I stepped foot in the dirty and hot bathroom in Chinatown. Water covered the floor, and I tippy-toed as I struggled to keep my shoes dry. As I walked to the sink to wash my hands…
I saw her.
Her high heels made her tower over me and her lack of clothing embarrassed me. We shared the sink space, and to be honest, she made me feel helpless. I knew why she was primping and I also felt completely out of my league as I entertained the thought of sharing about Jesus with her. I nonchalantly watched as she painted her face and brushed her fingers through her white blonde hair. I watched her seductively bend down to rummage through her bag full of cosmetics and who knows what else, when what I saw knocked the wind out of me. On her arms were rows and rows of scars. Self-inflicted cries of help. The pain that holds her heart captive was engraved in the skin that was made by the One who loves her and tenderly wove her together in her mother’s womb. Is she so numb that she resorts to carving her own skin to feel emotion? It was more than I could bear. She was beautiful but she broke my heart. She was no longer something I saw on TV, she was a living and breathing girl who may look different than me on the outside, but is truly no different than me on the inside. Sigh. I didn’t know her story, but I loved her.
Jesus loves prostitutes. In fact, among some of the notorious women in His bloodline was a prostitute named Rahab. I love her story. God loves to take what is ugly and make it beautiful. He sanctifies the scandalous and mends the broken. He redeems the prostitute in all of us – the unfaithfulness we are all guilty of – and covers our disgrace with His grace. He lavishes love on the unloved, and He is Home for the runaway. He sees the precious ones that society is ashamed of and He offers freedom to those who call on His name. But how will they know unless they are told?
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? ~Romans 10:14
Why didn’t I tell the prostitute that God loves her? Why….
It’s as though culture shock placed it’s hand over my mouth and silenced my words. The prostitute and I were surrounded by Chinese women who scurried around us and acted as if the beautiful blonde who took center stage in that small bathroom wasn’t even there. Why did I act like everyone else? I saw her and I saw past her scars and yet I said nothing. What a stark contrast from small town America where I come from. Back home, I drank coffee with my Christian girlfriends, sent my son to a public school where he had a Christian teacher, and spent many hours a week at church or in a Christian small group. I lived in a Christian bubble, but that bubble was popped once our plane landed in this big city and I had no choice but to face lostness head on. I know the scene I am describing happens all over the world, but it was not part of my everyday life. And while I have traveled to many large cities, I have never stood in the center of one and had the realization that this is now my home. I left America with a one-way plane ticket. This – the public transit, the couple who I watched exchange hits on the joint they unashamedly smoked, the same sex couple who showed over the top affection in front of my children on the bus, the drunk guy who I watched come with in seconds of getting hit by a bus – this is what I see every single day.
As I dried off my freshly washed hands, I got up the guts to hand her one of my blog cards before I bolted for the door. As I got on a train and headed back home, that Chinatown bathroom grew small in the distance but the memory of that girl remained fresh. She needed to hear the Truth and I didn’t tell her. I know the Lord is sovereign over my failings and I know His plans are perfect and good, but I can’t help but be changed and challenged after rubbing elbows with the girl whose arms were scarred and not telling her of the Savior whose scars write Love over hers. Jesus loved recklessly while hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He was Light in the darkness, and in order to save those enslaved to the darkness, He had to be among them. How will we ever reach the lost unless we go to them? How will we ever go to them if we are too intimidated or afraid to be around them? And once around them, how will I know what to say unless I fully rely on Him? So many lessons are being learned and so many opportunities to die to myself are presented to me everyday.
My prayer is that I will never let an opportunity pass me by where Truth can be proclaimed. Simply being polite to people does show them the love of Christ that flows through us, but it doesn’t tell them of the cross and resurrection that frees their soul from death. Presence does not equal proclamation. I want to boldly proclaim Jesus and tell those who haven’t heard. God can use my nervous speech and He can use my shaky words that I stumble over at times when I talk to people who are very different from me, but what He can’t use is my silence. I ask that you will remember our family and pray that we will make the most of every opportunity. We ask that you would pray that we would boldly walk out of our comfort zone and proclaim Christ to those He puts in our path, remembering that He loves everyone and desires for all to be saved! May our daily time spent surrounded by the lost while sitting in the blue seats on the bus be intentional and fruitful and all for His glory!
“And [pray] also for me, that [freedom of] utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news (the Gospel)” ~Ephesians 6:19, AMP
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” ~John 12:24-25, MSG