Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Red Lights of London

6:10 PM
My heart is broken. No matter how many times you read a statistic, watch a documentary, or talk about an issue, the names & faces will always break your heart.

Our London outreach team has spent the last 2 days in the red light district of London, called Soho. It's right in the middle of the city, just one block from all the West End theatres and shows. Just one turn from the bright lights of theatre stages to the neon marquees of bars & brothels.

Our first night down in Soho was very eye opening. It's much more sexually explicit than what I've seen in America, but I've almost learned not to be shocked by anything. It just saddens me now. We were partnering with a ministry called Now Believe. They spend every Thursday night in Soho, handing out coffee, tea, and snacks to anyone who will stop. Often it leads to conversation, prayer, and sometimes salvation & healing. It was a great night for our team. We broke out of our comfort zones and really engaged with those on the streets, looking for pleasure & escape. God burdened our hearts for so many. It was almost hard to go home that night.

But we found ourselves back in Soho the next day as well. We were working with a ministry called City Gates Church, who has a coffee shop right in the heart of Soho, sharing an alleyway with a Chinese Tattoo Palor and a British Adult Sex Shop. We spent the afternoon with Heidi, who runs their ministry to the red light district. She has been living and working among the prostituted women in Soho for over 20 years! Her perseverance inspired us all. She recounted her stories of victory and heartbreak among the red lights. She explained more of the culture of prostitution in London, and helped us understand the environment we were entering. But most importantly, she reminded us where the fight was.  "The biggest battle isn't for the prostitutes, the red-light, or the ministry, but for our hearts." Our job is to be completely focused on intimacy with Christ, and He moves us and uses us, and things change on earth. But it's a spiritual battle that only God can win. It was a good reminder to those of us who try to do things in our strength...just to watch them fail. How reassuring to sit back and remember the battle is His, and all I have to do is lean on Him to fight it.

Heidi showed us around several of the brothels in Soho, where prostitutes, called models, service their clients for sometimes 12 hours a day and up to 30-40 men a day. She said many of the girls in Soho these days are foreign...Albanian, Lithuanian, Romanian, and so many more. Girls who signed up for jobs to get out of their poor living conditions or just in hope of a better life, and wound up in a brothel. Many knew partial truths of what they were signing up for, but maybe not the extent. And some feel trapped by the language barrier and the allure of cash. It's a complicated cycle. I'm so glad to serve a God of justice and eternal solutions.

That night, we once again prayed for people on the streets, but this time with fresh eyes and fresh passion. We prayed over homosexuals, homeless, tourists, and party-goers. One man even gave his life to Christ! Salvation on the streets of Soho! It was a beautiful moment of redemption in darkness.

Our continued prayer for Soho is for God's kingdom to be established there. That the kingdom of the enemy will fall, and God's presence will invade. That is the prayer of our hearts.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!