Weep With Me July 31 2012, 0 Comments
I wrote this a very long time ago. It was at the begining of my time in India when i was first starting to make friends with women in the red-light district. I read it now and have a deeper understanding of a Jesus who was actually already there, with my friends,….waiting for me to weep with Him. Thankful for a God who never leaves us or forsakes us.
“WEEP WITH ME”
a poem by kristin keen, written around 2004
come and see, LORD.
come and weep with me.
come and see their faces
painted with cheap make-up.
see the tenderness in their worn-out eyes.
weep with me
over torn flesh
and broken hearts.
weep with me, Jesus
over girls trapped by fear.
weep with me for the mothers
who have lost their daughters.
weep with me over your princesses
who are treated like whores.
weep with me
so that i know You are with them.
weep with me
so that i know their suffering isn’t forgotten.
weep with me
because when You weep, it gives me hope.
Your tears bring the safe places
where the suffering of the world can reside.
Your tears give me and the girls a place to put
come and see, Jesus.
come and weep with me.
Our launch party has happened. It's weird to think that a week and ½ ago, I was standing in the warehouse and it was filled with 500+ people! I have been looking back and thinking “Did that really happen?”.
But it did really happen. I know this because some friends and I have been working for an entire week adding up our sales and putting them into QuickBooks! I know it has happened because we now have this stack of Commitment cards with people who are ready to give their time and their finances to help make Rethreaded happen. I know this because, suddenly, Rethreaded has over 500 Facebook Fans. So, I have physical evidence that , Yes – this day we plan and prepped for months did in fact happen.
And then there is what happened in my heart. As most of you know, I spent 5 years in Kolkata, India working with women trapped in the sex trade. My time in India was the most amazing, richest, heart breaking, formative, difficult time of my life. My last three years on staff in Kolkata, there were three North American staff and 2-3 Indian staff members. And there were 10,000 women in the red light district we would go to every day. That is what the battle felt like most every day. Us, our little army, vs layers and layers of darkness that kept women and men trapped in the sex trade. We were always fighting. Always hoping. Always feeling like the fight would never end 6 of us, with 10,000 girls that needed a community to fight for them
That is why I think the Launch party blew me away. 500 people showed up! For the past three months, about 50 people have worked on the warehouse. Rethreaded has a board of the most amazing, wise people. We had over 30 volunteers that worked the day of the event. And it occurred to me: Jacksonville has an army. An army of over 500 people. 500 people who want to see change in our world. 500 people who believe that love wins. 500 people who will help fight against what the sex trade steals from our brothers and sisters.
It has helped restore my heart. It fills me with new hope. It fills me with new vision. It makes me believe that this crazy idea we have of love, relationship, community and business will actually work. Because we have a community of people who say, “Yes! I believe there is more for me, for our community and our world."
I am officially all in and it seems like Jacksonville is as well.
So thank you, Jacksonville, for making Rethreaded’s Launch Party surpass anything I could have dreamed of. Thank you sewing a new story in my heart.
I have been reflecting a lot lately. Feel like I am being called back to when I first began not this journey with Rethreaded, but my journey with Jesus. It’s my passion in life for people (specifically women) to know that they are God's child. Tonight as i got to share about the vision of Rethreaded and remember back to my days at saribari and even before saribari i was reminded again WHY this is my passion. IIs because that is what Jesus has spoken to me over and over again, all my life. " You are worthy. You are forgiven. You are beautiful. You are treasured. I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
I had breakfast with a dear friend this morning who is a counselor. She was sharing about her group counseling session that she led the night before. She was talking about taking our "darkest hour" and letting it be redeemed. She was reflecting about a women in the group who recalled her darkest hour when she was raped. this women had never ever in her whole life told anyone or shared what had happened to her. The women who shared cried and it was healing for her.
It made me reflect on my own darkest hour. and i remember back to the days of when i was drinking all the time. when i was so desperate for someone to love me that i would get drunk and do things i would later regret. I remember being shameful. I remember being so angry. and i also remember what it was like to hear those words from God, " I forgive you because i love you. You are my child. You are mine. You are worthy of my love. You are mine. You are mine." It was so surprising. So real. So new. I remember thinking about how unlovable i felt. and then Jesus reaching in and wrecking my heart with GRACE.
I feel like as Rethreaded is starting to grow and I am hearing more and more stories of the women, i can once again be reminded of where i have come from, I am reminded of how my darkest hour feels like it has been so dang redeemed and replaced with a passion for people to know who they are created to be. Its been replaced with a desire to introduce people to a Jesus that does not condemn but accepts and sets people free. The Jesus that i know The Jesus that has never left me or forsaken me, or made fun of me, or condemned me……The Jesus that has pursued my heart and fought for me. This is the God that i know. This is the God that i want the women of Rethreaded to experience. This is why i am so dang passionate about Rethreaded. because Love wins. I know this because Love persues me and has won my heart. Can't wait for Love to sew a new story for us all.
Just needed to share that tonight.
Seriously when I think about what is going on at Rethreaded I feel almost nauseous with excitement! I was on the plane ride back from Texas and was writing out the next three months and I couldn't stop smiling. I mean i can't believe this is all happening!!! I keep thinking how my whole life i avoided anything business. I purposely didn't take one business class in college. I mean I have been a dietitian, nanny, social worker.....all not related to business. But what i am finding and what people have been telling me is that is what will help Rethreaded succeed. That all these experience can help in the business.
And so far all these door are opening! I am not doing anything! Rethreaded is gaining momentum and I am just along for the ride. And Load Kind has donated the warehouse and we just found out all the white paint for the warehouse!!! We are entering a fashion show and Audra and her team and making these clothes that are so cool! And the board....oh my gosh the board is sooo amazing!!! They all bring such unique gifts. And then all the people that randomly hear about Rethreaded and what to be involved. I got a phone call from a person who puts on a benefit dinner every year that wanted to know if Rethreaded wanted to be the beneficiary this year! Rethreaded got to be a part of national sexual assault awareness event! Rethreaded is now connected to the women's center. I mean it all so freakin excited!!! I need to remind myself to breath when i think of it all!!
I just wanted to document this journey. I honestly feel like God is showing off. When Rethreaded first first started i felt like God told me "My promise to you is that I will never leave you or forsake. You have to trust in me, not your business". So all this stuff that is happening....well like i said before i think Jesus is laughing and having just as much fun as we are.
and i keep thinking that by the end of the year we will have women at Rethreaded. hopefully, 3 women. I keep praying for those 3 women. They are going to be Rethreaded's future, our family, heroes for future employee's......I can't wait to meet them.
Just want you all to join in. Come and have fun with us. We have lots of stuff to be involved in for the next couple months. Check out our calendar!!!
I am going to close by adding some pictures of our warehouse...before transformation. We are having a couple transformation parties over the next three months. See the calendar for details!
Overwhelmed February 09 2012, 0 Comments
So I just finished working on the talk for the Mukti Ball and as i was writing and thinking and praying i just couldn't stop crying. I feel like the last two weeks has blown me away. SO SO SO SO much good has happened. I know that all seasons will not be like this so i am embracing this and letting it seep deep down into my heart.
I had a revelation this week. I was sharing about the Mukti Ball at a women's luncheon this past Saturday. And in sharing I mean I was making an announcement about the Mukti Ball. Then a women in the audience asked me a question. Then another woman asked a question, and another and another. Soon they had drawn out of me not only the event details but my heart behind all those details as well. I can't totally explain it yet but in that moment I almost started weeping with how loved I felt. These women were not asking me questions to condemn me but because they love me. I felt so safe on that stage.
I think it was the first time I truly felt I am not alone in this. These women knew what questions to ask because they are just as passionate about seeing women free. They are all in. They want to give their hearts and time. They are for Rethreaded. They are for me. They are for the women that will be a part of Rethreaded. When women come into Rethreaded there are already women that are committed to them.
I have had the most amazing time planning the Mukti Ball...mostly because I wasn’t in charge!!!! My dear friends took ownership and have planned the most amazing ball. They were all in. They know what Rethreaded wants to do so they have given their time, money and gifts to make it happen.
Over the past two weeks I have gotten to hear how the women coming out of prison have affected my friends and how my friends have affected these women that are new to sobriety. It is so so so so so damn beautiful.
Rethreaded is reaching this tipping point. It’s growing. God is moving. He is touching people's hearts and they want to be involved. Women are writing us letters back. People that are friends of friends are getting connected.
What is happening is what I was dreaming about.....I know its sounds cheesy but I want an army raised up that will fight for the people affected by the sex trade.
Its happening and the beautiful thing is it doesn’t really have anything to do with me. It seems the things i push the hardest on have little fruit, but the areas that i don't do anything seem to just happen.
The road so far is marked with so much grace. Grace because I failed someone today. Grace because I often want to do it all and be all to everyone, Grace because I hold community with such high regard that when I hurt someone I want it to hide and be ashamed. However, as a wise friend said to me today, "When you fail it makes room for grace."
I am enjoying this road so far. It’s the start of so much.
I wanted to share a reflection that my friend Heather wrote years ago about working with the women in Bolivia. We sell bags that are made by those women coming out of the trade. They are the wool Suti Sana bags. If you have a bag this is the red-light area that Heather writes about. Its amazing.
Christmas sometimes loses its focus for me but I found that this article brought me home...............
On Christmas: Darkest Night of the Year
22 December 2011
A Reflection on caroling in Bolivia’s most notorious red-light district, by former WMF staff member Heather Coaster Goertzen
Darkest Night of the Year. It’s the title of Over the Rhine’s Christmas album, but the words themselves seem to be the mantra to which I walk as I pass in and out of brothel doors. Every time I enter these places, I have let my eyes adjust to the dim red glow of the interior; I have tried to block out the mixed smell of alcohol, sex and urine; I have swallowed the never-dulling shock and disgust of passing an exiting client as I make my way toward one of my friends. Tonight somehow feels different, darker in a way that didn’t seem possible before.
I spent the earlier part of the day baking cookies, searching El Alto’s market for wrapping paper and reading e-mails of Christmas greetings from home that brought tears for the reminders of family and friends I was missing. Now I clutch my paper scribbled with newly-learned Spanish Christmas carols and follow this ridiculous-looking group of WMF Bolivia staff and volunteers sporting Santa hats, a guitar and recorder for accompaniment, a thermos full of hot chocolate, and a supply of plastic Dixie cups. We have been told the girls working tonight will be few but we find more than we expect. I am not the only one away from family tonight. I make eye contact with one of the men and wonder who might be missing him this Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). The music is loud, the request for temporary reprieve is granted, and we find ourselves in a suddenly silent brothel, under the gazes of clients and girls.
To the tune of “Silent Night” we sing, Noche de amor, noche de paz. “Night of love, night of peace.” It feels almost mocking. How can I sing of love and peace in this place where the most beautiful expressions of love are defiled, where peace is shattered repeatedly? I make my way to one of the girls in a doorway. I don’t know her well, can’t remember her name, but recognize her from lunches at the center. I receive a warm look of recognition from her as well, greet her with a customary kiss, embrace and find her falling into me, the jerk of a sob on my shoulder. She holds me for a moment then pulls away, wipes her tears, and I take her hand and lead her to where the rest of the group has gathered, pulling the song sheet from my pocket. I stand there with my hand over her shoulder, fingers intertwined in hers, and hear her voice join our little indiscriminate choir. O santa noche. How can this night be holy?
But these are the songs we sing, about silent, holy nights of love and peace. A night both dark and sacred. Quiet enough to crave the cry of a baby King, black enough to welcome the light of the star of Bethlehem. The Darkest Night of the Year. And into this night we are asked to bring Truth. Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your Savior comes!” (Isaiah 62:11). We are asked to carry light, to hold the hand of one of His beloved, to tell her she is remembered.
Back at the center, as the guitar is being packed up and hats are coming off, our friend and board director, Humberto, will describe this night as the most atrevido of his life. Atrevido. This one word holds implications of boldness, insolence, daring. And perhaps it is. Perhaps this is indeed the scandal of the Gospel. And perhaps tonight I understand it in a way that I never have before.
With tears in my own eyes, I had asked her to come with us. Begged her to leave. She stayed. We had continued on, singing those same carols a dozen times more, receiving skeptical looks from bouncers and applause from drunken men. The girls were quieter recipients, but in the weeks that followed we would hear gracias a hundred times or more. Thank you. Thank you for remembering us.
And He does. He remembers her. He comes for her, to her, into the darkest of nights, into her darkest of rooms. He stands with her there and holds her hand.
See, your Savior comes.
I was at a Rethreaded home party last weekend. It was a very small and intimate party. Only 5 of us were in the room. And these ladies in the room are seriously amazing. One of my friends started to share about how God was meeting her in her deepest desire of having children. Many tears were shed but it ended hopeful with a promise spoken over her.
I have been waiting on God as well. I can understand the deep desire and the fear and the doubt of waiting on God to fulfill the longings of my heart. I have been waiting for a husband and kids for a long time now. I have waited on Him to move into the suffering of my friends that i would go visit in red-light areas of Kolkata. I am now waiting to see him move into the lives of the women in Jacksonville. Its that deep, despair of waiting. We all have it.
So back to this home party. My friend is sharing her heart and I just take a deep breath and soak in the moment. I look around the room. It's filled with the most beautiful handmade products from around the world. It's filled with blankets and bags with a woman's name on it. It's filled with the work of women who are now surrounded by a community who loves them. It's filled with the hope of women who now know there is a God who fights for them and loves them.
And i think to myself, "How can I ever doubt that God is good? How can I doubt that He is hearing our cries in our waiting?" I look around the room and its literally filled with redemption. It's filled with products that represents new lives and new beginnings and new hope. It's like proof that God hears our prayer. That Jesus does enter in to our suffering so he can make all things new.
And even though its kinda chaotic in my living room right now...it is overflowing with boxes of product. I can't help but be a little giddy. I can't help to think of what we are going to get to see happen in Jacksonville, FL. It's going to be holy. It's going to be a miracle. It's going to rip our faces off.
Director of Rethreaded, Kristin Keen