Gabriela’s Story

Date: April 17, 2024
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Gabriela began working in prostitution in Colombia with a group of women as a desperate way to make ends meet. She had little education and few job prospects; her body was her only asset. Prostitution was not the life Gabriela dreamed she would have. It was an empty and degrading existence, sapping away her sense of worth and dignity. When she was engaged with customers, Gabriela felt that God had totally abandoned her. She realized that she was surviving, existing, not living. With every customer she brought into her room, she wondered if he would be her last. Prostitution is extremely dangerous work, with the constant risk of disease, abuse, and mistreatment, or worse. In her darkest moments, Gabriela wondered if anyone would even notice or care if something tragic happened to her; she felt completely worthless, overlooked, and forgotten.

Gabriela heard about the vocational sewing program at Conviventia and how it was developed to help women like her who were trapped in prostitution with no clear way out. Although skeptical, she decided to join the program. At first, Gabriela had major trust issues. All her life, people had tried to take advantage of her; according to her experience, everyone always had an angle and only saw her as something to exploit. Gabriela was suspicious of the love the people at Conviventia seemed to have for her. Surely this was just their way of deceiving her, getting her to open up so they could use her to suit their ends. But, as time went on and no ulterior motives materialized, Gabriela began to realize that these people didn’t want anything from her and truly didn’t want to take advantage of her; they just wanted to shower her with the love of God and come around her as family. Through daily devotions, scripture, and prayer in the vocational sewing program, Gabriela began to know Christ in a real and tangible way and she began to place her trust firmly in His hands.

The discipling Gabriela received aligned with the sewing training to bring total transformation to Gabriela’s life. For the first time, she saw that her life had value and purpose. Sewing allowed her to create something wonderful, beginning with a pattern and pieces of fabric and crafting it into something beautiful and useful. As she worked at the sewing machine, she saw how God was doing the same thing in her life. Her life was in pieces, but God had the pattern and was stitching it back together. The process was at times slow and painful, but she believed that God would be faithful to bring something beautiful out of the brokenness. For the first time, Gabriela felt that she was beginning to live life to the full.

In May, Gabriela will graduate with the skills needed to make a variety of products, including adult and children’s clothing, bags, suitcases, backpacks, and sportswear. She feels confident in her ability to become an entrepreneur, self-sufficient and able to earn a dignified wage. Before, she could not imagine a company ever wanting to employ a prostitute. She felt completely worthless and unwanted. But now, all that has changed. Gabriela doesn’t take her life for granted and counts herself as one of the lucky few to make it out of prostitution and into a fully restored life of purpose and possibility. Gabriela is eager to share all that she has learned about the love and forgiveness of Christ with other women she knows who are still in bondage. This is her prayer:

*Name changed for security

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