Some days, I wonder if I know what I am doing and that’s after 13 years of working with men and women in prostitution and victims of Human Trafficking.
I ask myself the question what did my leaders see in me that I didn’t?
In 1996, I left Italy and was appointed to The Salvation Army project in London to work with people in prostitution. I wondered what their reasoning was (as many before have and I am sure will still, not about me but about their present appointments). I arrived and it was raining and all I know when I arrived was that I was in a place that many wanted. There was a famous saying, “Lord give me any cross but Kings Cross” and this was the other side of peoples thoughts. I was nervous and excited and all of the other emotions you face. I wondered if I would make it through the first week after realising that I had no skill sets I thought appropriate (turned out I did!), but here I was the Centre Manager of an outreach to women in prostitution.
Soon after I invited to a training for managers at a hotel in Milton Keynes hosted by Beyond The Streets and I knew then that I wasn’t alone. I felt a little more confident to talk to agencies and chat to those I met. I didn’t feel so stupid when a woman asked me for help whilst injecting a drug or running away from a client. I knew in that moment I had the opportunity to make a difference and the appointment made some sense.
Cadets (trainee Salvation Army officers) came and helped as did lots of “called” people, some of whom didn’t stay around so long when the calling meant late nights and wet/cold walks with little results; but many bothered and committed to those days and nights when it snowed and rained and we were ignored. I still didn’t feel called to this kind of ministry, but I was beginning to feel like it made sense and I fitted into this little weird world. This was all before it became a fashionable thing to do.
And here I am 13years and few months down the road, feeling “called” to this kind of ministry; feeling I am good at it; have something to offer and I come alive when I get to meet the people to whom I am appointed to.
I have had the privilege of reaching out to those that the world shuns and the world sees as Victims and I see as Survivors. To those that are classified as unlovable and a commodity.
This is still my privilege and a morning in the office in Rome has reminded me that I am good at this and yes I do feel called to the sacrifice as found in Isaiah 58 (The Voice Translation)
6. No, what I want in a fast is this:
to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice,
to lighten the load of those heavily burdened,
to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
7 A fast for Me involves sharing your food with people who have none,
giving those who are homeless a space in your home,
Giving clothes to those who need them, and not neglecting your own family.
8 Then, oh then, your light will break out like the warm, golden rays of arising sun;
in an instant, you will be healed.
Your rightness will precede and protect you;
the glory of the Eternal will follow and defend you.
9 Then when you do call out, “My God, Where are You?”
The Eternal One will answer, “I am here, I am here.”
If you remove the yoke of oppression from the downtrodden among you,
stop accusing others, and do away with mean and inflammatory speech,
10 If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
Some days it’s easy to get fired up and shout; and some days I feel like that there is a world that doesn’t want to listen.
So my question is: Called or Appointed? Both for me, one lead to the other.