In our Easter Appeal to support the ministry of Herzwerk, founder and director Rachel Zuch says:
In my own journey of working with people in prostitution, I had to come to a point where my thinking changed! When I began to hear the life stories of individuals, the women that I saw standing on the streets of Vienna or sitting in the windows of brothels stopped being “prostitutes!” They were “just” women and girls, even some guys… “people” with a family, a history, a story, gifted, creative, resilient… most very much in need of someone to reach out to them with respect, dignity, mercy and the love of Christ!
Although I have not been involved in this kind of ministry, I came to a similar change of thinking. For me this came when I was recruited by my friend Michael Horowitz to become part of a coalition to create and get passed the first-ever Congressional bill to combat sex-trafficking.
The bill, which became the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was passed into law in 2000, but all of us involved had our eyes opened to the truth about “prostitution” throughout the process.
We re-thought all of those words used to desensitize us all to the reality of that oppression, that taking of bodies, souls, and spirits: “Prostitute,” “street walker,” “hooker,” “call girl.” With the blessing and partnership of survivors we fought against leftists and policy elites who wanted to affirm “sex workers.” And we came to understand that there is no such thing as a child prostitute. They should be known only as children who are victims of serial rape and pedophilia.
As Rachel Zuch said in her account of the founding of Herzwerk, the victims and survivors of trafficking stopped being prostitutes and became “women and girls, even some guys… very much in need of someone to reach out to them with respect, dignity, mercy and the love of Christ!”
Not all of us who follow Jesus are blessed the privilege of reaching out in person like Rachel and her fellow staff at Herzwerk, but we can all pray for these women and girls and guys. And we can support the wonderful work of those who are walking in the streets of Vienna, compelling them to come in.