News and Views
Editors: Margaret Brown
and Wies Dikstra

Biannual newsletter of the European Baptist Women's Union
Winter Edition 2010-2011
Table of Contents




Letter from Lauran
Greetings to all my EBWU Sisters!

I LOVE getting together with my EBF family as we seek to follow God‘s leading into difficult places! And so you won‘t be surprised that one of the highlights for me dur-ing 2010 was participating in EBF‘s Anti-Trafficking Conference, which was wonderfully hosted by "Herzwerk" in Vienna, Austria and held in the Beheimgasse Baptist Church.

Lauran Bethell
"Fighting Human Trafficking: Work of the Heart" was the theme, and 70 representatives from 18 Eastern and Western European countries met together to answer the question: "What Can Churches Do?" We worshipped, prayed, shared, listened, hugged, cried and sometimes laughed together.





 

We learned about the amazing ministry of "Herzwerk" - how it began with a simple prayer meeting - and we were able to join its ministry team on the streets in 3 different parts of the city. I joined a team that held a worship service in Prater, a large amusement park in Vienna, where many of the women must work in prostitution. Standing in a circle and singing choruses of Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ, I froze in the sub-zero temperatures. My toes and fingers were aching. But I wanted to be there and felt honored when a woman would join and sing with us in the circle and I was so thankful that they could go into the Herzwerk van, parked near-by and have a warm drink and opportunity to share their heart with a trusted volunteer. We continually prayed for the women and situation here. After a couple of hours, we walked away to return to our warm hotel, realizing that the women had to continue working in the cold until early in the morning - often wearing uncomfortable and insufficient shoes and clothing. Another group from the conference prayed on the "Gürtel", the longest red-light area in Vienna, and a third team, including some of the participants who could serve as translators, went to a street where "Herzwerk" regularly meets women from Romania. "My parents would die if they knew what I was doing here," one very beautiful 20 year old Romanian woman told this group with tears in her eyes. Her husband left her and she works here to provide for her child. In her home-town she went to an evangelical church... Our hearts broke, hearing the story. What CAN churches do?.



 


We heard many sad reports. For example, in Moldova, which has a population of 3.5 million people, 30,000 women have simply disappeared in the last 10 years. Similar stories are coming out of other countries as well. But as Vladimir Ubeivolc reported about this, he was also able to share about the Hope that he sees in the min-istry that he and his wife Yulia have started. Involved with prevention, a safe-house and reintegration, "Beginning of Life" ministry has touched the lives of thousands of children, youth and women - offering alternatives to despair and hopelessness.

We ask the questions again: what CAN churches DO? The conference participants realized that the first step is to not turn the other way and to really look at the injustice that is going on in their midst. In many countries women don't have equal opportunities for education and work, and become easy prey for traffickers. The problem begins in the countries of origin and heads straight for the bars, brothels, and sex clubs in the prosperous West. Many of the women are incapable of making life changing decisions because of a lack of options, perspective and the shame they are experiencing. We often feel helpless when we see the magnitude of the situation and we would much rather just keep walking and do nothing.

But then we have to remember: Jesus came to earth as a vulnerable helpless baby, lived a humble life and then died a terrible death. But as impossible as His situation must have seemed to His disciples, that wasn‘t the end of the story. We know what happened and how he amazingly and miraculously WON the victory over death! With His Amazing Living Hope in our hearts, we can walk along side people who simply want a life of freedom and self-respect - and help them search for new possibilities for their lives. Through networking with individuals, churches and organizations, we can do this work together. There need to be "safe places" in the countries of origin, to which women can go when they leave prostitution. Prevention work has to be fur-ther developed and intensified. Economic alternatives and opportunity for employ-ment must be provided. And in Western Europe, there is the need for a political lob-by that is a voice for refugees and victims of trafficking.

Feel overwhelmed? At times during the conference we did too. But then we turned our eyes in prayer and worship toward the One who Calls and then Equips. And we realized that Christ has provided the Community of Faith on this earth to offer sup-port and encouragement. And HE will lead the way and use the offering of our lives in ways that far, far exceed what we can imagine!

Here‘s a place to start!

Please pray for:

  • Victims of human trafficking and prostitution in your community (they are present in every corner of the earth) that they may know Hope and Freedom.
  • Those who abuse and traffick people in situations of exploitation
  • What YOUR church CAN do.
  • Your EBF Anti-Trafficking Working Group and Network - for wisdom, courage and God‘s Guidance.

What CAN churches do? A lot! It‘s happening! Join us!

May All of You Know God‘s Love and Blessings!
Lauran


**This article had help from reports of the conference written by "Herzwerk" staff and Sven Gunnar Liden, Chair of the EBF Anti-Trafficking Working Group.


Rev. Lauran Bethell serves as Global Consultant, helping Christians to minister in Christ’s name to victims of human trafficking and prostitution. She is a missionary with International Ministries ABC/USA, and is based in The Netherlands.



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