I just returned from a week in Southeast Asia. It was my first time to this part of the world, and our whirlwind tour with a prolific, Christ-centered ministry that is rescuing young girls from the vile evils of sex-trafficking left my head spinning and my emotions reeling. It also filled me with hope.

There are so many stories to tell, many of which we need to wait to fully share. But one encounter I cannot fold up neatly and set aside has more to do with you and me than the things I saw there.

We attended a worship service in the Red Light District of this major global city. As I stood in the back of the room, I listened to dozens of young women trapped in the prostitution industry as they raised their voices in praise to God:

Every blessing You pour out, I’ll

Turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Try singing those lyrics in that place with those people without weeping. Go ahead, I dare you.

These beautiful image-bearers of God Almighty literally walked out of the brothel into this life-giving gathering, sang and danced and wept and prayed, then returned to their perverted “customers” a few hours later. Physically rescuing these girls is far from simple, regardless of what you may have heard. But one thing I can assure you, the presence of Jesus is in the dark places.

As I worshipped Jesus with these women, a strange realization came over me: I am one of them. Weak, lost, exploited by the darkness of this sinful world, unable to free myself, desperately in need of a Savior.

And yet, I am also the brothel owner. Vile, rebellious, full of darkness, manipulating the power of this sinful world for personal gain, desperately in need of a Savior.

It’s humbling to realize who you are without Jesus.

As I left that church gathering – head spinning, theology challenged – I knew one thing for sure: A Gospel that reaches into the brothel, that brings hope and light into the darkest of places, is a Gospel for me. It’s a Gospel for you, too.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.