This is a beautifully written guest post by my good friend, Makrina Williams, and her experience in Zambia. You can find more blogs she writes at Becoming Fully Alive.
There is a woman who despises her femininity; loathes any sign of beauty that can welcome trespassers, like the time she was 7 years old. Because he took what was never meant for him, and amongst the broken pieces he shattered, he left her not only hating him, but hating herself too.
Behind her tough exterior, she is beautiful and she is soft. To everyone, she hides her vulnerability and femininity; no one ever thought to look deep into her heart. No one ever thought to ask her why. Instead, they criticize and laugh.
We sit in each other’s presence; ask questions like we are students of each other’s heart. She opens out her beating muscle and shows me every place that it has been pierced. And though there are puncture wounds that cause my body to shut down in anguish, I keep listening, and watch the map of her unfold before my weary eyes.
For we are more than what we choose to display on our surface. We are more than the stories we tell every day. We are all a uniquely precious story.
She asks me what it feels like to live with both my parents.
I tell her the truth; it is both beautiful and painful. Beautiful in the security and love I have always known. Painful because I know a beauty that many people have been robbed of. I tell her that sometimes it hurts and I think it is not fair, that I fight with God, asking why only me. I tell her I wish she had what I had. I tell her I’m sorry.
She tells me he raped her at 7 years old and no one believed her. How he’s still a free man, walks down the same streets as she does, without any punishment. She sees him, but can’t bear the thought or sight of him. She desires to kill him with her own bare hands.
Her father is a polygamist. Aside from her mother, whom he left, he now has two wives. He can afford to pay double of all her needs, yet he does not pay even a tenth. She loves him and she hates him, and she prays that he would know that someone in the world is searching for him. He tells her she’s an adult now, that she has no need of a father. But she looks at me and tells me she craves fatherly affection.
She asks me what it feels like to not be heard.
She asks me what it feels like to be disowned.
I am unqualified to answer. But I ask her right back.
What if we are called to be pursuers of each other’s stories? Instead of living on the surface of each other, caressing only the superficial layers. What if we are to whole heartedly pursue the truth in others, like when Christ met the woman at the well, pursuing her story beyond what people see and know, asking her real questions. Because to Him, the heart matters.
What if this is the real liturgy we are called for; the real work of the people? To hold hands and embrace hearts, to learn the story behind every war, and never let a day fall without calling out the beauty from the ashes left by the wars.
What if this is the real liturgy; witnessing the presence of Christ in everyday life? To behold Him in the man with post-traumatic stress, within the ache of every father wound, amidst the hunger for power and success, more than in the steeple and in the liturgy books?
Sometimes the books, the services, all equate to great things, but what if the Greatest is found on the streets? Like the Mama by the roadside selling fritters, who greets me daily, the woman who cries out for Jesus no matter how intoxicated she is. What if the battle stories, and the scars, those tears and the way they have formed behaviors are the most glorious thing we will ever encounter? Like Christ who lived most of his days not in the synagogues but on the streets, and allowed every interruption to befall him.
What if living lies right here, amidst the stories of love, loss and abandonment. What if these stories are what we are called to pursue?
This here is her story. This is her voice.
True Christian spirituality is not just about “my soul” or the “self.” Spirituality that is Christian is always about taking responsibility for belonging to others, about sharing their concerns, about bearing others’ burdens and washing each other’s feet. – Kevin Irwin, Models of the Eucharist
What can you do?
There are many with her story and others like her.
Of women with a broken past and they try to find their healing in the streets.
There are now over 20 women who work daily and not with their bodies. Some nights they are back on the streets, not to sell themselves again, but to reach out and empower other women. They take food to their sisters on the street, they pray and share the Word of God with them, and encourage them to come and start earning money in a new way. This ministry is now led by these courageous women who chose to leave the street that they may have life.
Sometimes the mission field sounds glamorous and easy, but for many of these women, leaving their former life behind is extremely difficult. After years of quick, easy money and sensual pleasures, it is difficult for them to now deal with the emotional wounds they once masked. Recovery and healing are a long road to walk, and we are so proud of our sisters for choosing to take on this journey.
The need here is greater than ever before, and the devil’s playground is ripe and ready for Gods laborers.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6
Mission Assignment: First, please remember these women in your prayers right now. Second, take the time and come and serve these beautiful women here in Africa.Tags: Brokenness, carry burdens of others, healing, Liturgy, ministry, sex workers, streets, work of the people