BELOVED: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”Jeremiah 29:11

Myself, along with nine other female students and staff, spent this past Wednesday night walking around our neighborhood. Earlier in the day we had hand-written Bible verses on cards and attached them to flowers as a way to encourage and start conversations with women who were (or were at risk of being) involved in prostitution.

The first woman my group gave a flower to lived in Oakland but had been in the Tenderloin drinking and hanging out on the streets for the better part of a week. Patricia had four children and was just three years older than me. She shared with us about the difficulties and stresses of being a single-mother, and especially about her oldest daughter, who is eleven.

We listened to her stories, saw pictures of her children, and encouraged her to go home to them as soon as she could. While we were talking, several other women approached us and asked for a flower. Later, we prayed for Patricia as we continued on our walk. In the midst of the drugs, crime and prostitution in our neighborhood we saw little bits of beauty and hope in women carrying flowers with messages of love, given to them by our group.

It is such a unique and special opportunity we have here to do ministry like this – to engage with people living on the streets, pray for them and extend hope and friendship. There is nothing I would rather do with my life than be a bearer of hope in the unlikeliest of places, like the Tenderloin of San Francisco – or the red light districts of Bangkok. I consider it such a gift that God is leading us in this kind of ministry.