THE BACK LANES
Generally, Filipinos are shy creatures. We tend to keep quiet when we should speak up, nod our heads when we don’t know the answer, and smile when we misunderstand something. So when the opportunity comes for us to be bold, we tend to shrink back and say, “No, that would be foolish. Let’s just be silent and see how things go.”
A few years back, my friends and I decided to walk the back lanes of a famous red light district in a foreign country. Like Little Red Riding Hood, we set about with goodies in baskets to give to the ladies. We carried cookies, candies, jewelry, and Gospel tracts.
It is one thing to tell people about Jesus in a place like a church or a Christian conference; another to do it in a place where it is dark;
where men – pimps and customers alike—leer at you, wondering if your body is for sale, or if you are there for some clandestine agenda. The back lanes are a place where, as the notion goes, “good Christians” are not supposed to be found. It is a place where drug transactions are made, where human flesh is traded for pleasure, and where you can waste a night away in alcohol and hedonistic revelry.
These kinds of places reek of filth, sin, and hunger. These are dark places— grand ballrooms of sin where the worst of society congregate. Yet, what does the Bible say about what Jesus did while on earth? He ate with tax collectors and sinners and said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt.9:12-13) Jesus made sure He spent time with the undesirables of society. Shouldn’t we do the same?
To do what Jesus did sometimes means looking foolish in the eyes of many, going where many don’t go, and speaking when many are silent. While walking the back lanes, my friends and I decided to sing. Yes, worship out loud to Jesus and about Jesus, as if it were Christmas; as if the whole world blazed with merry lights. After all, we were carrying gifts; the most blessed gift being the presence of the Almighty God. There could be no room for bashfulness. We sang songs like “How Great Is Our God” and “I Am A Friend of God.” We stopped to pray for the ladies, hug them, and speak words of encouragement. We gave them tracts and cookies, candies and jewelry. We also allowed them to cry on our shoulders.
I will never forget one lady. As I prayed for her, one of my companions translated my prayer into the lady’s native language: “Thank you, Jesus, that (name of the girl) is precious in Your sight. Thank you that You have a destiny for her. Thank you that You love her. Thank you that she is not forgotten.” The lady broke down in huge sobs.
One thing I can say about darkness is that it is the place where the Holy Spirit hovers. Even in the beginning, right before Creation, God hovered over the face of the deep. This was a picture of darkness—but more precisely, God’s movement in darkness—before He said, “Let there be light!”
Have we ever seen darkness in a good way? Why should we be afraid of darkness when it is a womb? It is in darkness where life is formed and where a fetus finds its refuge for nine months before coming out into the world. This can only mean that darkness can incubate the most beautiful of revival life, the most beautiful of all the moves of God.
The people in the back lanes need Jesus. They are hurting. They need to know what love is—WHO love is. Some of these people might have you as their only picture of God. You may be their strongest encounter of the Living Word.
Are you willing to go outside and be a fool for Christ? There should be no room for bashfulness.
Writer’s Bio: Janina loves to mull over conversations, swinging them around in her head like she does chocolate on her tongue. She is passionate about God, people, books, and dogs.