Monday, June 23, 2014

Prostitutes Yearn for Christ

When I first began the ministry six months ago, I thought it would be best if I covered as many major streets as possible so as to reach all kinds of people in all kinds of neighborhoods.  This seemed to be God's will since I live in gritty SE, and yet he gave me the ministry while walking one of the tony streets in NW Portland.  But I quickly discovered that people in poor and working class neighborhoods were more open to my presence, and so I began to focus my attention on SE and NE Portland.   I also decided that it would be easier to build relationships if I became a familiar presence in the area by walking the same streets.  Well, I've now been walking the neighborhoods for long enough that I can spot some trends.  

One interesting phenomenon is that prostitutes often follow me around.  Some are young and some are middle age, some are hopped-up on drugs and others are sober.  Some will even jaywalk a busy street and then walk right in front of me or right behind me.  Some come up and stand seven or eight feet away while I'm sitting at rest.  They rarely strike up a conversation, but I notice that they secretly watch me.

Why do they follow me?

A cynical "realist" would say that they think I might be a potential "date".  But if you saw my tunic you would quickly dismiss that explanation.  A better explanation by the realist would be that they stay close to me so that the police will not question them.  They blend-in better when they're next to other people, and I'm a built-in alibi ("I'm with him--we were just talking.  Right mister?").  This explanation has some merit.  A more sensitive realist might add yet another layer of explanation: I'm a large but gentle man who wears a big red heart and cross on my shirt, and so they feel safe in my company.  That's true enough as well.  But there's also something more profound going on--something that can't be captured by "realist" or "naturalist" explanations.  The supernatural element is revealed in the way that they look at me.  Sure they often give me a cynical or ironic glance, but there is also curiosity and even yearning behind their eyes.  The Lord is calling to them.  Deep calls to deep.  Chords in their soul still tremble with hope that there is a God who is mindful of them.  Please pray for them.  


  1. I will pray to St, Mary Magdalene that her sisters on the streets will reach out to the Lord through your apostolate.

    1. Bless you, David.

      Lately I've been re-visiting my prison days as I write a book-length version of my conversion story. About half the book will be about the life of a criminal and con. I think you'll recognize many of the thoughts and experiences I write about. I try to avoid sensationalism and bring out the humanity and grace amidst those ugly times. I think it will help people have a deeper understanding of those in that life. It'll be a couple years before the book is done.

      Pax Christi,

    2. I will look forward to reading it Scott, and it is so important, as you well note, to not sensationailize our criminal life, as all too many do.

      I tried to do the same with my life story, keeping the criminal and prison reflections as flat as possible.

      Take care.