Finding God’s Work in Data and Statistics

The day before I graduated from law school I attended a luncheon and found myself sitting at a round table with six or seven distinguished alumni. I fielded the expected questions about the classes I enjoyed most and whether there was a moment I thought that law school could actually work me to death. I also answered the question asked of every soon-to-be law school graduate: What are you going to do? As I described my plans to move from Oregon to Kentucky to work for legal aid the gentleman next to me put his hand on mine, turned to me and said “You will be doing God’s work.”

This remains a defining moment in my adulthood. I remember that everything around me and in me stopped quickly then my heart started racing. God moves mountains, I thought. This man certainly had me mistaken for someone else. It wasn’t that I didn’t know God or His calling for me. He firmly made me an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. I have to admit that I started to sweat a little when this calling – my calling – was described as God’s work. The stakes suddenly became enormously high and I was afraid of failing.

Six years later I was reminded of that luncheon and of my fear of failure as I sat in the Refuge for Women office writing materials for a grant presentation. Since I graduated from law school, I have failed and stumbled and fallen and crawled. I have spent nights clutching my Bible to my gut, the pages flipped to Luke or Matthew, and asking God to fix me. I have cried. I have stomped my feet. I have given up. But, as my husband says, everyone needs to be saved…again and again. So, John 3:16 became my mantra: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” and every time my mantra crossed my lips I felt saved. Saved from grief. Saved from fear. Saved from myself. Here’s the kicker: I had to experience all of this frustration, pain, and – yes, failure in order to learn how to dance and jump and run and twirl and be the part of the Body of Christ that God made me to be. This is part of my journey as a child of God. And as I sat at my work desk next to Cindy Warr and poured over data about the women we have helped since January 1, 2010, I saw 35 similar journeys where God’s calling cut through high stakes and fear of failure.

The materials I wrote for the grant presentation became a report called “Not Entertainment: The Sex Industry and the Path Out.” I can understand how people can look at the report and see pure information. An information overload even. At first blush, the report is data on the sex industry and statistics about women who have either left or returned to the industry and who have either maintained sobriety or fallen off the wagon. I see so much more in this information, though. I see beauty in the data. Pie charts represent triumphs, struggles, and even failures. Numbers, case studies, and program descriptions tell me a story about how the Body of Christ walked hand-in-hand with 35 women on their trek out of hell. This information overload reminds me that God’s calling for each us will always prevail because through Him all things are possible.