the Young Family

The Joy Stealer

(by Sarah Young — To read more about Sarah’s work in Latvia, check out her recent blog post, In Search of Hope on Latvia’s Streets)

When working with women trapped in prostitution, positivity is a valuable asset! But no matter how hard I tried, it felt like every ounce of hope had been sucked out of me this week. I felt discouraged. Drained. Useless.

I thought to myself, “There’s no way I can do this every day for the rest of my life. God, are you sure this is what you are calling me to? What am I really bringing to these girls anyways?”

My week continued to get worse. I told my husband, Michael, how I had been feeling.

“Have you been praying?” Michael asked me.

And it struck me like a ton of bricks. I was shocked by my own response. For whatever reason, I hadn’t prayed for these girls in several days. Later that day, I went back to my room and began praying and interceding for the girls and for the ministry.

Even after praying, the spiritual attacks didn’t stop. As the next few days passed, more things kept coming against me.

“I’m so mad at the enemy,” I told Michael after one incident. “Why does he keep attacking me like this?”

“That’s the whole point, don’t you think?” Michael answered. “To get you angry.”

I realized how sneaky the enemy is. If he could keep me mad at him, he could keep me from sharing my joy with the girls on the streets. I remembered how the other staff and volunteers with Freedom61 had recently told me that my joy was extremely contagious for these girls. They said my joy “changed the atmosphere” in the cafe and on the streets. And that was the whole point for the enemy — to steal my joy so that I couldn’t share it with these women who longed for a moment of true joy.

On Wednesday, I spent time alone with Jesus as I walked to the cafe. I let Him fill my heart with His joy by praying for the women and worshipping God. As I prayed, I remembered that I am not fighting alone. There’s a whole army back home fighting beside me through prayer. There’s a spiritual army who stands with me. And most of all, God Himself fights for these women!

On Friday, I shared these struggles with our ministry leader at Freedom 61. “Do you remember what happened just last night?” she asked. “The girls were enjoying your brownies. And somehow, you broke through all the language barriers and got them all talking and laughing. Your joy changed them! And for a little while, they forgot all about their ‘jobs.’”

Of course, my eyes filled with tears. She was right. God has gifted me with a joyful personality to bring joy to others. And it’s just like the enemy to attack us in the area of our greatest gifting. So, I press in again to push back the joy stealer and spread the joy of the Lord to every girl I meet on Latvia’s streets!