Thursday, 7 April 2016

Is this the most radical church I’ve ever seen?  I talked with Aesha* yesterday after the end of her meeting with women involved in sex work.  We sat in a simple room which has two rush mats on the floor and little on the walls.  The hot air was being slowly moved around by a ceiling fan.  And I wondered is this group of women a church?

It’s a bit of a radical thought and might be shocking to some of you.  I feel nervous about sharing my half-formed thoughts but then I think that can be what blogs are for. 
The most obvious argument against this being a church is that most of the participants are still involved in sex work.  Surely they would need to have made a commitment to God and changed their lifestyles before they could be a church?

Or maybe not.  Perhaps the important thing is to welcome them as they are and encourage them on a journey towards God.  In Luke 15 we see that the father sees his wayward son in the distance and ‘filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him’.  

Jesus does not condemn the woman caught in adultery but says ‘go now and leave your life of sin’ John 8v11.  There seem to be twin themes here of compassion and a call to holiness.  This reminds me of the excellent book No Perfect People Allowed (Link) which talks about ‘come as you are but don’t stay that way’.

Aesha (2nd right) and her team
I prayed for Kavita* and the child she bears.  When I finished she had tears in her eyes.  Many of these women are hungry for God and the good news is truly good news to them.  Changing their way of surviving is not however easy. ‘Their confidence is completely broken’, they struggle to trust others as they have been so abused and they struggle to trust themselves. 

Is there any other church for them?  Would they have the confidence to go if there was?  Would they be welcomed if they turned up? Or judged?  Which of us ‘is without sin’ John 8v7 and yet we still go to church.

So I think, on balance, this small gathering is church for them. Aesha and her team are leading this very unusual church.  Their part is to encourage, love and sometimes challenge these precious women, who are made in the image of God.

*All names changed for privacy.

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