“To the Red Light District”

As I am putting Loïs and Luan in their Pyjamas Luan starts singing on top of his lungs: “eer zij God in onze daaaahaguh!” Together they’re singing while they’re getting ready for bed, “gloooohohohohohohohohohoria in exelsor deo.” Five minutes later they are both knocked out right next to each other in mommy and daddy’s bed. Because that’s only allowed when it’s school holidays of course. Noélani is still outside with Reinier and I’m letting myself sink into our couch. 

Sunday night was one of our personal highlights of the year. This past weekend we had an event from Friday till Monday called “Christmas of Service.” This year it was the third time that we had an outreach on the Sunday night in partnership with a choir with a number of incredibly talented people along with lots of others who were joining prayerfully and servant-heartedly We were all reaching out into the heart of Amsterdam, mostly in it’s infamous Red Light District and surroundings.

Below you can read a short report from Gilbert Thera, one of the singers of the choir. When I read his words I realised I couldn’t have found better words for it and so we copied his words from his blog with his permission. Below you can find his story.

***

Yesterday I had the opportunity to hit the streets with a beautiful group of people. After an afternoon of rehearsals we went downtown. We started at Amsterdam Central (train) Station after which we were headed to the Red Light District “De Wallen.” And what happened there was just so special, it is really hard to find words for what happens when you simply start pouring out God’s love.

The group that I was with was made up out of really amazing people and I felt privileged to be one of them. People who were all standing there selflessly. One of them came all the way from across the country (Coevorden, The Netherlands) just to serve in Amsterdam. No travel reimbursements, no honorariums, in fact… we all had to pay for our own meals and for some reason no one thought that was a problem, because we all had one mission: singing out the love of Jesus over “De Wallen.” And that is what we did.

“It seems as if something sucked the evil out of this place”

We had the opportunity to sing for a group of women that would normally behind the windows (as a means of display for prostitution). We could tell them through our music that God loves them unconditionally. After this we were hitting the streets again to sing for people that were there for all kinds of different reasons. And the people stood there and listened. Sometimes just a few dozen, but at a certain corner it could have been at least a few hundred of them. And more than that, people were touched by Love, Love that doesn’t judge, but Love that awaits with open arms and welcomes people. One of the passers-by said: “It seems as if something sucked the evil out of this place”.

And well… Amsterdam’s Red Light District may not be the ideal backdorp for the Good News of Jesus, but maybe it is… Wasn’t Jesus actually born into the least ideal of environments? Wasn’t he born at a place that was anything but clean? Wasn’t he born at a spot where you had to be careful where to stand, because you may just literally step into the crap around him? If that place was the place God chose to bring the Good News 2000 years ago, would a place like Amsterdam’s Red Light District not be the ideal place for Good News today?

There is no place too dirty or too dark and Jesus knows how to deal with it. And that is exactly what we experienced yesterday. I can’t say anything else than that I feel so privileged to be a friend of people like Miranda Tollenaar. People with Crazy plans, people who think it’s good idea to go to “De Wallen” for Christmas Caroling with a choir. Because it is through these people that I have been able to see something of God’s love for the world, for mankind. I count myself blessed and I’m thankful.

Merry Christmas!

***

The original blogpost, written by Gilbert can be found here: www.gilbertthera.nl and here’s a short impression of our choir singing Christmas Carols at “De Wallen” in Amsterdam.

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