When my husband got assigned to McLennan County I did not know what that meant for me. If I would have known that moving to Waco would take me through a journey of healing I wouldn’t have put up such a fight. I knew nothing about Waco other than the fact that some sort of cult once was here, you know the one. To be honest I didn’t even know what Magnolia was until I came here.
What I found here in Waco had nothing to do with the power duo. What I found in Waco is a strong sex trafficking survivor and advocate whirlwind. It swept me off my feet into a rapid cycle of self discovery, self-healing, community, and mentorship. Jesus met me here; not that He ever left my side but He planned this move ever so precisely. It was here that I told my husband my truth, it was here that I found actual people fighting the spiritual war for survivors, it was here I became one of those warriors for my fellow survivors, and it was here that I found my voice. Swimming amongst the waves crashing down on me that would normally send me tumbling down to the bottom of the ocean was a non-profit named; Jesus Said Love. It almost felt as if someone’s heart was beating the exact same spiritual dance with mine when I dug deep into what JSL stood for.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Emily Mills and Brett Mills; the founders of Jesus Said Love as my time goes on here in Waco. Those that know me well know that I walk strongly and that my character is usually unshakeable. I’m not the type of woman who is easily bound to call another woman an inspiration. Women in general are inspirations to me but to actually feel someone’s Jesus radiate through their presence is beyond being inspired. I can literally watch the beacon of His light calling people near to Him when I look into Emily’s eyes. Emily and her team are doing the hard work and working with those that seem to have been forgotten when Jesus called us to love ALL people. Emily is human; sure. She has flaws and some days I’m sure she falters. But one thing is undeniable, she has surrendered to Him and because of that she has taught people like me to journey into doing the same. I hope that her words bring you empowerment, wisdom, and the drive to go out and DO.
Tell me in your words WHO is Jesus Said Love?
We are family – I got all my sistas (and brothers, and kids and husband with me!) That’s really it – we’re a family, a space of belonging for those impacted by commercial sex.
What was it about your life that led you to want to work specifically with what some call “the forgotten”? Why do you think it’s important to serve this specific group of people?
Well what I know now, is NOT what I knew 15 years ago. I know now the story of my own trauma, of abuse and neglect, I know that trauma is trauma and bears many different faces. I think God leads us to others who mirror our trauma so that we can find healing in Christ. Most of us are asleep, numb, coping and while God is always mirroring our need for healing, we are so doped up (even on good things) that we refuse to see how broken we truly are.
I know now that my history of childhood sexual abuse and being seen as a sexual object as my growing body blossomed and developed left me wounded, but also with eyes to see other women who were bearing the scars of a misogynistic culture.
What do you want people to know about Jesus Said Love?
First I want people to know that you probably know someone who’s been impacted by the commercial sex industry. We want to know her, or him. If you know someone, share our number with them, pass our contact along, spread the word that we are HERE!
Second, we need YOU. We can’t walk alone. You have a story and you have an ability to influence our family for the better. This work takes a village and we need your support, your skills, your talents, your time and connections.
I love watching how much you pour into people and how God has made you a bright beacon of hope in women’s lives; how do you stay full when you pour out to so many?
I sit, I am intentional about silence and solitude, I sing/worship/create/write, I love the Scriptures, I pray, I do yoga, I LOVE my husband and kids, I meet with friends weekly who fill me up.
If you could go back to when you began this journey, what one piece of advice would you give yourself?
To get into Al-Anon sooner! No joke. My disease is multi-faceted: I am attracted to addicts. I didn’t know how many boundary issues I had, how codependency ran my life, how aggressive females made me shut down but I was also attracted to them, desiring to win them over, I had control issues, I tried so hard to be perfect. My view of Christ and the church was one-dimensional. I needed recovery and should have been there years ago.
One of the things I love about JSL is that is a ministry led by husband and wife; why do you think it’s important for men to be involved in this movement?
Oh, you’re lighting a fire! The commercial sex industry is simple economics: the supply is fed by the demand. When the demand stops, the supply will as well. Most of the demand is fed and fueled by men: white, college educated men (as far as the data shows for now). We are seeing more women using pornography (which fuels the demand for prostitution and strip clubs), but this is largely because they are researching what men are wanting of them. But once they’re inside the world of a pornographer, they are at the mercy of their bodily responses: dopamine, adrenaline…arousal. That’s a physiological issue, not just a “moral” issue. You can read more about porn’s harmful effects at www.fightthenewdrug.com
But as far as what’s moving Brett and I together in this is that we believe God created male and female to rule and reign in the kingdom – together. equals. We believe that the future should never be a choice between male OR female but – HUMAN. Both. Male AND Female. All. We believe that there’s resistance to this work because it’s asking men to undo some of the language and humor and practices they’ve been born and raised with. It’s also asking women to look at what might have worked to survive, but isn’t God’s desire for a flourishing world. It became really impossible for Brett to be so involved in this work with women who represented the “supply chain” of the sex industry and not tackle the root of demand.
You have become one of my biggest inspirations and I love how you allow God to use you. If you had the platform to speak to EVERY woman on Earth what would you say to them?
Settle down and settle in. Turn off the noise of your phone,your insta, your whatever that is keeping you spinning and full of noise and LISTEN. As my nun friend told me, “you begin at beloved.” You started there. Yes you did. The world, or maybe your family, even church, for sure culture, definitely your ego, well….the darkness, twisted and trapped you into believing that you were less than and disposable, that you weren’t lovable as is. They said you were too hard and you couldn’t do what you dreamed of doing. That your childlike wishes were fairy tales and your lust for beauty was so “dramatic”. They said that you were so annoying for creating order but then for being too messy, so you got all confused. The darkness said you just needed to fall in line and take care of small things. So you did, you perfected every little small thing or lived so small that you refused everything. You quit. And you got hurt. Someone betrayed, mocked, raped, hit, and scolded you when you were just being so small. So, you became ashamed of yourself. Why? Because small didn’t fit you. You thought all of this was your fault. You bore the shame of others and started making agreements then vows with the darkness. You began listening to pitiful voices that were so narrow, but they helped you get through.
Anything else you want people to know about Jesus Said Love?
YES!!!! SHOP LOVELY AND CHANGE LIVES!
You can check out and give to Jesus Said Love here: Take Me!
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.