In the year 2007 in a small religious town, where police brutality, drugs, and prostitution are hidden deep and rarely talked about, a woman from a big city found herself far, far from home.
She carried a plastic grocery store bag with spare socks and underwear, but her short skirt and torn blouse were thought to be highly inappropriate. Her hair was tucked up under a cheap platinum wig, hiding staples that held the flesh together where the bullet had grazed her head. She knew not a soul and had traveled for two days to get to a domestic violence shelter. She had California attire in a snow-dusted state and within hours of her intake interview... she knew she had spoken too much.
Somehow she let it slip she was a prostitute and she was in the state alone and had no one...
"We don't take prostitutes," the shelter staff said. "Prostitutes never change, they always go back to prostitution."
What was she to do now? She hadn't eaten, she had not a dime to her name, and she had mistakenly put all her eggs into finding respite and shelter at the DV shelter. She had no more tokens for the bus. And finally, the pain from her attack that brought her out of state, the knife wounds, the stitches between her legs and vaginal repair, the lingering bullet shrapnel... all of it... it was too much.
She finally let go and wept big heavy sobs, shaking and moaning as she walked down the street. "Dear God," she mumbled, “I know it's time to die... but I don't wanna die slow. Help me to find a freeway overpass to jump from.”
She was so close to death, she felt relief it would all end now. The years and years of porn and prostitution she was forced into, the children she wasn't allowed to see, the daily rape and the hands, oh the many hands that would punch and slap and force themselves onto her body.
Finally, the hands would stop.
A man who was climbing onto the sidewalk from under a river path stopped her. He himself looked down on his luck, cold, and hungry. He asked her what was wrong.
She doesn't remember the answer, she only remembers he walked with her, not far, just a few blocks and took her into a building. "This is the transit Bishop’s office. He will help you. Go talk to him."
The secretary asked her to sign in on the clipboard and to show ID. She began crying. She had no ID. Now what!!!??
The Bishop walked out of his office. What was a bishop anyway?
"That's ok. Let her back. I want to talk to her,” he said. She was lost, she was alone, and the first thing he asked her was, "How can I help you?"
She had nothing to lose. Her life would be over in hours. She understood she was not worthy of help anywhere, from anybody. And she poured her life onto this bishop’s desk.
She often wonder how shocking it was for a man who heard hard luck stories all day to have this before him.
She opened the floodgates. She talked and cried and wept and told him of pimps and street life and films and being raped and shot in the head. She poured herself out. Nothing to hide. No more pride to carry.
And he listened and listened. The secretary came in and said it was time to close the office, but he told her that he wasn't finished, and could she please go buy this woman something to eat and drink at the cafeteria so he could finish their meeting.
He listened, and as she spoke she felt safer and less alone. And when she finally said, “I guess I just want someone to know that I'm at the end of my life tonight, and one day if my kids try to find me... that someone knows I died and maybe someone can tell them I love them.” Her tears dried up as she said all of the words she had in her heart and her head.
He pulled a clipboard from his desk and called a number. "Hello sir!” his cheerful booming bishop’s voice asked the person on the other side of the line. I'm gonna need a room for one, starting tonight, for two weeks."
Was she hearing things? She sat not making a sound, feeling so confused, what was going on? He then scribbled something on a paper, and he handed it over. "This is a clothes order for the thrift store that we run here on site, can you quickly go pick out some pajamas and some sweat pants or a jacket? We'll get you more clothes tomorrow. I just have to be getting home and I wanna take you to your hotel and make sure you're ok. You come back tomorrow and we'll work on fixing your life. How does that sound?" He grinned like he had simply opened the door for someone. Not until much later did he know she had planned to die that night.
This is my story, this is "My Bishop".
This Bishop stayed in my life and baptized me into the church. He watched me grow, he came to hear me speak, he and his family became my family. His wife is one of my dearest friends. And one of the most accomplished feelings I have in life is that I made him proud.
He took a chance on someone he had never met. He loved me just as Jesus would have.
And he died this last Sunday, on a day of rest.
You are the hero in my story, Bishop.
And I'm sure missing you right now.
Laurin Crosson, is the founder and director of Rockstarr Ministries. Rockstarr runs a safe house and specializes in assisting escapes for victims still under pimp control. Laurin is a proud graduate of RBI and is grateful for their ongoing support.