This week Free2BMe is heading to the 10th Annual International Conference on Human Traffickin, Prostitution and Sex Work at the University of Toledo. For the first time ever, a high school track has been developed for about 100 students from area high schools. Our founder, Sharon coordinated and set that up, so on Thursday she will be working to bring awareness and education to younger generations! Check out this blog post:
It's all about relationships! Free2BMe is about loving one another more fully! It's about getting to know one another. It's about having true friends! We hang out! We have fun! And sometimes we get CRAZY! Between sickness and travel, our team of about 10 dropped to a team of 4, but we had fun anyways today at the Run or Dye 5K at Owens Community College. All proceeds benefited United Way of Greater Toledo and we were able to have fun, lean on one another and raise money for a great cause! Next time have a Team Event link this, you should join us! It's all about LOVE!
“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”
The Free2BMe Project takes me out into the real world almost every day, allowing me to meet some of the most wonderful people. With a ministry like this of encountering people and listening to their stories, I often have the unique opportunity of hearing why the women we serve are cautious of, or even outright angry at God. Sadly, much of their reasoning has to do with how they were taught to think about God as an angry, hateful God that forces his will on every one as he sees fit. Many times that “will” has brought about bad relationship after bad relationship, the death of the loved ones or it has even landed in them in some of the darkest places known to humanity. Our ministry spends a lot of time teaching the women we serve a new theology, a new understanding of God --a theology in which God is first and foremost love.
Understanding God as love, realizing a theology of love gives us hope for a future in this life and calls us to freedom. Our theology is an open theology that allows God to be bigger than any of our imaginations and deeper than of our past understandings. There is very little research on successful exiting strategies for women in the sex industry, but Dr. Rochelle Dalla at the University of Nebraska has conducted some crucial studies that report that faith/religiosity was always present in the lives of women who were able to successfully exit without return. Without it the women in her research did not successfully exit the industry. Open theology versus conventional theology provides an environment that provides a process of spiritual formation that enables the women to step out of the industry with the spiritual healing required to keep them from returning. Open theology is a practical theology for our ministry which focuses on the spiritual formation of exotic dancers because it allows us to help them find meaning in their lives, calls them to live in community, fosters discipleship and brings about sanctification in very real ways
Many of the women we serve have only ever heard and considered how God hates them because of their job. They have been called horrible names, including “homewreckers” and “unworthy.” They find it extremely hard to hear the message that God loves them simply because they are his creation, not because of what they do or do not do. But these are the first steps to help them find meaning in their lives. When they understand and take to heart that God IS love and sees them with grace and mercy, not hellfire and brimstone, this begins to open doors in their hearts to begin move forward and be hungry for something more.
Free2BMe cultivates the idea of community. The women we meet are invited into our lives to do life with us. We invite them into our homes, into our everyday experiences, including outreach, church, family life. We express our understanding of God and his love through his kingdom. He is building a community in which we are accountable to in love. Often times exotic dancers have a very limited group of friends. Many have ostracized them because of their behaviors. Others who cling to them are often untrustworthy and unstable themselves. Having an open theology in which God is concerned more about the persons wholeness than their profession, gives us the opportunity to love unconditionally, allow these women the space to belong before we ever ask them to believe. We believe that we are the straight line for these women to observe and learn from and that can only be done in community.
Community allows for discipleship (sometimes without our acknowledgement). When we live in such a way that is faithful to scriptures ideas of communities, people are drawn to it because it is often the only real, straight line that they have in their life. That straight line is observed and often imitated. It becomes discipleship as they begin to reach out for the things they do not have in their own lives. Pinnock says “Unlike the animals, we are unfinished beings, created with potential that is not yet actualized. Our identity lies in front of us, not behind us.” There’s no easy model for the discipleship of women who are broken and hurt in the ways that women in the industry often are. Our sexuality is part of our spirits and the wounds that we afflict there or others afflicted there for us are more difficult to heal than any other wounds we experience.
All of this slow and sometimes painful for us, but we know that God is faithful. Without an open theology, we begin to put our timelines, our expectations, and our requirements for success with these women and we fail in our mission as Christians to make disciples, but just as important we fail in our mission to love one another as we love ourselves. The Free2BMe Project is working on long-term transformation. We are interested in seeing women truly experience and encounter and knowing the real love of Christ. This love draws us out of our pits; we know it to be true. We have experienced it. As we journey with women in the sex industry teaching a theology that gives them freedom to be the women they were created to be, we are able to begin to teach them they are not unworthy, they are not horrible labels, but instead they are loved by God, worthy and able of great things, even greater things than Jesus himself. Spiritual formation through Open theology empowers captives to become free and in return free others!
Every month we get together and worship at New Harvest Christian Church. Every month looks different, different bands, worship leaders, different formats. A few months ago, we got the idea to go over the top with Stations of the Cross for Easter! And that's what we did! With the help of New Harvest Christian Church, Hope Community Church, Madison Church of the Nazarene (Adrian, MI) and several other people, we pulled off a wonderful night. Together, we encountered the cross through interactive and meditative ex