I heard Heidi Baker once say that love looks like something. If you’re thirsty, love looks like building a well to get a drink. If you’re hungry, love looks like providing food to eat. In moments of dire calamity, love looks like meeting a need. When we left Dallas for Toronto that was our mission, just to love. When you are alone in a city grieving the death of your baby, love looks like flying across the continent to be with a hurting girl. That is where our story begins.
Arriving in Toronto I had no idea what was going to be in store for Jen and I as our feet hit the ground off of that airplane. I had no idea that God was sending me there so He could speak to me… and that He was sending me there to show me how to love like His son, Jesus did. I was in store for the most intense week of my life to this point. All I knew was that I was here with Jen on a mission to rescue a young woman, named Tam that she had been ministering to for nearly a year prior to this point. As far as I was concerned I was going with Jen to make sure that she didn’t get hurt or lost… I had no idea that I was going to fall in love. Our first day was like a scavenger hunt… the young woman that we had come there to help was in great distress, and despite all of our tries at communication we could not reach her. All we knew was that she had a baby boy in a hospital somewhere in downtown Toronto… it wasn’t until we got there that we were informed of the 10 or more hospitals in the immediate downtown area. Our intention for that day was then to walk from hospital to hospital asking for a little baby, that we didn’t know a whole lot about. It was at the first hospital that we learned that the little baby boy that had been sick and struggling for some time had passed away almost immediately after our plane had landed in Toronto the previous night. I was beginning to grasp the importance of our arrival at this point… Tam needed Jen now more than ever. I knew that she had to feel like she was tangled in a web of chaos and had no idea how to get out. My heart broke for this young woman instantly.
Jen and I left the hospital and I knew that Jen had to have felt so deflated and defeated to come to another country to be there for someone and find out that the baby had passed away and now the mother was nowhere to be found. It was one of those moments when you think that nothing else could get much worse, and then it does. Jen, despite the failed attempts at communication stayed steadfast in her pursuit of this young woman, knowing full well that the pursuit was not her own, but the Father’s. I was watching something transpire in the next few days with Jen that I had been willfully blind to for nearly a year… and my ignorance had kept my heart so blinded by the reality of love and the life changing properties it carries.
Over the next few days it was like an emotional rollercoaster and game of cat and mouse as we would get into contact with Tam with hopes of meeting up, and yet she was never following through. There were moments where Jen was literally yards and feet away from her and still she could not look into her eyes and convey the love that she had for her. I was confused and almost mad at God at times because I thought “well aren’t we praying hard enough… or maybe the intercessors need to pray harder.” I figured, and maybe in ignorance, that just because we hopped on that plane to Toronto that she would have to meet us… that somehow God would see our obedience and command Tam’s steps to us. Yet it never happened, day after day. I could not comprehend how you could have someone that loved you literally around the corner at times and how you wouldn’t want to see that person, look into their eyes and see and feel love… rather than just hearing or reading the words of a long distance relationship. Love had literally jumped a plane in matter of hours to meet the needs of a broken girl… and yet it stopped at the end of a phone call every time.
The days were dwindling down before we had to go home and instead of lying around a hotel wishing for a phone call we decided to just go get in God’s presence and feel His heart on the situation at one of the local churches in the city. Sometimes I laugh at how God works, and this night He truly transformed my heart forever. Earlier that day I had been sitting with Jen in the hotel room and I was listening to her heart so full of love convey to me that she couldn’t do it any longer and that she was done with ministry… that this had been too much. I will never forget sitting on that hotel bed across from her and feeling not the same pain, but the pain of misunderstanding because I could not understand why one of the strongest people I know was hurting so badly. As we cried together in that room I realized the cost of love… I realized that the pain at times is much more than one can bear, and there is a world out there that has no idea what this love looks like so the only reaction it has is to reject it. Just like Jesus was rejected. So we go to church that night expecting to just hear God, and not much more than that. Little did we know that God was about to affirm the calling on both of our lives. Without knowing who the speaker was until the last minute we decided to go to this church… it wasn’t until merely hours before that Heidi Baker would be speaking that night at a conference. Heidi Baker is one of Jen’s heroes in the faith, and it seemed to her and I both that this was just a little gift from God for what we had experienced so far that week.
Heidi’s message that night was all about the call… and how we have to keep the dreams alive and carry the heart of the Father to the broken and the needy. It was like God had taken every word that Jen had said on the bed in the hotel and spit them out of Heidi’s mouth just to tell her that she couldn’t walk away from the calling on her life… it was her life. Both Jen and I had radical God encounters that night and we realized that there was a reason and a purpose for everything that had transpired thus far in the week. He had us on an assignment, and He knew exactly what was happening and He knew how defeated Jen felt because she still hadn’t been able to see this young woman or be able to just hold her in her arms and show her what true love is. God foreknew every plan, and the steps of His righteous He had ordered beforehand.
God was providing, even if we couldn’t see it. Through going to the service that Friday night we got connected with so many awesome people from Toronto, and they were truly God divine connections. After meeting one woman in particular named Veronique, who is the head of Bound For Life Toronto and volunteers at the Pregnancy Crisis center, Jen got the opportunity to speak at one of the campus churches for the church that we had visited on Friday. It was truly a door swinging wide open for her to share her story, and what God was doing through her to transform our city in Dallas and around the world. Jen and I both figured that this would be the last assignment that God would have us on, and we would be leaving Toronto without getting to see anyone that we had originally come there for. It was disheartening, but we knew that our steps had been ordered by God.
We had arrived at the church and were in the middle of worship when Jen looks behind me and says that she knows there is a girl there who works in the industry… I had no idea how she knew this, but I have also learned to just trust Jen. Jen goes and runs outside to see who she is, and if it was Tam whom we had come there searching for. After going outside to talk to her she realized that it wasn’t Tam, but the young woman wouldn’t talk to her… or even look her in the eyes for that matter. After a few attempted tries at other women trying to talk to her, we couldn’t get anywhere with her, we just knew she was there for a reason. I decided that I would try and go outside to talk to her to see if maybe I could get her name… or at least if she knew Tam, our original reason for coming to Toronto. I went outside almost terrified to talk to her, but I knew that God had sent her there for a very specific reason. All I could speak and convey to her was that Jen loved her very much, and that God had sent her to that church for a reason. I found out that her name is Tabitha and she had come to meet up with Tam and hear Jen speak. I realized that in this moment the love of God was already compelling this young woman closer to Himself, even if her eyes were then blinded to the reality. Tabitha agreed to come into the church with me, and little did I know that this was the beginning of a day that would truly change my life just because of this young woman’s decision to come to a church one Sunday to hear a woman speak that she had never met before, and in fact hated not many days earlier. She wouldn’t open up at much first, but I watched as she eased up the more time she spent with in sitting in the back of church that morning. Tabitha had told me from the beginning that she was going to run out at any time and that if she did I shouldn’t follow her, and all I could do was tell her that I wouldn’t go after her, but I also suggested that it would be so much better for her if she stayed and talked to Jen and got to listen to her heart. To Jen and I’s surprise, she stayed. We got to invite her out to lunch and just spend the day with her before our plane left that evening and just before we were going to leave Tam had agreed to meet up with Jen, Tabitha and myself for coffee… it was as though God had kissed the last day of our trip.
As we were having coffee with Tabitha and waiting for Tam to arrive we got a phone call that on her way to the airport she had blown a red light to get to see Jen faster and she ended up getting arrested for possession. It was like a dead weight had been thrown into the middle of everything… I remember distinctly thinking that Jen must have felt as low to the ground as possible. Oh, to love someone with all your heart and truly never get to see them. The reality of the severity of the things these girls struggle within the Sex Industry was becoming clear to me… everything is fragile because of the sin that entangles them. All we could do now was convey the love that we had for Tabitha one last time before we left and get back on the plane for Dallas with our heads held high so that the people back home didn’t think we were entirely crazy for coming here for what looked like no point.
Jen and I walked through those gates just 5 minutes too late and we ended up missing our flight, and in that moment every bit of my flesh came out and I exploded in emotion that I had been holding in for the last 5 days. So there Jen and I were at the gate crying so hard at the prospect of staying in Toronto one more night, it was as though our bodies couldn’t handle even another night in that city. Thank God for Jen in that moment… if I were alone I do believe that I would have had a mental breakdown. Immediately we got our flights fixed for the next morning and Jen had turned it around with full knowledge that God had kept us there for another night for a reason. Sure enough He had more than we had ever imagined in store for us that night.
After checking into our hotel we decided to invite Tabitha back to our hotel and see if she just wanted to hang out with us and have a girl’s night. I had already felt like God had blessed enough with a whole day with her, and I was expecting anything to happen that night. Jen and I both knew that Tabitha had to work at the club that night, and it was rare that a girl would miss a night at work because of the consequences that could take place. Tabitha surprised us both and decided to come hang out with us again. After hiding from her driver that came to pick her up at night to take her to the club, she caught a cab to our hotel. My heart jumped when I heard her knock on that door because I knew that God was certainly up to something, and He wanted to share something with His princess that night.
Tabitha walked into our room sheepishly with a bag full of goodies and some coffee joking that she never brought coffee, food and candy to a hotel, but rather only drugs. I was watching as she was being allowed to just be safe for probably the first time in her life. We expected nothing of her there in that hotel room… we just wanted to love her. For 6 hours that night we sat and talked about everything from each of our pasts, to abortion and to reading the Word over this young woman that had never heard it before. The atmosphere in that room that night was one of security and peace, and I could watch as Tabitha was being transformed by the way that one person could love her so purely, even if she didn’t understand what was going on in that room. We were offering her something more addicting than any drug she would ever try. The imagery alone of this young woman sitting in our room that night was so perfect to how I imagined she had felt. There she sat sitting in a chair with her feet hanging over the side, and although she was dressed very much so like a woman, on her feet were polka dotted socks, and I couldn’t help but imagine that this was a picture of how she was every day of her life. On the outside there was a woman who was used to using her body to earn money, and on the inside there was a young girl that never got the chance to be loved, or to enjoy life. As Jen and I were about to leave Tabitha told us that she had never felt that way before… that no one had ever sat in a room and just let her be herself for as long as we did. It was eye opening to me that every other day out of the year and the years previous to this moment, she never got to be herself. I was now aware how much love could change the heart of someone who was broken and missing one of the greatest gifts in life.
We left that next morning realizing that God had kept us there in Toronto that night for Tabitha, and despite the week’s events leading up to that point, everything had been worth it. I learned that you take one girl, treat her like she’s the only person in the world that matters to you, pour out your heart and love without expectations, and everything changes in an instant. Every young woman wants to feel like a princess and when you actually treat her like one her whole heart opens to the possibility of the fairy tale actually coming true.