Friday, December 28, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath Holy in the Backseat of a Cop Car

It was not by accident or mistake that I got to take a trip in the backseat of a patrol car a couple weeks tears, as we usually are when we are in the hands of the law. God is so purposeful and faithful as our teacher, but it isn't always without pain or fear. I was on my way to work when...

Well, let me back up to the night before. I was on my way to JoAnn's, and at the last minute I realized I needed to be in the right lane to turn. Something told me to just get over, but I was only a few feet from the light, and it would have been a little difficult, so I decided to just go in the back way from Steve Reynolds. As I sat at the light, a few cars back in the left lane, I saw a young girl walking on the sidewalk to the right, turning right on Pleasant Hill. It was dark outside, maybe 8pm or so, with a purse and a backpack on. She appeared to be High School age. I immediately thought I should stop to make sure she is okay, that she doesn't need any help. After learning that many girls are trafficked after running away from home, and are usually picked up within 48 hours by their predators, I realized that this could be unfolding right before my eyes, or moments after. And if I don't stop, who would be the next person that stops for her? Someone to help her or someone to hurt her?

I couldn't turn right at this point without making a huge scene and causing people to blare their horns at me, so I just went straight and pulled into JoAnns from the back. I started to feel guilty, so I went straight through to the front and looked on Pleasant Hill the way the girl was headed. I didn't see her for some way, and realized she either made it to her destination or someone picked her up. So, I just pulled on Pleasant Hill and u-turned back to JoAnns. I couldn't stop thinking about this all night. I prayed for her, and just promised that I'd do whatever I could to stop next time if I saw a situation that looked suspect. I can't remember when it was, but it was either that day or the day before that I had seen a young female with an older man. By the differences in their appearance, I had no reason to believe they were related, and the age difference was stark. She didn't seem to be afraid or uncomfortable, but I just didn't feel right about it. I didn't have time to do anything. They were leaving the gas station as I was coming in. So, all I could do is just pray for this girl. As I do think prayer is important in the fight against human trafficking both locally and abroad, I believe we need to be true advocates in all sense of the word. If we see these situations, we need to act. Stop and inquire, call in a license plate, etc. It sounds crazy, but if over *200 girls are being commercially sexually exploited each month in Georgia, and if what they say is true that much of this is going on in the is happening right under our nose. You may be pumping gas, minding your own business, and one of these pimps stops with one of his girls on the way to a hotel to get a soda or to fill up. It happens every day. (*Figure from A Future. Not a Past.)

God has opened my eyes to this issue in a way I almost wish he hadn't. One way to prevent sex trafficking in the future is to mentor a child, who is at-risk to be a pimp or a victim of CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) one day. A common thread among pimps and victims is that they did not have a positive role model growing up. They also might have experienced sexual abuse, not reported and dealt with properly, and maybe just general neglect and a lack of love in their lives. We can also help by just keeping our eyes open, not going to and from in this world, ignoring everyone around us, pretending we have no power to help, make a change, or prevent crime and abuse. That's what you do by the way, maybe not you specifically, but the majority of the population just minds their own business, selfishly handling their own personal errands and tasks for the day...not open to helping a stranger or someone in need. It is a disgrace. And I am absolutely guilty of this at times as well. 

Well, you say, sometimes there are setups where young women lure people to their broke down car and then out pops her boyfriend from the trunk who forces you in the car to mug you, rape you, or kill you. Oh geez, really? I mean be careful out there, sure, especially if you are a woman alone, but do not use that as an excuse to never help strangers. I pray before I help someone, and I know that the protection of God is with me. And if I die, trying to be Christ to a stranger to possibly share the good news with them, then so be it! Christ was mocked, rejected, tortured, whipped, stoned, and hung on a cross, baring our sins. But we should "rejoice that (we) participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that (we) may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." Peter 4:13. I cannot afford to sit on the judgment seat of Christ and say, well, God, I didn't help your people...I didn't help Jesus...because it was a little too risky...I could have been hurt. “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’(Matthew 25:45). I will not look into his eyes and tell him NO...hopefully ever again. My story is coming, I promise.

"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body and that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4-5

So, the day after I saw the girl on my way to JoAnns, I was on my way to work and ran out of gas in Johns Creek. By the way, this is my second day to work at a seasonal job, so you can imagine my state of mind. It is a Sunday, and I'm already feeling guilty about missing church, ignoring the Sabbath, and working instead. I ran out of gas simply because my gas gage doesn't work, I know, winner :) And, yes, I calculated my mileage with gallons, etc., but thought I had a little extra from the previous fill up...and obviously I didn't. I managed to pull over on the side of the road, and did what I'd always mom and dad. Dad is volunteering at church with his phone on silent, and mom is watching my nieces. She goes to load them in the car to find out my bro and sister-in-law didn't leave a car seat. UGHH. Ok, so I asked her if I should just wait for dad to get done serving. Maybe another hour. No, I will be too late to work by then. Then I asked her if I should just walk to the gas station as I see many people doing, and she said, "yeah, that's probably your best bet at this point." It was only maybe a mile away. The whole time I'm praying I don't get hit and die, unless it's his will, and that God will send someone to help me. I had been praying for him to send someone to help me as I sat in my car for about 5 minutes after deciding to walk. I thought maybe someone would stop, as I had once done for other people. 

No one stops, so I get out to walk, trusting God has this figured out somewhere along the way. First of all, it is so awkward walking down the street by yourself, where there is no sidewalk. I am scared I will get hit by someone texting, so I try to walk far from the street in the grass. Then I have to make it over a bridge with a VERY small shoulder...if you can even call it that. I wait until all the cars have passed and I jump up on...practically the railing of the bridge where there is some concrete. All these cars pass me, and not one of them stops. I wonder if I got up on the railing like I was going to jump, if anyone would stop for that. I mean, you would think SOMEONE might wonder why a young women is walking on the side of a street, not to mention, they have just passed a car pulled over with the emergency lights on. The whole time I'm walking, I'm thinking about this girl last night and many girls that are really in need...she is scared, alone in this cold world, wondering if anyone notices her...if anyone will stop to help her. On my way, one lady stops, I think to ask me if I'm okay. She just sits in this empty parking lot with a homeless shelter pick-up truck in it for a few seconds as I walk towards her, she looks at me, and then just pulls back onto the road. I imagine she is thinking what I was the night before...should I stop to check on this girl? She seems like she is okay. I don't want to seem strange and offer to help her...she's probably fine. Oh well, I will just keep driving. 

Then I pass a Catholic Mission Church who is conveniently having an outdoor picnic or something. I figure I am almost to the gas station so I won't bother them. They are so engrossed in what they are doing I don't even think they saw me. I mean, I'm sure they don't want to be inconvenienced during their planned festival to help someone in need. I get to the gas station...thank GOD I have money. So I buy the little gas can, go to fill it up, and think, surely I can find someone here that will drive me back so I won't be even later than I already am. I have called work by now, of course, to tell them what is going on. I see a lady, maybe in her 60's and ask her very politely if she could drive me to my car about a mile up the street. "No," she says, "I can't" and won't even look at me. I had said to myself that I would just ask women, but as I look around, all I see are men. I am baffled to say the least that this woman says no, that now it is like this point I feel I need to, WILL NO ONE help me?? I just can't believe it. I walk up to a guy in a BMW SUV. "Sir, would you mind driving me to my car a mile up the road, I ran out of gas." He just says, "No." Okeedokey, next person. A couple in a van, "No, I'm sorry." Now, the first lady starts yelling at me as she sees these people say no to me, and says, "Go talk to the attendant, that's what they're here for!!" in a mean and agitated tone. Nope, I'm on a mission to see just how cold and cruel our world really is. I mean, am I not allowed to ask a stranger for help? What is the gas station attendant going to do? Call me a cab? The next guy I ask says, "Well that road is down that way and much further than a mile, are you sure? Me: "No, sir, it is the other way and only about a mile up. I just came from there." (duh). Anyway, so he says in a mean tone, "Well, if you hurry up, I have to go pick up my daughter from Sunday School." Fabulous, a real nice "Christian" man. So, I am like panicking at this point, thinking he is my only option, trying to "hurry up" and get my debit card swiped, entering my pin as fast as I can to then fill up. 

Then a cop car pulls behind me, "Are you Christine?" Me: "Yes, sir???" Guy from across the way yells, "Hurry UP! I gotta go!" The cop says to me, "Do you know this man??" Me to the cop: "Can you take me back to my car?" Not sure if even he will say yes. He says sure. I yell back at the man that the cop is going to take me. Cop asks me again, "Do you know that man??" "No, but I asked like 5 other people if they could help me and they said no." (OK, it was 3, but it felt like 5.) Tears of relief are welling up in my eyes that my helper has come. Policeman: "oh, well that's nice...did you know you left your lights on and your purse in your car?" Me: "No, I didn't realize I left my lights on, but yes, I left my purse because I didn't want to carry it." I had my debit and license on me. I thought I might be a target walking down the street with my purse on me. Of course, I guess I could have put it in the trunk, but wasn't really thinking someone in John's Creek is going to pull over, steel my wheels and try to break in my car in broad daylight. Policeman: "Well I came looking for you because something just didn't look right." Thank God! He answers prayer! And, this cop might have saved me from more than we know. See, God's hand was in me leaving a strange scene behind with my lights on and purse in the passenger seat...oh and my wallet hanging out as well he said. He then proceeds to tell me how there are all kinds of crazy people out there and I could have just called them. They handle much bigger problems for people then just taking someone to get gas. 

I finish filling up and he opens his back door for me to get in. First ride in the backseat of a cop car! Honestly, it made me want to cry even though I didn't do anything wrong...partly out of just knowing I was safe, that I could let my guard back down...the whole experience was just very emotional for me. Doesn't everyone cry the first time they ride in the back of a cop car? Did you know that the seats are this really hard plastic? I sat down as my cell phone crunched in my back pocket. When we got to my car we laughed as we both tried to figure out this gas can for like 5 min. It was really complicated, maybe a 5 year old could have figured it out quicker than us. Finally we figured it out, got the gas in the car, and went our separate ways. He was a very nice man and gave me his card to call him if I was ever in this situation again. I tried to hold it together, but I basically had a meltdown on the way to work, just thinking about how bad it felt to feel like I needed help from a stranger and no one was willing. Rejected one by one. I thought about all the people out there that really need help. I mean, the reality is I could have just walked back to my car with my gas, and would have been fine. 

But what I think is that God really wanted me to experience this, to feel the pain of those that are in need in the world, and can't get anyone to turn and help them. I don't think it was an accident that neither of my parents could help me that day. I could have called a friend, but I didn't want to bother them on a Sunday for something this stupid. I grew up fairly sheltered and always "taken care of." I've always had someone to call when in need. I thought about a young women who didn't have any family around, and maybe no money to get gas...what does she do? I guess she calls the cops or ends up getting picked up by a pimp. Isn't it sad though, that we can only count on a paid public officer to help someone in need? Where are the Christians, Oh Ye Christian nation?! Oh yeah, they are on their way to church and don't want to be even later than they already are, or they are in rush to pick up their child from Sunday School, clearly not attempting to be part of the body themselves. It made me realize how it wasn't as important that I missed church that Sunday, as it is for me to BE a Christian every I needed someone to be for me that day. The reality is, many Christians passed me that day on their way to church, but they didn't want to be late for Rudy Vaughn's, "Emmanuel." 

Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 

1 Peter 4:12-16
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 

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