I’m not sure how many folks read these blogs, but I have a favor to ask of those who do. Pentecost Sunday is May 15. That’s still a while away, but I want you to help me prepare for it. And there are two things specifically I need.
On Pentecost Weekend, we will be welcoming the Rev. Becca Stevens to Marble. Becca is an Episcopal Chaplain at Vanderbilt University and also founder of Thistle Farms and Magdalene House. Google each of those, and you will learn what a vital and urgent ministry she performs. Becca created the “Love Heals” movement, an incredibly successful initiative that reaches out to people trapped in the sex-for-sale industry, helping them embark on new journeys to new lives. Over the years, hundreds of women (many of them still young girls) have been rescued and renewed. Many were the victims of abuse dating back to their childhoods. Many were literally the “property” of pimps. Many were victims of trafficking. Many had long lists of arrests. Most had little self-esteem and almost no sense of hope. But Becca’s ministry surprised them with Grace, with the knowledge that they were created in God’s image and, thus, life could be very much different in the future than it had been in the past. In a very real sense, she helps people discover the deep meaning of Christ’s words about being “born anew.”
Trafficking is an almost indescribable reality in our world (and our nation) today. Most often it involves sex (with the average entry into that industry being age eleven!), but sometimes it also has to do with forced labor. There are 12.3 million “trafficking slaves” in our world as you read this blog, with more being lured or kidnapped into that life every day. Lives are ruined, and sometimes lives are ended. The enormity of the problem demands that people of faith and human decency do something about it. Becca Stevens is one of our nation’s leaders in doing just that.
Additionally, Becca is a very successful author, an outstanding (energetic A+) preacher, a loving mom, and the wife of Grammy Award-winning country music artist, Marcus Hummon. She has been featured in the New York Times, on ABC World News, NPR, PBS, and CNN. In 2011, the White House named Becca a “Champion of Change.” Recently, she was featured in the PBS documentary, “A Path Appears,” named Humanitarian of the Year in 2014 by the Small Business Council of America as well as the TJ Martell Foundation, inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame, and was conferred an honorary doctorate by Sewanee: The University of the South.
Okay, what about those two things I need from you as we prepare for the weekend (with Becca making a presentation Saturday night and preaching Sunday morning)? First, I need your prayers. I’m truly serious about that. The more we pray for the success and impact of the weekend, the more likely it is that the results will be meaningful. Between now and Pentecost, please join me in praying for the programs she will lead and especially for the issue she champions. And second, I need you to spread the word. I trust you will plan to attend, but right now I’m asking for something in addition to that. Invite someone. Invite several someones. Tell people what that weekend at Marble is about – and who she is – and why Christians cannot afford to be uninformed about the pains of people who are entrapped in terrible lives – and about the fact that we can be part of a movement to change all that. We can be the ones in New York City who begin to get the word out that Love Heals... and it can start with us this Pentecost Weekend!
Will you be my partners in preparing for Pentecost and our awareness-raising weekend? Will you help me lay the foundation to welcome Rev. Becca Stevens? I believe God’s Spirit will breathe upon us in a powerful and life-giving way if we make ourselves ready. And that is exactly what Pentecost is about.