One afternoon I walked into a community center in a poorer part of town. I was greeted warmly by the ladies who work there, ministering to the women who live in that area. I was offered a cup of cold water and a place in front of the air conditioner in order to cool off from my walk in the 100 degree heat.
As women came in, I was introduced to each of them. I asked their names and they asked mine. We smiled at each other. I observed the interactions going on around me and tried to listen to their conversations. The women who work at the center deeply love the ladies from the community and have come to know them well, sharing in their lives and offering a place of respite.
We sat down at tables and I was introduced to the group as a whole and they each told me their names again (though I know I will not remember all of them!). We began to make key chains to be sold so the ladies can earn a little income.
I sat between one of the ladies who works at the center and one of the ladies from the community. Between the two of them, they taught me how to put the key chain together. I sat and listened as they conversed about the price of items at one market compared to another and about where to go on vacation. My contribution to the conversation lessened as they switched from one dialect to another and I was only able to make out bits and pieces of the topics being discussed.
Eventually, I was able to ask the lady beside me if she knew what the colors in the key chain meant. She knew that the green bead meant the Father, but could not remember the rest. So I carefully explained that while the green bead meant the Father, the black bead meant sin, which separated us from Him.
I pointed to the red bead and shared that He still loved us, so he gave His Son who died for us. The red bead meant blood, because sin must have blood for redemption. The white bead meant that if we trust in the Father, He will clean our hearts to be white again.
And lastly, the yellow bead stands for heaven and if we trust in Him we can go to heaven when we die. As I told her the meaning, she then turned to the lady next to her and repeated what each bead meant.
Some of the ladies had a hard time putting the key chains together as their eyesight and hand-eye coordination are not what they used to be. These ladies ranged in age from 45 to probably 65, most of them needing reading glasses to see the small holes in the beads. They laughed with each other and seemed to have a good time.
After craft time, one of the ladies who works at the center told the story of Jesus and the demon possessed man. She explained that the demon’s name was legion because there were actually many demons. She shared how Jesus told the demons to leave and they went into a herd of pigs and then ran into the sea.
She asked the ladies how people in this culture deal with evil spirits and they told about the rituals that had to be done. She then explained that Jesus did not need rituals, for he had power over the demons and could simply tell them to leave. She then asked if they had any requests to lift up to the Father. They sang a song and spoke to the Father before the ladies left.
I was struck by a different perspective as I sat with these women. You see, they were all dressed like any other woman their age and had trouble seeing, just like the majority of people over age 40. They compared the price of food at the market, complained when things were too expensive, and delighted when they were told what a good job they were doing.
They seemed like a normal group of women getting together to chat and do crafts. By looking at them, there was no indication of their profession. You see, these women all work in the red light district. It is a distinction that seemingly would set them apart from the rest of society.
But in reality, they are just like you and me.
They…and us…are all sinners in need of a Savior.