Lonely men line the sidewalks. Scantily clad women parade in and out of the surrounding buildings. Cars and buses noisily push their way through the crowded streets lined with taxis. The homeless walk aimlessly amid the chaos with tattered cups in their hands, begging for anything to fill them. Bewildered tourists, scurry through the mess not knowing. Hungry men darken the alluring doors again and again.
Thus is the scene in front of San Jose's larges brothel. To walk into this picture is surreal at best and frightening in reality. Only those who are called should dare.
A small group of us stood in the midst of this craziness Friday night. It was ugly. It ws dark. But to us it is beautiful. It is the perfect opportunity to shine light into darkness. To demonstrate pure, holy Love in the midst of perversion and lust.
It was into this situation a handsome, young tico* walked up to our group. For several minutes he just stood there like in a trance, not believing what he was seeing. I'll call him Henry to protect him.
Henry was high. His speech was slow. His mind working over time to keep conversation and process his thoughts. But this did not keep him from being moved. And his words moved us.
"I come here a lot," he said. "But I have never found God. Now you are here."
As Henry painfully answered our questions and listened about God's love for him, he kept telling us about his life but he could not find words to describe what he knows about this place.
"You all just don't know," Henry said over and over again. "This place is hell. You don't know what goes on here."
When we would ask him tell us more, he would simply look in our eyes and become speechless as tears welled up in his own eyes. He would shake his head and turn away. Only to return once again to our conversation.
We asked him about his family. "I have no family," he said. "None at all. That is why I come here."
"I have been looking for God but have never found him here. Now you are here."
Henry stood with us for most of the evening. He could not pull himself away from what he was experiencing in our group.
Will he remember the words that were spoke over him and to him? Words of life and hope? Words about a family? The family of God, of which he can be a part?
Will he remember who put a new phone number in his cell phone? Will he call us? Will he remember about the church service we told him about?
These are questions we ask ourselves constantly. The only hope we have of seeing him again is the spirit of God who can work against the drugs that clouded his mind that night.
Our encounter with Henry was further confirmation of the calling FSM has on the corner of San Jose's largest brothel. God's light of salvation and freedom needs to be in that place. That is our call.