Saturday, July 27, 2013

Seek Justice. Love Mercy.

"Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out
 in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher)." 
John 20:15

Each week of my stay in beautiful San Francisco the Lord has given me a different phrase or theme for the week. At first, I thought it was such a coincidence that every time I was still and not thinking about anything the same phrase would come to mind. Finally I realized this was no coincidence, but God speaking to me. So this past week the phrase "Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God" would play in my mind when I was riding the MUNI or walking down Ellis street or sitting around waiting for Brandon to get done playing so we can talk. (Side note: I miss him just a little... 
or a lot.)

So as this kept playing over and over in my mind I started to think deeper about the meaning. First and foremost each one describes Jesus, right?! So then I thought well does each one describe me? I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on the last one, "walk humbly with your God," because of various reasons, but let's just say it's not exactly my number 1... or 2 best asset out of the three. 

Seek justice. I'm learning what that means daily and I hope to continue to learn more in my final two weeks here. Seek means to go in search of something and justice means the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action. So God is telling me to go in search of finding a right action. I like the sound of that, eh? That sounds really noble and impressive. I mean who even uses the word "ideal" in the correct context?! So that's part of what I'm doing here at BJM. I'm researching some of the brothels in San Francisco (that of course are not named brothels) and helping provide the ladies on full-time staff with the evidence that they need when they go to hearings to prevent more from opening or getting different a business permit. 

As you would assume, we believe a lot of these women inside of these brothels in San Francisco have been trafficked here. Not a lot of things get me more angry than thinking of these women being lied to, hurt, abused, feeling hopeless, and MANY other things (but I am trying to be sensitive to the age of my readers). So it only takes about 1 minute of thinking about this stuff to make the act of seeking justice a piece of cake. 

Love mercy. This one is a little tougher. Mercy means to not give punishment for an act that is wrong or sinful. I am suppose to love mercy. It's almost comical to think about my feelings towards mercy. Of course if the mercy is going to work in my favor I am all about showing mercy some love! But it becomes a little tricky when we are talking about other people. It almost sounds like a complete contradiction to seeking justice, but that's what is so cool about God. He can tell you to do two things that sound opposite because He is able to do that. 

There is a lady in the bible named Mary Magdalene of whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Most of what is recorded about her is her life after conversion, but let's stop and imagine what a woman with seven demons living inside of her might have been like. She was probably a bit unpleasant to be around, promiscuous, and quite selfish among other things. Picture yourself running into a modern day Mary Magdalene pre-conversion. I'm going to assume your first thought is not going to be, " I should love her because I love mercy." Unfortunately, this is most people's last thought - including my own. My first thoughts when I see someone like this, for example that seems to be "willingly" (and I use that very lightly) prostituting themselves generally are pretty judging.

But not Jesus. No, Jesus has mercy on his mind. He looked deeper than the surface and saw a troubled, hurting, broken individual that needing loving mercy. He saw a woman worthy  of being the first person He spoke to upon His resurrection. Did  you catch that?! Mary Magdalene was the first person that Jesus spoke to after He raised from the dead according to John 20:10-18. How simply wonderful is that!?!? My Savior chose not someone of high popularity, but instead a broken woman that had been healed my His mercy and His love. I literally get tears every time I picture that scene playing out in real life.

So what does this mean for you and me? It means maybe we should get off our high horse and stop judging people so quickly. Maybe we should recognize there is spiritual warfare going on that we can't see. Maybe it means we should ask God to show us how to simultaneously seek justice AND love mercy.

Why must we do both at the same time? Because we are to love mercy and because justice matters.

Love y'all so

Jackie J

Thursday, July 4, 2013


". . . All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among 
you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth."
Colossians 1:6

This is YWAM San Francisco located on Ellis Street in the Tenderloin. This is where I am working because BJM is a part of the YWAM here. This building is about three or four blocks from a three story Forever 21 and a Macy's. This street is filled people that don't have a roof over their heads and often have to sleep on the street.  This neighborhood has a huge chunk of my heart. This is exactly where I want to be spending my last summer of college. 

Tuesday morning in between meetings I had about an hour of free time so I decided to go to a coffee shop a block away to read and pray. While I was waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street a man in his 40s or 50s started talking to me. I'm not sure if I make you fully grasp how odd this was because living in the South no one ever meets a stranger - especially if they have on Razorback apparel. Sure, people who are living on the street might talk when you pass by asking for something or may make a comment they don't expect a response to, but people very rarely actually pursue a conversation with each other on the street.

So this man (whom appeared to be someone that had a home based on his clothing and lack of items generally carried by homeless) looked at me and said, "You're on the wrong street young lady. You need to head that way." At that point he pointed in the direction I was headed. I smiled and said that is the way I was going and he nodded in approval. I'm sure he assumed I was out shopping and had wandered into the Tenderloin by mistake because he then said, "What are you doing over here anyway?" Since I knew the light was about to change and was really eager to read chapter 8 of John and was still a little in shock someone from SF was talking to a stranger, I just pointed back at the YWAM building and said I worked there and we help the homeless men and women in this neighborhood.

He looked at me for a moment, puzzled, and said, "You have kindness in your face. Do they have guys that work there, too? To protect you?" Praise Jesus that the man was able to see Christ in my face because by this time the light had already turned and I had missed my chance to get started on John 8. Honestly I was a little ready for the conversation to be over, however, I did appreciate the genuine concern he seemed to have for my safety. Although, I must say I am still curious as to what he was doing in the Tenderloin if he had such a negative view of it. After I explained that there are many guys  that work at YWAM he said something that really ruffled my feathers. He said,

"You know they deserve to be here, don't you. They do. They deserve it."

I forced a smile and mumbled something about it being challenging work at times and then the Lord changed the light because He knows me better than I know myself. He knew that in that moment I wanted to say something along the lines of ... "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!" However, the Lord protected me and got me to the coffee shop without me embarrassing myself or Him. 

As I started praying for the Lord to help me calm down not be bitter towards him, I nearly started crying as the Lord led me to pray for that man. As I prayed I realized how broken and calloused he was because of how Satan has used society to shape our beliefs. In his mind, these people wouldn't be here if they didn't deserve to be. These people wouldn't be homeless if they would work hard and just get their act together. One of this man's biggest problems was he didn't realize that these people ARE people. When we lump people into a category we lose the ability to see the individual. 

Some of these individual's brains are so fried from the drug abuse that it would take nothing short of a miracle for God to change them. Some of these individual's might not think they have another option because most everywhere else they have gone have rejected them. Some of these people actually hate the way they are living, but feel hopeless because they need a birth certificate to be able to apply for certain things but don't even know or remember where they were born. Each individual is different and has a different story. My job, as a follower of Christ, is to let each individual I meet see the love of Christ in me. The love of Christ is the Gospel. The Gospel is so powerful. The bible says if I have this kind of love God will work. (1 Corinthians 13:1-6).

Because how similar are you to acting like a person on the street? Seriously. Think about it. What turns you off from loving these people? That they are needy? That they bother you when you are busy and have important places to be? That they are an inconvenience to the plans you want to get accomplished? That they ask for something and when they don't receive it they curse you? That if you do give them something they may or may not say thank you and then not use it in the way you hoped they would? That you feel they take advantage of you? 

We do this to God. We do everything I just said over and over and over and over. What if God took the same approach that we did? What if God thought I was too needy? What if God thought I was a bother and He had more important things to do then listen to me? What if God thought I was an inconvenience to the plans He wants to accomplish? What if God got upset when I cursed him because He didn't answer how I wanted Him too refused to help me? What if God decided he was tired of blessing me just so that I could throw it all away on things that won't matter in eternity? What if God decided he was tired of me taking advantage of Him? 

What if God lumped people together and didn't care about individuals? 

The bible says once we have repented of our sins and given our life to Jesus we are no longer our own. We are suppose to love like Jesus. Everyone. Love everyone like Jesus does. I am praying as you read this God is moving in your heart so that you may stop lumping groups of people together and start loving each of them individually just as Jesus does.

Jackie J