God delivered me from low self-esteem and a lack of self worth which led to an addiction to prostitutes, pornography and illicit sex.
People often look at children who get into trouble and they wonder how could they do such a thing. In some cases, we think they are supposed to be perfect children. They come from a family with two professional parents who make a lot of money, they live in a big home in the suburbs, they attend the best schools, they have a computer, a colored TV, every Nintendo game ever made, and some have a fancy car. For most children, the pain or insecurities that cause them to act out (in whatever way they do) began developing much earlier. Most of our families and loved ones love us unconditionally and they see nothing but good things about us. Little do they know the feelings of self-doubt that are growing inside. In America, we too often measure happiness by how much money and material possessions we have and/or how beautiful/ handsome a person is. Kids discover something that adults do not know, have forgotten or do not care to think about. Kids discover that money and looks are not the keys to happiness. Kids are longing for ultimate happiness and they are crying out for help. If kids do not receive adequate love and attention from their parents, or if they are not introduced to God or refuse to accept God, they will go searching for that happiness in all the wrong places.
I do not come from a well-to-do family but, like those children, the self-doubt and lack of self worth started growing in me at an early age. Because I stayed in school, got good grades, stayed in church, and took care of my sick mother, I appeared to be a perfect child and nobody knew the inner conflict. My mother started having nervous breakdowns when I was ten years old. My father was shot and killed when my mother was two months pregnant with me. She already had five kids. She had another child after me. The pressure from raising seven children by herself and losing her home caused the nervous breakdowns. As a result of my mother’s illness, some of my siblings turned to drugs to deal with the pain. Others were totally indifferent. I was always told that I was the smartest one in the family. Therefore, believing that, I felt obligated to take care of my mother and try to keep the family together. Before this happened, I was already very shy and quiet. I had no confidence and a very low self-esteem. Even though I made the grade at school, I could not get to first base on a personal level. Thus, once I became everybody’s hero and the one everybody looks up to, I withdrew inward. I became a recluse. I spent so much time being an adult in a child’s body that I lost the ability to relate to people my own age. I did not know how to communicate with girls.
One night in April 1984, I was walking home. I was only 16 years old and a virgin. I saw a prostitute standing on a corner. The devil told me “you better get her because that is the only way you will ever get a woman.” I agreed with him and I believed that lie for the next 13 1/2 years. I paid that prostitute to have sex with me. These women did not require me to talk to them, to open up my heart and share who I really was with them. Whenever I would meet a girl who was bold enough to make the first move, I would assume that she would not like me once she got to know the real me. It was easier for me to pay a prostitute and not have to face possible rejection. Thus, I could continue to hide and not deal with these issues. When people first get into the world of pornography and illicit sex, the devil can make it seem so exciting. You get to experiment with many different kinds of people. You can fulfill any kind of fantasy you can think of. If one person will not perform the act, there is always another. The only question for me was whether I had the money to pay. When a sexual encounter with one woman was no longer satisfying, I turned to couples. These wives and girlfriends were beautiful, decent, clean, respectable, intelligent and I did not have to pay. Thus, after such experiences, you might think I would feel like I was walking on air. Nevertheless, I felt even worse.
The devil does not tell people about the consequences of this kind of behavior. This kind of lifestyle severely damaged my emotions, my whole perspective on life, and my ability to give myself to one person. Even those women who choose to do it for themselves and not for a pimp or boyfriend feel the same effects. They reach a point in which they are sick and tired of this lifestyle but they feel trapped. I got to the point in which I thought I was nothing. I felt like I was lower than the dirt that people walk on everyday. That was how I treated myself and that was how I expected others to treat me.
I was arrested for the first time in June 1994 on O’Farrell Street, a main street in one of the red light districts in San Francisco. I had never been arrested before, so I got off easy. I was allowed to participate in pretrial diversion and the charges were dismissed. I did not heed the warning. Instead, I thought that I should just be more careful about who I select to solicit. In December 1996, I was arrested again on Capp Street between 17th and 18th Streets. Capp Street is another popular street in one of the red light districts in San Francisco. This time, I had to hire a really good lawyer to fight for me. At first, I still did not see the need to change. But, during the months of plea bargaining, the Lord got my attention and told me this is the last time I will get off easy, so I better get my act together. The charges were reduced to breach of the peace and I was awarded pretrial diversion again and counseling. Upon completion of diversion and counseling, the charges were dismissed. I did not feel like I wanted to be saved, but I knew the Lord was calling me and I was miserable. So, in April 1997, I stood up in front of the whole congregation and repented. Then I was baptized in Jesus Name. However, I did not fully commit myself. I did not allow God to fill me with his Spirit (the Holy Ghost). Therefore, I had nothing to fight the devil with when he came back to tempt me to pick up prostitutes again.
Part of my plea bargain agreement required me to take counseling. Ironically, there was a counselor who just started his job the same week I started attending the group counseling sessions. This counselor had the same problem I had when he was younger. However, he treated my problem from a carnal minded point of view only. He felt that all I needed was to have one good experience with one decent woman who really liked me for who I am. His talks helped me to recognize that I did have a problem. He also helped me to feel a little better about myself temporarily. However, at the same time, I knew that his advice was not reaching deep enough. A friend at work offered to introduce me to a friend of his girlfriend. I had never done anything like this before. I knew right away that this relationship was not right, but I was excited by the opportunity to date someone who I thought really liked me and date her the normal way. I also figured this would be a good opportunity to experiment with some of the things I was told by the counselor. To make a long story short, the relationship was a disaster because I still had those issues to deal with. As a result of the failed attempt at a relationship, I went back to the streets.
On November 20, 1997, it happened again. I was arrested for solicitation on 18th and Capp Streets. When I saw the police lights flashing this time, the only thing I could say is “Oh God you warned me.” I knew I could not run anymore because God would keep running me into brick walls. I spent the next three weeks trying to get myself in the mind set to give my life to Christ because I knew that He was the only one who could break me from this terrible habit. On December 14, 1997, I was baptized again. Four days later, I received the Holy Ghost. Once Christ came into my life, I had the power to resist the temptations of the devil. I have found what I and everyone else longs for: Ultimate happiness, inner peace, and freedom. God has shown me who I am and what my purpose in life is. He has taught me how to love myself, how to respect myself, how to take care of myself, how to treat a woman, and how to give myself to my future wife. I have not attempted to be intimate with anyone since November 20, 1997 and I do not plan to be intimate with anyone until the night of my wedding. I am content to wait until God allows me to meet the wife that he has prepared for me.
From the moment Christ came into my life, I knew I had been delivered and I immediately felt a need to go back to the Red Light Districts and let people know that there is hope and I know there is hope because I found the answer. In March 1999, God called me to the Ministry and told me to do just that. In May 1999, I finally got the courage to walk down the same streets that I used to go to pick up women. I talk to women I used to know, women I have never met, pimps, drug addicts, drug dealers, and anyone else who will listen. I talk to them about God’s power to deliver them and heal them. I share my testimony with them to let them know that I can identify with them. Then I explain to them how God has changed my life. I feed them if they are hungry. On occasion, I have provided shelter. I realize that their problems run so deep that it is important to build a relationship with them. They are so afraid of leaving the abusive relationships or situations they are in because they are afraid that they will be alone and not have anyone to love them. It is my job to be a living example for them; to show them that they can be happy with Jesus alone. Even though God is powerful enough to save anyone in an instant, it usually does not happen that way. There is a cleansing process that a person has to go through. Oftentimes when a person is suffering, that person can feel that he/she is the only one in the world who is feeling this type of pain and thus nobody would understand. I truly believe that if someone like me had come to me, when I was still sleeping around, and talked to me just like I talk to people now, I believe that conversation would have started me to thinking about getting my life together.
I often hear teachers say that when they teach a child something new and they see that idea click in the mind of that child, it is one of the greatest feelings of joy and fulfillment that anyone could ever have. Likewise, I cannot put into words the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction I feel when I am talking to people on the streets and I discover that they get the point of what I am saying, and thus they now realize there is hope for them and there is a way out. However, now it is up to them to accept it. God has commissioned me to build a faith based rehabilitation center and affordable housing in San Francisco to help these people rebuild their lives, and I will do this. I have started a ministry called “Red Light District Street Ministry.” God has told me to start preaching on street corners in red light districts. I will soon have a web site where people can read more about God’s power to deliver them and share their own testimonies and ideas. I am completely sold out for God; I am ready, willing, and able to do whatever he wants me to do and go wherever he sends me.
Article by Darrell Anderson (Click here to contact Darrell Anderson)
Photo Credit: Darrell Anderson and the Ant Daily