Downtown

It’s not often that I go off and do my own ‘thing’ in the evening and leave the Hubs to take care of the kiddos, and when I do, it’s usually for a planned event that I ‘should’ go to, or a much-needed GNO. 

Yesterday was a rare exception.

A dear friend that I love to spend time with invited me to ride along with her to go downtown (Columbus, OH). I love leaving my cozy suburbia to romp around downtown at the fun restaurants, shows, busy nightlife (and the Hubs and I even went down to a salsa dancing bar last weekend!)  I used to live near the OSU campus area, and we went to church down near the Short North for about 10 years, but I never on my own would have thought of going downtown to do what we were going to do. 

We were picking up a gal that I had heard great things about, but it was my first time meeting her. Her name is Carly.  Carly had with her several cute little bags that she had made up – and we were going to go scour the streets for women to give these bags to.  Not just any women, but specific women.  Women who are lingering on the streets. Prostitutes. Addicts. Those being sex-trafficked. Image

It was a drizzly, mild-temperature night.  Driving around in a specific neighborhood that my two friends have become familiar with over the last several months, we soon saw some the individuals that we were looking for. We would pull up next to a lady and Carly would jump out of the car and approach the lady with a small cute bag of personal hygiene items and attempt to talk to her.  While many of these women are strung out on something and are unable to hold a conversation, she usually could get one important piece of information from them…their name.

My friends actually know these women by name! They would see a girl walking and ask each other, “Is that ‘Cheyenne’?” or ” I haven’t seen ‘Melissa’ for months…I hope she’s ok.”  They know which ladies are open to talking, which ones appreciate a bag of goodies, and which ones are ready to run at first sight.  They remember which one refused the coat that they offered to them on the sub-zero temperature night this winter because it would make them look “ugly” (and not get business).

These prostitutes are stuck. Some because of being trafficked, some because of having ‘no way out’ and almost all of them because of drugs.  They have no hope. They need someone else to have hope for them, and to care about them enough to take a chance on them.

Reaching For the Shining Starz” is an organization that Carly has put together as a way of reaching out to these women and letting them know that there are people who care, and that there is help (and hope) out there for them!  She collects (and often buys on her own) personal care items like washcloths, small soaps, chapstick, granola bars, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. and buys cute little bags to put them in to hand out to these ladies. But that’s not all – she includes a paper that has the name and number for many different organizations that can offer them help.  Drug rehab, shelters, you name it.

Are you feeling touched yet? If not, consider this: Jesus ministered to the ‘untouchables’. He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes and lepers.  My Bible study lately has been on the story in John chapter 4, about how Jesus didn’t condemn the ‘woman caught in adultery’! He showed her grace and mercy, and told her to, “Go, and sin no more.” 

That’s one thing that gets me. I admit it. I find myself at times quick to judge. I’ll think, “yeah, I’d never get caught up in drugs, or sell myself on the street.” But Jesus looks at my ugly, horrible sin for exactly what it is: The same as one of these prostitute’s detestable acts….SIN.

I’m no different, I just sin differently. How about you?

NOW are you feeling touched? My heart hurts for these women, even when we see them relieving themselves on the side of a building. Maybe you feel called to go down to the inner city and seek out prostitutes to show love and kindness to. Maybe that totally freaks you out, and understandably so, but you would consider helping to stuff some bags or donate personal care items, or money to help support this cause. (check out & ‘Like’ Reaching For the Shining Starz’s FB page to learn more.)  Carly plans to have information and a collection box at my Clothing Swap GNO event on April 26th in Dublin, OH. Ladies, check out the awesome event and please bring some items to help support her!

One last thought that I want to leave you with…Psalm 91.  I ‘happened’ to open up to it this morning and I was struck by it in many different ways. I’ll probably expound upon it at a later date, but one of the ideas comes from the part about being ‘rescued’ and having ‘armor and protection’ through His (God’s) faithful promises. He says that He will rescue those who love Him. Romans 8:28 says that, “He works everything together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Many thoughts come to mind about this, but for certain, I know that I need to post this passage below, for somebody out there. You may not be a prostitute or drug addict, but you might need to hear what these words say…you may need to know that YOU can call on God and He will answer you, that he’ll be with you in trouble (vs 4). That He’ll rescue you. (vs 15).  So read this and feel free to leave a comment about how it impacts you:

Psalm 91 (New Living Translation)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Amen!!