Friday, April 06, 2007

CLOSE TO HOME

CLOSE TO HOME by Keith Giles

I've recently become aware of a growing number of under-age prostitutes here on the streets of central Orange County. What alarmed me most was that I could find no Christian ministry that was currently addressing this need. No Church, no para-church organization, not even a secular non-profit, was trying to help these girls get off the streets.

I called one prominent Christian ministry and they told me they could only help a girl if she had a valid I.D., a social security card and was over 18 years of age. What if I find a girl on the streets who is sixteen and wants to get off the streets? Do I send her away? What if she is from China or Mexico or Thailand and she’s been brought here against her will? What then? There was no answer.

Another friend who works closely with the homeless here in Orange County told me that if I wanted to raise funds to care for these girls I couldn’t call them prostitutes. "Emphasize their homelessness, or call them single moms, or categorize your ministry as being to under-age addicts, but you'll find that Churches here will not give money to help prostitutes". That burned me.

At first I was greatly disturbed, even angry, that not a single Christian church or ministry would take the time to reach out to these girls and help them, or at least extend the compassion and love of Jesus to them. Isn't this exactly where Jesus, our Lord, would be if He were walking the streets of Orange County today? Then I realized that I did know about this problem and I was also unwilling to drop everything and make this my ministry. I am still left wondering what to do about this. Is it my personal calling to act on behalf of these girls? Am I only to raise awareness and challenge others here in Orange County to get involved? I still don't know.

I've often said that I am an activist. (Most recently in this week's [Subversive Underground] article "Immune" for instance).

For me, it's impossible to call yourself a follower of Jesus and become passive about injustice.

But I am only one person. I have a family I can barely provide for each month. I am pastoring a small house church and trying to love and serve the families on our street as an incarnational missionary. I have been serving a local motel where families live in poverty for over four years now. There are several individuals and families that I am committed to serving and helping and loving into the Kingdom of God already. How could I possibly add a ministry to prostitutes to my schedule? This is not a part-time, weekend ministry. This would consume my life and monopolize every hour of the day.

What I do know is that a significant part of my personal calling is to write about what I see and experience and learn. There's no doubt in my mind about that. At the same time, I constantly feel a tension between being a writer who spurs others on to action and being a practitioner of compassion and justice myself. I never want to be someone who writes about issues but never gets involved.

Maybe that's why this issue concerns me so much. I feel a strong compulsion to speak out and raise awareness on the issue of teenage prostitution on Harbor blvd, but I know that I personally can't do very much to go out and minister to them myself on a daily basis.

I took a small team out to the streets of Santa Ana twice last year to try to get to know these girls and share the love of Jesus with them. It was a drop in the bucket and required a large level of committment from all of us.

For now I continue to pray and ask the Lord to show me what He is calling me to do about this.

How do I reconcile my calling to love others with my calling to pastor this house church and be a good father to my children?

This is my challenge. I cannot let this go.

More later...
kg

3 comments:

Parke said...

It's a very good question and one that many more leaders could stand to ask. I may be entering into some new areas of life soon that will challenge me in similar ways so do keep writing about your journey. It will benefit me.

Anonymous said...

Keith!!! Hey!!!

I've been trying to get in contact with you to see how things have been. As I seem to not have your email anymore, can you shoot me an email or give me a ring? - Andy Yoon

Erica said...

Hey Keith-

I am going to be moving to the OC probly in late august. I am really intrigued by your home church and was interested in getting more info from you. But I am having a hard time locating an email address for you. Can you send me a message on my myspace with your email address so i can be in contact with you? my myspace is www.myspace.com/nickel3726

thank you! And your blog is such a blessing to me!