Missions Update from MYM
The Prostitute (or) His Majesty’s Daughters
Today marks one week since my return from Ethiopia. It took me a minute after returning home to process what’s been going on in my soul. In fact, it wasn’t until this weekend that I even began to wake from the malaise of jet lag, caffeine addiction, sleepless nights, and pesky whispers from the that Still Small Voice.
I was attempting sleep in Elliot’s bed. He was dreaming beside me with his sweaty arm across my neck. He’s like a little heater. I was looking at the paper lanterns above his window, trying to will myself to sleep. Thoughts swirling again; orphans, Amele, Trent & Carmen, poverty, Amy, goats, smog headache, that smell…
My mind always came back to one moment. In all 10 days that I spent in Ethiopia, 8k miles away from my family, one moment. The moment when 3 women rescued the prostitute from rape.
I realized how greatly this night has effected me when I attempted to recount the tale to Debbie, and couldn’t stop shaking. I wasn’t cold. My Soul was shaking. The Spirit was shouting at me or whispering at me…whichever one. My soul woke up.
Anyway, Carmen had been threatening me with this particular event for the whole trip. She’s pushy. She was going to take Steven and I out with herself, Amele, & Amy at 4:30am to meet the new crew of street boys that would be coming to the Day Center. They had been meeting with these boys for somewhere between 3-4 months on the streets in the morning or in the middle of the night. Right where they sleep. Talking to them. Making them laugh. Learning their names.
My brief note to New Believers (or Veteran Believers for that matter): This world is going to try to teach you that the important people of the world drive big cars, have big homes, have big egos, and have a huge following on social media. It’s a complete lie. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Jesus said: “God lays low the proud, and favors the humble.” Carmen shook the celebrity culture of the United States right off me, and reminded me how the King of Heaven laid down his life for such as these:
The King of Kings would be proud to be counted among them.
I knew this adventure with Carmen was going to mess me up. Not because I hadn’t seen poverty before. But because I’m a father now, and I knew I was going to see Elliot and Leona in the streets of Addis this particular morning, and I didn’t know if I could take it.
So we pulled up onto the curb underneath a bridge across from a bus pick up. There they were. At the base of the truss of the bridge rested a vulnerable tangle of dirty fabric, mangy dogs, gravel, and tender limbs reaching out for one another. Amy got out of the car first. She got close and called out their names. Little faces rose up out of the mass, and that’s when I saw Elliot’s face. I blinked back tears, and got out of the car with Carmen.
The boys sat up one by one to greet the ladies. They rubbed their sleepy eyes and chatted in Amharic through growing smiles. Amy and Amele translated for Carmen when she couldn’t find the words. The boys greeted the ladies like old friends.
Amy greeting the boys at our first stop.
Despite the early hours, we began to draw a crowd. I imagine it was strange to the onlookers at the bus stop to see 3 Americans and 2 Ethiopians seeking company with street boys at 4:30 in the morning.
Eventually we began to get the feeling that we were drawing too much attention to the boys. Carmen instructed the ladies to tell the boys that we would be back and we would be taking them to breakfast. We had one more stop to make to find another group of boys before the restaurant opened at 7:00am.
The 5 of us jumped back in the car and circled the bridge once to make sure the crowd was dissipating, leaving the boys undisturbed.
We drove a little ways through the sleeping city, toward the 2nd group of boys. That’s when it happened. At the roundabout. As we turned left, our headlights ran across a man and woman kneeling in the shadows next to some steps.
The light only passed over them briefly. The man had his arms around her waist, and she had her hands on his arms. She was on her knees and he was kneeling down beside her. It could have been one of two things; she had been drinking and he was helping her get to her feet…or something much less noble.
Carmen brought the car to a stop, and had this look on her face. A ‘blood in the water’ kind of look. “Wait a minute…” she says. She drops the car in reverse and readjusts the car using the headlights to purge that dank ally of all it’s shadows. Both individuals held their hands over their eyes and looked to the car. It was clear to see then that the mans intentions were vile.
“Was he trying to rape her?!” Carmen shouted as Amy lept from the car. Amy got down beside the girl and put her hand on her shoulder. It took a second for my brain to register exactly what was happening, but I heard Amele begin to translate from the back seat, “She’s saying help me. Please help me.” Carmen’s battle cry grew louder (and a bit saucier actually). Carmen and Amele lept from the car too, and all three women positioned themselves like a wall of rabid honey badgers between the girl and the man. That’s the best and most accurate description I’ve got. Carmen is like 5’2 with heels on, and the look of fire in her eyes could falter a defensive end. Amy told the girl to get her shoes and run in Amharic.
My mind was catching up to the Reality unfolding around me. I opened the passenger door and muttered my prayer under my breath; “Beloved, protect us.”
As my two feet hit the concrete, I could see the man hold up conciliatory gestures, pleading with the women to calm down. “I paid her. I paid her,” he said. “This is a misunderstanding.” The girls presence provided momentary relief from the man’s advance. She quickly pulled down her jean skirt , picked up her sandals from the ground, and ran down the street, looking back only once.
The man backed away from the girls who never broke eye contact with him, and I felt my soul whisper; “Behold, the King’s Daughters.”
Step by step, the man eased himself away from them, eyeing over his shoulders as he angled for more and more distance.
Carmen’s voice was roaring with indignation. With every step she took forward, the man stepped backward. If this were a David and Goliath scenario, Goliath would have never gotten out on the field. “DON’T YOU HAVE A MOTHER?! DON’T YOU HAVE A SISTER?! HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENED TO THEM?!?!!!”, she demanded.
The man held up hands of surrender and once space between himself and the girls were sufficient, did an about face with his tail less than neatly tucked between his legs.
The girls lingered in the street long enough to make sure the man was well on his way and the girl was a far cry in the opposite direction. Slowly, we all gathered back in the car. Carmen’s eyes never left the man as he diminished into the dark city. After the last car door closed, I looked to her, “I’ve missed you, Carmen.” It broke the tension and we all laughed. She put the car in gear, and we finished the drive to the still-sleeping boys a few streets away.
It wasn’t until much later in the day that my mind started to interpret the events of the morning. I was in the car with Trent on our way out of the city to see the sights when my emotions began to find their way to the surface.
This event has convicted me to look inwards. Thoughts of my safety were the first thoughts I had when I saw the girl in the clutches of that man. That young lady was His Majesty’s daughter, too, whether she knew it or not. Amy saw that. Amele saw that. Carmen did too. It reminded me what it looks like when a Believer’s soul hangs on every Word He says, and I’m gripped again with what a life of faith looks like. Seas part, shadows flee, and mountains side step at the advance of His Majesty and His radiant Bride. All else is smoke and mirror to the unseen reality, pinning it all together. Lord, give me eyes to see, too.
Even in telling you this story, my hands shake. I’m back in the States and The Rogers are again looking for a church to call home. We work. We eat. We tuck the kids in. We kiss each other goodnight, and we do it all over again. We worship in the car and we talk to the kids about Him. Show them who He is through our lives if we’re lucky.
Since getting home, my patience for American Celebrity Christianity diminishes further, leaving an aching to step out of the boat and meet my Beloved upon the water. I was reawakened to this world’s need for His Majesty’s people, and I was reminded of what they look like. His Bride is a marvel to behold.
I beg the Lord for the opportunity to teach my children who He is, how to see Him, and how to labor on His behalf for His will to be done here as it is in Heaven.
I’m grateful for my time in Addis and for my Family there. More than that, I’m grateful for fresh wind and fresh fire for my family, and for each day that the Lord allows us to reshape for Him, and all the adventure that that entails.
Taking the boys to breakfast.