In between our church’s Christmas eve services last night, I ran downstairs to help my new friend, Amanda, prepare for a very different Christmas eve event–she and a group of volunteers were heading out to give presents and hot coffee to the shivering prostitutes who worked the streets on this most sacred of nights.
“It’s so cold out–and it’s raining! Are you really going out tonight?” I asked Amanda, who started Scarlet Cord ministries.
“The women are out there–so we will be, too,” she answered without hesitation. I hugged her and returned to the cozy church service as Amanda walked out into the freezing rain . . .
Forming redemptive relationships with the women who work the strip joints and the streets of Portland is Scarlet Cord’s purpose. This is accomplished by providing a meal and basic necessities (including condoms) for these ladies and their children every Friday night–at our little church building in north Portland!
Female volunteers divide and conquer each Friday afternoon. One group, the street team, heads for 82nd and the other teams stays and prepares the meal.
Amanda told me that the street team goes out on the streets and into the strip joints to invite the women to the dinner being served at the church.
“These girls all have stories,” Amanda told me recently. “No little girl ever just decides she wants to be a prostitute or a stripper when she grows up. ”
Once the women realize the volunteers don’t want anything from them, they often let down their guard. Amanda was in the G-Spot (a strip joint on 82nd) not long ago and had an enlightening chat with one of the dancers. “D” was wearing the usual skimpy attire–and a beautiful cross necklace. After Amanda admired the pendant, “D” explained that it was a gift her mother had given her during her battle with cancer.
“I wear it to remind myself that God healed me and has a purpose for my life,” D confided.
As I listened and struggled to make sense of this strange scenario, Amanda leaned forward and said something even more mind-boggling:
“God is in the G-spot,” she told me. “His love has deeply impacted “D”‘s life. Jesus is in those terrible, dark places, reaching out to those women with His unconditional love.”
If you doubt Jesus’ affinity for prostitutes, you need to read through the gospels a few times. Our worship service last night was lovely, as we focused on the babe in the manger.
But I’m pretty sure the Prince of Peace was out on the streets . . . cradling the broken.
Take me to that place where we’re children again
And we crawl on the lap of the Peace Child
Take me to the land where love is discovered
With the prince undercover as the Peace Child
And the poor can now see
How a king can believe
In a kingdom that cradles the broken
O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
From lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears
We look to be upright as we grasp for a chance
But we’re too dirty to dance with the Peace Child
But the sunset and its red floods the world with its rays
Like the blood of the babe of the Peace Child
And the dead can now sing
At the throne of the king
‘Cause heaven is full of us peasants
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