Thoughts On The New Year
Back at the YWAM base – and home, I saw Laura* had returned to her usual perch on a milk crate where she sells drugs for a dealer in Oakland. She’s there every day, huddled in her puffy jacket and black watch cap. Until, one day a couple of weeks ago, she rushed into Nail Day, shaking and disoriented. Her mother had died. She was frantic and despairing. “This has got to stop…I’m getting out of here,” she kept saying. She let us pray for her and sat with her much-beloved BJM staffer Cassandra, for nearly an hour, rambling and crying.
Then, she disappeared for a week or so – mourning her mother. Having a funeral. Seeing relatives. Grieving and alone. But, now she was back. We sat together on the sidewalk, talking about mothers. About missing hers – and mine. About remembering what made our mothers special and beloved. She let me bless her….releasing God’s heart for “new things….that this year will bring the changes you have been hoping for. For new life this year.” We hugged. I pray that this might be the year when she makes a life for herself without drugs or street corners. The whole BJM staff has a special love for Laura*!
Another exciting development: the neighborhood park opened just before Christmas. The glorious sound of children’s voices echos across the corners of Jones and Eddy streets. Not business-as-usual in the Tenderloin. But kids playing. Shouting. Laughing. Every day. It is the sound of life. Of hope for something different for these children.
This is a wonderful, play-centered park surrounded by special “entrance proof” fencing. The gates are locked except during specified play hours. And even then, a police officer is always, always present every moment. Drugs are sold on every street bordering the park. On the federal sex offender registry, our neighborhood map is filled with red and blue “dots” marking offenders and predators. Creating a safe space for children is a serious challenge.
Some of the girls playing in the park will make their way to The Well and BJM’s dance program. A handful will be loved and mentored by Gabby and Cassandra. Others will be drawn into life on the streets. There simply aren’t enough Gabbys and Cassandras here to reach them all.
Seeing them reminds me of the scripture “the fields are white ….ready to harvest, but the workers are too few!…..Pray to God, the Lord of the harvest, asking Him to send more workers.” BJM needs more staff! Who will reach out to those young girls – still innocently playing at our beautiful new neighborhood park.? Who will come to help us create a street outreach team to build relationship with LB and the hundreds of other women who need love and hope here?
The harvest fields are ripe….filled with people who need hope and love. Who need to know that Jesus sees them. That they aren’t invisible. The workers are few.
For 2015 I am praying for more hearts (and bodies) here at BJM. I want to see a BJM team reaching out and building relationships with women working in the neighborhood strip clubs and in prostitution on the streets. Cassandra and Gabby would like to expand our dance and mentoring ministry with at-risk girls in the neighborhood. Karol and Carolina would love to reach more mothers in the neighborhood…hard-working, overwhelmed Latino women….quiet, lonely refugees – often Muslim – feeling stranded in this city. And recently, a few women from “the streets” who want something better for their daughters than they experienced.
On the dining room wall at the YWAM base, two large frames hold photos of every YWAM San Francisco staff member. One space is empty, with a note, “Could this be you?”
Will you join me in prayer for that “empty space” to be filled? Volunteers are beyond wonderful. We love and depend on them. And, full-time committed staff are necessary to lead. To listen to God, envision, and create the foundation into which volunteers can come and give.
Will you pray for a woman called to use dance and movement to help traumatized women heal? For a team of women willing to love and invest in girls in this neighborhood where no child should have to live? For a few brave hearts whose eyes light up when they think about befriending, honoring, and loving women who sell their bodies in strip clubs and on the streets?
Each new staff person must raise her own support. Will you pray and consider committing some of your long-term giving to new BJM staff?
The fields are ready for harvest. But, there just aren’t enough workers to find all the treasure God has in the Tenderloin.
Someone’s picture belongs in the empty space in that frame in the dining room. Could it be yours?
*names have been changed for the protection of the women and children of our community