International Ministries

God at Work: In Serendipitous Gatherings

September 9, 2009 Journal
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Tonight I had a meeting in the red-light district with a journalist from Eastern Europe.  He wanted one question answered from me:  Why are there so many women from his country working in prostitution here in Holland?  In one area, 60% of the women are from his country.  The answer to his question isn’t a simple one.  The most obvious answer is that the women are from an economically deprived area with a very high rate of unemployment.  They simply don’t feel that they have any other way of supporting their families.  Some of the young women are also coming from orphanages, where they are “groomed” and deceived by unscrupulous people to enter into prostitution as soon as they leave the institution.  The pimps and traffickers are taking advantage of these vulnerable populations of young women, and have worked out accommodations and provide the networks for them to come and work in the sex industry.  And his corollary question:  what to do?  

The journalist and I were talking in the meeting room of a Christian organization in the red-light district.  The purpose of this organization is to offer holistic care and ministry, including counseling and job placement for the women.  As we were sitting there, others started to join us and enter into the conversation.  Most of them were social workers and volunteers who were going out on the streets later in the evening to meet the women working “behind the windows” in prostitution, offering them Christ’s unconditional love and the opportunity to explore alternatives for their lives.  One was a woman who is working with a safe house in Eastern Europe—and she has a mandate to expand its reach.  All of the 8 people who eventually joined in the discussion around that table were Called by God to use their gifts in different ways in ministry with people in prostitution.  We talked about offering economic alternatives and what those might look like in the Eastern European context.  We talked about Christians who have begun “businesses as mission” in order to employ women coming out of prostitution—and to prevent others from entering the sex industry.  We talked about our networks of organizations that have been successful in these ventures and how to get European Union funding for start-ups.  The conversation was wide-ranging—and exciting.  This is part of the Movement of God that I wrote about a few nights ago:  beginnings of “new things” start when God’s people meet together and share a vision and great passion.  And then we surrounded it all by prayer, laying at God’s feet our ideas and desires that God’s precious daughters and sons be freed from lives of exploitation and abuse.

Afterwards, the teams went out on the streets to meet the women in prostitution and offer them life-alternatives.  Maggi and I headed home, and as I walked through the district, I prayed for the women as I passed them…. I’m confident that God is fighting the battle for their souls in ways we can neither imagine nor see.  Yes, He will use our hands and feet and prayers—and then proceed to multiply our efforts way beyond our wildest imaginations.