A pastor serving in the African country of Burundi recently shared a blog disclosing that he had hired two prostitutes for the night. Simon Guillebaud, founder of ministry Great Lakes Outreach, wrote that he hired two young women, Divine and Arlette, aged 21 and 22.
The pastor arranged to meet the women at a restaurant, with the intention of changing their lives.
“Their mechanical smiles broke my heart,” Guillebaud wrote in his blog. “I sat down and introduced myself. I told them how I wanted them to have the night off. They could order whatever they wanted, enjoy a hot shower, and then have a night of deep rest. The only rule was not to solicit any of the hotel guests. I would be back in the morning to pay them, and after breakfast together, they could go.”
The next morning, Guillebaud met with Divine and Arlette again; after a night of freedom they seemed more trusting.
“I said I thought that as little girls they didn't dream that one day they'd grow up to be prostitutes. Sometimes terrible things happen in life, and you're forced into difficult choices. But maybe things could change – if they wanted to,” Guillebaud wrote.
The pastor learned that they fell into prostitution as a means to support themselves and their families. They were both orphans and used the sex trade to pay bills and for their education.
“I asked them what their dreams were. They said they wanted to run a small business, or maybe go into marketing...I imagined out loud how, if they made good choices from now on, that in ten years – who knows – they could be running a healthy business at the market, happily married with a few kids. Divine's eyes lit up at the thought. Dared she believe...?”
The pastor planned to meet with the young women again to arrange counseling and get them connected at church.
At the next meeting, “They had a skip in their stride…” Guillebaud wrote. “We talked more, and agreed that they should finish this academic year before starting a business. We made a budget to establish what they needed to keep out of trouble. Divine burst out: ‘No way Simon, there's no going back, now I have hope!’”
Guillebaud says he hopes to reach more women in the sex trade; his experience was not merely a “stunt.”
“I have dreams of them becoming the inspiration for others if we did this in the coming years on a more consistent basis – the pioneers with a story to show other girls that it is possible to start afresh, that they are not forgotten, unloved, or abandoned.”
Publication date: March 10, 2015