The Least of These

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She was 28 years old. Stabbed multiple times all over. Died alone.

Never once has the pain of ministry hit home as much as it did yesterday.

This weekend we lost a dear sister. Her life was snuffed out by a nameless man in the confines of a room that she worked and slept. Reading her name on the screen of my phone in a news article and knowing who she was took the wind out of me. This woman that was just a fact in a news story was a sister and dear friend.

Precious Woman
She was well known where she worked. All the women we spoke to described her as friendly, outgoing, caring and a smart woman. She helped women plan their finances so they could build homes and even purchased her own car. She was industrious and saw a life outside of the streets. This work was just a necessary means to an end.

She had just asked for us to come visit two weeks ago. Pursued was making plans to get her son gifts for Christmas. Her voice echoes in my mind, “You can come man, just keep on your mask and stand off and pray.” She relayed how the women we serve were asking how we hadn’t been out to pray for them. I remember thinking on it and telling my team but making no real plans to go out. I didn’t want to force anyone to endanger themselves and I knew I couldn’t go out on my own. So I didn’t.

Last night all of that didn’t matter. With a pounding headache and tiny cohort we went. With these few members hugs, and tears flowed freely as we joined in the mourning not as elite bystanders but as fellow human beings united by a common experience. All the fears and logistics that kept us away, melting in the face of real terror, grief, guilt and loss.

Isn’t that what Christ did? He came down in the sickness of our sin and the pain of our sufferings, and joined into our reality and touched us. He mourned with Mary and Martha, he held contagious lepers, ate with tax collectors and looked into the eyes of prostitutes. He turns to us as believers saying, “do the same.” Because whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for Him.

REAL LIFE REAL PAIN

As we sat, stooped and stood the ever present reality of their pain yet again became evident. I was sitting on the curb as a her close friend cried and shared her pain. Her face showing signs of being far away while replaying the events of the night. Up walked a gentleman, standing right at my side. She looked up excused herself and went to work. I thought about her having to let a man lay on her, touch on her, be intimate with her, use her body for his pleasure with no regard for how she was grieving.

This is their life.

I remembered texting to ask one of our ladies if she was working that night. Her matter of fact statement bolted me to the floor. She told me she was terrified but that she must work, she had to feed her kids. Do you hear that? Do you see what is reality for our sisters?

Have you ever driven down a street and tried to quickly turn your eyes away? Have you laughed and planned a strip club night for your bachelor party? Have you clicked on that porn site to experience self pleasure from a video? Have you seen them as other?

Have you considered that as they stand there on the road, or slide across the stage or perform in a video they had to find a babysitter for their child that night, drug themselves, and compartmentalize their pain so their clients could have a good time? I just want you to consider.

The Work of the Cross

I considered. I not only considered I took again another look at the work of the cross. I wanted so badly for our sisters to see that. I wanted all of the sisters to get it. I wanted to be like “LOOK its this. this is what you need. Jesus is what you need. Please get it.

As this sister walked away I turned and inhaled the potent weed, engulfed in the sad music that blared from the speakers across the street at a vendors stall, and in the dim light of the candles that lined the sidewalk I saw her. I walked over thinking she was a lady I knew. She wasn’t.

Her drugs of choice in hand to numb out the pain I watched her inhale and steady herself as I walked towards her, putting on her mask of “I’m fine”. But there is nothing like a person making themselves present. What started as small talk quickly devolved into tears and pain, questions and heartache. The truth of the gospel message and the charge to go out playing out in real life.

We surrounded her and prayed. We listened and we encouraged. We shared God’s love and made plans to get further help. It was hard to leave that night. We saw the time; the many more girls we hadn’t spoken to, but we had to go. Police had just driven by and we needed to be responsible.

I came home and read the Luke version of the prostitute Mary washing Christ’s feet with perfume and tears. This time I thought about Mary and how Christ’s love and His compassion must have impacted her. Men had used, abused and broken her, but Christ’s love did such a work in her life that she could make herself so vulnerable before a Man. Are we making it clear to the lowly and exploited that there is a God you can be broken with?

The least of these.
I don’t have a nice closing to this. I am just processing “out loud” so to speak. This is the reality of the pain of the down trodden, the broken and we simply need to keep doing God’s work and showing His love to the least of these.

Death to Life

It’s dead,
But what you look at hides what you can’t see.
Because the person looking at you hides the cold carcass and debris.

It’s lost,
The little child that is inside.
The part that dreams of laughter and playing with barbie dolls outside.

It’s real,
But she has practiced fantasy and make believe.
Because truth is harder than fiction and ignoring it is her reprieve.

It’s subtle,
The memories vague but not forgotten.
A flurry of thoughts shoved to the back in hopes it that it will be forgotten.

It’s a maze
From what you see to what is.
So locking out the weak and fainthearted is easier than letting them in.

It’s true,
But no one can know..
Cuz the weight of that truth is heavier than the lies that have been told.

It lives
Ever present on the inside.
The shame and pain she tries to forget linked to the horror of those nights.

Relentless
The way He pursues the heart.
Jealously He comes to snatch from the grave and mend the broken heart.

He loves,
It’s powerful and strong.
And when there is no will to try His comfort keeps her holding on.

He does,
Take the pain away.
When others get tired of hearing it, He listens every day.

He lives
To show her there is a way.
That even when no one else knows her angst His peace is just a prayer away.

 

-photo credit @Stephaniereneeart

Mic Check 1, 2 (guest blogger-Tameika)

When I was in college I smoked a lot of weed. I felt like it made me GREAT. It flicked off the switch for the stairway to my soul, and I liked it. The minute I woke up I would get high. I went to work high. I couldn’t do anything until I was high. I would be upset, then I smoke a spliff (blunt) and would be at peace with the world.
But something happened and I couldn’t enjoy the high anymore. Though I still preferred the escape it provided, there was something trying to communicate with my conscience and initially I did not like it.
At first I thought I was just ‘trippin,’ or paranoid, but all of a sudden every time I was high  my conscience felt like it was amplified. I was more aware of what I was doing and who I was with. I started reflecting on my life in and why I was even where I was. At this point I was still in  darkness so I didn’t even know how to navigate myself to the switch I turned off in the first place.
Then one night when I was at a popular nightclub in Jamaica called Fiction something strange happened. I got all my friends together to attend this party. I used to LOVE to party and I knew a lot of people so I was always mixing friends and drinks at the same time.  I was in for a good time every weekend.
Before I got to Fiction of course, I had to get high. On my way there though, something didn’t feel right. When I walked inside my entire mouth went dry. My sight was blurry, my hearing was elevated it and it was hot. I felt like I was in hell. The music became very distasteful and looking around watching people grind on each other suddenly disgusted me. I had to leave.
At this point my friends were enraged. I had dragged them out of their house, stepped in the club for 20 minutes and now I wanted to leave. Clearly I lost a screw and needed to go find it. I pulled my best friend at the time outside and explained to her what was going on and begged her to shove her hands in my mouth to feel how dry it was. She thought I was crazy. At this point, even I thought I was clearly insane, but I had to leave immediately!
According to Dr. Peter Kreeft  “the very will of God  [is] speaking, however obscurely and whisperingly, however poorly heard, admitted, and heeded, in the depths of our souls..”
That night, the God of the universe was doing just that, speaking to my soul. He was opening my eyes to the truth of my sinful state.
When God created the first human He said “this is good.” However, since the entrance of sin, God has not been able to look down on His creation and say those same words again. None of us were good because of sin. It was because of this that God the Father sent His son Jesus Christ to give His life for the redemption of man providing us with the Holy Spirit so that in Him we can do the good works He has prepared for us.
Doing good comes only from God. Without Him I was clearly doing a terrible job at being good in the eyes of my Creator. But God wasn’t allowing me to stay there. He began to speak up in the loud din of noise that was my sinful, wayward life. My conscience became a podium and microphone and there was a guest speaker the Holy Spirit.
I couldn’t believe it. Holy cow, the God of the universe was talking to me! Live and Direct. Me! Why!? Because He loves me. Even while I was still sinning, smack dead in the middle of it feeling like I’m in hell, Christ loved me enough to begin to intervene and speak!
Eventually, I listened. I no longer tried to drown Him out attempting to keep my soul blocked off from the light of His wisdom. The loving call of the Holy Spirit drew me in and when I began to listen the reality of of my need for him hit hard. It sank so deep I felt a light came on.
I surrendered my life to Christ and the Holy Spirit went from being a guest speaker to the keynote. The Holy Spirit was now the resident on the inside of me, and when that happened, it brought light to my soul, and now I live a life constantly open to the admonition and direction of this Heavenly mouthpiece.
– by Tameika Smith