2017 has been a year that ripped the rug out from under my feet. I spent much of the year spiritually apathetic, tired of praying to a God that never seemed to answer or listen. I drifted over the summer, burned out and just plain tired of the sometimes overwhelming work of starting a nonprofit from the very beginning. I struggled with putting each brick into place, trying to form the foundation of a nonprofit that will continue for generations to come. Many founders, I suspect, would understand how I felt. I persevered, but every step forward felt like I was dragging a tremendous rock behind me.
Something happened in October, however. We visited a particularly difficult parlor, and my partner and I were both nervous when we rang the bell. I admit that I felt very foolish as I stood there with a box of muffins in the lobby of an erotic massage parlor, waiting for whoever would answer the door.
When the door flew open, revealing a beaming woman who was happy to see us and who accepted our gift, my path was righted. I realized something that astonished me: even the women who run these parlors are lonely. Even the women who are in charge of these businesses are desperately lonely people who respond to genuine kindness and love.
This got me thinking about Jesus Christ in a new way. Those of us who have attended church know that the tax collectors were the most reviled people of their day. They were ostracized and demonized. Yet it was to these very people that Jesus went. Jesus made a point of going to the people that society called outcasts, and He spent time with them, getting to know them and transforming them by the very fact of His presence.
Obviously, none of us at The Flashlight Project are Jesus. We are all very imperfect people. But we have discovered we have a genuine heart for all women working inside the parlors, not just the younger women but the older managers as well.
Each time we ring the doorbell and the door opens, I rediscover the reality that I care about these people. My partner cares about them also. We have no hatred of them. They are people, and we want to show them Christ's unconditional love and acceptance. No matter what they have or have not done, we are there to show them that Christ loves them because they are people. In a complicated world and a particularly complex situation, it really is as simple as that.
Going to those who are lonely matters. No matter what our gift is, the truth is that the simple fact that we show up and ring the doorbell brings happiness to those who answer it.
The Flashlight Project
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