May 2019 Update

WE ALL HAVE STORIES

We are launching into Summer 2019 with wind in our sails and hearts filled with LOVE—for Jesus and people.

The day following Wild Torch, I attended Story Workshop, a conference hosted by The Allender Center. I’ll be honest, the whole thing was a bit frightening for me. As an eight on the Enneagram, the thought of self-introspection can be daunting. But, somehow, I knew I had to go. I could feel in my gut.

For three intense days, I sat among strangers listening to and holding stories of trauma and shame—even sharing my own. All of us have our own story of trauma.

I learned that one of the most important steps towards healing from trauma is grief-- a step that, unfortunately, our quick-fix culture trains us to ignore.

“Grief opens your heart to be tender.” --Dan Allender

The Story Workshop invited each of us to go back to a story of childhood trauma and share it with an intimate story group. Every time we gathered, we would hear another story, and we would be invited into the beautiful and difficult process of joining each in his or her story of pain. The goal? Understanding, grief, and reconciliation.

This work holding space for trauma and story has helped me in my own work with offenders taking our Stop Demand School. I’ve come to see that everyone has a story that informs future decisions. Through hearing the stories of "Johns," I have been able to find a space of empathy for them. It's too easy to simply say, "What a scumbag." True, their attempted (and sometimes successful) actions are harmful and despicable. Our goal at SDS, however, is clearly stated: Stop Demand. Restore Lives. The goal is restoration because restoration is the sweetest fruit of justice.

This summer, we will be sharing the stories of JSL through a series of house shows we're calling "Fireside Show". And trust us, these are so much fun. Through an intimate setting of 10-20ish, Emily and I will share the stories and sing the songs in hopes of educating and encouraging people on the impact of JSL. A dear friend hosted on last weekend and for almost 2 hours we sang the spectrum of songs—current, motown, 80’s - 90’s worship, originals...we even learned songs on the spot thanks to Youtube.

If you are interested in hosting a Fireside Show, we have a few dates remaining. Just reply to this email and we can talk details.

I look forward to the stories this summer will hold—new ones and reflections on the old.

Dan Allender said, "God is the author of our stories. He wrote us. When we study our stories, we are studying God and reflecting on His nature."

I look forward to joining our JSL story with yours—in doing so, we WILL see God!

-Brett Mills, CEO


WILD TORCH 2019

On April 23rd, with the threat of rain looming, we shut 11th street down and had a beautiful night of music and story under a clear, Texas sky! The energy at Milo was electric and the cuisine by Guess was a crowd stopper. 

We pushed the Wild Torch experience forward. Waco holds incredible soil for innovation and out of the box ideas for social and economic issues. Jesus Said Love is so thankful to be a part of our vibrant community that is making impact across Texas in the lives of survivors of exploitation and in the root issue of demand for commercial sex exploitation and human trafficking.

This year’s event grossed just over $90K. Funds raised after expenses will be used to fund ACCESS and other annual budget needs.

Massive gratitude to our title sponsor, TFNB | Your Bank for Life. David Littlewood and bank staff have radically embraced the mission of JSL and they are doing so much more than writing checks. They are working hand in hand with our ACCESS 2 entrepreneurial grads by way of facilitating micro loans for small business startups. Having TFNB on board affords our grads the ability to become bankable and sets them on a positive financial path.

We are grateful to these sponsors: Magnolia, Williams Electric, Saddle Creek Dentistry, Hole in the Roof, Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest, Unbound, First National Bank of Central Texas, Luna Juice Bar, Sunshine Recovery House, Glenn & Rhonda Robinson, Walt & Tatyana Strickland, Shawn & Ann Skeen, Kim Stevens, Matt & Julie Rhule, Joe & Lesa Barrow, David & Susannah Schorlemer, Sarah Roberts & Nicki Wilson.

If you didn't get the chance to be a part of the night, you can watch the event video, live stream replay and view photos here. 


WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR KATIE!

“Six years ago, I was a freshman in college attending a women’s retreat in College Station. I could never have imagined that this retreat would impact the entire course of my life. It was here I first heard about Jesus Said Love, and I’ve been involved ever since. Since graduating college, I’ve spent three incredible years (almost to the date) working on staff at JSL. I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever imagined and ever hoped for.

Over the last three years, the work of JSL has brought me to a place of my own healing. Thanks to an incredible counselor, wonderful parents, and a strong support system of friends, I’ve been doing the hard work of putting the pieces of myself back together - this being said, it is with a heavy heart that I am taking a step down from my position as Director of Donor and Community Engagement of Jesus Said Love. It’s a bittersweet goodbye, but one that is best for me as well as the ministry of JSL that I so love and cherish.

Brett and Emily Mills have been incredibly gracious to support my decision to step down from JSL and I am so very thankful. My prayer for y’all is that your family (JSL included) thrive and grow in the work y’all continue to do. Rebekah, you’ve been an incredibly wonderful coworker to know and learn from - your heart for the women who walk through JSL is faithful and strong. My prayer for you is that you continue to garden the community you’ve created here with grace - for yourself especially. Jersey (aka Kelcy), I never expected to receive a best friend in my time here at JSL - your passion and resiliency are stronger than you realize. I appreciate your endless love for the women who walk through JSL and the hope you share with each one as they follow their dreams. My prayer for you is that you would continue to be a trailblazer - you were made for beautiful, courageous things. Each woman who’s come through our programs has taught me resiliency, strength, and beautiful courage - I am forever grateful and cherish your gracious examples. Thank you for being heroes - you all shine. My prayer for you is that you keep sharing your precious light, we need you. And to our wonderful volunteers, thank you for your heart for this ministry. You all are why JSL is able to do what JSL does - and we couldn’t do it without you. My prayer for you is that you continue to do the hard work - it is beautiful and precious.

While this is a closing of a dear chapter of life, I am so thankful for all the JSL has given me and there’s still so much to look forward to. Because I’ve found such an incredible community, I’ll be remaining in Waco and continue to do life here. I’m excited for all God has in store and trust it will be beautiful. “

-Katie Valenzuela


WHY I LOVE ACCESS?

REBEKAH POYNER, DIRECTOR OF ACCESS

I love working with Access Students because I have the opportunity to show women the power they don't even know they have. Within 8 weeks they begin developing the skill of listening to their gut and using their voice to fight for and honor what they need. I am privileged to be a witness of the women in our community growing deeper into who they are meant to be. The most beautiful moments happen when students become proud of who they are and begin to love themselves the way God loves them.  The laughter, the tears, van rides, and authentic vulnerability are all priceless moments for us. 

I also love watching each student bring their unique gifts to the table in supporting others in the class and throughout their communities.  These past few months I have learned what a great city Waco is and how we all help support each other. This is a rare gift indeed. 

A big part of our program involves Waco women willing to partner with our students. If you are interested in walking along side an Access Student during their journey, please consider being an Alliance Partner. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know a student one on one, learning about how much they have over come, as well as what they are moving towards.  Click on the link to apply: https://jesussaidlove.com/alliance-partners 

We are so excited to have the opportunity to pay our students a living wage stipend. This allows our students, many who are single mothers, to go through our 30 hour per week program with less financial stress. We cannot continue this program without the support and service from the community. Help bring change to Waco by sponsoring a student!

If you would like to Sponsor an Access Student Click Here: https://jsl.churchcenter.com/giving/to/access

If you know of a woman who has been affected by the commercial sex industry with the strong desire for healing and transformation, here is the link to the application for ACCESShttps://jesussaidlove.com/accessapply