A Moment of Impact
I walked up to the entrance of the strip club with two other women on the team; I took a deep breath as we drew closer. We were approached by the bouncer who asked why we were there – the 40 pink gift bags in our hands probably his first clue we weren’t customers. Our team leader explained we had brought gifts for the girls simply to show them that they are loved. A moment … a moment of decision for him, does he let us in or not?! A moment of anticipation for us, we’re excited to look the girls in the eye and tell them that they’re valued (but equally we know that as long as the bags get into the club and into the girls hands at the end of the night then we can count that as a win). He allowed us to come in … a moment. A moment of thankfulness and a moment of opportunity. We move through the club handing gifts to the girls, looking each one in the eye and smiling as we do – with each bag there’s a different moment between the girl and us. A moment of hope for us, that the love of Jesus shines in our eyes and a moment for her where she is seen for who she really is. We meet one girl who knows us instantly and expresses her deep gratitude and thanks for what we do. In the dressing room of this club we hand out bags and as we do we ask for a specific girl whom the team met last year, it turns out she’s standing right in front of us … a moment. A moment where she understands that she is known and she is loved. We remembered her name, just like God does. God who loves her and relentlessly pursues her. Our prayer is that one day she’ll have a moment where she realizes that truth for herself.
Tonight is a little different … two girls from our Justice 180 team were on outreach with one of our ministry partners, Treasures. We were able to join with what they do: reaching thousands of women through visiting 170 strip clubs annually. At these clubs we give out gift bags filled with cosmetics, jewelry and the simple message that the women are loved, valued and purposed and that support is available to them. It seems so simple: simple, yet powerful. Powerful enough that a number of the women who do outreach with us used to work in the industry themselves until they encountered Treasures. God has used this amazing ministry to restore their lives and put it in their hearts to see the same restoration for others.
It was a night filled with lots of little moments of impact. At the beginning of the night as we worshipped and prayed, we were reminded that all it takes for transformation in someone’s life is a moment. We reflected on the love of a Father without condition: He loves us exactly as we are; yet He loves us too much to leave us there. We want to show the girls we meet tonight that kind of love, knowing that the moment they grasp it their lives will be transformed.
The biggest moment of the night came when we approached the door of a club that has been consistently turning Treasures away for the past 11 years. As three of our Treasures team made their way to the club, the rest of us stayed on the minibus and prayed, we prayed for God to open what seemed like an impossible door.
They got in! And not only did they get in but they came back to the bus to get more bags … a moment. A moment of joy and victory. A moment of realisation that tonight makes every “unsuccessful” trip to that club worth it and that gentle perseverance pays off. And a moment of opportunity for the 40+ girls that work there to receive a gift that they’ve never received before.
We were welcomed at every club we visited, with a total of 182 gift bags given out. That’s 182 women reached, 182 moments of impact where they open the bag and know that they are loved, valued and purposed.
Between 4 and 6am the rest of our Justice 180 team, along with some of our former students, went out to hand different gift bags to the women being exploited on the streets of LA. Our gift bags contain the simple message: Because You Matter.
On the streets they handed out around 10 gift bags. Many of these girls received bags containing their favorite color of lip gloss or nail polish that they’d wanted; for each girl… a moment. A moment where she glimpses that the God who loves her also cares about the small details of her life and the desires of her heart. Ten more women reached, 10 more moments of impact.
I love that as we step out and serve God He encounters us just as much in these moments as He encounters the women we’re reaching out to. It’s these moments that drive us to continue; and the hope of a single moment that leads to transformation in the lives of these precious and beautiful women.