Grand Opening

Grand openings don’t overshadow seemingly small acts of love, petitions made to God in secret places, and serving others when no one else is watching. In fact, the real grand opening is when a hardened heart cracks open wide to the love of Christ. This is not usually done in front of multitudes and certainly doesn’t garnish the front page of any newspaper. These true grand openings happen in a thousand different ways, many seemingly unusual.

I remember a hospital room where I had to help dress a wound and then shower off one of our women. Her bladder had ruptured and she was recovering alone in the hospital, no family around. She was a single mom who needed a mother herself. (Many we serve are grown up orphans.) And while my friend was less than a decade younger than me, I had the honor of extending the Mother heart of God, nurturing and protecting her from loneliness. After getting her toweled off and warm in the PJ’s JSL provided, I asked her, “can you name what hurts?” I thought she was going to tell me of her physical aching. But she responded, “My mom should be the one doing this, not you. I just wanted my mom to be here.” She bawled. I wept and then through prayer, plunged us both into the Love that would hold. After the “Amen.” she said, “I felt so warm when you prayed, I was shaking, but so warm inside.” I told her that was the love of Jesus rushing in and she could get there on her own, anytime she needed to feel His presence. A grand opening. Two years later she told me of her desire to start her own ministry to the apartments she was living in. This is how the Kingdom of God grows, grand openings of Love in the hearts of seekers.

Last Friday we delivered 490 homemade pies across the state of Texas, in the name of Love, because Jesus said so. People young and old gave and baked and assembled these treats to be distributed across clubs on our outreach. Late that night, one of our team leaders received a message from an entertainer:

“Well, since I’m the insider at the club, I just wanted to let you know that the girls loved the pies! I did too, love the cards and the effort that ya’ll put into it. I know those pies were made with love in order to show the love from the One who first loved us!

I heard those girls saying by the end of the night, “well, I might not have made that much money tonight but I got a pie!” I thought that was the cutest! Many of them are going through tough times, divorce, legal issues, depression and addictions that they battle every day, and I hear some good old dramas from them every day, what y’all did was definitely worth it and I’m sure it made them feel cared for and loved. So thankful for y’alls ministry.” A grand opening.

The reason we dream big at JSL is because we are holding big stories, big hurts, big problems, but also the BIG LOVE of Jesus. We have seen God change lives. We have people in the sex industry calling us every week for assistance and support, for a way out, for a job. We cannot wait to be fully functioning at our headquarters in Waco, TX. On site counseling through The Advocacy Center, case management, a female only AA group, the gym, the commissary kitchen, a Rising Strong (Brené Brown) group, job training and launching businesses through Lovely!

As a reminder: 89% of those in the industry say that they want out but have no other means of survival. We are aiming to create solutions to that through Lovely Enterprises. We believe that with Lovely and JSL inextricably linked to serve those who’ve been exploited sexually or are vulnerable to it, we can change culture.

As we move toward Christmas would you please consider our population— largely women, mothers, sisters, daughters. Would you consider changing their life and your world by partnering with us to provide services and jobs girded by the power of Christ’s love?

I’m going to be very transparent, in the midst of all the celebration and applause for the ribbon cutting— I still fight darkness every night when I lay my head down. I go to bed with the recollection of looking in the tear soaked eyes of our qualified and capable sex industry overcomer because she wants us to hire her so bad, but we don’t have funds. I see the faces of women who are ready to begin training for production of products, but we can’t start without funds. I remember our staff, called ministers, pouring out their lives, who are currently support raising and say, “we’re going to be okay, we are going to get there.” The darkness seethes and whispers to me, “No. One. Cares….no one cares about your women, about sex workers, about providing opportunities for them. You and your little ragtag team are in this alone.”

This is when I have to remember what I KNOW to be true: that I have born witness to hundreds of grand openings along this journey and the love of Jesus IS measurable. God cares for us and will make a way, always does, through you. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for giving generously when the world wants to say our population is hopeless and past the point of recovery. Would you help us spread the word as we strive to Paint the Door Red (completing renovation funds!) and launchLovely Enterprises (providing jobs and launching micro businesses). Share the newsletter, shop Lovely, give or connect us with those who can.

Deeply grateful, you have changed my life.

Emily Mills