ACW

ACW

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

You Just Never Know.... by Mandy Baker Johnson


Isn't it funny how one thing leads to another?

In June 2016, I went to the ACW weekend at Scargill House with a half-formed resolution to write the homework set by the speaker and maybe even read it out. Scary.... Could I do it?

I teetered and wobbled, then inspiration came.

Oh blow it, I thought, I'm going to do this.

In a moment of madness, I told the organisers I'd like to read out what I'd written.

I had no idea what kind of reaction it would get, whether it would be any good or even if it made sense. But with grim determination I resolved to do this for me and for Jesus. The fact that I could even consider doing it was all down to what He had done in me, breaking the chains of fear and rejection, of believing I wasn't good enough.

The reading - a fictional account of a young woman who had been trafficked into sex work - brought about an unexpected conversation. A fellow writer wanted to know more of what I'd written. I explained about my volunteer work with the Jericho Road Project which works with women in the sex industry.

'You may have an idea for a book there.'

Really? I wasn't sure. Could driving a van around the red light district late at night, stopping to offer working women hot chocolate, ham and cheese sandwiches, and homemade flapjacks be book-worthy?

I prayed but remained unconvinced. Yet the idea wouldn't go away. Then a comment in a sermon by my then pastor Nick Sharp clinched it for me.

So I approached the trustees. Even though I was convinced they wouldn't be interested. But the trustees loved the idea of Jericho Road's story being published.

For the last year I have been busy researching, interviewing past and present staff members and volunteers and reading old newsletters. Piecing together how the project came into being and the difference it makes in the lives of these precious women has been fascinating.

Come February, most of the research should be done and I plan to start writing the book. Jericho Road's story is remarkable: birthed in prayer and abounding in compassion for the gutsy women who find themselves trapped in terrible circumstances.

In anticipation of the book, and in celebration of all of Jericho Road's volunteers, I was one of several nominees at an awards ceremony at Nottingham's Albert Hall this evening. It was an honour to be there.

All of this came from one small act of stepping out in faith. Maybe God is nudging you to step outside of your comfort zone. Go for it. You never know what thrilling adventures He has in store for you.





Mandy Baker Johnson is a private medical secretary and freelance writer. She enjoys blogging and recently co-authored her first book, Drawn from Words. She volunteers with a Christian charity working with women in the sex industry, and is currently researching this area for her second book.

24 comments:

  1. Such a great story, Mandy! Looking forward to the book.

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  2. This sounds very interesting and certainly topical. It could be a great outreach project of showing God's love in such dire circumstances.

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    1. Thank you. You're right, it is a great project and I love being a part of it; very excited to be writing about it too x

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  3. That sounds great! Do you have a publisher or are you intending to put it out yourself? I'd be interested in hearing more about your journey towards writing it (and the process itself) - I think that would make a great article idea!

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    1. Thanks Claire. I have a publisher in mind to submit to... but if we end up self-publishing, that's also fine. Watch this space, eh?! x

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  4. Wow, Mandy - that's brilliant. But I haven't been able to enlarge your photo to read your certificate - what did it say?

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  5. Hang on..... 'In recognition of being nominated as a volunteer who has made a significant contribution to the Nottingham Community'.

    It still feels pretty surreal.... x

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  6. Delighted that you've been given this opportunity. His hand quite visible!

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    1. Thank you :D
      Yes indeed. Every time I'm tempted to think 'what in the wide world do I think I'm doing?' I remember it was His idea not mine :)

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  7. For me, reading out something I've written is a doddle, but working with sex workers would be well outside my comfort zone!

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    1. I was scared when I met my first working woman and sat in the corner of the van without saying a word. But I quickly realised she was just like me and someone I could have had coffee with in different circumstances. x

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  8. Congratulations, Mandy! Amazing to hear how God is bringing all your gifts together.

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    1. Thanks Fiona. When I think where we both were this time last year! Things are suddenly kicking into gear :)

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  9. Could driving a van around the red light district late at night, stopping to offer working women hot chocolate, ham and cheese sandwiches, and homemade flapjacks be book-worthy? YES, YES!

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    1. Thanks Fran! Although I suspect you're thinking more of the food.... Should I add in ginger beer and chocolate? ;) xx

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  10. What a great post! Really inspiring to hear how God used one (scary) act of obedience to start a whole chain of events. This is a great encouragement to me and very apposite to my life at the moment. Go Mandy! X

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    1. Thanks Deborah. Can still hardly believe it myself. xx

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  11. Wonderful! Mandy, you are brilliant and no mistake. Can't wait for this book. :-)

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    1. Thank you my friend. And our conversation in the car while merrily getting lost on the way definitely played a significant part in all of this. xx

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  12. Great news, Mandy. I’m so proud of you

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