May 4, 2021 | Jaci Miller
In the film Pretty Woman, filmmakers glamorized Julia Roberts—heavy makeup, sexy clothes, a certain attitude. She looks like a hooker. But on the streets of Chicago, the prostitutes I saw at two in the morning only looked tired. Tired eyes, tired feet (that still carried them surprisingly quickly), tired souls.
As part of the Rose of Sharon ministry, we handed them a simple gift of beauty—a single rose. We also offered an info card for getting help and asked to pray for them.
Their pimps, the drug dealers, the homeless, the hungry who picked up groceries at the Manna for Life food outreach. All of them looked like ordinary people to my untrained eye.
Our Vineyard School of Ministry team visited the Chicago Dream Center in April to serve alongside their staff and minister to these people. What God most impressed upon me was their humanity—ordinary people with problems who needed Jesus.
Sounds a lot like me. Maybe you too?
They each possessed a story, one that God knew and cared about. Many of them did not share those stories, only their names. Margarita, Rob, Michael, Angel, Mari, Diego.
We prayed for them, sometimes wept over them. Tried to encourage where we could. And we heard the testimonies of the Dream Center’s staff and volunteers. Testimonies that bubbled from grateful lips, anxious to b e shared. No shame, only praise to their Savior.
Their words rang in our hearts—how the redemptive love of God overcame drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, homosexuality, crime, and drenched them in healing, hope, and vision. The passion of Carmen and Antonio, Crystal and Michelle.
Their stories echoed the command of Psalm 107:2 (NIV), “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those He redeemed from the hand of the foe.” How well they told them.
Our mission team’s verse, Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT), says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Behind each chain, each cord, each yoke that we encountered was a story. Part of our team’s story meant stepping out of our homes and comfort zones to help loose, set free, break, share, provide. To not turn away. We looked into the face of a porn shop and interceded. We stared down a demon-possessed man and helped offer deliverance. We prayed over shady motels and stinking tent camps. We raked and mulched and cleaned and hauled.
We did not turn away.
The team sang a song called “You Hold It All Together” during worship times and on the van ride home that reflected this. The bridge says, “God of my present, God of my future, you write my story, you hold it all together.”
God wants to write a new chapter in each of us, whether we are Julia Roberts, a prostitute, or Joe Average. For our good. For His glory. Amen.
We all have a story. Will you share yours? Will you step into another’s?
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