I met Kelly at a leaders meeting at church. She stood out because she was tall, elegant, and well dressed. I was intrigued by her so I asked, “What do you do for a living?”
She responded, “I drag the bags.” (I was clueless about what that meant. For those of you who don’t know, it means she is a fundraiser.)
Currently she fundraises for an organization called New Friends New Life. It’s a nonprofit committed to helping women get out of the sex industry.
The statistics on sex trafficking are unsettling. I’ve heard them before, but I can’t get my head around them. And my heart aches, literally – when I hear the shocking statistics or a woman’s heartbreaking story. It’s just not right.
I recently attended their big Wings Luncheon fundraiser. The room was packed with women and men committed to saying “NOT OUR CHILDREN. NOT OUR CITY.” They wanted to be clear that our girls are NOT for sale! The statement has been posted on the internet and plastered around our city. I’ve heard it before, but each time I see it again my heart screams for justice. They said it at the luncheon, and I wanted to literally scream it out loud as a charge for us to kick some butt. I didn’t. After all, it was a fancy luncheon, and I didn’t want to embarrass my friend.
Amal Clooney spoke about her work for the voiceless in the world. I appreciated that the focus remained on her work which is far more interesting than her marriage to George or the latest gossip from Hollywood. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about Amal; it’s about my friend Kelly.
I’ve known Kelly for about ten years, and I have such respect for her work. For years she dragged the bags for the largest women’s abuse shelter in Dallas, and now she fundraises to help women get out of the sex industry. Her work, although very rewarding, also can take a toll on the soul. Hearing the shattered stories of women and girls over and over does something to a person. You are not left unmarked by the darkness.
In her spare time she helped launch and develop the foundations of my ministry, The Marcella Project. She was our first chair, and I am grateful for her leadership, insight, and skills.
This year during Kelly’s biggest fundraising event, she has moved her sister, Traci, into her home. Traci and Kelly are what I call “twins” even though they aren’t. They are twins in the sense that they are highly intuitive and extremely connected to each other, like twins tend to be. You can be sure if one of them moves to the other side of the city or country; the other is soon to follow. Together they have launched their floral design business – one of the best in Dallas, I might add. They are no slackers. Throughout life they have been each other’s person. Now Traci is battling multiple myeloma. For the past four years, she has battled and it has not been easy.
I have marveled at my friend Kelly. She has been in it with Traci the whole way. I mean in it. Finances. Business. Insurance. Dog sitting. Making a will. Estate sale. Meals. Stem cell transplants. Facing fear. Planning for death. It has been poignantly beautiful to watch. It is rare to see a person lay down their life for another. When you witness it, that kind of hesed love – it moves you.
The word hesed…[is] the descriptor par excellence of God in the Old Testament. The word speaks of a completely undeserved kindness and generosity done by a person who is in a position of power. Like other Hebrew words, hesed is not just a feeling but an action. It intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue.
The Wings Luncheon was a success. I’m proud of Kelly’s accomplishment, but her “hesed” makes me admire her as a person. Through and through she has ennobled women, those without a voice and those without hair.
I love you, friend. You are a eshet chayil, a “woman of valor.” (Proverbs 31:10)