Cages. Lockers. Stages. Shelters. Clubs. Cars. Couches.
Nights (always busy).
Hotel rooms (never clean).
Urban streets (only certain ones).
Jail cells (familiar).
CPS buildings (please, not again).
Holding rooms (supervised visitation only).
Red brick apartments, row after row.
Emergency rooms, month after month.
“Am I invited?” she asks. “Is there a space for me?”
I pick her up at the extended-stay motel room she calls home: the whole place reeks of sticky caramel vape, dog urine, and a dogmatic “more stuff = more purpose” philosophy. Here, a mini fridge and microwave qualify as the kitchen. The tiny room, barely navigable through the piles, is crowded to capacity by her “boyfriend” and his many alter personalities...not to mention her own. They live off of disability.
We hop in my car for an afternoon of lunch, errands, and a trip to see the space she has been praying for: 1500 Columbus. We pull up to the bare bones and demolition dust.
“Emily, please tell me there will be counseling for us. Please. And jobs! You have to make jobs for us. The women need it. We’ve been forgotten, and no one wants to hire us.”
We walk around the side, and she dreams: “Here is the program side of JSL...can you picture it? A large open workspace here...computers here for resume building, computer skills, GED training, learning. And this table --it’s so huge! Family style meals here over Bible study! Book clubs and 12 step programs! Can you see it?”
She is ecstatic, a true visionary. I explain the office spaces for staff and lead her to the space dedicated to counseling. She puts down her head and begins to sob.
“Maybe if this was here when I needed it, it could have saved me? Emily, this HAS to happen. So many of us feel worthless and used. The rapes we’ve endured, the beatings, all of it. This counselor needs to know about D.I.D and have ways to treat it. God’s going to do miracles here, I can feel it.”
We begin to pray, releasing energy and calling on the God of the heavens to permit us grace and provision as we build. “Lord, let it be!”
Encyclopedia Britannica defines space as “the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction...space impacts human and cultural behavior, as well as the design of buildings and structures...”
For the last decade, we have been stepping into unknown spaces to love those in the sex industry...and for so long, we have dreamed of a space of our own. 1500 Columbus will be a landing pad for work, learning, and creativity; a solace designed with commercial sex exploits in mind; a center for community and faith-based programs geared toward serving those affected by the sex trade; a tangible place for Jesus-centered, hope-filled, healing, prophetic, life-giving music and words.
What do we know of the space at 1500 Columbus, Waco, TX? We know that God has answered our prayers through financial provision! We know this space will impact human and cultural behavior. We know that what develops here (jobs, programs, and revenue) impacts the entire state of Texas on behalf of those we serve. 1500 is more than a building: it is a space where we will say to those in the sex industry, “You are invited, and you belong.”
JOIN US TODAY in creating space for those who for so long have felt disconnected, disenfranchised, and marginalized by society. We are still $50K short of our renovation budget. Projected soft launch and opening, late August!
Emily Mills || JSL Founder