An outstretched ‘speak to the hand’ motion, averted eyes, an arrogant expression, and the stern icy words “I don’t need help”!
This was the stand-offish welcome that the green team encountered from Coleen*
It was a warm Tuesday night and the various street ministry teams, clad in their green Laduma Jesus shirts, were out sharing the love of Jesus, to anyone God put in their path. This night, one team had decided to focus on prostitutes.
It was already some weeks into the world cup, and the ‘green teams’ had become familiar to many who worked or lived on the streets. Some were drawn in by the love and talk of Jesus, which was easily shared by members of the teams. However, women involved in prostitution, who were heavily drugged and on a lucrative mission, saw them as invasive threats to prospective business, and their own safety. Our presence kept would-be clients at bay, and could jeopardize the safety of the girls, as their money-hungry pimps watched closely from lookout points. The teams were aware of this dilemma and so approached or passed by with caution, never deliberately putting girls in danger.
Soon the teams came across two girls waiting for business. One of the girls welcomed them and allowed them to pray for her—she was self employed, and so fearless. Somebody walked towards the other girl who immediately got defensive. We were clearly unwelcome in her space. The team member was unperturbed and went to stand next to her. At first the young girl, Coleen, ignored all attempts at conversation, but she eventually gave in when she realized it was a non threatening discussion.
At 21, Coleen hated the work she was doing, she was hungry and unhappy. The team member spoke about Jesus: his death and resurrection, and what it could mean for Coleen. Something inside her changed that night and she asked for prayer because she wanted to know Jesus and surrender her life to him.
We took her back and organised a place for her to live with other ladies who had once been in the same position. Coleen went through a detox programme, and found a regular job where she still works today.