A transvestite showed up one day and was welcomed, though he was not in the “target demographic.” A businessman sitting nearby overheard the conversation on another day and walked over to say how much he appreciated what was going on. A lady who is “up in age” drives forty-five minutes from her rural home to be part of it. Ladies from two different (some would say ‘competing’) Baptist ‘tribes’ are working together on it.
I’m talking about Wendy’s on Wednesdays, a fresh expression of church seeking to engage women used in prostitution on the streets of Richmond. Wendy’s is the place we’ve parked for years when, on one Friday night per month, we have walked the streets talking and praying with ladies (and men) of the evening. We don’t point fingers. We don’t say “turn or burn” and we don’t ‘shame’. We ask, “Are you safe? Is there anything you’d like us to pray for?” We hand them a card with phone numbers in case they want ‘out.’ Sometimes we have a little health kit to give them. Then we walk on.
After a few years of doing these Friday nights—and a result of a Fresh Expressions Vision Day in Richmond—Valerie Carter, our Associate Pastor for Glocal Missions felt led to do something more substantial. Hence Wendy’s on Wednesdays. A few Christian ladies are committed to being there every Wednesday at noon to buy lunch for any of the people we meet on our Friday night walks. Word is spreading. People are inviting. And a ministry that was born in loving service is starting to take shape.
It doesn’t yet have all the elements of a church, but there is Christian friendship, the sharing of stories, a reading from a Bible passage, and prayer. Wendy’s on Wednesdays is on its way.
Travis Collins is the Senior Pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. He serves on the Fresh Expressions US Board of Trustees.
Travis Collins is Pastor of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Alabama, and Director of Mission Advancement for Fresh Expressions US. He holds a PhD in Christian Mission and is the author of From the Steeple to the Street and Fresh Expressions of Church.