At the base in Cologne, along with the regular DTS, they also offer a Justice DTS. A Justice DTS is a DTS with a focus on justice and human trafficking. Shortly after we arrived, our leader had explained to us that the Justice DTS goes out regularly to do outreach, working with prostitutes in Cologne. Because of the recent events knowing, that as a team, we were already quite drained and being aware of the heaviness attached to this kind of ministry, it was decided that we would skip the planned outreach. For many years now, I have had a certain tug on my heart towards the area of human trafficking and women in vulnerable situations (such as prostitution). I have informed myself on human trafficking on a basic level and my desire to to take a stand against the problem has only increased over time. Having said that, being aware of the extent to which this problem has grown, I had no idea how to even start getting involved but I had prayed that if this is something the Lord wanted me to pursue, He would open the doors. As soon as Tobi had mentioned this ministry, I saw the opportunity and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. So I approached him about going and He agreed to let me (and Gules) go and be a part of it, if it was something we felt the Lord was calling us to. I went to one of the girls who is in charge of this particular outreach and asked her if it would still be alright for us to come. She gave us permission to join and then she also came to us again later, confirming that we would still want to come even if it wasn’t exactly hands on. She had explained that because of the type of ministry, we would not be able to really speak to or get involved with the girls, but that we would be standing on the sidelines praying. This, of course, did not influence a change of mind for me in any way. Regardless of my role, I was going.
So, the same day that we went into town and witnessed Jesus’ healing power (See A Time Such As This Part 2) Gules and I travelled a little further to meet up with the team that regularly goes out to one of Colognes Red Light Districts. On our way to join the team, I remember so vividly praying with Gules that the Lord would use us in whatever way He wanted. That our silly, often worldly minds wouldn’t get in the way of what He had for us and that we wouldn’t be discouraged by ministering from a distance… Especially after such a hands on experience! I also prayed for favour and open doors; that we wouldn’t be shut out of where He wanted us. I knew that I had to be 100% okay with not being directly and tangibly involved with what was going on that night and that I had to acknowledge the power and importance of prayer. I had to remember my place in the grand scheme of things; that God is in control, that He does the work, but He chooses to use us. While I was reminding myself of this and trusting in His goodness and plans for me- no matter what it looks like from my perspective- I also had a feeling He was choosing to use me that night. Little did I know, just what that would look like.
We hopped off the train, met up with the team, and began to drive. I didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to go along. I didn’t even know if the girls we were going to minister to would be standing on the street, or if we would be going to a brothel. It turned out to be a bit of both and unlike anything I had ever seen before. I really thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as we drove by a large number of lit up, parked caravans; each had a girl or two sitting in front of the window, waiting for a car to pull up next to it. I was aware that prostitution in Germany was legal, but to see something like this labeled as completely “okay” was beyond me. This street is located next to a big truck stop in Cologne and as I quickly realized, is very well visited by both truck drivers who are stopping there and other men alike. Disbelief. Complete disbelief hit me as I realized how far this controversial issue really has gone.
We gathered with a few other women who are regularly a part of this ministry and were given the run down. It was explained that a few of them who had been coming out for a longer amount of time, had experience and were committed long term, would go out in groups of 2-3, to each caravan to visit with the girls inside and hand out cookies and coffee. The rest of us, including students of the current Justice DTS would walk down the other side of the street and pray. Pray for the women inside each caravan, for safety as the team split up, for impactful conversation, etc. It was explained to us that they had to be very cautious about who went door to door to visit the girls due to the nature of the ministry. Because what happens doesn’t stop when you show up. Because it is very common to walk away scarred and changed by what you’ve just seen. Because at the end of the day, putting yourself directly in the middle of this world isn’t exactly described as safe. So we huddled together before splitting up and prayed as a team. And that’s when my world changed. The girl we had come with approached Gules and I, seemingly confused, and told us
“This never happens,
“This NEVER happens.
“It’s Christmas for one of you.”
An interesting way to put it, but I knew exactly what she was saying.
“God just told me that one of you is suppose to come with me. One of you is suppose to come with me when we go to the girls.”
Gules just looked at me and said,
Now know, one of my biggest struggles is that I’m an insanely big people pleaser. We were told one of us was going, and normally I would just tell myself to step back, because regardless of strong feelings, I am also the worst at speaking out what I want or think. First off, I know God told Gules to release me to go in that moment. I know how badly she would have loved this opportunity and I know she could have easily looked at me, waiting and hoping I would tell her to go. Second, I knew in my heart that this was for me. God gave me boldness and favour… So I went.
As I have shared this story to people since that night, the most common question I have received is,
“Weren’t you scared?”
Maybe for a split second before I actually went, but not while I was out there. It’s been said,
“The safest place to be, anywhere in the world, is in the centre of God’s call.”
That’s the peace I felt in this moment. The peace of knowing I was exactly where I was suppose to be; and fear wasn’t getting in the way of that. It was tragic, it was hard to see and take in, it was a gross world, but I also felt equipped. It almost feels wrong to put it that way, because really, at any “professional” level, I wasn’t; but, God doesn’t always call the most equipped and he works through a willing heart.
The stories of the girls inside each caravan vary and you could argue the definition of ‘choice’ for hours. But from the little experience I had there that night, I would confidently say that this wasn’t somewhere any of them chose or honestly wanted to be. I don’t know how each girl got there, if they have a pimp, if they were trafficked or what each of they’re reasons are for still being there, but I did have the chance to hear some of them open up about they’re stories.
To paint a more vivid picture, most of the girls there do not speak German (or English); they are there from neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria and Turkey. Some of them have families of there own and/or are currently pregnant. Some of them only come to the caravan to work through the night, but one girl I met had been living there. The inside of these caravans have not much more than a bed, no washroom, and the girl who called this caravan her home, didn’t even have electricity. The reality of they’re lives is almost unfathomable but as we went door to door and were welcomed inside, I realized that these were in fact normal girls, just like me and this was they’re very real life.
I got to listen to them and pray with them and my heart for them only grew, but this world they live in is so twisted, broken and misunderstood. I believe that this experience was the beginning of a bigger call God has for me and I so look forward to what He has planned for my life, directly relating to this. I desire to see light brought to these dark areas and for the truth to be exposed, for these girls to be free from that which binds them and for an end to modern day slavery. If I can play a part in that, I’m willing to step out in a time such as this.
Please note: This is a broad and general overview of what I experienced that night. I do not want to go into great detail or elaborate much more on this evening and the stories of the girls I talked with, simply for the sake of protecting everyone involved. If you are interested in hearing more about my experience, let me know and I would love to tell you more personally.