The Flashlight Project’s message is of unconditional love and acceptance that comes from Christ. We bring that message to nineteen parlors in Dallas. For over a year, we’ve been ringing doorbells and loving the women who speak to us. We have prayed for some, cried with others, and laughed with a few.
It is true that we are sometimes rejected. The managers of the parlors can change suddenly, and we start all over again. At other places, we are fortunate to see the same women every time, and so our relationships with them are stronger. Overall, we have been successful and have learned so much.
But even though our outreach program has been going well, I have had the nagging feeling for the past few months that it is time to go deeper. While it is true that we are ministering to hurting and lonely women, I have sensed that a new program is on the horizon. I just wasn’t sure what that program was yet.
This past weekend, I took a bike ride to try to clear my head and understand God’s vision for us. What was next? I am not always good at listening to Him, and so sometimes my frustration has to become apocalyptic before I’ll finally stop and listen. I guess you could say I’m stubborn that way.
I rode and rode, pondering everything, and somewhere along the way, I heard a voice whisper in my heart: who can hear this message of unconditional love? Who has access to it? Who are we bringing this message to? Are we bringing it to everyone? Or are we excluding people?
To be honest, I have reserved our message for either the managers or the younger women working in prostitution, whoever answers the doorbell. Nothing wrong with that, right?
However, God asked me one question on that bike ride: what about the owners of these erotic massage parlors? It was such an obvious question, and it dominated my thoughts for the remainder of the ride.
Why have I been ignoring them? Why have I been assuming that they are out of reach? Why have I been afraid to take our message directly to them? Why don’t they deserve to hear it? And who am I to say that they don’t deserve to hear it?
How can we claim to be Christians with the most beautiful message in the world – unconditional love and no judgement – and yet keep it from people who presumably need to hear it the most?
One word: fear.
The more I rode, the more convicted I became of this fear. Last year, I was afraid of the managers. I saw them as one-dimensional people, and I was wrong. They may be flawed people, but they are three-dimensional. There is more to them than I had realized. They are lonely, they feel rejected, and some are relieved to be accepted by us.
If I was wrong about the managers, then I may very well be wrong about the owners.
As I pedaled through a park, I realized that we have no right – at all – to hold our message back from anyone. If we do not despise the managers and the women working in prostitution, then we do not despise the owners. If we have a prayer/encouragement text line, it must be for everyone. Our love must be unconditional.
What right do we have to say that our message is only for some and not for others? Is that Christian? No. Is that really love? No. It’s hypocrisy.
One thing I know for sure that I like about Jesus is that when He came, he bypassed the rich and famous. He went straight to the ignored and rejected. He sat and ate with the most hated people of the day. He laughed and joked with them. He was at ease with them.
He would do the same in 2018. He would go straight to the owners of these parlors and be with them. He expects us to follow His example. How can we not?
I finished my bike ride at peace. Our message is for everyone. We will not hold it back from anyone. It is for the women working in prostitution, for the managers, and for the owners. Some will accept it. Others won’t. But all will hear it. My heart is light, and my uncertainty is gone.
As 2018 draws to a close, we will be implementing our new program. This month, we will finalize our approach, and in December when we deliver our Christmas presents, we will begin our outreach to the parlor owners.
I am at peace with this. I do not know what 2019 will bring us, but God is in control. He has a plan, and we are excited about seeing what He will unveil.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!