Sasha can be a royal pain in the butt. Trying to follow a conversation with her is like trying to catch a fly; you just about get a word in, and she’s onto the next thought. I didn’t go looking for her but she found me, or rather, God brought us together.
In one of the monthly outreaches into the strip clubs where our team goes to love on and support the young women who work there, I met Sasha, although Sasha is not her real name.
“What are you ladies doing here?” she asked as she takes the rose I offer her. “You from a church? I can’t believe anyone from a church would want to come in and hang out with a bunch of sinners like us.”
I laughed at first. Then I told her about the woman who shows up at a party thrown by a bunch of pharisees where Jesus is a guest. I told her how the woman was just like her, someone who made her living selling her body. The woman, I continued, went right up to Jesus and washed His feet with her tears and then used her hair to anoint them with her very best perfume. (Luke 7: 36-50)
“You’re exactly the kind of person who Jesus would like to hang out with,” I told Sasha. “He’d rather spend an hour with you than five minutes with an academic full of himself.”
Sasha was taken in by the story and wanted to know more. She gave me her phone number and e-mail address so I could send her the scripture.
My fellow ministry mama-bear and I continued our evening of handing out the roses and talking to the girls and then the night was over.
The next day, with a reminder of who I was and how we had met, I sent Sasha the scripture, but didn’t think much more of it. A day later my phone rings and I saw her name come up on my screen. Yay! She wants to talk more about the scripture! Or so I thought. Instead I heard a frantic voice saying that she’s in trouble; she needs my help. She’s left an abusive boyfriend and needs a place to live. The mother in me responds without asking some much needed information, and I get her address and hop in my car to meet her.
On my way to the seedy motel where she’s staying, the dialogue in my head begins.
What the heck are you thinking?!?!? You could be heading into an ambush! It wasn’t a smart move to be going into this situation by myself. I didn’t know if she had a pimp who could be lurking around thinking I was taking away his money-maker. I fire off a few quick text messages to my team members to begin praying for me and I continue to do the same.
I pick Sasha up outside the motel and she quickly gets into my car. I can barely follow the conversation (which will continue throughout our friendship, I am to discover)
“Wait, Sasha,” I interrupt. “Before we go any further, do you have a pimp?”
“Would I be with you now if I did? Would I have my own money?” waving a wad of crumpled bills in my face.
“Ok. Fair enough.”
I drive to a restaurant where we can sit and talk in a public place.
“This may seem blunt, but I have to know who I’m dealing with. Are you on any drugs?”
Without hesitation, she responds, ” I smoke medicinal marijuana and I’m on anti-depressants for depression and PTSD. I tried to kill myself a few years ago and I have some brain injury, so the meds help.”
Wow. How’s that for honesty.
I’m relieved for her candor and our conversation continues over rotisserie chicken. I discover that for all of her troubles and mental health issues, she’s actually pretty clever. She wants to transfer her college records from one school to another closer to where she’s now living to study to become a medical assistant. She’d been enrolled in the Registered Nursing Assistant program but had to drop out for reasons I could not completely follow. She assures me that her boyfriend will not try to find her and that he is not her pimp. She wants me to find her a place to live to get her out of the motel, but her biggest concern at the moment is that her cats are with her boyfriend’s sister. Huh?
I am not a cat lover. But I am a lover of the lost and broken, so I get on my phone and start looking up potential places where she can have her cats boarded until she can find a cat friendly home. We come up empty but she is hopeful that I will be able to help her. She’s calmer now and is ready to go back to the motel room, still believing that I will be able to find her a place to live. (Oh, and by the way, she read the scripture about the prostitute and thought it was awesome.)
As I’m driving home, I’m kicking myself. God, I have no idea what I’m doing! I don’t know how to help her; I’m not a crisis worker, a real estate agent, and I don’t like cats! I can’t do this!
In case the reader hasn’t already discovered through his or her own experiences, God has a sense of humour.
Sasha has become a part of my life over the past couple of months and while I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I know that God does. He’s not letting me rely on anyone else but Him. Believe me, I’ve tried. In my attempts to gain some education and advice though, I’ve had the blessing of speaking to one of my mentors who shoots straight from the hip.
“You know the craziest thing about being God’s hands and feet, Monica?” John (my mentor) asks. “It means getting your hands dirty. It’s rarely convenient, and there are times when you just don’t want to do it.”
“But, it is so awesome when you see that young woman blossom and become the person God created her to be. It’s brilliant.”
The time I have spent thus far with Sasha has been brilliant. Passed out in my car on a road trip (to visit her cats, no less) has afforded me the opportunity to pray over her as she softly snored away in oblivion. She received Jesus in that same dingy motel room amidst beer bottles, half-smoked joints and cigarette butts. We held hands and prayed the sinner’s prayer and I just know that there was a party going on in heaven over one more stripper joining the family of God.
Sasha still has a long way to go, but so do I. In this process I’m learning what James 2:15 truly means.
If I see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and I say, “Bless you! Stay warm and eat well,” but I don’t do anything tangible to help, my words are worthless.
I am falling in love with this sweet child. We’ve shared meals together, gone shopping in Walmart ( you just gotta know only God could give me the grace for that!), and she’s allowed me to pray with her. When she says, “Thank you for being my friend; you’ve made me believe in something bigger,” I see God’s fingerprint all over this unlikely friendship.
Jesus does indeed love strippers and so do I.
Yes and amen.