Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beamerfoto, One Voice, Amsterdam, and Justice



My friend and current roommate Ricky Beamer is an excellent photographer. He has travelled to many different parts of the world, and captured some really quality images during his journeys. The image above was taken while we were serving in Amsterdam on a short term mission trip. As I was looking at some of Ricky's photos on his site, I looked at an album of images from our Amsterdam trip and it brought back many memories.

I wore a "One Voice To End Slavery" hoodie virtually every day. About a month prior to our trip, I had met one of the cofounders of JustOne. During a presentation he gave, I learned some alarming statistics about trafficking, slavery, and how the sex industry as well as the chocolate industry were linked to both of these issues.

I think in some ways I've always been an advocate of sorts, and so I figured that a simple way I could help combat these issues involved both changing habits, and also letting others know. So I bought a hoodie as a conversation piece, and proceeded to wear it nearly everywhere I went. Among the places I went--Amsterdam.

On the day that this photo was taken, our team was working with a group from YWAM in the heart of the Red Light District. We were standing on a bridge, but in every direction on the street there are women in windows waiting for "customers". It's estimated that 90% of these women are in these windows against their will and that approximately 75% have been trafficked to Amsterdam.

As we walked from YWAM's headquarters at a place called De Cleft to spend time talking to people on the bridge we walked along a narrow street. On either side of this street (which felt more like an alley) there were windows. We probably passed by 25-30 windows with crimson lights providing a border and communicating to passersby that the people behind the windows were prostitutes.

It's one thing to hear about an issue, but it's another thing to come face to face with injustice. To my right as we walked down this street, my fiancée Jamie was an emotional wreck. She was trying to get her mind around the idea that someone would think it was ok to sell another human being for sex. Being in the middle of it all, stirs the heart and mind to think about issues of justice, if one takes the time to let the gravity of the situation sink in.

Sometimes I think we go on auto-pilot because we can't deal with the gravity of the situation, or because we don't care. As visibly stirred as Jamie was, there were other people walking along the street oblivious to the women behind the glass, or worse yet, there were people ogling and mocking these women who would work to seduce a new customer whenever eye contact could be made.

May you have eyes to see, and a heart and mind that will fully engage with the world around you. As you see injustice, may you be stirred to do something about it. And may you bring hope into this earth where we live.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Red Light District is a lifetime experience!
But, to be sure to have a unforgettable time, you should check out this The Amsterdam Red Light Guide