The winter wonderland of ice skating and canals turns into a cascading canvas of flowers, windmills and green carpets of grass. Bicycles seem to be everywhere and people stroll the streets. There is an old world beauty that few places on earth can contend with.
We met our missionary friends with their little son. What a joy to see a friend from so many years ago in the Ukraine. She had participated in evangelism training at her church in Lutsk and we had become friends as she shared the same birthday as our son. Regular contact over the years had kept us aware of God’s work in her life as she went from Ukraine to Israel and finally to Amsterdam.
They had ministered for several years in this picturesque city of paradoxes. What is the pride and jewel of Amsterdam? It seems their red light district is world famous. It is prominently marked on all the city maps and advertising. It is a tourist attraction. Women dance in windows to attract customers, she said.
The stories of the girls involved are tragic and heartbreaking. Sex trafficking is a strong undercurrent in this world of prostitution. She said the stories are so heartrending that she had to step back from the ministry because of the pain. It was killing her.
But the story that caught my heart was the church steeple they pointed to at a distance. Do you see that church? They were the founders of the red light district here in Amsterdam. All of the red light district is next to and around that church. Seven hundred years ago they set up this business to protect girls from sailor’s who came into port and raped the Dutch women. They also profited by collecting indulgences from the men who had sex and then went to confession. There is even a monument on church property to the gay lifestyle. The triangle monument is complimented with a gay and lesbian information center.
We found our hearts overwhelmed with the reality of these accounts. How could this be? The spiritual forces seem daunting in this place. Our hearts break for those who seek to touch the lives of so many who are mangled in this world of sin.
Our travel will bring us back to Amsterdam before we leave the continent. Pray as we spend time with these precious friends here, in Germany and other locations as we serve with overwhelmed hearts.
Cathy and Danny Sartin
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