just looked at me. And as soon as he made eye contact, I just, there was that stirring of compassion again, that felt so deeply in my heart. So I said, well, “The mattress looks comfortable. Mind if  I have a seat.” And he just looked at me. So I took that as yes and sat down next to the guy.

“And this sounds weird, but is it cool to put my hand on your knee. Is that all right? There’s something I really want to share with you. Can I put my hand on your knee?” And he looked at me, he didn’t object. So I put my hand on his knee and I said, “Thanks, thanks. Um, this is going to sound so crazy. But I feel the heart of the Heavenly Father towards you. I feel the heart of God towards you. And I just, it’s really important that you know that he’s proud of you, that he sees you, he sees what you’re doing. And he gave you a heart of compassion. He gave you the heart of a protector. And he says thank you for watching out for his daughters. And he says thank you for keeping them safe.”

This guy’s eyes just started to well, up. And he said, “How do you know me?” “I don’t, I don’t know you. I mean.” And I kind of made a joke, “What’s your name? I don’t know you, I don’t know who you are.” And he said, “Arrow. And I said, “Awesome, Arrow like it’s, really great to meet you, do you know God?” And he said, “Nah, like, I mean, I know God. God, we’re not tight, you know, we’re just not tight.”

I said, “That’s okay. He sent me out here to let you know that even though you’re not close to him, he’s so close to you.” I asked him, “Do you mind if I pray, pray for you that God would protect you, that He will bless you and He will continue to reveal Himself to you. Is that cool?” He just looked at me. So I took that as a yes. And I prayed, you know, very simple terms. God bless him, immediate needs will be met, he wouldn’t be hungry or thirsty, any of this stuff. I asked if it would be be okay if I came to his spot either the next day or the day after that.

He said sure. And he gave me a fist bump, another half-hug thing, and I walked away. Back home, I prayed about that encounter I just prayed that God would really reveal himself to Arrow’s heart.

It was about two weeks after I met him, I started to feel a little bit more comfortable around him. And I told him, “I’m like, you know, what’s so crazy is, the day I first saw you, I started walking towards you. And I’m not gonna lie, I got nervous. I’m a blonde white girl on the streets of Miami. You know, everyone speaks Spanish. Everyone’s dark and I like, stick out like a sore thumb. I and was like, I am, I was so nervous walking up to you.”

“Immediately I felt the peace of God. And I saw you. I saw you like four years old. You’re playing in the sand like, like a box of sand. And I described the truck he had in great detail, the black and white plastic dump truck. And he said he’s like, “I, I had a toy like that. I used to play like that. That was my favorite thing to do.” He said, “When I was a little boy, I always wanted to grow up to be a construction worker, because I thought that big trucks were really awesome, you know?” I just told him, “Yeah, God showed me that because he loves you that much. He wants you to know that he saw you. He sees you now and he saw you then. You might feel alone now. But you’re not. You know, you’ve never been alone. He’s been with us since the beginning.”

All of a sudden, he sat up, he said, “Wait, wait, wait a second, wait a second. You tellin’ me that Jesus was hanging out with a ho?”  I looked at him, and I said,”Yeah, that’s exactly what Jesus does.

He opened his arms up as I was getting ready to leave and he leaned in and hugged me. And I, wow. I actually  remember that moment really vividly now. Yeah, I stood up, and then he stood up. I was like, “You don’t need to stand up for me.”

He said, “No, no, no”. And he opened up his arms and gave me a hug. And I hugged him. And I said in his ear, “I am so proud of you. And so is the Father, I’m not ashamed of you. And neither is the Father. I’m not afraid of you. And neither is the Father. And I love you, and so does the Father.”

He said right back in my ear, “I love you too.” That was just a really beautiful afternoon that we got to spend together, got to minister.

He’s a cool guy. You know, he’s had a lot of hurt in his past that’s brought him to the situation that he was currently in when I met him–dealing drugs and also running women, he was also trafficking women. He hated seeing anyone in pain. He hated seeing anyone, the women that he was working with, suffering. It was, it was his compassion God had given him.

After that day, when people would come by to, to buy drugs or anything like that, he would shoo them away. He would not make any business transactions at all, while I was there. He, it was awesome. It really seemed like our time mattered to him. It was valuable to him. And he protected it, you know, to make sure that nothing else interfered with it. Then he started to say more and more like, “Women shouldn’t have to be out here on the street, they shouldn’t have to be doing this.” He said, “I know that men are stronger than women, you know, physically. So no, no one should really be out here. But it’s the women, you know, the women just shouldn’t be out here, and I’m going to get off the streets. I’m going to start a nonprofit, and I’m going to raise money to help these women so that they don’t have to be out here trying to self-medicate and, and having to sell themselves so that they can, you know, be able to make a living. I want to help the women. I don’t want them to be on the street, they shouldn’t be in this situation. You know, there’s more for them.” Things of that nature.

We had actually started listening to an audio recording of the Bible set to a hip-hop beat. We started at John chapter one. I’d been talking to him about Jesus and just sharing like who Jesus is, Jesus is God, is the Word, you know. So all of these amazing things about who Jesus is, and what Jesus does and the miracles and and then John, chapter four. The narrator started talking and reading the scripture of John chapter four. And all of a sudden, he sat up, he said, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a second, wait a second. You telling me that Jesus was hanging out with a ho?” And I looked at him, and I said,

“Yeah, that’s exactly what Jesus does. That’s exactly who he spends time with–the people that everybody else just tends to walk by and overlook, and look down upon. Those are people that Jesus goes out of his way to spend time with. Of course, he was spending time with her. Of course, he was talking with her.” It really just struck him that a man who says he’s God, who has this, you know, high profile, would be spending his time with someone on the streets, someone like him, is really what he was getting at.

And it just became a conversation about, like, why? I just remember, you know, telling him his value and his worth. And, and that’s what Jesus does, that that if Jesus, were here today, he’d be sitting on the mattress next to him, he’d be walking the streets in this neighborhood. He’d be, you know, actively searching out, you know, the girls working the streets, the guys running the drugs, because Jesus just wants them to know that they’re loved. And that shifted his heart. It just shifted his heart.

I don’t know how else to explain it. But we prayed that day, not me, praying over Arrow. But we prayed together. And now he actually works for the needle exchange, the IDEA exchange, where heroin addicts come to him, and they bring their dirty needles, and he gives them clean needles in return. But before he gives away those clean needles, he says, “I can give you these clean needles, but I want to let you to know that Jesus Christ set me free from all addiction and all shame and all guilt. And He can do the same for you. Do you want me to pray for you? Or do you just want these needles and do you  want to walk away?” And that is his testimony. It’s just a beautiful example of, of the heart of the Father loving on those who are caught in addiction and in the sex trade. He just smiles and loves on them and tells him his testimony of how Jesus did it for him and how he’ll certainly do it again.

I’ve been around a lot of survivors. They’re amazing. I hear their stories. Their stories are pretty much the darkest, most evil, most terrible thing you could possibly imagine. If you multiply that by 10, that kind of sort of as bad as their stories are. That was the first time God gave me a heart for the trafficker and to feel, to actually feel a connection with the trafficker. And then to feel and to know that I genuinely loved him with God’s love. Then for him to say, I love you, too. That, I mean that wrecked me. Because I realized, yeah, God loves his daughters who are caught in the sex trade. And God who loves the men that are selling, and God loves the men that are purchasing, like, every single one of them has a created value, and the Father knows them intimately. And it was a new way of me experiencing the heart of the Father. Because prior to that, I really only had the heart of the Father for the women. So that was a really powerful moment to me.

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