The Cost of Listening in Dark Places
By a Friend of Pink Door
Editor’s Note: In recent years, compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress have been recognized as a risk for those working in caring services and ministries. A friend reflects on those who work at Pink Door Berlin, a ministry in Berlin, Germany, to women transitioning out of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
The past several months at Pink Door have been intense, as staff have dealt with extreme exploiters and the trauma that they have inflicted on their victims. It has reminded us once again that there are places in this world where evil reigns. In the Bible, such an image is invoked with the Valley of Shadow of Death, the place where darkness seemingly envelopes all light that enters. There are very few anointed to venture into this realm, downrange, into these arenas of evil, but those who do, they are at the top our heroes list. On the outside they look like the rest of us, but upon closer examination you recognize the unique scars and the deep pain that entering into the suffering of others has left on their hearts. They are unmistakably the most incredible minister-warriors we have ever served with. They are the front-line team of Pink Door.
Week in and week out, these women pour their lives into some of the most traumatized women on this earth. The women they serve have been brutalized from childhood and come to Pink Door as shells of human beings. Over time, as their trust develops, they slowly begin to unpack their horror stories. We know when one of the team members has emerged from hearing an individual’s story for the first time. It’s visibly evident. These stories are so dark that they tend to scar a part of the listener who is exposed to them. Bonhoeffer once said that when Jesus calls a person, He bids that person to come and die. This applies to us all, but the unselfish embrace of this idea, humbly exemplified by the Pink Door team, is inspiring. You can never un-hear or un-feel the horror stories of the women who come to Pink Door. Woundedness comes with the territory, with joining these profoundly traumatized women on their journey to recovery, and this woundedness is something that the women of the Pink Door team will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins suffer scars from the burden of bearing the ring. There are callings in this life that take a toll on those who embrace them. For the Pink Door team, joining the traumatized on the long road to recovery will leave them all with scars that only others who have themselves fought their way through the darkness can understand.
So, as a witness of their daily faithfulness, we pay homage to these ministers, these strong, resilient women of God who daily bear the light in very dark places.