As many of you may know, on May 19th, my beautiful sister, April was killed in a senseless act of Domestic Violence. I cannot even begin to express to you the deep level of grief I have felt over this loss and the pain of all of the trauma surrounding it. My bones literally ached for days. We are all still mourning and dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy and I imagine that adjusting to life without April will be a long road.
April was killed the same week Treasures was scheduled to go to Vegas for our 11th annual outreach. I knew that I would not be able to make the trip. There were times that I felt like I could barely breathe… Vegas wasn’t happening for me. That same week, another one of our team members ended up in the hospital. By the time we were supposed to leave for Vegas, we were four team members short. Thankfully, the rest of the Treasures team rose up, changed their schedules, and made a way for the Vegas outreach to happen. I am so grateful that they did because the enemy had taken enough ground already and I didn’t want anything to prevent 2,000 women in Vegas being reached with the message that they are loved, valued, and purposed. Below is an update from the Vegas Outreach… God moved in unprecedented ways.
Prayer Changes Things
by Larissa Zdon
One year ago, we sat in front of a strip mall in Las Vegas, in the middle of the night, burdened in prayer and overwhelming sadness.
This particular strip mall is always difficult to visit due to the palpable heaviness that must be navigated as we visit every business with gift bags. Almost the entire strip mall is occupied by businesses selling sex.
Half of our team had visited the downstairs storefronts, massage parlors, video “booths,” and a strip club. The other half of our team had covered the upstairs suites where the escort agencies are tucked out of view. Upstairs, the team walked into a situation they could not have been prepared to see. A group of men led some young girls out of one of the suites downstairs to a waiting vehicle. The men carried filming equipment, and the little girls looked horrifically out of place walking through a parking lot of circulating pimps and johns in the middle of the night.
Immediately we contacted the Las Vegas Trafficking Task Force and an investigation began. We asked our friends for prayer!
One week ago, we went back to Vegas for our 11th annual outreach to every strip club, sex and swinger club in the city. This has been a difficult time for our team, many of our staff and volunteers experiencing deep personal loss and difficulty. The Vegas Outreach almost didn’t happen, but four members of our team made the decision to go in the 36 hours before our departure, taking the places of those who were suddenly forced to drop out, and making our trip possible.
We wondered what would be waiting for us in Sin City, as we headed toward the clubs to tell the women that they are loved, valued and purposed. The response this year was unprecedented. We were able to get the gift bags into every single club but one.
What surprised us the most was a perceptible change in the attitudes of the clubs towards us. We would still be walking up, and they would already be greeting us warmly, inviting us in as if we were old friends. “Yeah, we know who you are, you came last year, Come on in!”
We steeled ourselves for our visit to the strip mall that had cut so deep into our memories last year. As we parked, the first new sight that greeted us was a security guard motoring by in a little golf cart and eyeing us warily. We prayed, came up with our safe exit strategy and headed out in two teams again. A girl working alone in the sex/costume shop talked with us about the changes that had taken place since we had visited a year ago. The mall has a security guard now. He keeps the pimps out of the parking lot and has called the police for her when sketchy characters have forced their way into the store. (You have to be let in.) All the businesses were happy to see us, but none more so than a brand new hair salon that was open despite the late hour.
Somehow our two teams met up right then at the salon. The owner stopped in the middle of stirring dye for her customer’s hair to hear what we were all about. She broke down into tears to thank us for visiting. She explained that she had moved in seven months ago and knew that God had sent her here. All her clients are escorts and she talks to them about their dreams of getting out, pursuing school and careers. She asked if we would pray for her right there in the middle of her salon, and called her one employee out of the back to get prayer too. We left stacks of gift bags for her to give out to the girls. We told her how we had been praying for the mall and we could see a difference since she had come.
Your prayers are changing a city. People are being positioned to make a difference because we’ve poured out our love through prayer. Thank you for being a part of Treasures and for continuing to lift up our team and the women we serve!