By Jaycee Jensen, Director of New Hope Latvia, a Ministry of Bridge Builders International
RIGA, Latvia – The first time I met “D” was a cool Thursday night in the beginning of September 2011. We had only been out on the street a few times before that night. She was standing on a corner in an area well known for prostitution. She was a young, thin, blonde girl. She was wearing “almost” normal clothes, so it was difficult to know if she was a prostitute. But that was answered quite quickly as we were walking toward her a car stopped and she leaned into the passenger window to talk to the man. As the car drove away and she was still standing there (I guess she did not fit what he wanted) we walked up to her.
This is always the most awkward moment for me. Here I am with a big Tupperware box full of sugar cubes, cups, spoons, milk and little chocolates, and my friends are holding thermoses of coffee and tea. What a site this must be on the streets of Riga in an area only known for crime and prostitution!
So as we approach her we greet her, say hello, and ask if she would like any tea or coffee. I still remember her face! She looked at us like we were not real, like it was her imagination playing tricks on her. We asked again, “We are here walking around giving out tea and coffee to anyone who would like some, would you like some?”
She responded with a little disappointment and said, “I have no money.”
We smiled and said, “It’s ok! It’s free!”
Her eyes lit up for a second and then turned to confusion. “Why are you giving out free tea and coffee? Are you guys some kind of charity or something?”
We smiled and just said, “Nope, its just starting to get cold and we want to give out something nice.”
About that time another car pulled up, she looked at us and asked us to wait a minute, she walked up to the car bent down in the same way as before and a few seconds later the guy drove off. She walked back up to us and said, “You of course know what I am doing here right?”
I smiled and said, “Yes we do, but that does not mean you don’t deserve a tea or coffee!”
She stared long and hard and then said ok! I smiled big, I asked her what she would like and she said tea. As we were fixing her tea we asked her name. She said her name was Diana. From that moment on she was so open and ready to just talk. She shared about how she got into prostitution.
“D” came to Riga with no money her best friend was working the street and told her she could do the same, and she has been stuck in it for over four years now. She planned on only doing it for less than a year to get on her feet, but now she is dependent on addictive substances and even if she wanted to leave, like she shared with us, she only has a 5th grade level of education.
We gave her the tea (with 4 sugars in it!) and some chocolates and walked on. But from that day she has stayed very heavy on my heart. We have met over 20 girls on the street so far and each touches my heart in a special way. Wondering about their stories, how they got there? Do they really want to stay or are they looking for a way out? Are they being forced to be there? Are they orphans?
All I know is that these girls are just like any other girl, just stuck in a prison. Forced or self-inflicted by circumstance, a prison nonetheless! Right now the ministry I am working with is just starting the long process of building trust and relationships with these girls. But my prayer is that through this process these girls will start finding a new hope to dream of a life free from this bondage.
Please pray with me if this touches you. We go out on the streets every Thursday night at 8:30 PM Latvian time for sometimes as long as four hours. Please pray for safety, for the heart of these girls to be opened, and for Christ’s light to shine bright in such a dark area. Thank you.
Our team on Thursday evenings includes Lysette Klop, Endija Kaulnefe, Jaycee and Kristine. Lysette and Kristine serve with YWAM Latvia.