A Mosque and a Baptist Church
In June 2016, the ladies went to share Jesus in Europe for 30 days. They went to Paris (France), London (UK), Amsterdam (Holland) and Munich (Germany). Here’s what happened in London:
Leroy & Sam
We arrived in London on June 7, 2016. Our previous mission trip was in France, so it was like a breath of fresh air to be in a country where English is the first language. We no longer had to depend on Edmee to translate. Thank God!
We were staying in Croydon, just a couple miles outside London. Upon arrival we decided to get some groceries. While doing so, a man named Leroy asked Edmee where she came from?—since she does not have a British accent. This cleared the floor for conversation. Leroy shared that he used to be a minister, but had lost faith in his fellow ministers—which, in turn, took a toll on his relationship with the Lord.
Jessica and Bevelyn were grocery shopping as she spoke to him. As Edmee introduced him to all of us, she encouraged him to not impugn God based on his disappointment with the Church. He shared how he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as we were talking to Him. Jessica said she felt the Holy Spirit as well. Edmee, however, did not feel a thing.
We exchanged contact information with Leroy and went to our hotel. On our way, we met a man who was drunk. Jessica and Edmee started a conversation with him. His name was Pierre. He would be the first of many people we’d meet in England who were intoxicated. When it comes to substance abuse, this was something of a departure from what we were used to seeing in the US. We spoke to Pierre and prayed over him by commanding his addiction to go. We also asked for Holy Spirit to fill him.
The next morning we headed out to Speakers’ Corner. Edmee had insisted that we go there because she had learned it was a very popular place in London for people to debate on religious and political beliefs. Once we got there, a tour guide we ran into told us that the activities at Speakers’ Corner only took place on Sundays. This was a bummer. We had not thought of another plan for that morning, so we decided to walk through Hyde Park.
We ended up at Buckingham Palace. An ambassador was coming to visit the queen, and Bevelyn was delighted to watch the festivities take place. That week happened to be the Queen’s birthday as well. We watched the royal show for a bit before heading off to sit and eat lunch. When we finally got seated at the bistro, we took some time to deliberate where to go next. Edmee remembered a man we had met on the train ride over mentioning East London as a pretty tough area to live in, so we decided to go there.
As we arrived in East London, Jessica wanted to go to the pharmacy to get something for her ankle, as she had sprained it while in France. As we stood outside the pharmacy we noticed that there was a toddler in a stroller with no adult supervision. We were stunned and ask who left their baby outside? This is when a young man by the name of Sam came to us and explained that this happens all the time. London is highly surveilled with cameras. They are EVERYWHERE. He shared that should someone take the baby away, it would be caught on camera.
Despite such massive security coverage, we still could not believe that parents felt so comfortable doing that, but this opened the door for us to deepen our interaction with Sam. We told him why we were in London and asked about the Red Light District there. He took us to his office, and we had a wonderful conversation with him. Sam helped us accomplish two things that day: First, he gave us information on how the Red Light District operates in London. He shared that most activities are operated in homes, instead of the streets. As he was giving these details a picture popped into Edmee’s head. She shared with the rest of us that she had a prophetic vision of a shabby-looking living room with a couch, and got excited about being able to minister to prostitutes in such an environment. Second, Sam connected us with a Christian woman who had had a great impact on his family, by taking us to her church. What surprised us most with this great encounter with Sam was that—as a Muslim—he was so eager to help us with our mission to spread the Gospel.
A Mosque and a Baptist Church
Once we arrived at Poplar Baptist Church, we were blessed to meet Jan, the lady that Sam was raving about. She had a peaceful countenance and was getting ready to host a service. She shared some of the history of the church and gave us a tour of the old building. She took us to a room where the church was keeping hundreds of tracts, booklets, and literature in multiple languages. She gave us some, then took us to the main sanctuary.
We proceeded to bless her by praying for her. As we were praying, we felt the need for the baptism of Holy Spirit in that Church. Jessica went on to ask for the Holy Spirit to fall on that church. Edmee noticed that Jan was nodding her head in agreement. This church had had a positive impact on the community, but we could tell that it needed power through the Holy Spirit to be a witness. We also knew in our hearts that we wanted to bless this woman financially. When we did so, Jan was very surprised and somewhat resistant. We reminded her that in order to be a good giver one has to be a good receiver. She accepted the money and prayed for us. It was a blessing to get an email from her a couple days later saying: “I want to let you know that the gift you left with me has been given to a poor Christian widow in Sri Lanka. Those who administer the gifts are known to us.”
The next morning, we headed to a Christian bookstore. We had run out of English Bibles and also wanted to get children’s Bibles. We got on the bus. It was a trip to see how Londoners commute on the left side of the street. Every time we crossed the street, we were confused as to where the cars would be coming from. We stumbled upon a mosque along the way and decided to go in. Once inside, an administrator there told us that we needed to go to their women’s center, located in the back of the building. Only men were allowed in the main area.
We proceeded accordingly and we were told to remove our shoes once we arrived at the center of the mosque. Our intent was obviously to meet and minister to the women there. We also wanted to see what the Lord could do there. Some women welcomed us. Others were a little suspicious. One thing we noticed was the beauty in these women’s eyes. We made sure they knew how beautiful they were. We briefly chatted with the woman at the reception desk. She shared Islam’s precepts while we shared what Christianity is about.
We then decided to leave but had to wait in the exit lobby as it was raining outside. This is when a security guard came to us and asked what was happening? We told him that we were visiting London and that we are Christians who wanted to come in and bless the mosque. He then said if we wanted to talk further we would have to go to the men’s section. We found this interesting because when we first arrived at the mosque, the men sent us to the women’s center because women were not allowed to pray with the men. It was clear the men did not want us to talk to the women at all. He, however, allowed us to wait in the lobby until the rain stopped.
On our way back to our hotel we stopped at what would become our favorite Asian place to have dinner. As we were leaving the restaurant we met a homeless man named Thomas. He was reading a Bible. We had extra food and wanted to see if Thomas wanted some. As we approached him, two brothers, Hakeem and Kamare joined in. Our first impression of them was not good. Jessica and Bevelyn first thought that the brothers were there to bother Thomas, while Edmee thought that there was some drug dealing going on.
We were totally wrong. We had an awesome conversation with the three of them realizing the brothers were only there to bless Thomas. The young brothers—who were of Jamaican descent—gave money to Thomas, and we ended up taking Thomas to our hotel. As Bevelyn and Edmee were reserving a room for him, Jessica and Thomas were talking in the lobby. She shared a Word about the Holy Spirit. He was very intrigued. We ended up praying with Thomas, handed him his keys and retired for the night.
The following morning, we headed to the Red Light District, in Soho, as suggested by Sam. We were looking for the homes that housed the sex workers, but could not seem to find any. We then noticed that some building doors had handwritten signs on them that read: “Models Available.” We began to wonder if this was a cover-up for prostitution. We entered a porn shop and asked the manager where we could find prostitutes. We did not disclose our intent. He explained, just as we had thought, that they were located in the apartment buildings with signs that said “Models Available.” We left and went into the building next door. We stood in the lobby to pray first, not realizing that there were cameras which gave us away. As we went up the stairs and knocked on doors, we would hear “No thank you” and “She’s not here.” We went back to the shop asking if there was another place we could go to. He said he did not really know, but gave us another place to go to, which we did. Same result, no answer. This is when we decided to leave.
However, Edmee felt there was intriguing about the man working at the shop. So she decided to go back, and we followed though Bevelyn did not agree. As she attempted to minister to him, he got frustrated and told us he didn’t know anything and didn’t have time for this mess, so he commanded us to leave. As we left, Bevelyn felt that this man actually was linked to these “brothels.” She also felt frustrated with Edmee that they went back to the shop only to get kicked out and Bevelyn began to complain. Edmee then stated that she kept seeing a living room with a certain couch. Bevelyn replied “I see it, too. In my vision, I see a table in front of two windows, but we have to be patient and wait for tonight.” So we agreed to retreat until nighttime.
As we were waiting, we came upon the “square” where street dancers were performing in public. There were about a hundred people there, and we knew this was a perfect situation for Jessica to get her dance on. Later on, we went back to the Red Light District. We stood there waiting for our next move. This is when two men walked passed us and walked into the brothel. A magician walked up to us and started to show us a card trick. Once he was done, we began to minister to him. He shared that he was a Muslim. While he was talking Bevelyn was wondering how we could get into the brothels. This is when she asked our newfound buddy for a favor: “You need to take us to the prostitutes.” We told him we would pay him 20£.
He agreed and took us to a building. He then buzzed the front door to get in, and once the people inside saw his face through the camera, they let him in. We then followed. As we walked up the stairs one of the women in the apartment above us came out and began to yell at the man screaming got him to leave. He then ran past us, back down the stairs, and out of the building. We waited for the woman to go back into her apartment, and then quietly ran up the stairs to the top-floor apartment.
We took a brief breather, then knocked on the door of the apartment. Surprisingly a young woman opened the door. As we shared that wanted to pray for her, we peeked through and realized there was an older woman sitting in the living room. The young woman looked at her as if asking what to do. This is when the older woman agreed to let us in to pray. Her name was Shirley. The younger girl’s name was Mila. She looked like she was from Eastern Europe.
As we thanked them for letting us in, it dawned on Edmee that the living room they were in looked and felt like the one she kept seeing in her mind. There also happened to be a table in front of two windows, just like Bevelyn had seen in her mind! While Shirley remained seated, we all held hands and began to pray. In the midst of praying, Bevelyn looked at Mila and started to speak directly to her. “You are beautiful. God never made you to be a prostitute. You are better than this. I understand you need money, but that is the Lord’s responsibility not yours.” This is when Shirley intervened by politely but decisively letting us know it was time to leave. We gave them a hug and left. As we reminded each other of the visions we had, we were thrilled to see how God had planned for us to minister to these women all along.
2 Corinthians 5:16 reads Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
The first part of this verse comes to mind when we think about our experience in London. We at times fell short of assessing the situations we were in based on what we saw with our eyes, especially with Thomas, Hakeem and Kamare. There is a reason why we are called to live by faith and not by sight. There is a reason why The Lord does not want us to perceive people for their gender, color, status, demeanor, or religion. Thankfully, our first impression of them did not stop the Lord from doing what he wanted to do through us. We also noticed that the two people who God worked through to usher in divine appointments were Muslims. Sam connected us with Jan, while the magician helped us get to Mila and Shirley. Thank you Father for showing us how important it is to not limit you in the ways with which you fulfill your will.