Blog 6: Belgium.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
We spent time in Belgium and a few surrounding towns walking the streets, admiring architecture, tasting chocolate and seeing firsthand the ways organizations are reaching out to the red-light districts.
The country of Belgium has more than 25,000 sex workers. One organization, Cherut has been working in Belgium for 10 years. What started as one women’s desire to bring hope to the red light district has now grown to an amazing organic organization that is willing to dream big with great faith.
Cherut is Hebrew for “freedom”. Freedom is at the root of what they want to accomplish. Providing resources, friendship and a family like atmosphere for women to find freedom from the life they are living. Many desire a change, but that is difficult. The more we talked the more we realized that great faith is needed to expect change.
We met with the director, who shared her story, her vision and her sincere love of the women that are hopeless and do not even know that freedom is a possibility.
As Cherut has grown from the town of Antewerp and the simple sharing of life with women, it has taken on more and more of a heart for the city and now the country. They have expanded to other cities in Belgium.
On the afternoon we were there was a bustling living room full of women, children, and volunteers. A few of the ladies chatted in Spanish with Don about their home country and showing pictures of their children. Lille and Eva sat with some ladies who were finishing lunch and working on some artwork. Zeke played with a little girl…and I chatted with a woman who has worked with Cherut from the beginning. There were ladies from the streets, social workers, someone preparing lunch…Honestly, it was hard to know who was ministering and who was being ministered to. It was life….simply living life together.
Since the various red light districts are not really “family friendly” we would find a cafe for Don and the kids to wait while I would go walk through. I found mostly the same atmosphere in each one. Most of the women would give eye contact and even smile. All were working and waiting for their next customer. The men I encountered on the street never gave eye contact.
The world of trafficking and prostitution is complicated. It requires people on multiple levels to become numb to their conscience, their daily life and their choices. The feeling of despair and hopelessness is under the surface. So when you have volunteers that visit and exhibit grace, a sincere interest and friendship, there is a glimmer of hope that is restored. And that is why Cherut continues to grow.
After hearing about the ministry, the story behind it, and lives being changed, we all brainstormed on how we can be part of it. We are praying with Cherut about how we can work together for his glory and his plan for Belgium.
Blog 6: Belgium.