am i a justice seeker

yesterday on the fabulous The Match Factory – Justice Seekers blog Nick Coke presented some challenges to me and all fellow Justice seekers. Today I decided to take some time to look at them. and ponder upon them a bit.

here are my thoughts.

  1. Present: justice-seekers understand there is no justice to be done from a distance. there are far too many people who stand up and speak and shout from a soap box about the injustices in the world. if we are not present and involved regularly, how can we ever become a voice for the voiceless. Theory is easy but I know that when I sat down with a woman forced into prostitution that I saw a woman and not a statistic. one of my favourite days of the week is Tuesday – it means I will meet the people I write about and read about each day in the office.
  2. Migrants: All are migrants, wanderers through life. JRR Tolkien famously said, “that all who wander are not lost”. I am a migrant of God’s choosing. I am a foreigner in this land and as Scripture says this world. I wander dreaming of a better world. I want to see the end of Human Trafficking and Slavery. I want to walk alongside and talk as Jesus did with people. My home is not based on my location; it based on where God calls me.
  3. Contemplative: justice-seekers know more than anyone that activism is futile without contemplation, prayer and Biblical reflection.  With contemplation the activist fixes their eyes on Jesus – ‘the author and perfecter of our faith’. ah yes, and this is maybe the hardest for me in some ways because it requires me to sit still and read and learn. But it also reminds me of the need to know why I do what I do. The need to step up to the plate and get on with it. The need to “Be Jesus in my community and not just Do Jesus”. The need to not go where Angels fear to tread but to only go where I believe I am called to be. if you go to this blog entry of mine, it was through prayer and contemplation I learnt something: Learning why…… it’s here that I needed to learn when to go forward and when not too.
  4. Prophetic: the justice-seeker has eyes to see an alternative future to the present reality. I have never seen myself as a prophet or prophetic. recently though I have identified in myself the fact that I always seem to search for the gaps in ministry in the place I am and go for that. Looking back I can see it clearly over the last 23 years of ministry. Looking back I realise that actually it may not have seemed prophetic but it probably was.
  5. Kingdom-minded: although never naive of the world as it is, justice-seekers will have a vision of the world as it should be – the kingdom of God established ‘on earth as it is heaven’ here I would like to add the old sentiment, but not “so heavenly minded the individual is of no earthly use” . i want to see the kingdom of God here in my community. I want to see the name of Jesus spoken in faith and praise and not as a swear word. I want to see an upside down world to the one we have now, the one that God saw when all men have enough to eat, to drink. The possibility of education and fairness. i want that we ‘fast’ for the naked to be clothed and the hungry to be fed, the lost to find direction and that each day will be a day of Jubilee.

at this point I would add a no.6 to the list: Crazy & Courageous. For me there is a need for us to be a little bit crazy, to not fit the mold and definitely to be courageous. It is in those moments that we see change and developments. Because the crazy and courageous don’t think of self. They deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow where God leads.

Thanks Match Factory for the provocation of my thoughts and yes I am proud to be a Justice Seeker.

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Downgrading a Dream 

So I know I only wrote a couple of days ago, but I have this thought going around in my head. It’s something that happens easily to me. Close my eyes and “BAM” I need to write something down. (I started this post at 12.05am last night)

I love the word vulnerability but I think sometimes it can be seen as a negative idea. I used to think that too and the more I go on this journey of social media and life I realise that being vulnerable is okay; but not as a tool searching for sympathy. It’s about being who I am in the good and the bad. It’s about honesty in my dreams for myself and ministry and when that doesn’t happen how I see it then allowing myself to be me in front of people who may not care but need to see that there is strength in vulnerability.

Today my fear of looking vulnerable (and weak!) saw me downgrade a dream I have. A dream for me and the ministry I am involved in.  Just so you know – I don’t have a car provided and that’s strange to some people. I am okay with that but I do wonder if it would make life easier for ministry and it definitely would for me personally.

Now I need to say that this is not a plea for a vehicle but just me explaining myself.

Here is my ultimate dream car – driving around the streets of sunny Italy in this would be amazing.

My dream car
My dream car

Here’s what I think are sensible ideas for ministry in Rome.

sensible option
sensible option
great idea
great idea

This is what I think would be the most useful for getting the message out about The Salvation Army in Italy but impractical for outreach as its only a 3 door vehicle!

The PR Machine
The PR Machine

And here’s what I reckon I might end up with for darting around the city.

the possibility
The Reality

Now the vulnerability bit is trusting God that He has the time & provision sorted and exercising that belief & not posting random statuses asking if someone has money they want to give me for a scooter.

Downgrading the Dream is believing that the ministry is only ever going to need a scooter and not the minivan or Hackney carriage (& I genuinely believe both are needed)

I suppose the point is that in the strength of my vulnerability I need to believe in a God that will supply my needs and not my wants. A God who understands my heart and will help me to see His ministry as something I am involved in  Not downgrading the dream to fit the circumstances of where I am, but rather enhance my belief in a God of the Impossible.

So back to dreaming and I might as well got for it – I am upgrading my dream to this:

Upgrading the dream
Upgrading the dream

 

What dream have you downgraded recently to remain calm & sensible instead of vulnerable and a little wild?

 

Men…….

Cue Faith Based Blog.

So here I am just a couple of months short of 2 years in Rome working with issues of Human Trafficking and Prostitution and suddenly lots is clicking and happening that is making me return to 13 years ago and 9 years ago and 2 years ago. It’s crazy how I get the chance to sit and look at things.

Let’s go back to the 9 years ago “thing” or “moment” because that is the one that is most on my mind at this time. I have spent a few days rejoicing and celebrating God and also remembering some stuff.

I had a meeting with my leaders of The Salvation Army project in London and we were talking about the need to discover diversity and what that would mean in a project as I was in at the time. I prayed and asked around and discovered that the groups for men in prostitution (not the clients and there is a serious lack of provision there too) were so few and far between that this was a possibility and a way forward. I connected to groups and met with group leaders but always “the door” of opportunity was closed.

I genuinely got annoyed with God because I wanted to do something different and that came – we began an outreach to Massage Parlors and Saunas and even after 6 years of being persistent, a lap dance club.; but this wasn’t what I wanted. It was not what I had thought about. I never liked to fit in and thought that the premises we visited were easy. How wrong was I? I got so excited about this ministry and work, and the “men” project wasn’t going anywhere. Jump ahead 9 years now.

Then before Christmas along with my colleagues here in Rome we decided to begin Outreach. And the Green Light Project Rome was born.

Green Light Project
Green Light Project

I had my ideas and really wanted something different and I along with a group of “volunteers” climbed into the red van. Off we went armed with homemade biscuits and coffee and tea and smiles and a few nerves too.

Did I expect results – yes because even one person talking to me would be great.

What happened though was something that I never expected. In 4.5 months we have over 70 names and a whole load of “unknowns” and 90% of those we have met are Transvestites and they admit they are men, we have their male names too.

GLP

Last week reflecting on all that had happened with my leaders, I realized I was reaching the men in prostitution. men who are looked at differently to others. men ignored by the world. Men judged by the world at large. And yet God had prepared me with knowledge and information many years ago.

Now I know why God closed all those doors and why it wasn’t the right time. I am glad that the right time is now. I am glad that I didn’t try and do something back then, but more than that I am humbled by these amazing people I meet every Tuesday evening. They welcome me and accept me and we laugh, cry, talk and pray together. In confusion and pain and hurt and rejection, I am privileged to be a friend to them all.

So, there will be theologians and Christians who have something to say, well come with me and let me take you to the place that one called “Hell”. It doesn’t fit any artists image but who cares, it’s where I meet L and all those other amazing people.

William Booth said the following words and when “B” told us not to pray because the place we meet is hell, then my thoughts turned to these words again. And yes I am prepared.

“You must do it. With the light that is now broken in upon your mind and the call that is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty. Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.”

So, I share this wanting you to know – that as a Christian, nothing is ever wasted.

Dreaming and Believing

so in the last few weeks I have been called to pray and intercede for a few people in particular and we regularly exchange text messages about the prayers. One is in Brisbane and the other in California. I am well aware that each of these friends have some incredible dreams and have had some difficult times. I have to say we have shared our prayer requests recently and it hasn’t been one sided. they pray for me too.

Today, I prayed and read through two bible chapters and suddenly again these verses hit me. Verses of power and joy. Verses about dreaming & believing. Now at first glance maybe not, but that’s what I saw and so I am going with it.

here’s what I read:

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. (‭Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭2-3‬ NIV)

I wonder if in our prayers we ask God if He is willing and maybe need to hear the command, ” I am willing”.

you see it seems to me God is willing and waiting to hear and answer our prayers.
And then I read these other verses:

 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them,“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied.  Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:28,29)

You see, I have work/ministry dreams but I also have personal dreams. My life is given totally over to God and it has nothing to do with riches and wealth; but I think God loves me and wants me to dream. It’s a lot easier to dream for others and their freedom and emancipation, but mine….do I deserve the dreams I have or should I put them to back of my mind?

So I wonder what are your dreams? A holiday all paid for, a car that works……. I don’t know. Write it down.

God asked the question – do you believe I am able to do this and yet you strive to do His dreams and will for your life. If you don’t believe He can fulfill your dreams – you will never believe that you can be used by God. He is able but He needs you to start believing that. Renew your mind – get a new thought process.
You see I believe that God can do immeasurably more than we can dream or ask for! 

Now these are just my thoughts, and may be they are theologically confused but then I really believe God loves me enough to desire my dreams.

My dreams include a holiday to the West Coast of the USA (friends in California!) and a purple VW Beetle convertible. these have nothing to do with ministry but I am praying about them.