One by one, staff and volunteers arrive at the drop-in center bundled in scarves and puffy jackets and are herded into the living room to practice some shaky Christmas carols. Some first-timers look nervous, but most of us are excited to see our friends. Laughing, we don Santa hats and sling 300 fruitcakes in sacks onto our backs to deliver along the Red Light District. It’s the event of the year: Christmas Caroling in the Brothels!
Caroling in the brothels is nerve-wracking. It’s never easy ducking through the doors into the low lights and the grimy cement rooms under the curious, hopeful gaze of the girls, or the suspicious, hostile gaze of the clients. But it’s harder still when you’re wearing a Santa hat and asking the bartender to turn down the dance music so you can burst into song.
Yet, caroling in the brothels is prophetic. It shines the brightest light the world has ever known, the most intense hope that has ever broken into the world, into the darkest, most hopeless places man has created. It can leave the girls weeping for the hope they forgot existed.
Caroling is never boring. We may be a group of 15 singing to one lonely girl on a corner, or the women in a brothel may come out of their rooms and join us in song. A friend I hadn’t seen for months clung to me and made me promise to pray for her.
Caroling is, for me, the most holy night of the year. I’m always overwhelmed that God has entrusted us, a ragtag band of motley singers, with this matchless mission. I’ve never met a Christmas pageant, a candle-light service, or a Christmas Eve sermon that pierces my soul the way this joyful proclamation of hope in the Red Light District does.
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices.
O night divine
O night when Christ was born.
May that same unquenchable hope break into every Christmas season.
By Cara Contreras