Anti-Trafficking Program
Terry’s interest in working to help combat human trafficking began soon after our arrival in Bulgaria, but really didn't take shape until 2011. On a cold January night in 2011, our outreach team which is made up of missionaries from several different mission boards and Bulgarians from different churches around Sofia took on the challenge of ministering to the women and girls we had seen working on the highways around Sofia. We were not “professionals”, and still aren't, but we knew that we wanted to reach out in friendship and with the love of Jesus to these women we had seen standing there day after day, night after night, 365 days a year, no matter what the weather was like.

We met ahead of time for prayer and to assemble some small gifts bags which we would give the women we met. We had supplies to make up 16 gift bags, and we readied our basket with hot coffee and tea. We had no idea what to expect. How many women would we see? Would they want to talk to us, or would they turn away? To make a long story short, we were welcomed with open arms. The hot coffee was perfect to warm them on a cold winter’s night, and they were anxious for conversation. AND, we saw exactly 16 girls—the exact number of bags we had made! We felt this was God’s way of confirming the challenge we had taken on.

At that time, our outreach was happening about once a month. We were then challenged to be more intentional with our outreaches and so began to go out weekly, each Sunday night. Our conversations with the women reveal much about their lives. Most of the women we meet have children. Most tell us they do not want to be out selling their bodies on the streets, but since they have very little education, they feel this is the only job they can do to provide for their families. Many have a large debt or medical bills for their children they are trying to pay off. Most have suffered beatings or extortion of money at the hands of their pimps, the police, their clients, or all three. They are ashamed of what they are doing, but see no way out.

The 6 to 12 women we meet each Sunday night long the Ring Road are only a tiny fraction of the 20 to 30 million slaves worldwide, who bring in $32 billion in profit every year to their traffickers. While drugs and weapons can be sold only once, people can be sold over and over.

Bulgaria is among 11 countries listed by the United Nations as top source countries for human trafficking. A large percentage of women working in the sex trade in Western Europe are from Eastern European countries, especially from Bulgaria and Romania, and more than half of them are of Roma (Gypsy) ethnicity, like the ones we meet on the Ring Road.

The challenge of ministering to these women continues each Sunday night, and in the weekdays between.The women have come to look forward to our Sunday night visits, the hot coffee, the encouraging conversation, the Bibles and other Christian literature we offer them, and the small gifts we bring on special occasions for both the women and their children. They call us the “Sunday Night Coffee Ladies”, but more importantly they call us the “Ladies Who Love Us”. We pray for them to leave this life and become all God intended for them to be before they were tricked or coerced into prostitution, but none have yet made this choice. But seeing the smiles on their faces when we drive up, or seeing them warming their hands on the hot cup of coffee on a cold winter’s night, or calling us “The Ladies Who Love Us” is priceless. God does not call us to always be successful, but He does call us to always be faithful.
Anti-Trafficking Photo 1

Anti-Trafficking Photo 2

Anti-Trafficking Photo 3

(Last updated 14 May 2015)