The Bar Next Door

A story from a Christian working with some of the vulnerable girls who gather around the bars near where she lives.

At the bar beside my house everything was dark. Most of the tables on the street outside were taken. No light illuminated the faces of the customers. The men and women who came to drink here liked to sit in the dark. Better the dark than to be seen by others. Soon a man called a taxi and took a pretty girl along with him.

As I went to sit at one of the tables, Monique* asked me to join her. Monique, in her early twenties, is beautiful with a lively spirit. She loves to dress like the models she sees in western magazines. Her sister Fatimé and her boyfriend were there too and, as we talked, they asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I tell people about Jesus and pray with them. That got their attention! When the others had left, Monique told me her story.

A few years ago her father divorced her mother. Her mother was devastated. In order to survive her mother started to run a bar and restaurant at which the children had to help.

When Monique was 18 years old she was infatuated with a young man and became pregnant. She hoped he would marry her, but instead she was accused of sleeping with another man. Broken-hearted, she decided that her only option was to have an abortion.

From that time on Monique swore that she will never again become involved with a Chadian man.

Monique started to hang out with European men who were always on a look out for a pretty girl. Since she was beautiful and young, she found many boyfriends willing to pay for her company. As the extra money helped the family, her mother encouraged her. But Monique was bitter and took up drinking to ease the pain.

“All I ever wanted was to have a happy family, to go to church and to be a proper lady.” She explains that it is so much easier to give her body, than to give her heart. All I did was simply to listen and show her how much God loves her and that he knows about her pain.

Monique is one of the twenty girls I have met in the capital. I met up with her, read the Bible and we prayed together. But she went back to her old ways. It is hard for girls like her to step out of a life which seems to give them security and money. Any other way of life is a step into the unknown.

These girls are God’s beautiful broken vessels. They expect nothing of life, are without hope and many are addicted to alcohol. But they have one thing in common – a dream. A dream of a happy family, a dream of being educated, of finding a good job. But most of all a dream of being safe.

It is not only the girls who have dreams. I have a dream, too. A dream of many of those girls finding healing and indescribable joy in Christ. A dream of a safe-house, where these young women find a real home for a while, away from their old life. I dream of the girls receiving training and being empowered to earn money in a way that does not demean them.

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.