This Christmas season I was remembering and celebrating the joy of Christmas with a revolutionized hope and sense of awe. Before my 3 months working with Freedom Street I did not fully understand how Jesus is the only one, the only chance people have of getting off of the streets. I know I don’t still understand it fully but I now see Jesus as our only hope.
A couple months ago I viewed education as the main factor that will help free people from trafficking. That if people were educated then they would have opportunities for other forms of employment and be able to be self-sustaining. And I do totally believe that education is very helpful for helping people stay off of the streets, but not at all the same way Jesus can.
I realized this one night when we were on the streets and I was talking to a transvestite for the first time. After he told us how much he loved his life, his job, and getting all dressed up we got talking about some deeper things. It started with what would be your dream job, he said he would love to work in a nursery, in a hospital or at a seniors home; a compassionate heart. We then asked what is his dream, and he said to be loved unconditionally. HELLO. Something everybody desires but his understanding of this and vulnerability to share it is huge.
When we were talking about his dream jobs he said that he has tried to leave the streets but the streets are like a magnet and every time he tries to leave there is a force dragging him back. He was educated too and would be able to get another job off of the streets. So why did he keep coming back? Satan has snuck into those cracks and crevices of abuse and violation and taken hold of them; continuing to break them as he breaks their self-worth and self-esteem until they believe they are worth nothing more than their abuse.
It will take a lot more than a good education to heal their hearts so they believe they can get off of the street. The only opportunity for that kind of healing and restoration is through Jesus.
So how did that affect this Christmas season? It started a couple weeks before when we were going to the streets and we would ask about Christmas, I thought it was kind of mean because a lot of them didn’t have plans and I knew that this time of the year would be hard for them, as it is for a lot of people that don’t have family. But what we were also doing when I guess exposing their loneliness was pairing it with the love of the Gospel.
We had a Christmas party and invited some of the people we work with, it was a lot of fun. We decorated cookies, played pass the parcel, ate pizza and watched part of the Chronicles of Narnia. Our chat after the movie is where I think God tore down walls, because of the fact that we could all relate to Edmund as he sold Aslan out for some sweeties, and have brokenness and struggles, especially during the Christmas season as I mentioned. But then the hope of Jesus was shared, through discussing the movies, our lives and the Gospel; Jesus met them there after walls were torn down, masks were removed and brokenness as exposed. I am not sure if anyone decided to become a Christian or completely chance the trajectory of their lives but I do know that seeds were planted and now we just wait for the harvest.
Thank you baby Jesus for the hope that you bring us.
-Allana (Volunteer for 3 months with Freedom Street)