January 19, 2018
Last Friday night was a night that I will hold onto forever, as a reminder of why we do what we do and how little things like nail polish, lip gloss, and a handwritten note can make a world of difference.
When we were praying about ministry the afternoon before we went out, we felt like God said we were going to have deeper conversations than usual and that we would even find out a few girls' real names. We also felt like it would be marked by joy. Well, God being God, kept his promises! The first girl we talked to didn’t want to tell us her name but she was raw and real about what we could pray for her about! She shared that her father had cancer and allowed us to pray for her and her father. Getting back into the car, our hearts were beating with excitement and anticipation for what God would do next.
As we drove up and down the streets giving out gifts, we were in awe of just how joyful and life-giving each interaction was. At one point, we passed an area we had already stopped at and noticed another girl we had not yet met. We quickly pulled over and got out of the car and, as we approached her, we saw her hand one of our gifts back to her friend and walk towards us. She told us that her friend had just told her about us and our gifts and that she was hoping we would come by! We were so encouraged that the girls enjoyed the gifts we bring and actually look forward to them!
The final interaction was one that moved me deeply. It was one that shattered my heart and gave me an even deeper love for the women. We saw two women standing together so, as usual, we pulled over, jumped out of the car, and announced that we were not cops but just wanted to give them a little gift. As we spoke, we saw relief come over their faces and their guards come down a bit. They thanked us for not judging them and for doing what we do. They started to share some of the struggles and dangers of spending their nights on the streets. They both even shared bits and pieces of their stories. As they shared, I could feel my heart break for them. When we talked with them I could see so many pieces of my own broken past in them. I could hear the cry for help as they laughed off what happened to them and what they did to get by. I was so amazed by the strength in these women to push forward no matter how much trauma or how many obstacles they faced.
As I processed the other night, I couldn’t help but think about all the women we met and their stories. Who are they? How did they get there? What do their families say? Do they even have a family? So often I find myself generalizing the stories of these women, focusing on their brokenness more than their strengths, and failing to really get to know them as individuals. After the other night, I was reminded that each of these women has their very own, very unique story. They each were there for different reasons. They are not charity cases, they are not objects, and they most certainly are not weak. They are strong and courageous. They are fighters and, most importantly, they are loved by the one true King. We were honored and surprised by the vulnerability of these women. We are so grateful that the Lord has allowed us to bring parts of His kingdom to them. Our prayers are that they can see God's crazy love for them through the little gifts we give out and the joy we carry in our interactions.