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.
Hollywood, like it or not, is America’s greatest evangelist around the world. What happens in Hollywood travels around the globe, the good, the bad, and the ugly. No one (speaking in hyperbole) cares about British cinema, Canadian cinema, Romanian cinema. No one outside India and a few niche markets cares about Bollywood. But when a movie comes out of Hollywood, the world notices. When Hollywood announces a new blockbuster thriller, people around the world wait to grab it up as soon as they can, at theaters, in video stores, online through bit torrent. Like it or not, Hollywood, with all it’s flashy immorality, is transforming the globe.
I love movies, I really love movies – big summer blockbusters, low-budget independent films, little-known foreign flicks, I love ’em all, but I’ve had a lot of conversations with people lately that honestly make me really mad at Hollywood and ashamed to be an American.
Hollywood has become America’s most powerful evangelist, but for a counterfeit Gospel of violence, sexual immorality, and selfish pleasure. Muslims in Arabic nations have referred to America as “The Great Satan” partially because of what they see being displayed in Hollywood. I don’t blame them. If all you know of America is Hollywood movies, then we are a breeding ground for every wicked thing ever invented.
Last week, I was telling a student here, George, how things in America are different than in Bucharest. The topic of immorality came up. “In America,” I told him, “you’ll have bad stuff in the cities, but it’s only a few places, and it’s hard to find, covered up. You have to go to Las Vegas or LA or really seedy areas of big cities if you want to get into some of the more gross sins. Here, it’s all right out in the open.” I was referring to the billboards showcasing scantily-clad women, the topless beaches and parks, the sexually graphic advertising in newspapers, the explicit pornography openly displayed in magazine stands, the sex shops every few blocks, the innumerable flyers, posters, and magazine ads for erotic massage parlors and escort services, the prostitutes walking the streets, the advertisements for web cam models… I even saw a brand of bottled water with naked women on the label in order to draw attention to it.
“No,” George told me, “that can’t be true. I’ve seen Hollywood movies. I know how bad America is. Drugs, killing, sex everywhere, prostitution. I know what America is like.”
I told him that Hollywood was a lie. I told him that America was better than that, that what he saw on Hollywood wasn’t reality, that most of America was still very conservative, very moral, not Christian per se, but holding to a level of Puritan morality. But he didn’t buy it. Hollywood had convinced him otherwise.
A few days later, I was talking with Gabi, who confessed, “I used to hate America for everything I saw in movies. I thought maybe the Muslims were right, maybe America was the Great Satan of the world.” Then he got saved, stumbled onto some American preachers, and was amazed that here, in the midst of such great evil (the crime, violence, drugs, rape, prostitution, lust, and pornography of Hollywood), there were actually men of God preaching the Bible. Then he found more and more preachers from America who were really good, and American Christian books and movies that changed his life, and he was confused how such great evil could come out of Hollywood, yet there could be so many good churches and preachers and books and worship music.
Another day, Paula, who will be vacationing with her husband in America next month, told me that she was terrified to go to America. “I will get shot,” she told me. “They will sell me drugs and turn me into a prostitute. I’ve seen it in movies.” She went on to tell me how her whole family is terrified for her and has told her to be careful in America because everyone has guns and sells drugs. Why do they think this? I’ll give you one guess. Hollywood.
Today, I was talking with Adi. He told me, “Many of us here would not have tried drinking and parties and sexual immorality except for Hollywood. It was movies like American Pie that made me think the whole party life was what was normal. I didn’t want to look like a geek and not do those things, so I started hosting big parties in my house in High Schoool.” He reasoned that it was Hollywood that opened many young people in Romania toward sin. He saw immorality and drunkenness presented in such a fun light in all the movies that he started to think that was what life was all about. Many of his friends, he said, modeled their lives after the sexual immorality they saw in Hollywood movies. They assumed all Americans were living in immorality, based on what they saw in the movies, and if Americans were doing it, and America was on top of the world, it must be good.
So Adi and many others were duped into a life of sin because Hollywood was a better evangelist than the Christians.
Is America the Great Satan? I hope not, but if you judge America according to what’s coming out of Hollywood and influencing the nations of the world, maybe the Muslims are closer to the truth than we like to admit.
Lord, bring revival to America. We need it.
That title should increase my daily views.
Right now, the overwhelming majority of people who come here via Google find us by searching for information on prostitutes in Bucharest. If you enter “prostitutes in Bucharest” into Google, I should be on the first page, unless it changed recently. This wasn’t intentional, but somehow a post I did on student prostitution way back here became really popular on Google and is attracting most of the hits. It’s slightly annoying, but I’ve been praying God uses it to reach people for Him.
Well, I started writing a post about our friend Sorin’s one-man stand against prostitution at a hotel in Bucharest, but then I realized my brother had already posted about it, and he did a darn fine job, so I decided just to re-post everything he said. Here it is, first appearing in Footsteps in the Deep:
My friend Sorin started work at a hotel about a month ago. He’s a dedicated Christian and a man of God, and he shares the gospel with zeal. We ‘hired’ him as our translator when Jake Martin came to Bucureşti for two weeks of evangelism. Anyhow, he got a job working at a hotel now as a bus boy. He loves the work. The pay is more than enough for him ($2/hour) and it includes one free meal every day and a couple tips here and there.
The biggest tippers are the foreign visitors seeking prostitutes, and they are certainly plentiful. Sorin told me that every night he sees many prostitutes come into the hotel, and it’s normal for a guest to ask him to find him one. They offer him 150 RON. 150 RON is only $45 US, but to put it in perspective, that’s almost a week’s pay for a public school teacher or two 12-hour shifts for Sorin or 10 trips to the theater or half a month’s rent for a college student (cockroaches included free of charge, of course). So you don’t want to say “no” to a guy offering you 150 RON for 5 minutes of work and a phone call.
Of course, although the laws are not always enforced, prostitution is very much illegal in Romania. (And, just like in the U.S., if a man is caught paying a woman for sex, she pays the fine. No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?)
And my friend Sorin is a Christian and has always turned down the offers, stating bluntly, “I am a child of God. Why do you think I would do this thing? No, I will not find you a prostitute. And do not ask me to find someone else who will, because I will not help you in this.” Amen! I pray Sorin stays bold and the Lord blesses him so much that the other workers get jealous because of it.
But… something isn’t sitting well with me.
Of the 2 million people in Bucureşti, Sorin is one of at most 10,000 who are born-again believers. And of those 10,000, how many work at hotels? And of those, how many are willing to stand up for what’s right? And of those, how many refuse to give their co-workers the job?
And Sorin works in a small hotel. Imagine how many women are trafficked through the large ones. And add all those up throughout all of Bucureşti…
Yeah, you’re starting to feel what I’m feeling, aren’t you? A little sick to your stomach?
Pray for Bucureşti. There are many here in this city who are held in bondage to lust, and prostitution is just one of its many tentacles.
Pray for a release of godly, joy-filled holiness. Pray for men and women to become so captivated by Jesus that the idea of selling or buying sex would not even enter their minds. Pray for men and women who are whole and satisfied in Jesus, free. Pray for conviction to enter the hearts of the men who come here to abuse the law and human beings. Pray for conviction to enter the hearts of the women who use their bodies to manipulate and control men.
Pray for Bucureşti. We need it.