Monday, June 15, 2009

July 2009 Prayer Letter: Names

On the day of our birth we a given a name. It is our “good name”, as our friends in India call it. The name is given by our parents who probably spent 9 months thoughtfully, even prayerfully, considering what name would ours for the duration our lifetime. Our names have weight and meaning in defining us, our spoken and written identity to friends, family and even our governments. Our names have deeper meanings. My name, Sarah, which means Princess or daughter of the King. My middle name is a family name, Lucinda, and it means, bringer of light. If you read my blog, you know that the web address is, a name that I have identified with in part and hope to live into every day.

We live in a world that loves to name and not all those names are good. Working with women in the sex trade I see the burden and weight of many who bear false names given to them by culture and society. They are whores, hookers, prostitutes, and husband stealers. Many, when you meet them, will not give you their “good name” but instead give another name that they have chosen to hide their true identity and protect them from the false names chosen for them by society. When they leave the red light area to visit family, they leave their false name behind and again take on their “good name”, leaving behind the other names that plague them and dehumanize them.

Naming has profound importance at Sari Bari. Each woman chooses her name and that name is the name that you will find marking each blanket. When the time comes to choose their name, they will most often choose their “good name”, the name given by their parents to identify them. They want to be identified with their good name, as good women, leaving the false names, the red light name behind.

There is a re-naming that happens at Sari Bari as the women take steps down the road of Exodus into freedom. The renaming happens as the women begin to understand that the false names and the awful names that society has given them do not need to hold power in their lives or in their identity as human beings. We process with them the false names and give them new names. We use names that bring dignity. Instead of prostitute, they are Sari Bari business women, seamstress’, and artists. Instead of a whore, they are friends. Instead of hooker, they are sisters. Their new names come in relationship, in a safe place of welcome and respite from society, and in the warm cleansing embrace of Jesus. The re-naming is a process. First comes the giving a new names and them comes the part where each woman must choose to live into her new names. Living into the new names is the hardest part. Living into being one who is now called accepted, loved, cherished, daughter, friend, sister, mother, beloved, cleansed, healed and beautiful is no easy path. Especially when the burden of false names like rejected, despised, dirty, worthless and powerless has been ascribed and those are the names that you have been living into for more years that you can count.

The “good names” must be embraced. We embrace the women, each one, and call them by name. Just as Jesus has embraced us and called us by name. We are compelled by our friends and their lives to continue the pursuit of women who do not yet know their names. It is the names that move us, compel us toward reconciliation, restoration and healing for the red light areas where these beautiful women live. Bringing freedom to the red light areas is not about a cause. It is about a human being with a name. Ending human trafficking, sexual slavery and the exploitation of persons are truly noble and important causes. But it is the one woman living into her “good name”, into the new names given, which compels our action, our advocacy, and our hearts. The causes must have the names of persons and be framed by the human persons who compel the causes. I do not know any prostitutes or whores or hookers. I only know women, friends, sisters and daughters of the King. And they have beautiful names: Minu, Shopna, Putul, Shakina, Arotun, Josna, Bharoti, Chaya, Rohima and Champa.

Coming in the mail in the next month, you will receive a personal letter from me and you will find some the names of Sari Bari women. These are the name tags we use to label each and every blanket. I have enclosed three names. I hope you take these lengths of labels and put them in your bibles, or on your fridge, and even share one with a friend and then when you see their name, pray for these women by name. Let their name speak to your heart. Speak the name out loud making it real. Look up their name on the website blog and find out a little bit more. Come and meet them in Kolkata and you too may find a new name.

Blessed be the name of Jesus!

With love,


Thursday, June 04, 2009

not my people

I am frustrated and concerned when I hear things like "not my people." makes me sad. yeah, we disagree. so what? we have different beliefs, politics, ideas about how life should be live, how faith should be experienced and practiced. So what? isn't everyone welcome at the table in the relationship. if we are believers in jesus, doesn't that make us apart of the same body. certainly, we do not reflect christ perfectly as the body. it is a broken body.

i have many concerns about the church body here in k-town. honestly, when i hear things like you are not a believer if you do not attend such and such a church, i cringe. I want to see welcome and inclusion of all members of the body regardless of church attendance. but my stance is to be welcoming when others are not, to include people who may judge me as well as those who agree with me. does one group and one group only have the corner on truth. We have central beliefs that we agree on, some periferals that we do not, and some kind of important stuff that we just not have the answers for, even if we say that we do. Where is the grace for each other in all of this...

i am just as weary of liberal bigots as i am of conservative ones. Bigotry no matter where you derive it from, is ugly. love covers a multitude of sins, so why can't it cover a multitude of varying ideas, belief systems and politics. we are still human, imperfect, broken, frail and created. we can take no credit for our presence on earth nor can we assume that it ours to take for granted, full of entitlement.

i admit to having been a bigot, especially in my idealist 20's, to not welcoming others because for their beliefs or politics, but age, the knowledge of my own failed humanity has brought some humility. learning to offer grace before i expect it to be offered to me. the God of the universe is the only one who loved first, gave grace first. should we not follow the leader on this one? Jesus did not like the religous leaders but certainly he loved them. He spoke truth to them but did not reject them. they rejected him. as humans we need to offer grace if we expect to receive it. it seems more appropriate the we welcome the rejection that is sent our way than that we reject and condemn those who disagree with becoming like them in the process. God forgive me for not embracing your body and all it parts, for rejecting when i have been rejected, for not offering grace to my fellow journeyman and women as we travel this road together.

You are all welcome at my table. I may not agree with you and sometimes i may not even like what you choose to do but you are welcome to share life with me. just so know, you are all my people!