Taking Jesus to the Brothels

 

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Rhonda and I have always loved to sing Christmas Carols, so when we received an invitation from Word Made Flesh ministries to join them singing Christmas Carols in the brothels of the area known as 12 de Octubre, our decision was easy.  The zone known is about three miles from our house and is one of the most crowded areas of El Alto, filled with street vendors selling clothes, toys, food, bread, pots and pans and anything else you can think up.  There is no sense of space, people bump and push past at every turn and so, it is also an area of high crime.

In and around this area are the brothels, non distinct buildings without signs but with red doors that men literally pour in and out of.  Inside the door a small hallway leads to a large very dark room where  loud music pulses and grinds, and drinks are served.  Surrounding this central room are doors to small bedrooms where men file in lines, peering inside open rooms to take a look and see if they are interested in what’s inside.

Yes, prostitution is illegal in Bolivia, and yet this is the thriving scene for brothel after brothel, six brothels within a three block area.  On one corner a police bus sits-in case there are any major disturbances, but the brothels function uninterrupted.   

In 2005, there were 1,295 known prostitutes in my city of El Alto and now it is believed that there are at least 3,000 and they are paid $3 per encounter, 10 encounters per night.  78% did not finish school and cannot read or write—which does not mean that they did not want to finish school or that they could not finish school.  Here in Bolivia, it is not uncommon for families to put children to work at very early ages in order that they eat.  90% of these women have a history of sexual abuse prior to becoming a prostitute.  Many of the women have had 3 to 4 abortions and some as many as 10.

And there we were!  Singing Christmas carols in the middle of the brothel, fourteen of us on our team-all dressed in Santa hats trying to show the love of Christ, trying to show the smallest light in the midst of the darkness.  And in one brothel, one crowded brothel with men pushing in lines, all of a sudden the men stopped!  Their feet stopped shuffling, no one called for a drink, no one tried to make a deal, no one spoke.  There was no music in the background, and the only sound was our team singing Noche de Paz, Silent Night.  It was amazing!  I would love to say this is what happened in every brothel, but I can’t.  It was only in this one.  I would love to say that someone came to the Lord, understood what we were doing and saw the love of Christ, but I can’t.  All I can say is that something miraculous happened.  Everyone-everyone, in this brothel stopped, stood still and listened.  And at the end of the song-we left.

Putting the team together

But don’t think that all we did was enter a brothel to sing.  Let’s first understand the miracle that existed in the fact that we were even allowed to enter each and every brothel for the purpose of singing Christmas carols.  That miracle is thanks to the amazing cultivation of relationships by Andy and Andrea Baker, the leaders of this ministry, Word Made Flesh that reaches out to these prostitutes.  They have spent twelve years in these trenches snatching souls from hell.  And the bartenders and brothel workers have such respect for the Bakers that when Andy enters and tells them to turn off the music so that his team can sing—they do it!  Tell me that is not the power and favor of God!

While most of us sang, Andy and others that regularly work in the ministry went to each door of the brothel to visit the ladies, giving them a Christmas cake and sharing that Jesus loves them.  Sometimes the ladies asked how much the cake cost, and they were surprised when they were told it was free, just a little example of grace and love to these ladies who daily live under judgment and condemnation.  But as Andy told us before we left, “Who are we to cast the first stone?”

Getting the songs right

Getting the songs right

It is the heart of this ministry to show the love of God.  It is through this kind of demonstration that the ministry is able to help some of these ladies leave the brothels and begin a new life.  The ministry helps those who leave to find a new life, teaching them about Christ and helping find a new job, training some to make products such as those you can buy at www.sutisana.com  (Take a look at their products and support their efforts to find a new life in Christ). 

And please pray for Andy and Andrea Baker and those at the ministry of Word Made Flesh.  They are all warriors for Jesus.  (The pictures accompanying this post are those of our practice and prayer prior to leaving for the brothels.  We had two teams.  Our team consisted of fourteen people, four men and ten women.  The other team was even larger.)

What a great Christmas it has been for me, what a gift the Bakers and Word Made Flesh gave me.  On Friday night, I saw Jesus.  He was wearing a Santa hat and singing in the middle of a brothel!

Practicing before we go

Practicing before we go

Practicing Christmas Carols to sing in the Brothels of Bolivia

Practicing Christmas Carols to sing in the Brothels of Bolivia

Advertisements

Christmas in the Villages

It is always said that Christmas is a time for giving.  But why do we give?  We give because God first gave us his most precious gift, Jesus.  In the spirit of this giving Lovely Feet Ministries in partnership with Pastor Juan Saravia took Christmas dinner to 13 families in the Altiplano.

The morning started out cold with a promise of rain.  We began our day praying that God would bless our time in the villages and keep the rain at bay until we had finished.  The roads we take are prone to landslides and many are made only of dirt.  Rain, mud and landslides can render the roads un-passable in just a short time.

We left La Paz just after 8am and headed to villages.  The previous night we had loaded the Christmas dinners into individual gift bags. Each dinner included a roasting chicken, 1 lb of Rice, green beans, 2 Ltr of Coke, a Christmas cake called Panetone and a Christmas platter.

The sun was shinning when we arrived in Patacamaya at about 10am. We went straight to the church and had a short worship service where Ron shared about the Good Samaritan. His message that just as Jesus represents the Good Samaritan in this parable, we are to represent God as we reach out to help those in need in Patacamaya and around the world.

All of the brothers and sisters were grateful to God to receive their Christmas dinners.  They each expressed excitement and agreement when Rhonda shared that next year each of them would have their turn to bless another with a Christmas dinner.

The rain continued to stay off in the distance as we traveled the 45 minutes to Calacachi.  If you remember, this is the village that had their house of prayer (a small shed) destroyed by a storm.  The small group of believers continues to meet each Sunday afternoon in the open air.  We were well received and the brothers and sisters were overwhelmed and happy to receive Christmas dinner.

We took Brother Leoncio and his family to Patacamaya and had lunch with Pastor Juan before heading back to La Paz.  The rain that threatened all day finally came but not before we had completed God’s work for the day.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  We are humbled to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the Aymara of the Altiplano.  Your generosity made it possible to feed 13 families a Christmas dinner that they will always remember as a gift from their heavenly Father.


 

Chickens – $67

Green beans – $5

Rice – $20

Panetone (a traditional cake)- $20

Platters – $15

Coke Cole – $20

Gift bags – $4

Christmas Dinner TOTAL $151

 

4 x 4 Jeep rental to the villages – $80

Gasoline – $27

Transportation TOTAL $107

 

TOTAL FOR CHRISTMAS IN THE VILLAGE $258

Donate Button with Credit Cards

A Miracle Morning

Donate Button with Credit Cards

 

Rhonda and I were up at 6:00 a.m. and soon walking the ½ mile to the Teleferico where we would descend from our mountaintop in El Alto in the little glass box that provides transportation similar to a tram.  Fortunately, it was a nice day, the sun was rising and it was warm and the views of the mountains and the city below us were excellent.  We arrived at a stop thousands of feet below where we live and met some of our Pastor friends in a place called Obrajes.  There we walked across a long bridge and arrived at our destination, a hill that was filled with houses and apartments and small stores, called tiendas, streetside.

Riding the Teleferico down into the city.

Riding the Teleferico down into the city.

The hill is without roads, people ascend staircases to reach their own home, so the neighborhood is closed to outsiders.  But in the middle of the neighborhood stood an empty apartment, given to our Pastor friends for the purpose of a new church plant.  The location is ideal to reach this entire neighborhood and our friends, Polycarp and Teresa also are the owners of a tiny storefront at the street where they have a small restaurant.  This storefront isn’t like those we have in the U.S.  The door is more or less a garage door that opens and reveals the restaurant fully open to the street.

Our purpose this day was to pray, to usher in the anointing of God, to dedicate the location, the hill, this neighborhood for God.  The Lord gave Rhonda a word from Matthew; “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:14-16)  This was its inauguration and God’s light was shining.  We prayed from across the street, taking in the view of the whole hill and all the houses on it and then Polycarp opened the garage door and we entered into the little tienda restaurant to pray some more.  We raised our voices and our hands and invited the Spirit of God to make this place a light on the hill and we invited in God’s presence.

And then it happened!  As we prayed a young man of about 30 years happened by on the sidewalk.  The sound of our voices stopped him, froze him there on the sidewalk a mere 8 feet away from us.  There he waited and tears began to roll down his cheeks.  When we finished our prayer, we all turned to him.  Through his tears he told Rhonda that he had an accident.  His face and hands were covered with scars from a fire.   His wife had left him and taken his child and he had left God whom he had known and taken to drinking to relieve his pain.  He smelled heavily of alcohol, but he begged us to pray that God would change his life and take him back.  For the next thirty minutes we prayed.  He spent several minutes in my arms, resting his head on my chest and then, strangely, he looked in my eyes and said to me that I was a tiger and not afraid of anything.

He fell to his knees, cried, hugged us all and then, he picked up Polycarp’s guitar and began to play beautifully.  He is obviously musically talented and he sang and sobbed to God.  His name is Eusebio and he is our brother in the Lord.  Please pray for him.

We all received this as a confirmation that God wanted to work in this neighborhood.  How many times have you had an experience that simply during prayer, someone came and begged for God to change them?  I can tell you that it has happened more than once to us here in Bolivia.  And each time is a beautiful event.  I often like to say that God does the most beautiful things when it is not part of our planning, but it is simply when we are available.  He then works his plan.

I know that some of you reading this may think that Eusebio will not continue to follow the Lord, that it was simply an emotional response of someone who had too much to drink, but I must walk by faith and I am asking you to pray and believe with me that we have snatched this soul from the gates of hell.  Let’s pray that the grave clothes of that old dead man will be removed and that he will walk as a resurrected man, given new life and that his scars, both physically and emotionally will be healed in the name of Jesus.

One more thing:  The morning was not over.  Rhonda and I returned to the teleferico where we expected to return to the city for a second meeting with two other Pastors.  Only Rhonda and I and one other woman were in our little box that would climb back up the mountain.  That woman, Jacquelyn, began to talk with us, but her casual conversation turned to one of seriousness.  Her son of five years old named Benjamin was in the hospital here in La Paz.  She brought him here because he was diagnosed with cancer.  There, flying over the city, through tears we all called on the Lord, on the name of Jesus, to show himself in that hospital room and heal this child.  Jacquelyn and Benjamin are not from La Paz, they came from Sucre to get him medical care and this day they were to return home for Christmas until she would bring him back for more treatments in January.  We gave her our number and asked her to call us upon their return—but we are praying they will not need to return.  I am asking again for your prayers—for Benjamin and Jacquelyn.

OH, one more:  The day wasn’t over.  After a great meeting with the other Pastors, (although we were more than an hour late, they were understanding), we found ourselves in a cab with a Christian man who told us about his family—all Christians except for one 19 year old son, Marcello.  That’s right, we again enjoyed the privilege of prayer together, this time that God would demonstrate his power and show himself strong in the life of Marcello.  Amen.

It is unusual for us to meet so many Christians in one day.  Often we are confronted with witches, those who bow to Mother earth as animists, and sometimes cult groups, but today we met those in the body of Christ who needed encouragement.  What a privilege, what a blessing.

To that I say, Here we are Lord, send us!  Let your kingdom come and your will be done.  Amen.