Be the First to Build Bridges

In April, The Flashlight Project is holding our first friendly gatherings for women who work in Dallas' erotic massage parlors. After months of ringing doorbells and working hard to develop relationships with the women we speak to, our invitations were delivered last weekend.

This is a huge step for us, and yet I admit to being a little nervous. After all, what if no one comes? Let's face it - that is a possibility. It would be very discouraging to have put in all the effort and then no one showed up. How would we deal with the disappointment? Where would our encouragement come from then?

It is one thing to be part of a nonprofit that has been around for a while and that has programs that have proven themselves. It's easy to join something like that when the hard work of establishing programs has already been done.

It's another thing entirely to be part of a nonprofit that is laying the program's foundation for years to come. It's different when you are part of a nonprofit that is doing something totally different from anyone else, so far as I know. That takes faith on the part of the volunteers and a vision for the future. It takes determination and tenacity to work every day to make that vision materialize in front of you.

Over the weekend, I was juggling in my mind the realities of recruiting volunteers and board members, contacting area churches to ask if we can use their facilities, raising money, and doing all of the other things that come with running a nonprofit. I sat down on my couch and just thought about all of it.

As I pondered everything, I suddenly thought of the Grand Canyon. It is such a vast area but incredibly beautiful.

Our biggest goal is relationships. We want to have relationships with the women inside the parlors so that we can show them the truth of how much they are valued and loved by God. Having the honor of telling them this reality requires relationships.

There is undeniably a big canyon between us and the women inside the parlors. It comes from the language barrier, from different cultures, and from the reality of what happens inside the parlors. We have been working for almost a year to build a bridge over this canyon so that we can reach the women. However, when you are the first to do something, there is no established way of doing something like this. You do have plans, you do think things over carefully, you do strategize so that money is spent well and effects are maximized - but you do it moment by moment. The bridge is built piece by piece, one wooden slat at a time. You take another step, stop, reevaluate, rest, and then nail down another piece of the bridge, stopping to reevaluate once again.

The bridge across the canyon will get built, but its construction takes great patience and faith in the vision. Sometimes you must be the first to do something. We must ignore the nagging voice that whispers, "What if you fail? What if the whole thing collapses suddenly, and the relationship you've been building is gone?"

While all of that could be true, why can't the opposite be just as true?

What if we succeed? What if everything we've been doing works? What if the bridge leads all the way to the other side of the canyon, and we can sit down next to the woman and tell her how special she is to God Himself?

That, I think, is what keeps me going. If we do nothing, nothing happens, and nothing changes. If we keep going, piece by piece, we can reach the other side of the canyon and be given the chance to tell every woman the truth about herself: God loves her, and nothing can change that about her.

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