Hesitated to write this. Hesitating to post. The following is disturbing and contains content of a sexual nature – 15 rated or so… Will ruin your devotional time, spoil your breakfast and may change things for me. Turn back now if you need to. Went ahead as it’s all true and I want to put myself on the hook.
East Croydon. 22.30. Wednesday night.
Had spent the previous three days on an inspiring trip, learning from guys at Causeway Coast Vineyard, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Had the opportunity to share about Jesus with many on the streets using “JAD” – Jesus at the Door – a hook for sharing hope with people.
Travelling home got chatting with a guy at Belfast International airport, ended up praying with him then and there. Buzzing, had said to myself, ‘first people I speak with in Croydon, I’ll share JAD with them.’
Walked left out of East Croydon station and about 3 minutes down the road was approached by two women. They claimed they were short of cash for gas and electric, and nappies for one of their children. One seemed fairly drunk and the other agitated. Would I like them to do anything for me in exchange for money? They asked. A little slow on the uptake, it clicked for me as they made eyes to the alley.
“Would you listen to me?” I said.
Showed them my key ring, and started to share Jesus at the Door with them….
“All well and good, but how is you praying for us going to get me £30 and nappies for my boy?!” The agitated one said. And as she turned I saw the bruising on her neck. It’s an image I haven’t shaken.
“I don’t give out cash, but will happily go to the sainsbury’s and buy the nappies for your boy.” I said.
We went to the shop and got the nappies. “There’s another way.” “We need money now.” “I’m part of a church in Croydon, we can help you.” “Need money tonight.” The conversation bounced back and forth. I was so tempted to get the cash out for them, and have gone over it all so many times, sure that I got many things wrong.
The agitated one, a beautiful woman in her 20’s actually, was making to leave – “thank you so much for the nappies, but we need to keep going” she said to her friend. “I’m here to bring hope…” I said.
Then her question came.
I have tight theological answers to it. Whilst having no expertise, I’m aware of some of the sociological reasons that shed light on it. As a middle class, suburban Christian of several years I’m well versed in how to ignore these issues all together. At an intellectual level I know it’s not my responsibility. And yet…
A beautiful young woman, someone’s daughter, had approached me on a busyish street and offered to go down an alley and exchange her dignity and my honour for less than what my kids keep in their piggy bank.
If she’d accepted my offer of prayer I know that something would have changed for her – I’d seen it happen too many times in the previous 15 hours, let alone the previous 15 years, to doubt it. I’d just come from a church where many who were in similarly desperate situations had found new lives. Yet I understood her unwillingness given her situation.
So no, maybe it’s not my problem, but she’s a person who looked me in the eye. It’s not my responsibility, but I know I need to make some response. More than a blog post, more than a brief prayer, I think Jesus maybe asking something of me. Her question was,
“If all this God stuff is real, then why am I out here giving men blow jobs for cash?”