March 02, 2015
Sadie and I pull into a parking space near the massage parlor but not directly in front of it. A small sign proclaiming “Foot massages" hangs in the window. Next to the sign is a picture of a foot with all its parts labeled in Chinese.
We prayed just before we left her house, ten minutes ago. We pray again now. “Father, go ahead of us. You know all about the women working in this place. You love them. Please let Your love shine through us." We take a gift bag from the backseat and go into the parlor. A woman stands behind the counter. “Massage?" she asks.
We tell her, no, we're from a church nearby and we're here with a gift for her. We just want to say hello.
The gift rattles her, and she looks around for something to offer us. “Water bottles?" She holds out one to each of us.
Sadie and I were told during our training to expect this, and we accept them, tell her thank you, and then leave.
When we are back in the car, we pray once more, thanking the Lord we were able to talk to a woman, to place the gift directly in her hands. We ask that the Bible verse—printed in Chinese—along with the candies and small treats inside the bag would be a testimony to His goodness, and we pray that the woman will be intrigued by the New Name business card and seek out more information.
New Name is a local ministry that partners with area churches to reach out and walk alongside women in sex trafficking and adult entertainment industries. It does this in two ways: 1) Outreach-pairs of women visit local adult entertainment venues with a gift bag containing a card with Scripture, candies, lotions, etc.; 2) Call Centers-women volunteers at churches make calls to women advertised online for prostitution, offering prayer and resources.
Since New Name was started in 2009 by Rez member Heather Anderson, it has expanded exponentially under its current leader, Anne, who attends another local church. Men and women at Resurrection have led weekly prayer times for New Name, donated generously to gift bags, and volunteered for outreach at various times since then. Due to the increasing numbers of volunteers from multiple churches, Anne encouraged local churches to start their own New Name chapters and thereby reach more venues. Currenly 12 chapters of New Name are based in local churches, each overseeing regular outreach, prayer, and gift bags for different venues.
Resurrection has not had its own New Name chapter—until now.
Resurrection attender Sadie Singer contacted Anne a couple months ago about joining New Name as a volunteer. A couple weeks later, I did the same. Sadie and I had never met, but Anne knew we both go to Rez, and she connected us. We both received New Name training and Anne helped us create an outreach route. She suspects all the businesses on our route are involved in sex and/or labor exploitation. We have visited each spa on our route twice now. On our second visit, we learned the names of two of the women, and one of them gave each of us a hug. All of them remembered us from our first visit. We will continue to visit these women every two weeks in the hope that we will be a visible sign of God's love for them. We have also planned our first Call Center night to phone women advertised for prostitution.
We want our New Name chapter to grow. If you are a Resurrection woman and this issue tugs at your heart, please contact Jen Underwood to find out ways you can be involved.
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January 26, 2015
I have sometimes imagined myself living during a great human rights struggle, and wondered what I would do. If I were an American in 1850, would I perceive slavery for the evil it was and fight the norms and institutions of my day to end it? If I were a German in 1943, would I risk my reputation and livelihood to challenge the system that sent my neighbors to die in extermination camps?
A few weeks ago, I decided to attend a meeting at Rez on pro-life issues and got a wake-up call: I am living during a great human rights struggle right now.
Honestly, I'd fallen asleep to the abortion crisis. The issue seemed too big and too complicated. I didn't know enough to do anything. It was offensive to oppose abortion rights. It was just one injustice among many.
But as I listened to law professor and Rez member Morse Tan teach at the meeting, I was deeply struck by three realities:
First, if I really believe that a baby before birth is the same person after birth, then the true situation is that thousands of people in the United States are killed through abortion each day.
Second, that the right to an abortion is actually a unique injustice. The norms and institutions of our society thankfully are united against many injustices such as human trafficking; sadly, they are divided on the issue of abortion rights.
Third, because our society doesn't recognize the truth about this injustice—at the cost of many lives—the need is great to speak out to challenge the status quo and to champion the lives of the not-yet-born.
Last Sunday, January 18, about 80 of us from Rez were privileged to raise our voices with over 4,000 others to do a small part in this effort at the 2015 March for Life Chicago. Top 40 tunes blared, yellow "LIFE" balloons were everywhere and counter-demonstrators lined the sidewalk across from Federal Plaza where we gathered. We walked the city streets, held signs, prayed and sang, but just as important as the "what" of the march is the "why." We gathered to tell the truth about abortion, to advocate for, love and celebrate the lives of babies not-yet-born. And we gathered to love and pray for the mothers and fathers whose lives are marked by abortion and, ultimately, to seek God's transforming work in their lives, in our government and in our communities to heal the darkness and destruction that abortion has caused.