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Herzwerk is an interdenominational ministry that considers itself a part of the body of Christ. Nine years ago, God spoke to us clearly about people in prostitution who are – as Isaiah 42:22 describes it rather violently – “plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons.“ This calling was connected at the same time to an outcry of God: “Who will go after them to free them?” We did and we continue to do so until today. God has been guiding us step by step and together with other organizations across the globe we have become part of God’s movement that started going out to bring His light to the darkest places.

It is also a part of our mandate to be a voice for the voiceless. Everywhere in the Bible, God is asking for people whom he can send out. “Who will go out to preach, who will proclaim the Good News to the captives, who will stand in the gap, whom shall I send?” The priest and the Levite, both men of the church, unfortunately passed by and simply ignored the man who was left on the side of the road, robbed and beaten. In Proverbs 31,8 it says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” This command really hit us in our innermost being. It is not a question of choice, if we should become a voice or not, it is a command and it concerns the ones for whom God’s heart is beating and suffering: the oppressed and the exploited.

We believe that the body of Christ carries a responsibility for our society, and is not only able to but also supposed to meet the needs of the people today. We want to go to the root of the problem and step up against any form of injustice. It is in prostitution where this injustice can be seen very clearly. Liberal laws in Austria enable pimps and traffickers to legally bring their victims into our country in order to exploit them, because men in Austria go to prostitutes. Poor living conditions in their countries of origin force these young women to prostitute themselves here. The gap between the wealthy Western countries and Eastern Europe lays the foundation for human trafficking and prostitution in the west – poverty is the driving force together with dysfunctional families, where no sound bonding can take place and abuse is part of everyday life.

As Church, we are called to be light and salt in this world. For this reason, we have become part and co-founder of different political platforms. Herzwerk is member of the EU Civil Society Platform against human trafficking and also co-founder of a platform against human trafficking in Austria. Since last January we have also been members of an initiative to stop the buying of sex that was started by feminists.

Because of our great concern for the church we started another network, the so called “SMS-Network” (“Stop the silence” in German). We are various Austrian organizations that work in different areas that have to do with sexuality. Some of us work directly in areas where sexuality is perverted and has exploitive characteristics, like prostitution, human trafficking, sexual abuse and pornography. Others walk besides people in churches who are in the process of healing. Others work in the area of sexual education and are doing a wonderful service to individuals and couples. We desire that men and women in the Body of Christ stand up for sexual values and the equality and esteem of both women and men. It is our dream to see a movement of men rising up who openly stand up for equal rights for women and girls, who raise their voices against any form of violence, and who say “yes” to a world without prostitution. Some of our group work towards ending violence, perversion and the contempt against women. These areas include sexual abuse, pornography, human trafficking and forced prostitution.

There is a strong pro-prostitution lobby in countries with liberal prostitution laws. This is why we published a paper concerning the context in which human trafficking and prostitution take place. Our arguments are based on our experience in working with people affected by forced prostitution and trafficking. These people mostly come out of very vulnerable situations including abuse and dysfunctional family backgrounds. None of the pro-prostitution activists can argue against these facts stated in our paper. In countries where prostitution is illegal, such as the Eastern European countries, it is essential to raise the awareness of politicians and the police concerning the background of people in prostitution. Once they have a better understanding, they might understand why these people should not be criminalized any longer.

So we want to encourage every one of you to take up the challenge and look for opportunities where God might want to use you to be HIS VOICE!

Giving EFN a voice

If you are already speaking up into society, media or politics about issues of exploitation, or if you would like to do so, we would love you to join the EFN Voice team.

  • We can learn from one another about effective influencing.
  • We can share or collaborate on good evidence and arguments.
  • We can help more EFN partners to be able to influence well.
  • We can inspire the Church to pray strategically and to take action.
  • We can even coordinate campaigning sometimes across Europe or to international political bodies.

If you are interested, please email Sabine, herzwerk.wien@gmail.com  or Julia, julia@europeanea.org

 

About the authorSabine works at Herzwerk in Austria. The very name of our organisation Herzwerk – “Heart Factory” expresses the passion that underlies our work. We are motivated by God’s heart, which beats for the victims of injustice. God is just and desires what is best for every individual. Heart Factory is an initiative for people in prostitution. All people are equal before God. His love is boundless and He is without prejudice. God sees the heart of every person. Heart Factory’s work is characterised by its competence and love for others.