What is Love?

The women in the 60 day emergency assessment program are reading Redeeming Love in our Support Group.  It has lead to some wonderful discussions so far. My favorite being what is love?  I asked the woman to describe love.  Some said it was a feeling and others that it was being selfless.  Then I read to them 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The women’s faces lit up as I asked if they could imagine having that sort of love.  We’d been talking in the context of boyfriends and husbands, and finally someone spoke up and said “I don’t believe that man exists.”  I smiled and agreed we’d never find a man that was all those things all the time.  Only God can love us completely, only God is always patient, always kind, never dishonoring, not easily angered.  Only he can truly keep no record of wrong. He is our protector, he can always be trusted.

When you’ve gone your whole life and never experienced the loved talked about in 1 Corinthians it’s hard to imagine even God could offer it.  When the only love you’ve know was motivated by self interest, pleasure, greed, lust, survival…  How do you understand His Love? Although we are imperfect, I hope that Rescue Houston will mirror that sort of love for these women.  

Could This be For Me?

In third grade I wrote a report on Gladys Aylwards, a little known missionary in China during the 1900s. Although I’m sure the report was nothing notable it had an lasting impact on my life. It was a seed planted in my heart towards full time ministry.  

When I was in highschool my family went to serve in Jamaica at an orphanage our church sponsored. This experience further opened my eyes to the needs of the brokenhearted.  Over the next four years I made eight or so trips to the orphanage to work with the staff and children (and hang out with my future brother!). My heart broke for the Fatherless and I knew I was called to the brokenhearted.  

On one of those trips to the orphanage, I met a family that lived close to Iowa State University, where I attended school, and we stayed friends. This family would a few years later go on to found a restoration home for survivors of sex trafficking. They were my first introduction to human trafficking. I had no idea at the time another seed was being planted in my heart.  

When I started at ISU, my intention was to go into full-time overseas ministry upon graduation. Instead I ended up moving to Houston, and soon afterwards met my husband (yeah!!).  As I worked as an engineer, I found myself wondering what God had for me. What if this desire to serve the brokenhearted that was planted at such a young age was no longer what God wanted for me?

Yet I still had this desire. I wondered if I’d missed the boat. I wondered if some years of wandering meant that I wouldn’t get to fulfill what I thought was my life’s calling.  But God is so good. He is a redeemer. His ways are higher than my ways.

I started mentoring a survivor and fell in love with the work of Rescue Houston. One day while I wrestled with my purpose and my current position as an engineer, I got an email from a Rescue Houston employee. She informed the volunteers she was resigning and moving into long-term restoration. I saw the tiniest crack of a door opening. Could this be for me God? Surely I am not qualified. I told God to open a door for me and I’d walk through it.  So I crossed my fingers, said a prayer and sent in my resume. Nothing about my resume said Survivor Advocate.  But God did and now I’m here, working for Rescue Houston because GOD IS AWESOME.