Her name was Spice. Young and pretty, she had an attitude to
match her name. She owned nothing except the clothes on her back and
on her feet. Alone and suffering from several mental disorders, Spice
had been living on the streets since her divorce several years earlier.
She’d survived mostly by prostitution and her own determination.
I met Spice on a warm summer evening in downtown Denver. I’d
just finished my sophomore year of college and had landed a job as an
at a small nonprofit agency that provides food and clothing to Denver’s
underprivileged. Half finished with my college degree, working a good
job for the summer, and counting on a bright future in corporate
communications, I felt pretty good about myself. I decided it was time
I gave a little something back to the community.
That evening I rode downtown with the agency’s mobile medical
unit, a large RV converted into a portable doctor’s office. From it
agency volunteers provided free health care and medicines to the
homeless. I figured I’d go along, pass out a few Bibles, do my token
good deed for the year, and be along my merry way.
As the pampered, sheltered child of upper-middle-class
parents, I’d never before seen the sight that greeted my eyes as we
parked the RV in a parking lot between dilapidated storefronts and
shabby apartment buildings. Homeless people were everywhere, pushing
their belongings in shopping carts or carrying their entire worlds in
old army-surplus backpacks. Some were sleeping in bus shelters, and
others had bedded down under the eaves of the old stores that lined the
I remember being absolutely terrified as the volunteer doctor
opened the doors to let the people onto the RV. This place—only 20
minutes from my own front door in my comfortable, safe neighborhood—felt like a
foreign country. Nothing in my upbringing and education had prepared me
for this. Frightened, I cowered in the corner as homeless people
crowded onto the RV, eager to talk to the doctor.
Then I met Spice.
Most of the other homeless people had left by the time Spice
entered the RV, loudly proclaiming that she needed medicine for some
sort of infection. I sat alone in my corner as I tried to process
everything I’d just seen and heard.
Spice’s dark gaze zeroed in on me. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Spice;
I’m a prostitute. Who are you?”
I tried to smile. “I’m a college student.”
Her expression grew serious. “Then why are you here?” she
asked as she continued to stare at me.
That one simple question shook me to the core. Why was I
there? I’d come with the intention of “helping” these people. I’d
planned to hand
them a Bible, say a prayer, then go back to my own nice neighborhood
after fulfilling my Christian obligations.
Shame filled me as Spice stood waiting for my answer. Finally
I shook my head. “I don’t know why I’m here.”
Spice scooted out of her seat and sat down next to me. For the
next half hour I listened to her stories of life on the streets. That’s
when my life began to change.
She’d been married and had two daughters. But after she’d
developed mental problems, her husband had kicked her out of her own
house. Unable to find or keep a job because of her mental condition,
she turned to the streets and prostitution as a way of life.
Some winter nights Spice sold herself just to be able to have
a few hours’ shelter from the bitter cold. She managed to stay out of
jail by performing favors for the cops who patrolled the area. Numerous
scars adorned her face, arms, and legs from men who believed they’d
purchased the right to beat her as well. Spice said she missed her
daughters and hadn’t seen them in three years. She had no idea where
they were or how to find them.
By the time she finished telling her story, she was crying and
so was I. After a few moments of silence Spice turned to me and took my
“Kid, I hope you never have to experience the kind of life I
have. I’ll pray for you.” Then she left.
God chose that moment to impress upon my heart a new mission
for my life. Suddenly I realized I was supposed to spend the rest of my
life serving people like Spice. The forgotten, homeless souls, so often
frowned upon by society, became my purpose for living.
I have a dream now—a dream inspired by Spice. A dream that
someday there’ll be a safehouse in Denver for women like Spice, so they
won’t have to sell their bodies just for a warm place to stay. A place
where homeless girls can stay and get an education before they turn to
a life of prostitution.
Spice will probably never know that God used her to change the
life of a sheltered little girl—me. And she’ll probably never know I
saw Jesus in her.
God reveals Himself to us in unusual ways. It surprised me to
find Him in
a prostitute named Spice. Keep your eyes open. There’s no telling where
He’ll reveal Himself to you.
Kelly Hauck writes from St. Joseph, Michigan.
Reprinted by permission from Insight.