The red light district of Amsterdam is the darkest that I’ve experienced yet. It’s bright red windows boast some of the most beautiful women in Europe – most brought here against their will to work as sex slaves to thousands of men who walk the streets every day. The heaviness of this place is so deeply rooted, it’s full of loneliness, lust, and anger. In the centre of the district there is a massive 600 year old church – it’s bells ring constantly throughout the day. But it’s not a place of hope and refuge, and it’s doors have been closed to the broken for a long time.
I’ve been working with a YWAM Amsterdam ministry called ‘The Lighthouse’. It’s been amazing to sit, talk and pray with some of the staff that work there. I’ve heard stories of hardship and frustration, but also so many stories of hope.
Stories of fruit. Stories of breakthrough.
The other night one of the leaders gave me a detailed tour of the red light district. Which women work where. What nationalities are represented. Although it’s hard to say, most organisations and ministries that work here believe that a huge percentage of these women are trafficked. They don’t have a choice. They are forced to work, often with their pimps watching them at all times.
We passed the window of a beautiful Czech girl, and stopped to say hi. They talked for a while, and I just stood there, praying, marvelling at the fact her face became so alive when we talked to her. I know that without even saying it that the women in this place see hope in our eyes.
As I’ve been prayer walking through the district, the one verse that God constantly lays on my heart is John 10:10 – “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s why we go. That’s why we do evangelism. That’s why we pray. That’s why we venture into some of the darkest places on earth..
Because we know what life to the fullest feels like, we know the hope of Jesus.
And they can know it too.
By Susanna Smith
YWAM Newcastle Creative & Communications Staff
If this is something that stirs your heart check out our upcoming Justice & Mercy DTS starting this April!