In Sanskrit, The Warrior pose is called Virabhadrasana. The name derives from Virabhadra, a great warrior hero in Indian mythology. Warrior pose is a vigorous yoga posture that demands strength and steadiness. The Warrior pose has three variations. Like many yoga poses, the Warrior series challenges your concentration and increases body awareness. I have been on a “Warrior” journey since my daughter’s trip to Russia.
Summer of 2002, our daughter went with 15 high school classmates to Novosibirsk, in Southwest Siberia. They stayed in a private Dacha for two weeks and hosted orphans who had only lived in a city setting. Little did I know that giving her permission to go on this trip would change the course of my life.
It was an exciting moment when my husband and I met Amanda at Sea-Tac airport. After hugs and goodbyes to her classmates the energy of Amanda’s voice changed. We hadn’t even driven out of the airport parking lot before she said, “Dad, the girls I was with for two weeks don’t get to go to college at seventeen when they leave the orphanage, did you know that? These girls will become prostitutes and you care about sexual abuse, what are you going to do about this?” The demanding attitude of our privileged teenager “set my husband off.”
With intensity and a pointed finger he stated, “I have enough on my plate with my calling to sexual abuse. There is no more I can handle.” Without skipping a beat, Amanda turned her gaze to me and said, “Mom, what are you going to do about this?” I was aware of my quiet and slow breathing. It was a sentence that seared deep and continues to propel and haunt me.
During Amanda’s senior year we began attending conferences and legislative gatherings for the laws to be changed for prostituted women. We became connected with people worldwide who work in various legal and undercover ways to fight for the rights of unprotected women, men and children.
It was a time of research on the Internet that broke my heart. I sat stunned with a heartbeat of sorrow I couldn’t escape. The stories I was reading were realities that had been hidden from me. I would have to shut my computer down and breathe.
A few years later I was at a conference and met a woman in charge of “Late Night Outreach” with New Horizons, a ministry to street kids in Seattle founded in 1978. I was “in”. This was my Warrior’s pose to all that heartache I had been reading about.
I completed the training and signed a commitment to one year of outreach on Friday nights on our city streets. I left our home at 7:30 in the evening to make the 8:10 ferry and got into bed at my daughter’s home in Seattle at 3:30 Saturday morning. It was a life changing experience. I became fierce and invigorated by the harm I saw on the streets. I was beginning to gain a Warrior’s pose of my variation. (My blog when I was on the streets: http://fridaylights.wordpress.com/.) All names were changed for privacy and the city was never named in the blog.
The most important thing I learned is that we are all the same. The outreach was to youth up to age 25 and many of the women were moms. They had the same hopes and dreams for their kids that I did. They had the same desires for themselves that I did too. Many were out of the foster care system where abuse had been rampant. Some were working for college tuition. There was a mom whose husband sent her out for tuition money for private education for their two daughters! She hated being on the streets. Some of the girls were as young as 12! Most had pimps but some were “renegades” who stirred up problems with the pimps and with the girls who were imprisoned by pimps. One thing was universal: all of them had been raped as street workers. All of them. All had been scarred by the violence and degradation. Sometimes they had a tender side that leaked out. Even though their speech was rough and their demeanor often outrageous we met as women in solidarity of our gender. Solidarity of what our Creator had in mind for being a woman. My stance became stronger and my heart more broken.
The second Friday night that I was “on outreach” a young, beautiful Hispanic girl came screaming to our corner where we offered hot drinks, a heater, and gave away mittens, hats, conversation and condoms. “Help”, she screamed as she ran to us. “I’m going to die! Hide me!” I was new at this, right? My supervisor, looked at me and with her powerful voice softly said, “Shield her!” In a split second I thought of my children and husband and shielded her. I had no idea if I was shielding her from bullets, an angry pimp, or an enraged “John”. I just stood in front of her, held my arms out, stood still with active muscles, a pounding heart and a strong stance.
My team leader sized up the gravity of her situation and took her to our van and gave her a phone to call for help. The urgency was palatable and the calmness we displayed was odder than anything I’d ever experienced. I became a believer in deep breathing, alert senses and trust in my heavenly Father. Cars sped by and tires screeched and soon a car stopped and she ran and got in it. We had four more hours to go before returning to our computers to record our contact with “the girls” and pimps we had contact with. Two Fridays down, 46 more to go!
It was an amazing privilege to do what I got to do. This outreach does not even exist today. The trade has gone “underground” with Craig’s list and other sites. Instead of talking with 45 women a night, the numbers became 4 and 5 after major “stings” in our city. Prostitution is almost always a form of human trafficking. It still goes on. Not only in my city, but yours too. If this angers you, you are a Warrior who must find your pose.
Red Tent Living is beginning a new focus on sex trafficking called Red Tent Warriors. What is your “Warrior Pose”? How will you say no to harm that is being done? Will you join with me in the fight with your own unique “Warrior pose?” Which variation will be yours? I trust it will challenge your concentration and increase your body awareness while opening your heart further to God as you learn to breathe deeply on behalf of those who are enslaved worldwide.
Before you learn more about human trafficking and even before you ask the question: How can I help? Ask, will I let the Father of orphans, strangers, and widows take me into the fight? Will I own that my tears are holy and my anger a deep shudder of rage against evil? Will you own the fact you are a holy warrior, a mother to orphans, a friend of strangers and a companion to the widow? If so, it is time to strike more than a pose. It is time to ask God to strengthen your heart, quicken your breath, and prepare your hands for battle. Will you join me in this spiritual war, my Warrior friends?
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!