Fleeing to the streets

A story of a girl in search of a new home

Here’s a practical reason why we should take the great commandments of loving God and loving our neighbors seriously.

A story of a girl

Let’s imagine a 13 year old girl growing up in a small town or city somewhere in Canada. Our statistics say that one in four girls are abused in their own home by the age of 14. So, this 13 year-old girl is probably being abused in her home by either her father or a teacher or uncle or preacher or. The girl makes a decision that life will be safer for her and more manageable if she leaves home and runs away.

If she lives in a community where there is a Christian family that has made it known by their example that they are safe, non-judgmental, welcoming and loving, she might choose to flee to that home for safety. She would know that she’d be taken care of there and protected from her abuser, no matter what.

Or if there’s no family that she can think of, but she knows of a local church that is known for loving their neighbours without prejudice or judgement, she might choose to flee to that church for the safety she needs. I’m very aware that things get complicated in this scenario very quickly, but the bottom line is that the girl is safe from her abuser no matter what.

But if she lives in a community where she doesn’t know of any Christians, or if the only Christians she knows of are stand-offish, have privacy fences all over their property, and a security alarm up in case someone wants to steel their stuff, she likely won’t run to safety there.

Or if a church even crosses her mind as an option, the only ones she is aware of nearby are all known for their differences as opposed to what they have in common, or are known for being judgmental of people based on their lifestyles or any number of other random and irrelevant things, she’s likely to not flee there either.

Then her only choice is to get on a bus, flee to downtown anywhere, and hope for the best. When she gets off the bus, a man will be at the station waiting and watching for lost and scared girls getting off the bus.

Then he’ll approach her, be kind to her, tell her she’s welcome to come with him in his fancy car and stay at his place where he’ll feed and clothe and love and take care of her. And, before long, he’s beaten her so badly and gotten her hooked on so many drugs that she’s working the streets and turning tricks for him out of fear and desperation.

All because the local church really had no idea of what it actually means to love its neighbor as itself.

Living the Jesus creed

This may sound far-fetched but I promise you it is not. This scenario plays itself out all the time in Canada. Our city streets are lined with boys and girls from all over the country and the world who are terrified and don’t know where else to turn, and have ended up in the sex-trade as a means to survive.

Is the church doing anything about it other than arguing over things that don’t matter while the broken world keeps on getting more broken?

Responding is as simple as obeying Jesus’ two great commandments. These two rules can change the world and Jesus knew it. When the church lives the Jesus creed, the young girl in our story doesn’t end up on the streets turning tricks. She finds a new home, with us.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Dion Oxford is the Mission Strategist for The Salvation Army's five homeless shelters in Toronto, called Housing and Homeless Supports torontohhs.org. Dion along with his wife, Erinn, and daughter, Cate, live in Toronto and are committed to journeying alongside people in the margins of society. He blogs at dionoxford.com