The problem of sexual slavery and sex-trafficking has exploded around the world in the last 15 years. New technological inventions, open-borders, conflict, and the ease of travel at the beginning of the 21st Century has made it easy for sexual slavery networks to erupt around the world. Approximately 20 million people are caught in sexual slavery and 98% of those trafficked are women and children. Three Worlds works in three regions where the problem is particularly acute: Western Europe (home to street prostitution and many brothels), Eastern Europe (the source of many of the trafficked women and children), and the Middle East (where conflict and refugee migrations are making it easy to prey upon women and children). Becoming involved in the fight against this scourge was not an option, but absolutely necessary.
Berlin is one of the most international and open cities in the world. It is also a city connected to many of the networks involved in sex-trafficking. The number of red-light districts has increased from 2 to 7 in just the past couple of years. Five years ago as part of her ministry on the Three World's Team, Rhonda Philips (3W-Berlin) began working at a cafe that provides food, shelter, counseling, and friendship to women working as prostitutes on the streets. The vast majority of these women are working the streets against their will. It is common for women from Eastern Europe to be promised work as domestic helpers, nannies, or other jobs in Western Europe, only to find that they have been tricked and forced into slavery. In some cases, "boyfriends" lead them to Western Europe on a romantic vacation and lead them to apartments where they are repeatedly raped, enslaved, given a crushing debt to pay-off and have their families back home threatened. Others were forced into slavery or captured as children and have been living on the streets ever since.
In the past few years, Rhonda (who has spent more than 20 years on the mission-field and can converse in English, Russian, Hungarian, and German) saw her role in the cafe increase. Over the years, there were women that longed to escape and who did with the help of Rhonda and her friends at the cafe. It became increasingly clear that what was needed was a long-term shelter; a place where the women could safely escape their pimps, get off the streets, and begin the process of rebuilding their lives and returning to their homes. Surprisingly, Berlin--a city of 4 million people, is not remotely prepared to provide this kind of shelter to victims.
Rhonda's dream of creating a shelter became a multi-denominational reality in a very short-time. A talented team assembled around Rhonda and includes Josh and Audrey Weiger (3W-Berlin) our newest team members. Rhonda, Audrey and the rest of the team began the process of registering a new non-profit in the city of Berlin and it is called Pink Door (see website). The speed at which this has come about has been a God-ordained thing. The need is immense and the amount of women wanting to escape (and the danger) has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. Everyone understands this is a tremendous need and the city of Berlin needs faith-based organizations to help fight the problem. Even a local mayor of a suburb is wanting the Pink Door project based in his town. In November, Pink Door's official registration as a recognized Non-Profit was granted. We are now at the phase of finishing up the writing of the business plan (which has already been steered considerably by Audrey Weiger), applying for funds for the project and beginning the training of the staff. We will first open an office in the city, which will not only be an "office," but also a counseling center. Our target date for opening is late Spring 2015. The shelter will come later in Fall 2015.
Meanwhile, Rhonda and the team continue to minister to women and see them accept Christ, escape from slavery, or receive love with no strings attached. They are also assembling a team to go into the brothels!
Pink Door is just the beginning. It will provide more opportunities for our ministry partners to serve the women, furnish our shelter, and fund this safe-space. With our regional network, our dream is to continue building on Pink Door by helping with job-training, re-location back home, impacting a new generation with scholarships for women and children, and even assist the women in starting businesses. The first step, however, is creating a safe space where the life of sexual slavery can be left behind.
The team that has been assembled is outstanding, the need is great, and the strategy is wholistic and long-term. Three Worlds is looking for individuals and churches that want to help fund these first key years of the shelter's expenses, or women that are willing to work as volunteers in the near future, and people that want to contribute to invest in the new life of these women. If you or your church are interested in joining our 3W team as we launch Pink Door, please go to the CONTACT US page and write us a message. We will respond immediately. We can't do it without you.