I recently attended an- Arresting Demand – National Colloquium. It brought together criminal justice professionals, survivors, nongovernmental organization leaders, policymakers, researchers, philanthropists, corporate leaders, media outlets, and activists committed to eradicating sex trafficking by eliminating the demand for illegal commercial sex. Boy, there is much to learn and do!
The highlight of the colloquium for me was to listen to the survivors. They are getting a voice. It gave me joy to see how empowered they are! They are the real experts. They truly inspired me! To me they are heroes. I learned an unexpected lesson. As they were speaking, a woman in the audience stood up and made a comment about how the Christian church had wounded her. She didn’t want to hear prophecies. She explained how this seemed to her like the unfulfilled promises that were spoken to her all her life. She did not want to hear how she had to have Jesus in order to survive. Telling her that did not make sense. Another woman agreed with her words. I never knew how much the church had actually hurt some of them. I approached a young Christian girl who I had already met. She is an activist. Also, she is a survivor. I asked if she could give me some insight. If I want to speak for them, I need to understand. I want to know how to pray for them. I want to help and not hurt! She told me she had also been hurt by the church. She wants to help me. She asked me not to stop asking her, but to be patient with her. She knew she neededto let go of her bitterness with the church before she could help me. I was sad to hear yet another story of wounds from the church. As I prayed for advice this is what God gave me:
Song of Solomon 2:7
Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the swift gazelles and the deer of the wild, not to awaken love until the time is right.
I thought I knew that showing the love of Christ is to simply love others. What I didn’t know is how different that love looks to everyone. In order to be His light, and show His love, we need to know what that love looks like from the point of view of those we are trying to love. We need to be patient and understanding at all times! We need to realize sometimes our good intentions will not be enough. Sometimes it is complex, yet sometimes so simple!
The story is not over yet; I was having a conversation with another survivor just before the colloquium ended. I said to her that I was a Christian. I wanted her to know that I was sorry for the way the church had hurt them. She accepted my apology, and told me that she really appreciated it. That made me hopeful! We have a long way to go, only one step at a time!