I had a dream last week. I was on a mountain playing guitar and singing a song about building a wall and standing in the gap in intercession for Bucharest (Ezekiel 22:29-30). As I sang, I lifted up my eyes and the mountain became filled with women praying for the city, commanding the darkness to leave and light to come. More and more women filled the mountain, and God was moved to answer our prayers. At one point in the song, I cried out, “Who will make a wall? Who will make a wall for this city?” and then I sang and called specifically for the sex industry to collapse.
One of my daily prayers has been that God would dismantle the sex industry in this city. This city has a reputation for hedonism and sexual immorality. I know I harp on it a lot, but it’s true, and I want to see the industry completely overturned by revival. People travel here from all over the world to “try out” the women. Sex shops litter the streets. Prostitutes walk the main drags and frequent the ritzy hotels. There’s more erotic massage parlors than McDonald’s restaurants, and they advertise more militantly. Nightclubs and discos, always a quick walk away, are always packed and always full of half-naked women and free-flowing alcohol. (Sometimes you can even see a good band there.) The webcam industry is entrenched, targeting students and young women with offers of good paychecks.
I’ve been militantly asking God to close down the clubs, the sex shops, the massage parlors, the prostitution rings, the pornography distributors, the webcam enterprises, and the escort services. I’m not gonna be happy until they’re all gone and the glory of God floods the streets of this city.
I don’t wanna see women duped into immorality, whether through sex trafficking, false ideas of what love is, personal vanity, the need to survive and feed their kids, or some dumb guy who tells them he loves them but doesn’t mean it a bit. I’m tired of it.
I don’t wanna see guys seduced by women, abusing women, hooting and hollering at them on the streets, treating them like sex objects, frequenting the massage parlors, tricked into immorality by women who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t get it that they’re destroying a nation of men by their carelessness.
I didn’t mean to go this direction for this post, but my heart is aching for this city, and one of the biggest, darkest blots over here is the sex industry. Dismantle it, Jesus. Take it apart and flood this city with your freedom.
Last night, on our way back from a church service, Ben and I were approached by two prostitutes asking us to, uhh, do what you do with prostitutes. It wasn’t in an ultra-seedy area of the city. It wasn’t by all the major entertainment venues. It was just along a main road near a grocery store, in full view of everyone. It wasn’t even that late at night or a weekend. It was about 9:30 pm on a Thursday.
My heart ached for these women. The one looked really bad, like she hadn’t eaten in a while. She was a Gypsy girl, really dirty, and was out here probably because she didn’t know how to read or write, didn’t have a state ID, had never gone to school, couldn’t get a job, and had some dead-beat husband off in jail for stealing a car or something, so she was left alone to care for 5 kids. We’ve met enough Gypsy women in that situation, so while I couldn’t get this particular girl’s story, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was about the same.
The other one looked more professional, more glamorous, like the prostitutes you see in the movies, but my heart broke for her too. Maybe she was a victim of human trafficking, maybe she got into it to make some quick money, maybe a boyfriend tricked her into it. I don’t know. Either way, past the makeup and high-heels was a broken girl who didn’t know what it meant to be made in the image of God and loved by Jesus with a love incorruptible and immeasurable.
They needed the Gospel. They needed to know Jesus. But I’d forgotten my tracts, my Romanian language skills petered out, and all we could say was, “No, we don’t want it. Christians. God.” We wanted to tell them that Jesus loved them, that He had created them for more than this, that they were far more valuable in God’s sight than the few dollars guys were willing to pay them.
But we couldn’t get anything out. The closest I could come up with was, “You’re more expensive than this,” which didn’t seem like a good option. So we turned and walked away.
Almost as soon as we left, a car drove up with a young guy driving. He rolled the window down and talked to the women. Maybe I couldn’t say anything to the prostitutes, but I could use my presence for some good. Ben and I stopped, turned around, and just watched. I looked in the guy’s eyes, trying to let him know, “I know what you’re doing, and this is not cool. This is a woman made in the image of God, and you are coming here to use her for your own selfish purposes. This is my city, and what you’re doing is not acceptable here.” I contemplated staying there like that, John Wayne-ing him, just staring at him, making him feel uncomfortable enough to drive away, but after a very, very long 30 seconds, we walked away, leaving the guy there with the women, and just prayed that Jesus would intervene, bringing the fear of God.
A little down the road, I turned back and while both women were still out there, the guy was gone. Maybe they were too expensive for him, maybe they didn’t quite measure up to his tastes, or just maybe God turned his heart and drove him away.
I praise God for averting that guy last night, but he’s one guy out of so many, and those are two women out of so many. I’m not gonna be content until I see the whole industry dismantled and overturned by the glory of God.
Well, today was rainy again, but I’ve been antsy to get out and see the city more, meet some people, etc. so I went on a long prayer walk (route pictured above). I did a fundraising event before leaving America, promising to prayer walk 1 km of Bucharest for every person who would support me at $10/month or more. Since 20 people signed up, I have to do a whopping 20 km of prayer walking.
We’ve probably done ten times that much walking, but we weren’t “officially” praying as we did it, so I didn’t count it toward our 20 km of prayer walks we have to do. We were, however, officially walking…
Anyway, today I did almost half my total promised – 9 km. I think we’ll end up doing way more than 20 km of prayer walking, because it went so quickly and it was a lot of fun to get out, try to get lost, and then try to find my way again.
While doing a lot of walking, praying, meeting people, exploring, learning the city’s transportation system, etc, God is giving us a real heart for this city. It’s confusing and difficult to think of how we’ll be able to communicate Jesus to these people who’ve heard it all and been through a lot more than we have, and sometimes it’s frustrating and intimidating when few people want to talk to us or even smile in our direction, or when someone yells something at us and we don’t know what they’re saying, but we’re growing to love this city and these people, and whether people receive us or reject us, hug us or hate us, they can’t take away this love that Jesus has put in our hearts.
It’s strange and disconcerting feeling like we don’t belong anywhere. This is Memorial Day in America, and while holidays have never meant much to me, now that we’re away and nobody here cares about remembering America’s great military-industrial complex, it’s become glaringly obvious that we don’t quite belong. We’re not Romanians, we can’t communicate very well, people keep switching to English so we can do simple things like even buying milk… and we’re not quite Americans either anymore. We’re at the end of the American candy we brought with us (now you know why we had 11 large suitcases!), I got rid of all our American money when we landed, and I’m almost done with our Puffs Plus tissues I brought along.
It’s a really weird feeling, being stuck between two worlds. I wonder if Jesus felt like this, when He gave up heaven and came to earth. America isn’t quite heaven, but I wonder if Jesus felt a sort of odd, constant alienation from the people around him. He could communicate well enough, but they would never really listen to what he said. And while they would get all hung up on politics or religious holidays or impressive buildings, Jesus knew his kingdom wasn’t off this world. Jesus hung out with sinners, invited Pharisees to dinner, invited himself to dinner, and definitely became a part of Jerusalem culture and society, but I wonder if, in the midst of that, he felt like he was still a stranger.
Thankfully, we’ve got some really great friends we’ve met here, people who really care about us (Filip and Missio Dei, the Boldeas, Jason the Canadian, George the Australian), and Susie is an ever-present ally in our home, and that helps us feel like we belong a lot more, but it’s not quite home yet.
I didn’t mean to go on that tangent. We’re really doing very good, but homesickness is hitting a little – I’d like some cheddar cheese, a real, juicy, burger, a Spotted Cow, no wild dogs following me, the rain to stop… Shoot, if just the rain stopped I’d be content. 🙂
Anyway, here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting events I encountered while prayer walking:
– I was followed by one wild dog for about a kilometer. At first it freaked me out, but then when I noticed he chased off other dogs who came close, I decided I’d let him stick around.
– I had a group of 5-6 dogs surround me at one point, but I told them that it was bad luck to eat an American and so they left me alone, probably went in search of a Canadian. Seriously, usually the dogs seem to ignore you if you just stay calm and keep walking without paying any attention to them.
– I came across a half-eaten dog carcass on the sidewalk. Needless to say, it was pretty gross. I didn’t take pictures. The only thing I can imagine would have eaten it would have been another dog. Sick cannibals. They’re barely human.
– One road was littered with hundreds of flyers for yet another “masaj erotic.” These guys are aggressive in their advertising – posters, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads… you can’t escape it.
– On a similar note, Gina Pistol is literally everywhere. Don’t Google her or you’ll regret it. When Playboy came to Romania, she was their first cover-girl. Now, she’s advertising underwear on the billboards of the city. Kind of like a pre-Christian Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43).
– So we’ve covered wild dogs and sexually-explicit advertising. Next up would be crazy driving. I can tell I’m getting used to the driving in this city (which, parenthetically speaking, doesn’t mean I’m ready to drive here, but just that I’m getting used to seeing it). Anyway, I thought it was funny today while on my prayer walk because a student driver came down a busy two-lane road in the middle of the lanes. My first thought was, “Whoa, he’s in the middle of the road,” followed quickly by, “just like everyone else does here.”
– To close on a positive note, it surprised me just how many people were out in the rain. No one was really hanging out, but tons of people were out walking around. In Milwaukee, no one goes out in the rain, except maybe students. Here, you’ve got no choice, so you grab an umbrella and a rain coat and you get out there and get wet. I kinda’ like that.
Well, it was a really good time praying for the city and letting God stir my heart to see this nation changed. I got soaked, especially after my umbrella was shredded by a gust of wind, but it was good to get out and pray.
Here’s some rainy photos for ya’ll: