This past Saturday was CHALK DAY for the "shes 13.com" campaign at our church! It was great! (More events to come!!!)
The rain clouds held back and 22 folks came out to chalk sidewalks all over Tulsa. The goal was/is to make folks curious enough with chalk art on sidewalks/parking lots that they will then go to their computer to see what "shes 13.com" actually means. The website shows a brief video depicting how a 13 year old girl can very easily and quickly be coerced into Human Trafficking.
After greetings, smiles, small chit chat, directions and LOTS of fat chalk, the volunteers set out.
We drove to the designated parks, schools and businesses to pretend to be chalk artists for a few hours. Many folks would be educated through this simple method BEFORE the rain washed the message away. I began receiving texts from volunteers who were visiting with hundreds of people all over Tulsa as "wannabe" artists scattered over several miles.
All was going well........UNTIL.....we met with opposition!
Earlier in the week the manager of a popular business, which shall remain nameless on this blog, gave permission to come to their store and chalk the entrances so their customers could read the phrase. He agreed that our mission was commendable. I assured Honeybuns that we were going to that specific spot because the manager was so receptive and agreeable to the plan. We dutifully found the location and wrote the phrase 4 times, twice on the wide sidewalks and twice in the parking lot.
As we were about to leave the SAT. MANAGER ON DUTY at that store burst out the front door in a fit of rage! What we were doing? How dare we put graffiti on the sidewalks! With the biggest smile I could muster I explained that we had permission to do so and the meaning behind the chalked phrase. I asked if I should make some phone calls to assure her of our honorable intent and the stores managers cooperation. NOPE! She wanted no part of that! She was livid, assuring us that she had heard NOTHING about this from "corporate," that now she had to have one of her employees take a bucket to this awful mess and clean it up. If looks would have killed we would have been goners! (Thankfully her angry look would not be frozen in time, or she would have been very sad to look in the mirror the next day!)
Honeybuns stepped up to the plate!!!! He very calmly assured her that evidently there had been some miscommunication, that WE would happily clean up the chalk if she had a bucket of water.
She was no doubt surprised at that offer, and pouted off with smoke coming out of her ears. We waited. Startled customers coming in and out of the store asked me for an explanation of the confrontation and I was able to tell them the story, that 13 is now the age when children are recruited into the sex trafficking industry. All listened intently. Some had heard of the campaign and were surprised at the store managers reaction. (I praised the goodness of the store to them and the managers good intent at protecting the property!)
After a while a very young employee came outside with a bucket of soapy water. Honeybuns shook his hand, asked his name and quietly took the mop and bucket from his hands and proceeded to wash the chalk art off the side walks AND parking lot.
He returned the bucket to the manager, with more apologies.
So....what happened there? Several things!
1. There was obviously miscommunication within the ranks of the store employees,
2. The angry woman manager heard about the campaign personally,
3. Several customers also received an education,
4. A very young employee got to see GRACE in action from Honeybuns, (what a humble servant!)
5. We all saw the typical reaction of one more interested in politically correctness (didn't want to offend any customers) than even stopping to consider the gravity of the situation our nation is facing.
I am sincerely praying that woman never experiences the horror of a missing child, a child's stolen innocence, or a daughters bruises and nightmares.
Our church HT task force WILL keep plugging along, expecting unbelief and even outrage at times.
It's just part of the landscape. We will not be deterred or discouraged by misunderstandings or fear.
Overall, hundreds of Tulsans SAW a message Saturday, we saw the NEED to keep proclaiming it.