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 the second installment of what transpired in Paris:
In The Woods
One Sunday evening, we were on our way back to the home of Edmee’s sister Gabrielle, who happens to live by the Chateau de Vincennes, a 14th- and 17th-century French royal fortress in the town of Vincennes. The historic site is surrounded by woods. There was a festival going on, and while we were driving Gabrielle pointed to the prostitutes who were working on a strip. We were in total shock. All of them were from Nigeria and were very young. There were white vans with oil lamps inside that were used to lure the customers. The vans were used to house sexual activities. We could not believe how blatant this was. We had encountered and ministered to prostitutes in Los Angeles and Amsterdam, but this was a different beast.
Women were half naked, soliciting, or seated in vans, waiting for customers while the festival was going on. Bevelyn immediately asked Edmee’s sister to pull over so that we could minister. Gabrielle had major reservations about doing so. She thought it was dangerous, and wanted us to just forget what we saw. Edmee, on the other hand, suggested that we return the next day, knowing that there wouldn’t be any festival. This would make for a more conducive environment to minister to the women. Gabrielle offered to take us the next day, hoping that by the morning we would change our minds.
As you can imagine, the next day we approached Gabrielle to confirm that she would still be taking us to minister to the prostitutes. For a brief moment she refused, and tried to downplay our request—but we were not having it. She then spoke with her husband and arranged for him to take us back to the Bois de Vincennes, and from there we would figure out a way to get back home. Once everything was arranged for us to get out to minister, we packed about 30 Bibles and were on our way.
We arrived in the woods at around 11:30 PM. Once we saw a group of prostitutes, Joel, Gabrielle’s husband decided to park in the area and wait for us. We were delighted to have one of Edmee’s relatives with us. It was a dream come true for Edmee to minister to these women, knowing that we had had some experience dealing with the women in the sex industry. We started off approaching the women, introducing ourselves and telling them why we were there that night. This opened the door to begin to speak life into them. We started giving out Bibles, and also prayed for these women. We approached woman after woman, and the more we did, the more boldness we had to talk to them.
As we were getting deeper and deeper into the woods, we saw a group of women, and as we had done before, we started to talk to them. They asked us what we were holding, and we told them that we had Bibles. They asked us what language it was in, and when we told them it was English, they were beyond excited. They did not speak French. These women were from Nigeria. We realized how hungry they were for the Word, so we handed it to them and started to read with them. One woman asked to read the 23rd Psalm so one after the other these women were reading the scriptures.
Many of these women were young, and we could tell that they had never known a man prior to being thrown into this industry. As we encouraged them to seek a better way of life the women welcomed our prayers, so we all held hands in a circle and started to pray and worship God. We were having church in the woods with our new friends after midnight; so-called prostitutes were praising Jesus. We then hugged and gave out our phone number, and walked away. What a joy to hear them still praising God and worshiping Him while we were leaving.
Then as we walked away, abruptly two women chased after us. They asked, “Do you still have Bibles?” Yes, we replied excitedly. We gave out more Bibles and realized that we ran out of all of them. This is when Joel, Edmee’s brother-in-law drove by to check up on us. We told him that if he wanted to, he could go home, as we knew he was working the next day. However, surprisingly, he said that he wanted to stick around to wait and see if we were done so that he could take us home safely. This was when we asked if he could do us a favor. We asked: “Joel would you mind going back home to get all the Bibles that we have left?” He then asked, “Why?” And we replied, “Because the Bibles we took with us are all gone.” So Joel agreed and left us in the woods to get some more Bibles.
The Blood of Jesus
We proceeded in the meantime by knocking on the vans of the women that were sitting in the front seat. They would roll down their window for us to start ministering to them, and we would also pray for them. One of these women got our attention. As Bevelyn was ministering to her, Edmee sensed that she was not there by choice. “You’re not free right?”Edmee asked. The woman responded by nodding her head in agreement. We started praying with her and as we did Bevelyn spotted a man’s shadow peeking out the side of the van, so she began to raise her voice to rebuke the man in the name of Jesus. It was clear that the situation was extremely demonic.
Edmee began to walk away from the van and started to speak in tongues the loudest she ever had. It was as if the Spirit of might had fallen upon her. Women started to peek out the vans to see what was going on. Even cars would stop. She protested boldly “JESUS IS LORD over these woods!!!!!” As she was walking, she saw something that she had never seen before. It looked that a thick black cloud that was moving as she moved. It was not a shadow. It would jump in and out. Jessica saw it too. They felt as if it was there to mock and provoke them as if it was called out by the authority we had in Jesus. The man we saw hid.
Prior to our going out to minister, Jessica had a dream that emboldened her for the coming mission. In the dream, Jessica was in a strange palace. In each area, there were weird creatures. Jessica went into an office that was a main area of the palace. There was a medium-sized creature in authority of the other creatures in that main room, making faces at Jessica. It would shapeshift into different faces, trying to scare her. She knew it was a spirit of fear, so she started rebuking it. As she confidently spoke Jesus’s name and was rebuking it, the creature got smaller and smaller, since he had become fearful. He knew who she was in the Lord and her authority in Jesus. She then woke up refreshed, knowing that God had spoken to her. While our seeing this dark figure in the woods scared “the crap out” of Jessica, as she said herself, it emboldened Edmee to lift JESUS’ name even higher and declare his kingdom.
Joel came back and brought all the Bibles that we had left. They were all gone in a matter of minutes. We knew this was fertile ground and had already planned on coming back for another night shift. When we arrived at the house, Edmee’s sister asked how it went. As we shared our experience with her, she proceeded to share what Joel had said to her when he came to pick up the remaining Bibles. When she asked him why he was headed back to the woods, Joel—who, by the way, has yet to surrender his life to Jesus—replied that he came to pick up the Bibles. “I thought you guys already had Bibles with you,” Gabrielle said. “Yeah we did but we needed more. They’re going like hotcakes.”
Needless to say, we went back to the woods to minister a week or so later. This time we found ourselves talking to the customers as well. Most of them ran out, as one can imagine, but we didn’t care. The truth had to be told. They had to know they were made for more than having sex with complete strangers. They had to know that a life of crumbs could never satisfy them. They needed the bread of life. They had to know that there was freedom available to them. They did not have to be bound.
As we were about to talk to some women sitting on the concrete, two young men looked at us and asked how much. They thought we did not understand what they said, as we were speaking in English and they were speaking French. Edmee looked at them and told them she knew what they had said.
“You asked how much right?” she said to them in French.
And they said, “Yeah how much?”
“THE BLOOD OF JESUS that’s how much,” she replied, “That’s how much these women are worth, and that’s how much I’m worth.”
This opened the door for an amicable confrontation. One of the men was Middle Eastern and Muslim, and the other one was a Black African. While the Black African man did not like what he heard, the Muslim man appeared to be very receptive. We told them why we were there. As Edmee mentioned JESUS, the African man turned a deaf man ear, claiming that JESUS had something to do with black people experiencing slavery. Edmee smirked and was very intrigued. She proceeded to say, “I find it interesting that you’d link JESUS with slavery. If I recall correctly, didn’t you just ask me how much I cost, and you want to bring up slavery.…” This really impressed the Muslim man. As we were parting, he went on to say, “The next time I think about hiring a prostitute, I’ll think of you first.”—as if to say, he would think twice prior to doing this again. Edmee encouraged both men to know the Lord and blessed them.
One day we took the train to the Gare du Nord station. As we exited, we decided to huddle and pray. A man who stood behind us, for whatever reason, interrupted us, so we began to minister to him. A pastor walked up and began to minister with us about Jesus and encourage the man. As the man walked away, the pastor stayed to encourage us in what we were doing and then invited us to his church. While talking to the pastor, a White French woman was standing by and asked if we could help her with some money for food. A Roma woman also joined for the same reasons. Edmee began to minister to the white woman and Roma woman and invited them both to eat. They agreed to go, and we bid the pastor farewell.
We walked to a Quick restaurant, which is a hamburger chain located throughout France, and began to place our orders. While doing so, a man came up to us intending to warn us about the gypsy woman we were with, telling us that she was a thief. However, we knew that it wasn’t because she was an actual thief that made him call her that; it was the fact that she was a gypsy. Bevelyn told the man, “I got this,” and sent him off with a “Jesus loves you.” He came back a second time but caught the memo quickly. We then paid for the food for the women, and after asking them to eat with us, we all went upstairs.
Once we were upstairs and settled in, Bevelyn shared her testimony with them, and how she had struggled to get her passport to get to Europe, and all the challenges she’d faced in life. Cindy, the White French woman, was surprised when she heard that Bevelyn was on probation, and at one point in her life even went to jail. Bevelyn knew that God was using her testimony so Cindy could understand how God can lift anyone out of the gutter if they let Him.
In the middle of talking, the Roma woman was so anxious to leave and get back out to begging for money that she didn’t even finish her food. We tried to encourage her to relax and reassure her that everything would be fine. Our plan was to bless both of them financially after our time together. However, she left so soon that she missed out and couldn’t receive the blessing. Cindy stayed and spoke with us. We spoke life to her, and we could tell she was getting encouraged. We blessed her with 50 Euros. Though our intent was to bless both of them, this moment helped Bevelyn understand how failing to trust God will put us in a position of only getting crumbs while we’re destined for bread. While people would give that woman 50 cents a pop, she would have gotten a free meal and 50 euros from the Lord had she just been patient. Nonetheless, we knew the Lord would cover her, as He always does.
Eyes That Speak
After eating with Cindy and stopping at a shoe store with Jessica, we continued to walk, looking for our next encounter. As we were walking, we saw a Roma woman sitting on the sidewalk with her baby. The baby had to be no more than eight months and was beautiful. The mother was missing one eye, and the other eye was blinded by a gray film substance in the pupil, so she could barely see. When Bevelyn saw the baby, she stopped instantly. The baby was dressed in dirty white clothes with a dirty white bonnet but had the biggest smile on her face. The mother sat on the sidewalk with her legs crossed and a couple of bags with her. Now throughout the trip, we interacted with so many Roma, that Bevelyn began to think they made a choice to live the way they live. In her mind, it was not like they didn’t have options, they just chose to live this way.
However, this woman was different. She wasn’t even begging. She just sat there. It was as if she had given up as if she were tired. Bevelyn asked her if she could hold the baby? She knew the woman was blind, so she wanted to make sure it was OK, and to reassure her that she would not take the child. Once she gave her the OK, Jessica and Edmee instantly laid hands on the woman and began to pray. The prayer was in English, so we knew that the woman didn’t know what we were saying. However, it was clear that she felt the spirit of our words. She began to cry, but even through her vulnerable tears, we could sense that there was strength in her.
This woman’s spirit touched every part of Bevelyn’s heart, so much so that thinking of this woman would still make Bevelyn tear up still today. Bevelyn reached into her pocket and gave her every dime she had; she left nothing for herself. We were out of ministry money on hand. If Bevelyn could, she would have given her more, but all she had was 60 euros. After praying, we hugged the woman, and bid her farewell.
As we were walking, we passed by a man of Middle Eastern descent who was sitting at a café terrace. He stopped us and asked us to have a coffee with him. He was obviously interested in talking to Bevelyn, so Jessica went into protective mode immediately. Nonetheless, we sat down and used the opportunity as a chance to minister. He then leaned towards Bevelyn and told her, “You want a baby.” Puzzled, she stared back at him back and asked, “What makes you say that?” He then replied, “Because I saw you holding that baby.” The statement he made struck her because it was obviously true. Bevelyn then said in her typical sassy expression, “So what? Women hold babies all the time.” He replied in his thick French accent, “Yeah I know, but it wasn’t your baby. I saw the way you held that baby. You want a baby.”
Bevelyn admitted, “Yeah I do want a baby—but I’ve got to have a husband to have a baby.” Full of flirtation and excitement, the man replied, “I’ll marry you, and I’ll give you a baby beautiful. No problem.” Bevelyn brushed the statement right off as if he had never said it. Then Edmee began to ask him about his life, and if he had children. In French, he then told us about his life, and Edmee translated. Once we got comfortable in conversation, he ordered us our beverages, and we sat and talked logic in Jesus, and watched the French pedestrians stroll by. After a while, we prayed for the man, bid our farewells, and went on our way.
One of the last things we did prior to coming back to the United States was to host a Young Women and Girls Fellowship. While catching up with her little sister, Lashenda, Edmee found out that she and her friends desired to have an outlet where they could discuss serious matters, without necessarily getting under the rug answers from older adults. Edmee told Lashenda, who was 17 at the time, and her other sister, Tamara, who was 13, to tell their friends to come for a tea where they would have the room and time to talk about anything they wanted to and to ask “tough” questions.
We planned to host it at Gabrielle and Joel’s home and were looking forward to blessing these young women. We went out and bought food, desserts, gift bags, and anything we could think of to make these young ladies feel special. We really wanted to give the girls a platform to have a voice and receive sound Christian advice. The idea was good, but the Lord turned that around a quickly.
At the gathering, we started off by asking the girls if they knew why God wanted people to wait to have sex before marriage. The young ladies answered the question down to the T—they didn’t miss one detail. We were so impressed. Bevelyn was blessed to know how educated these women were in the Father, rather than led by unreasonable religious understanding. They schooled her in a way; it helped her see how many of our American children lack the knowledge and logic of the Lord, living a life of religion just to do so as she had experienced herself. It was a blessing to Edmee as she witnessed her sisters, cousin and young nieces (the latter ranged from 11 to 12 years old) getting so much understanding of the Father’s heart.
Ruth 1:14-17 reads Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” She continued, “Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”
This passage of scripture came to Edmee’s mind while ministering to Cindy and the Roma woman. Cindy reminded her of Ruth while the Roma lady reminded her of Orpah. Both were Naomi’s daughters in law. They had lost their husbands and were told by Naomi they could go on with their lives while she would go back to her hometown. Orpah bid her farewell. However, Ruth stayed with her. Ruth ended up meeting Boaz, and became the great-grandmother of David the King of Israel, positioning her as one of the matriarchs in the lineage of Christ.