Thursday, February 13, 2014

The birthday boy

The Birthday Boy

A few weeks ago our team went to the streets. Our usual routine. We go out, drive our usual route, visit our friends on the streets corners, and hand out coffee and cookies. 

When the van stopped at the boy’s park- the park where all of the guys are being sold- there was a new guy standing on the corner. It was his first night. 

It’s always hard to see those “fresh faces”. The young kids who still have that spark in their eyes, that shine, hope. The ones who don’t really know what they’re getting into- and some of them who didn’t even have the choice. 

This was this particular guy’s first night on the streets. He was high as he could be, trying to numb the pain, the fear, the doubts, his conscience, his soul. Drugs seem to be the only thing that can quite that voice within, the voice that I believe is the voice of God, that makes your heart pound as you hear “don’t do it”. 

We don’t know this boy’s story, but we can imagine. That night, his first time on the streets, happened to be his 14th birthday. The day in which one celebrates their lives, celebrates ‘life’, shares time with the ones that love them... A birthday is about looking back on the beautiful years you have had, and being excited about the one to come. But this boy, on a day meant to celebrate life, was handing his life over to the discretion of the enemy. No doubt, he will never forget this birthday. A day in which he did not celebrate new life, a day in which a part of him actually died. 

With this 14 year old boy, I only imagine where he should be on his 14th birthday. I felt just a small glimpse of the pain that must overwhelm the Lord’s heart as he stands with that boy on the street corner night after night. The pain of having been madly in love with this boy for 14 years, and to see him standing on a corner waiting to be raped. I can’t image the pain that the Lord feels, and I completely understand why he commands us to do something about it. As the Lord’s ‘plan A’, his representation on Earth, we have no choice but to respond... and to do so with urgency. 

While not all of the people we work with are forced into prostitution, they are all victims... victims of slavery to the enemy, in chains so real that they can not run away. We have heard them describe these chains that hold them to that street corner... that drag them back each time they try to run like a dog who gets yanked backwards when the slack in his leash runs out. 

These are the ones that you want to wrap in your arms like a child, snatch them off the streets and take them to your home, the ones that you pour out your soul trying to convince them that they are loved and that God has a plan for their lives..... and a street corner is not it. 

After their first night in the streets, that ‘sparkle’ in their eyes starts to fade. After a while it just faintly flickers.
The only thing that we have found that can bring that light back in an encounter with the Lord. 

Backwards & tied

Backwards and Tied

Oh the lies, they never end.

Last Sunday, I sat beside a friend of mine whom I have now known for 2 years. As he sat beside me with his head down, tears brimming his eyes, I felt my heart burning as I long for his freedom- spiritually, psychologically, and physically (if those aren’t one in the same).
The fact that he was even sitting in the seat beside me at church for the 3rd Sunday in a row was a miracle. The fact that he was able to push his shame aside to walk through those doors with my husband and I into our church- that he didn’t change his mind as he rode the bus there- that his past experience didn’t give him every excuse imaginable to turn back around- that is a miracle.

As I sit beside this guy, all I can see is a little boy. A scared little boy. My heart breaks to think of him walking back home from school alone each day as a kindergartener. To think that his mom wasn’t there when he went to sleep each night, and that he never even met his father. To think of this little boy who dropped out of school because he couldn’t manage to focus on school while his mind was consumed with the thoughts of the horror of his “home life”. And now I look at this boy sitting beside me who was brought to this country outside of his will, and found himself being sold on a street corner. This boy who pretends to be so tough- who is always talking to me about fighting (and unsuccessfully trying to teach me some techniques)- a boy who has had to learn to be tough enough to withstand the hell he was living through. I could never forget the time when there was a stabbing on the street corner, and this “tough boy” stood in front of me to protect me. I know that his big heart is still in there- hidden behind the fragmented wall built out of necessity to survive. 

The pat 3 Sundays, I was certain that at the end of the service he was going to accept Christ. He is at the end of his rope, and he has no more hope. He is in desperate need of help but he cannot completely understand that that help alone can come from Jesus. Although we can try and design a restoration program for him, without Jesus there is no restoration, no healing, and definitely no future.

After the service, he confesses to me that he wants to know Jesus- he wants to have what the people in that building have- he desperately wants to have a life with hope…… and then he says, that lie that has somehow been planted in him… “I know that I have to change my life before I can accept Jesus”…….
No, no, no.  There is no hope in ever successfully changing your life apart from Jesus. Jesus IS the change in your life.

So many people that we work with on the streets struggle with that lie- they are slaves to that lie- believing that they can never come close to the King of Kings until they are worthy. Little do they know, none of us are. Jesus is my credentials. HE is the only reason that I can come to Him. Jesus came for the ragamuffins, for the sick, for the broken, for those guys on a street corner who look way to scary and lost to even bother speaking to. Jesus’ heart is for the broken, for the outcast, for the oppressed. The only reason that you, or I, the pastor, or a "prostitute" can approach Jesus is because of who Jesus is.

Do you know him? What lies are holding you back from the embrace and healing, transformational power of Jesus? 

Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17 

We are thankful to see this guy taking steps towards the Lord- seeking after him- and are filled with joy to see how the Lord is transforming his life and his heart. Please pray for him. 

the story of Joe

We first met this young guy on a street corner, selling his body. He was thin, dressed as a woman, and desperate for love. He was one of the guys that was hiding behind make-up, wanting to be someone he is not. Hopeless. 

His dream is to one day save enough money to buy a little metal shipping container and make his house our of it. Making just $12 a day for working 12-16 hours cleaning a soccer stadium- he is forced to sell himself on the corner to make ends meet- what he makes on the streets is what he uses to buy food. 

He told us how he had spent Christmas alone in the tiny ‘room’ that he rents which is just big enough for a bed and a few feet of standing room. He spent New Years alone on a corner- he figured it was better than sitting alone. One of the young girls from the bible study asked him why he didn’t go visit family. It broke our hearts to hear him say that, “I haven’t seen them for years- I have no idea where they are- they could have moved countries and I wouldn’t know.”

We aren’t sure of his entire story- but it is evident that it is filled with abandonment, trying to survive, rape, abuse, and fear.

I will never forget the sight of watching him cross the street after we took him out to dinner one night after church. He walked across the road to the bus stop. It was freezing that night and he was just wearing a t-shirt. He was on his way to sell his body to try to make enough money to pay for one night in a hotel. If he didn’t make enough money that night, it would be sleeping on the streets in the cold. My heart broke as I saw him cross the street.

“Joe” is a regular now at our ministry gatherings. He comes to English class weekly, and even attends church with us. He shows up early, calls to confirm, and makes every effort possible to be with us.

It’s people like him that keep us going. It’s people like him that touch our heart. To hear him at weekly bible study, as he shares what he believes the bible passage means, is enough to warm any heart. The Lord is slowly chipping away his shell that protects his shattered little heart.

And we are honored to have him as a friend.