[Below is a conversation one of the women in our ministry had with a girl in the red light district. This is real. This is raw. And it is from the mouth of one of the damaged women who have given themselves over to prostitution. This is what happens when no light enters darkness. My hope is that as you read this, you will realize the true need for us to be the light and to show hope to these wounded men and women.]
At a previous meeting, I mentioned having a chance to meet up with my friend Marie who works in the red-light district.
Just to give you some quick background, Marie is 23-years-old, has a 5 year-old daughter and has already been married and divorced. She currently lives with a boyfriend and her mom is raising her daughter. She has a history of divorce (her parents and her own), sexual and physical abuse, substance abuse, and lying to get attention and/or extort money from people.
The following is a kind of summary of my conversation with her based on some questions from Daniel. Our conversation was entirely in Japanese, so keep in mind that this is a translation. In some cases, I have included the Japanese words or phrases that she used because they don’t translate directly into English. I have included the questions as a way of organizing the information but what I have written may not necessarily be a direct answer to a question but rather just something we talked about.
1. Where did she work?
Taiyuji, Nipponbashi, Juso (this came up in conversation, I don’t know if she worked there for certain)
2. Is she ever tempted to go back?
Yes, and she does. She told me that she goes back when she wants money for something. And we’re not talking necessities, like food and clothing. She said people have this image that prostitutes do the work they do just to get by, but that actually they are driven by greed and they work because they want money, not because they need it. She said they will spend the money just as fast as they make it – usually on frivolous things like booze, drugs, host clubs, designer bags, etc.
She said that no one quits and gets married or gets a “normal” job. Some may quit for a while, she said, but they come back because it’s “easy” money once your senses have been dulled to the reality of what you are doing. She also said that they have a hard time functioning well in “normal” relationships because they get bored and/or don’t feel needed. She said most are selfish and only care about instant gratification and have no dreams or aspirations for the future.
3. Does she still know people in the business?
4. What one thing does she want outside people to know about people in the business?
She said that a lot of the women get into the business because they are hooked on a guy from a host club. He will be the one to push her into prostitution and get her to come and spend money at the club. She described these type of women as純粋 (pure, trusting, naive) in that they can be so easily deceived. Of course, another way of looking at it is that they are just stupid（ばか）she said, laughing.
She said that 90% of women come from broken homes – abuse, abandonment, etc. They want to feel loved and needed. They want a place to belong. But they don’t know how to value themselves and when they meet people who do value them and genuinely care, they don’t know how to accept it.
5. Would she want to meet regularly at a café or someone’s home for genuine community?
She said maybe, if she could just go and talk and eat.
6. If she could have any difficulty in her life instantly changed, what would it be?
She said that rather than changing anything she would just like to be free from everything. She said she wants to fade away, to die easily (楽に死にたい). She said most women long for escape and engage in various forms of self-mutilation including extensive piercing, wrist-cutting, drinking til they pass out, and getting high on drugs. Overdosing and suicide are common. [Side note: My (Mimi’s) former roommate’s cousin worked in the red-light district and committed suicide by jumping off of her apartment building.]
My friend Hisashi asked me to ask her how we can pray for her and others in the business.
She said, half-jokingly: “Well, my daughter has a habit of beating up the boys in her pre-school. Do you think prayer can get her to stop?”
Finally, we talked about evangelism in the red-light district, and in particular, the idea of men trying to evangelize to female prostitutes.
She said that most of the women are suspicious of people in general and men in particular. “We don’t even trust or believe in what we can see, how do you expect us to believe in a God we can’t see?” She also said that she personally doesn’t feel a need for God in her life.
She compared trying to evangelize in the red light district to trying to survive in the South Pole wearing only a T-shirt.
She said she has come across missionaries before, doing street evangelism and described them as しつこい、うっとうしい、邪魔 (pushy/persistent, gloomy, in the way) and said she prefers to avoid them. If you are going to try to talk to prostitutes, she said, do so with a sense of humor. Be open and friendly as if you were trying to pick them up, not straight-laced, she said. ナンパする勢いで話したらいい。
I asked her if there were any other ways of connecting to the women other than talking to them on the street and she said, I suppose they could pretend to be customers. She said, if you paid her money but then just talked with her instead of having sex, the girl would probably listen to what you had to say.
At the end of the day though, they will still see men as men. And men = 欲の塊 (literally meaning a chunk of lust or desires). She was like, come on, what guy wouldn’t give in if he was alone in a hotel room with a naked girl coming on to him?
She said that they are much more likely to open up to a female.
Still, she was happy to hear that there are people who are interested in reaching out to prostitutes. She is curious to know what you could possibly say to get her to believe.
To her, the idea of a guy (especially an American one) being able to win over a Japanese prostitute is impossible. I said, humanly impossible, maybe, but not if God is at work. “If someone is actually converted and has a life change as a result of one of your friends talking to them, I’ll believe,” she said, highly doubtful. それで本当に信じる人がいたらわたしも信じるわ。
I talked with her about the possibility of starting a safe-house where women could come and eat a home-cooked meal, have someone listen to them, get a full night’s sleep, etc. and she seemed to think it would be a good idea.
[Sometime after August we are opening the Women’s House of Healing where those women can come stay and even live with some Christian women whose sole(or soul) purpose is to expose the women to their true value and identity in Christ. We are praying for God to send us more people to come alongside and help, but we are trusting and relying that He is moving even now. Every night we go out we see little miracles, have divine encounters. Every night God unfolds one more little part of His plan. Marie was right in one thing: It is not humanly possible to save people from the depth of sin and depravity that comes with prostitution. But it is absolutely possible through Christ. Will you come alongside us in prayer?]
[Thank you God for your unending mercy and grace. For your unfathomable passion and desire to see your lost children be found. Thank you that I get to be a part of your plan. That I get to see it happen. That I get to be a part of the festivities. That I get to fight with them, and rejoice with them. Please go before me and give me the strength to submit to your will. Amen.]
[God is moving. Its time to bring a light into the darkness. Its time to shine.]