Begin? Again? How many times before the world gives up on me?
How far gone is really too far gone for the Balm of Gilead?
What will it take to finally love life so much that the ache for comfort-dope ceases?
Do only the elect get a stab at grace?
Who speaks the loudest, Fear or Hope?
Is that you? Who?
I will follow. Life reveals words received.
We were home this weekend, hosting family and running about to church lock-ins and sports games. Steak dinner at home on Friday and a movie night on Saturday - total bliss, present joy...if I can remain present. It’s difficult to bear the grace God has granted us while holding the mire of those exploited, of those abused.
As my favorite in-laws rolled into town Friday afternoon, the phone began to ring. I know, boundaries. “Turn the phone off!” “It’s your weekend.” I know these things and do my very best to stay in a posture of care for myself and my family. Three calls within hours rolled in of emergencies, and currently for intake it’s just two of us at JSL: me and dearest Kellie.
The calls were like wildfires burning through towns across Texas: Austin to Houston to Waco. Each woman fleeing a life of abuse and sexual trauma. One potential trafficking victim right here in my little jewel of a town, another victim of human trafficking since 15 years old and another commercial sex exploit whose husband, for nearly a decade, refused to “let her” quit dancing. I’m raw, I’m ragged headed into the week, but NOTHING compared to what these women are living. Gratitude grants grit for the work at hand. I will keep humming “the working song” (as my friend calls it) and find strength in its melody. Because I’m not in the business of controlling women’s lives, nor am I assured of any measure of “success” in their responses, but I am available.
It is in the marathon that you find the measurables. It is imperative that we continue in our availability to women in the sex industry because not only are they worth it, but eventually everyone in the industry either dies, ages out, or leaves by choice. No one stays in the sex industry forever. The question for communities is not only “Why do women enter the industry?”, but “What jobs are available to her when she leaves?” This is a wicked problem, yes. But the clear-cut current answer is something Jesus Said Love is offering through Lovely Enterprises.
Lovely is the social enterprise of JSL made up of micro-businesses aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex exploitation. 89% of commercial sex exploits say that they want out, but have no other means of survival. The goal of Lovely is to provide economic empowerment opportunities to domestic commercial sex exploits.
When I think of people who carry fire in their belly, a passion for what they want out of life, it’s women who have overcome great odds. Women like Shamica who is the lead baker for Lovely Buns - the best cinnamon buns you’ve ever tasted (available at Lovely)! I think of Stephany who is a pilot member of our 8 week paid scholarship program called ACCESS whose favorite part of class is learning to make jewelry at Lovely! You will get to carry this fire with them April 10th at Wild Torch. It’s an experience like no other. Wild Torch is our annual fundraiser using the visual and performing arts to tell the story of those who have found a way out of the industry. This is our third year and we are thrilled to have Tony nominated Elizabeth Davis back with us! All proceeds from Wild Torch will be going toward Lovely Enterprises to create more jobs for the 89% wanting out of the sex trade. You will get to hear the stories of heroes in a way you never have before.