Why Amsterdam?

“The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown,

but longed for still,

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.”

-Maya Angelou

It is estimated that there are over 25,000 women working in prostitution in the Netherlands. Many of them are victims of human trafficking. Many of them can be found in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.

When I think of these beautiful women, sitting behind the windows while gawking tourists stroll past, it’s hard not to see the image of a caged bird in my mind. Something so beautiful, which normally represents an image of freedom and flight, is suddenly…trapped. Whether or not this woman is there by “choice,” I remember what one advocate asked me: “If this was her choice, then what were her options?” No woman grows up dreaming of a life like this.

It was the stories of these women who first captured my heart several years ago. Stories of women who had come for a better life, had been promised everything, and were then forced to sell their bodies on the streets. Stories of women who felt that this was their deserved place in society–after all, it was all they knew how to do. Stories of women so hopeless that, when given the chance to escape, they simply…stay.

Why Amsterdam? we sometimes get asked. We are all too well aware that sex trafficking and other forms of sexual injustice occur all over the globe. Here in Portland there are hundreds of women just like the women in Amsterdam–without freedom and without hope. So why fly halfway across the world to find more?

The best answer we can give is simply to say, these too are our sisters. Whether they are walking on 82nd Ave, or sitting in a window in Amsterdam, we want women across the globe to know that they are valuable. They are loved. They are worth it.

We fly out in five (!!) weeks, which seems ridiculously soon and, at the same time, a million years away. My biggest struggle right now is continuing to remember that this trip is not about me, has never been about me, and will never be about me. It’s exciting to think of travel, adventure, and new experiences. It’s actually embarrassing how excited I get about even just packing our suitcases. If you think of it, please pray for me in the coming weeks, and that my heart would be able to focus and prepare on serving instead of consuming, and loving deeply rather than simply just “having fun.”

Also, to read the full version of this post, head over to this awesome website here!

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