Forgive Me, For My Faith Is Simple
There is a group of women who speak little English and spend their days selling their bodies for money. They send home everything they earn to their families who live in poverty. They put their children through school and bread on the table and their dream, like every mothers dream, is that their children and their grand-children could have opportunities they never had. They are alone here in Europe having only each other, and the men who buy them, for company. Then there is my friend who speaks their language fluently because she comes from a country close to theirs. She visits them and prays with them, and one-by-one they have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, and they believe in their hearts that he was raised up from the dead, which means that they are saved. Glory. Hallelujah.
They still work in the windows, but we’ve seen it before, and I know we will see it again, when Jesus is Lord they eventually leave the life. Eventually. It can take a long time. Because it is complicated, and in-between, babies need to be fed, school fees need to be paid, and everyone is expecting money to be made.
My colleague refers to it as the ‘families being the pimp’, and while physical force is not a factor, a sense of responsibility is. They are martyrs for the sake of their children’s future.
Complications though do not stop my friend from sharing with this group of women the Good News of Jesus Christ. She shares meals with them and invites them to a weekly bible-study where these ladies who are so hungry for the word of God, devour scripture like an all-you-can-eat buffet. They show up weekly with their questions on what they read. They ask about the trumpets blowing and the return of our Lord because they were busy feasting in Revelation, and wow, that is a meal that will leave you more than a little stuffed.
I love to follow the many debates that rage over the internet about women and equality and the church. I find it all very interesting, and often spend my evenings deep in discussion with friends about ‘what the bible says’. I am not much of a theologian, lacking the answers to some of those deep questions that get thrown our way, but nothing challenged my theology more than the girl who told me that she prayed everyday to be rescued from the garage where she had been held and forced into prostitution. I asked her if she was angry with God for what happened to her. She said, “No, it was people who did this to me. God rescued me.” I was amazed that her faith could go so deep and seem so simple. All of our theological debates cannot hold up to the simple faith of a woman who saw that what man does is evil, but what God does is good.
I am not that fearless of an evangelist not like another woman I know, who one day by the power of the Holy Spirit packed up her things and turned her back on prostitution, returning to the area only to fearlessly tell her friends that freedom is awaiting them.
Freedom is standing with open arms and bleeding palms.
God, who made himself man in order to show us who He really is.
God who sent His son Jesus to die, to cover the stain of all our wretchedness.
God, who out of His great love for us, died a terrible death, only to rise up from the grave and present himself, first of all to a woman. A woman like her, a woman like me. An unfaithful and unclean woman. A woman with whom He entrusted the words of truth. The first to preach the gospel. The first to fearlessly proclaim:
“HE IS RISEN.”
I know there are many conversations that arise out of a religion where prostitutes becoming gospel preachers and evangelists, where women we would overlook in society spend their afternoon asking the difficult questions, where one girl’s simple faith declares that God is good, where only God can judge the heart, and where it is works and fruit and love and speaking truth that matter and yet don’t.
Weak made strong.
Forgive me, for my faith is simple. There are many questions that I don’t have answers to. There are many things I am uncertain about. We do need to discuss women and equality and the church. But more important we need to declare that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and remind one-another of his fondness for using ‘weak and foolish things’ and sinful men and women, so that no one can boast.
So come sit around the table and feast with us on the words of the living God. Eat the bread, drink the cup, remember all that Jesus said and did. Unholy people made holy by the blood of the lamb. You may be surprised by who has made it to the table and what their role is.
May our voices, the voices of the weak and foolish, the voices of the simple faith and sinful stories, the harlots, the adulteresses, the gossips… the voices of the broken and contrite, old made new, the forgiven and redeemed… may our voices join together and shout in glorious celebration that freedom has come!
Weak made strong.
This is my simple faith summed up in the words of a woman long ago. “I have seen the Lord.”
“HE IS RISEN”.