Sallie came across as we walked in her direction. Of all the ladies we spoke to this evening she was one of the best dressed, she wore good quality make up and her hair was nicely done with highlights. The conversation was in Africaans, so I didn’t get much of it, Caroline stopped to quickly fill me in: ‘ Sallie had been working at the bakers but they soon found out that she previously worked the streets and so had told her they had no more work for her.’ This had happened a few times over the last few months, her ‘boyfriend’ would always turn up at the new work place and tell stories about what ‘she was really like’ and then the work would stop; she had no alternative but to return to the streets, believing what she was being told – that she was worthy of nothing more.
I picked up the gist as Caroline proceeded to tell the story of Rahab, a prostitute who had helped God’s servants and so been blessed – God honoured her and she became the ancestor of the great King David … and of Jesus, God’s own son. The message was clear as tears filled Sallie’s eyes – there is a God who loves and honours people as broken and cast off as she. The conversation continued and we ended with a prayer, we found a clean tissue and gave some homemade sandwiches; Sallie went her way and we moved on.
Sallie was one of about 10 ladies who between us we stopped and spent time with this evening. A little while ago, one afternoon, Sallie had got herself together and with her kids had headed off to the church. ‘Mum, where are we going?’ ‘We’re going to church, ‘cos I’m going to give my life to Jesus again.’ When they got to the church the person she was expecting to meet wasn’t there, Sallie returned home disappointed.
She is longing to return to Jesus but she’s not sure if she can count on the people at church. If she goes will she be introduced as ‘one of the ladies we minister to on a Tuesday night down town’? Will she ever find the fresh start that she so desperately wants. She approaches every glimmer of hope braced for a revisit from her past through well-meaning and malevolent means alike; expecting the bubble to burst at any moment.
The ransom that Jesus paid for Sallie’s redemption was his life, in no universe can that have been in vain. But the powers of darkness and our own well-meant ignorance can sometimes create a perfect storm through which that redemption has to push in order to meet its mark. Will the body of Christ stand up and push back the darkness so that Sallie, her kids and the hundreds in your neighbourhood like her, can find the life that Christ purchased for them?
Talitha Koum – little girl, get up. That’s the name of this group because they believe that inside every lady that they meet on the street is a little girl that Jesus is gently calling back to life again.