Sunday, March 7, 2010

Freedom's Avenue

In the last 6 months I’m finding I’ve become the occasional fan of the television ministry 100 Huntley Street. This is surprising to me as I’ve been quite bitter about any sort of television ministry. Maybe it’s because of questionable televangelists like Benny Hinn Jim Baker or Jerry Faliwell. Regardless of who or how it started, I’ve always been a tad bitter toward these types of ministries. Still there are times I find myself interested in what shows up on my TV through 100 Huntley Street.

Capitalizing on Canada's hosting of the 2010 Olympics, those behind 100 Huntley’s cameras decided to send one of their reporters to the Olympics to highlight the church’s involvement in the games. In a piece called buying sex is not a sport, they profiled a ministry standing outside a strip club in Vancouver in a picket line on protest.

The people behind the protest represent REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity). It exists as an avenue to eradicate prostitution and help victims of the sex trade. In the beginning of the video, REED’s founder says the reason for the ministry is to help the marginalized people of society. Doing so emulates Jesus’ actions and attitudes toward the marginalized of his day; which is a charge to Christ’s followers of 2010. I agree with what REED stands for and applaud them in their efforts to reach the lost and forgotten of our world. But I question the medium used to communicate their stance. Something similar happened a few years ago in Calgary.

Approximately every 6 months those hungry for anything spiritual across Canada’s prairies flock to Calgary in anticipation of the next Body Soul Spirit Expo. A few years ago, some of Calgary’s church community mimicked REED’s actions and led a protest outside the walls of the event. It resulted in anything but something positive as the protest lead to burned bridges with the expo organizers, leaving them with a bad taste of the local church in Calgary.

In September 2008, the church community once again made itself known to the expo; this time with a more astute approach. A joint effort of two worship communities, Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship and Expressions Community, offered the expo’s attendees a place to sit relax and pray, if they so desired. This had a far better impact then the previous group standing outside protesting the event. In the aftermath of the sit relax and pray booth at the expo, it’s been mentioned that some healing began between the Expo’s organizers and their view of the church.

A few days after REED was profiled at the Olympics, Moira Brown interviewed Sandra McIntosh as she shared about her efforts in Thailand rescuing women out of the sex industry. Carrying the same mandate as REED, NightLight seeks to help women leave the sex trade. Instead of standing outside buildings in a picket line, NightLight’s volunteers go into strip clubs befriending the women who work there. After establishing a rapport with these women, the NightLight volunteer offers a way out.

For those that want it, an avenue out of prostitution is provided through various classes offered by the ministry. Some of these include computer training, financial management, and the entrepreneurial venture of selling handmade jewelry.
Two separate ministries with the same mandate promoted through differing mediums. One is tarnishing the light and hope the church brings through political protest, while the other is advancing the Kingdom of God through relationship. Which one has more impact? I honestly can’t say, for God may be using both in their own unique ways, but it still leads me to wonder what is the most effective way to minister to the hurting world… by protest and getting in your face about their cause, or through relationships and seeking opportunities to share your heart? For myself, I prefer the latter. What do you think?

Ministries/places mentioned in this blog:

NightLight International
100 Huntley Street
REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity).
Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship
Expressions Community
Body Soul Spirit Expo.


  1. Thanks for writing about trafficking and prostitution. I would like to gently challenge your statement that the protest behind Buying Sex Is Not a Sport "tarnishes the light and hope the church brings." The nonviolent stands outside of sex clubs were part of a much larger campaign addressing systemic injustice - namely the male demand for paid sex that fuels the trafficking in women. Our hope is to ultimately usher in new legislative change that will abolish the sex industry through criminalizing the buyers who are driving the market for women's bodies (this is often referred to as the Swedish model of law). Through addressing root causes we are not solely providing bandaid solutions to women but addressing larger issues of gender-based violence. It is my conviction that this would be light and hope indeed!

  2. Hey Michelle

    Thanks for comment. I appreciate the dialog and they have kept the wheels turning in my brain since I first read them.

    My comment toward protests being a negative effect was referring to the church's protest outside the Body Soul Spirit Expo in Calgary where its organizers were hurt (and I’m not talking about a drop in attendance) by the churches protests outside the events walls.

    I agree that addressing the root cause of gender based violence is a good and worthy cause and if that’s REED's goal, then i support REED's mission 100%.

    As for your protest outside the strip club, if the goal is seeking systemic change through legislative action, wouldn’t it be more productive to take the protest to those capable of implementing such changes? Whether it is the Mayor, MLA or Member of Parliament?

    your brother in Christ Tim bit