Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rose of Sharon, Part Two

I had a second opportunity to join with some Moody Church women and hit the streets -- the streets of broken, hurting women who are prostituting themselves late at night, right here in Chicago. The Rose of Sharon Ministry, part of New Life Covenant Church, runs this ministry and loves on these women every single Friday night in some rough, dark Chicago neighborhoods. Since this was my second time going out, I was expecting a similar experience to my first. However, I saw more make-up, sequins, and pimps this time around...this night was much different.
One of the women from TMC who joined us expressed what this night was like for her:

"[Rose of Sharon] was a blessing. I grew up in South America as a missionary kid, and since living in the US for the last 15 years I have had opportunities to do overseas missions and state-side mission work. I don't know that I have ever truly felt more humbled than by this past Friday night.  

I personally know that it is just by the hand of the Lord and my parents prayers that I am not in the same shoes as the ladies we saw Friday night. It was eye opening to actually see these ladies at work on the streets so close to where I live.  It is just so different than looking at poverty or being overseas where you expect there to be lower living conditions. When I see someone who is poor, I say "What do you need?" and I can tangibly give them more food, or clothes or help them find some where to live. Or I can go overseas and help build a school or translate for medical doctors so that people's needs are met.  These ladies (though there are significant tangible needs) there is such a deeper need of freedom from the bondage that they are in. These ladies need a hug more than a blanket, they need reassurance of the love of Jesus more than a bowl of food. These ladies not only are trying to live, but they are believing that love is not real or that love is sex. I know that they felt a love from us praying with them and hugging them that they probably have trouble understanding...

When we moved to Chicago I knew I wanted to do something ministry wise in the city, because there is so much opportunity here.  When I heard about the Rose of Sharon ministry I knew that is what the Lord had in mind when he laid this burden on my heart. I am so grateful for the opportunity to shed a little light, share a little smile, and give a little glimmer of hope to some of the ladies. Thank you for putting this together.  Thank you for having a burden for the women of this city." 

I'm so grateful for women like this who are taking a step of obedience and putting their faith into action. The women we met this night are just like you and me in so many ways -- they are lost and need to be found. As mentioned above, it is humbling to interact with some of these women because they can be intimating. One women I spoke to was distracted because her "pimp" was sitting in his car watching her speak to us. I could feel his eyes burning a hole in me as he stared us down. Another women ran off when we approached her yelling, "Stay away from me! You're taking away from my money." Two women we met were pregnant. But the facts remain the same -- without someone taking the time to tell her that she is loved, that she is worth more than she's ever been told, that there is a life better than the one she's living, she could be stuck in this world forever.

My takeaways from this night were to pray for these women and to go again. The power of the Holy Spirit must be present in order for chains to be broken and healing to take place. We prayed long and hard all night while out and His presence assured me He was with us. There is no way I could do something like this without the assurance that God is with us. And this is not a one and done experience. This is not something to scratch off your list and say you did. In order for this ministry to be effective, Christians have to make their presence known in these neighborhoods offering hope and place for these women (and the pimps!) to go for rehabilitation and a new life.

Isaiah 61 takes a new meaning to me after meeting these women. My challenge to you is to read through this passage -- first read it remembering who you are and where you've come from. Maybe you'll remember what you've been saved from and will sing praises to God that your ashes have been made into beauty. Then read through it again and think of those who are still captive and brokenhearted. Ask God how He can use you to "proclaim good news" and then act upon it. Or perhaps you're feeling like you're still captive and brokenhearted...if that's the case, a new life and freedom is available to you through Jesus Christ. Pray that a relationship with God can begin today for you.

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor.

Believing God,

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