October 20, 2013: Our Ministry with Prostituted Women

Posted on : Oct 17th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Here we go again!  Last Sunday you heard about our creative and controversial ministry with LGBT persons called “The Lazarus Project.”  Three years after we began the Lazarus Project, we began another “off the wall” (literally – read on) ministry with female street prostitutes called “The Mary Magdalene Project.”

In the 1970’s and 80’s our corner of the world at Sunset Blvd & Martel Ave. was one of the hottest pick-up sites for guys seeking women prostitutes.  Actually, as some of us remember, you couldn’t walk six blocks in either direction of the church on Sunset Blvd. without getting propositioned.  Our church was “ground zero.”  The green “retaining wall” that is around the gardens was the perfect height for women to sit upon and be noticed.  From about 3 pm on – well into the night, there were always multiple women walking up and down Sunset or sitting on the wall.  You may also be aware that there is a little curb-side sign in front of the walkway into the courtyard which reads “3 Minute Loading Zone.”  The “johns” (guys picking up the women) gave new meaning to those words.

Another bit of historical information is that the metal fence and gates between the social hall and the church were installed because the courtyard was a popular late-night spot for “quickies” and by Sunday morning the courtyard would be full of used condoms.

During the 1970’s our pastor, Rev. Ross Greek and members of our church got to be friends with many of the women prostitutes.  We soon learned that prostitution was not about sex but economics.  The women who were prostitutes were caught in a horrible cycle of poverty and oftentimes were themselves victims of sexual abuse from early childhood.  The women didn’t get to keep much of the money they made.  Their “pimps” got most of it.  It was also a very dangerous “business.”  Many of the “johns” who picked up the women were psychopaths who beat them and abused them; and their pimps were just as bad.  If the women didn’t bring in as much money as the pimps demanded, they got badly beaten up.

So, our church started a ministry that helped women leave prostitution, offering them safety and shelter.  What we soon learned was it took a lot more than a safe-house for these women to heal and reclaim their lives.  Over the course of almost 30 years, the Rev. Ann Hayman was the Director “The Mary Magdalene Project” and became a highly respected “expert” on the process of healing for prostituted women.

Ann will be here this Sunday, October 20th, to share with us some of the stories of the many, many women whose lives were transformed through this unique ministry.  She’ll also share some of the many things we learned about the rampant sexual abuse of women and the connection between Christianity and sexual abuse.  Amazingly, Ann still has her sense of humor – as you will see and hear on Sunday!   She is remarkable.  You won’t want to miss her!

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

The Story of Mary Magdalene

(from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

Jesus journeyed through cities and villages, preaching the good news of the reign of God.  The twelve were with him, and also women, many of whom had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons has been expelled, Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their personal resources.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were Mary his mother; her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas; and Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus was buried, and they sat opposite the gravesite keeping watch.

Very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.  Seeing that the stone had been rolled away, she ran to Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, crying, “They have taken the Master from the tomb; we don’t know where they have laid him.”  Both men ran, but the other disciple reached the tomb before Peter.  Looking in he saw the linen cloths, but he hesitated to enter.  Peter arrived and went into the tomb.  He saw the cloths, and noticed the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head rolled up and set aside.  The other disciple also went in, and he saw, and he believed.  Until now, they had not understood from scripture that Jesus would rise again.  Then they left and went back home.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels, all in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

“Why are you weeping?” an angel asked her.
“Because they have taken my Master away, and I do not know where to find him.”

Having said this, she turned, and there was Jesus, but she did not recognize him.  Then Jesus asked her, “Why are you weeping?  Whom do you seek?”  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have removed him, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Then Jesus whispered, “Mary.”  And Mary shouted, “Rabboni!”

Eventually, Jesus spoke again.  “You must let me go, for I must ascend; but go now and tell the others that I am returning to your God and mine.”  So Mary Magdalene went to the disciples.  “I have seen the Sovereign!” she told them.  Then she shared with them many of the things that he had said to her.

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