A woman ready to take her life instead finds new life in Christ through a Samaritan's Purse ministry in Honduras
Aida Fajardo has two pencil drawings on her desk. Jessica, a 28-year-old she has been counseling, made them. One drawing shows smiling stick figures of Jessica and Aida standing above a row of mountains and valleys. The mountaintops are circled.
“It’s like emotional mountains,” Aida explained. “Sometimes she’s on the top, but sometimes she is…” she trailed off.Aida is manager of the Samaritan Center in San Pedro Sula. The two women met in January, when Jessica came in for a free HIV test. Since the age of 15, she had worked as a prostitute. Born into poverty, abandoned by her mother, and unable to continue school after the fifth grade, she thought it was her only chance to make a living. But it didn’t seem like living was worth it anymore.
The day Jessica came into the Samaritan Center, she felt hopelessly trapped.
“I had a lot of weight on my shoulders,” Jessica said. “I was ready to take my own life.”
At the center, Samaritan’s Purse staff members like Aida conduct pre- and post-counseling with every person who comes in—discussing HIV prevention and treatment and sharing the hope of the Gospel.
“I told Aida I was tired of this life,” Jessica said. “I had lived on the streets. People humiliated me a lot. I was tired of that.”
Estranged from her family, homeless, and despairing, she had reached a deep valley. While they waited for Jessica’s test results, Aida told her how Jesus Christ offers redemption for all sins through His life, death, and resurrection. She shared Scripture and encouraged her trust in the Lord.
After 13 desperate years on the streets, Jessica placed her faith in Christ that day. When the counselor handed her the HIV test result, it was negative. Jessica had the chance to start a new life, and she took it.
Aida and the staff at the Samaritan Center continued working with Jessica to help her break the chains of prostitution and make healthy lifestyle choices—a process that, by Jessica’s own admission, is not easy.
“I won’t deny it. Of course it’s difficult,” she said. “I have, even since I’ve accepted Christ, fallen a few times. But I’ve been able to rise up again.”
Aida believes the Lord will carry out His good plans in Jessica’s life.
“I can see God working through her,” she said. “I know that it’s not easy. I am trusting God.”
A few months after she accepted Christ, Jessica met with our staff to voice forgiveness for the people in her past that had hurt her and to renounce her own sins. Afterward, the staff said her face looked different—like she had perfect peace and overflowing joy.
Jessica’s peers have noticed the change as well, but some of them laugh at her church-going and mock her, saying things like, “The mark will always be with you of who you are.”
“But I reply, ‘No, the mark won’t be there because I have been transformed by Christ,’” Jessica said.
Courage For New Dreams
A crucial part of Jessica’s new life is having reliable income and independence. Through our Santiago Project, Samaritan’s Purse is helping Jessica start a small business selling juices and fruit. We also helped her move into her own apartment: a simple room with a few pieces of furniture, including a freezer for her fruits, and walls painted pink. When Jessica received a bed that was donated for her, Aida said she was “over the moon.”
It’s a mountaintop worth circling. But the primary goal isn’t necessarily to stay on top, but rather, to take the journey with Christ.
“I used to live without Christ, and I felt empty, sad, dirty, and alone with a death wish,” Jessica said. “Now in my new life, I feel clean, happy, peaceful, and thankful that Samaritan´s Purse met my needs, told me of God’s love, and taught me the lessons of the Bible.”
Jessica attends a Bible study and is part of the congregation at a small local church. She also encourages other women, especially young girls, to make better choices than she did.
Recently, she met a 15-year-old faced with the same offer she had received at that age. Jessica shared her story and begged the girl not to sell her body. “It is not the life you think it is,” she told her. The young girl took her advice.Jessica hopes her story will be able to help many women see the light of Christ and find the courage to start new with Him.
“My dream is to build my own house and have my business well-started so that I can help other people and be like a mentor, preaching the Gospel and sharing with other people,” she said.
The second pencil drawing on Aida’s desk is of Jessica, smiling, in front of a house with a cross on the roof.
“This is like her dream,” Aida explained. “She dreams of a home with animals, flowers, trees. It’s her future.”
Standing In The Gap
Life in San Pedro Sula, a city notorious for crime and corruption, can be especially difficult for young women like Jessica. The Samaritan Center is one way that Samaritan’s Purse is helping meet the needs of the vulnerable, urban population.
As the only Christian HIV testing center in the city, it provides a wonderful opportunity for our staff to share the Gospel with many people who are hurting and lost.
Many people who come into the center are poor and dejected. Regardless of the outcome of their HIV test, they need someone to tell them about the Gospel. They need someone to extend a hand as an imitator of Christ, who said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).