Sarah* works for Freedom Challenge-supported projects in Europe, building relationships with women and men caught up in prostitution. We asked Sarah to share some of the joys and challenges of this type of ministry
How did you end up working for Operation Mobilization (the organization that Freedom Challenge is part of)?
George Verwer, one of the founders of OM, came to our Bible college in Switzerland. I talked to him and went on a summer mission trip first. A year later I joined a team that worked among Asian immigrants in Britain. Then I spent three and a half years in the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan and India).
There, I met my husband Brian* and we got married. After three and a half years in the US we moved to Europe which is where we have been for 27 years. We arrived just as the iron curtain of communism came down and we travelled extensively in Eastern and Central Europe.
Unfortunately, the economic situation in many of these countries is so bad now that young girls and women with children end up on our streets and in our brothels. Many are victims of human trafficking, but poverty is also “a pimp”.
Tell us a little more about the project you’re involved with.
I am a so-called street worker which means I spend a lot of time in brothels and on the street. I teach others how to visit the women and men caught in prostitution and what is important in this ministry. We also visit the source countries (the countries that many of the women caught in prostitution come from) and run awareness and prevention sessions. I follow women up who come out of prostitution and build friendships with those who are still doing “the job.” We also write and produce literature that is appropriate and attractive for the ladies we meet.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love people and spending time with them. I enjoy being out there knocking on doors and getting to know the women, trying to install hope and share possibilities when they have lost perspective and are caught in a terrible hamster wheel. We give them unconditional love and respect and meet them at eye level. Often, we see some life return into “dead” eyes that portray dissociation and despair.
What are some of the challenges in this ministry?
“Do you have another job for me”, is the question we hear the most. “Do you have a flat I can move to so that I don’t have to live here in the brothel?” In most cases we cannot help in this way, but we encourage them to learn the language of the country they are living in and help them with courses as a first step. We help them write CVs and make calls to other organizations. A partner organization take women when they have room and another group is providing training to those who want to learn to sew and learn some other skills.
Can you share any stories of how you have seen God working in the women’s lives?
There are stories every day when we are out. Once in a while a woman has a dream or a vision which empowers her to believe in God. One woman had the same dream every night that she walked into the ocean and a wave washed over her. Every time she did this she felt cleaner and cleaner.
Another one was still in the brothel. When we came to meet her she told us to not come into her room as she was leaving and not returning. She had felt the presence of the Lord there; he had touched her face and heart. She knew she was clean and felt that she could walk out and start something new at this point. She went back to her home country.
How would you encourage women in the US to support this type of ministry? How can they make a difference?
Prayer and finances. Without continuous prayer, we would not get far. It is a dark environment and the enemy is active. But Jesus is stronger. He gives us wisdom, strength and the stability to keep going and become a steady friend for some of these women. There are so many needs. Many cannot make it on their own when they get out.
*Names changed to protect identity