With Love and Flowers


She is Beautiful, yet she doesn’t always think so

She has big dreams for a bright career

When she is nervous, she plays with her hair

She has a birthday… 1977 although I would have guessed the 80’s

She has two smiles, the real one is much better

She wants to have a baby and a family

She wants to forget about this part

She hopes for something more

[One of the many alleys in the Red Light District]

Awkwardly standing in front of the window I put my heart on the line by extending my love through a white and pink rose. Droplets of water had formed on the delicate petals and had smudged the writing on the love letter than accompanied the stem. I was no one, maybe even a potential client. The message was simple – God created you, your life is important, His love for you is better than life itself.

We all need to be loved. We were created with a desire for intimacy, for deep personal connection. Amsterdam is one of the last places that you will find it.

[I was amazed at the amount of tour-groups threading through the district]

We got a small group together and started praying about what we should write to accompany the flowers that we would hand out to the girls behind the glass. We rifled through our pocket sized Bibles led by ideas and references that would speak life into a dark place. Although we didn’t get around to doing a whole lot with the ministries in the RLD because of the short time we were there, this was what God wanted us to do; possibly even the reason that we were here.

The next night we stared at all of the flowers before getting busy attaching the love notes. Someone had been looking for something to give money towards and when they heard of the Flower Campaign, the Lord provided more than enough through them. There were ten of us that were going out on delivery, carrying with us more than flowers and strips of paper.

[The Cleft is in the middle of the Red Light District and provides some amazing ministries to Amsterdam’s lost and broken]

The time had come. We paired up and headed out. I went with Deni, one of the staff of the program I was with. As we walked, the closer we came to our destination, the more feelings stirred in our hearts. We arrived with an arm-full of flowers. The first interaction was the most difficult and nerve-racking. As far as we knew, people just didn’t do what we were doing; there was always something else involved. I have an odd way of explaining what happened when they received the flower and knew that it was a gift… It appeared as if scales fell from their eyes. It is a weird way of explaining the phenomenon, but words escape me if I try to say it any differently. Their eyes literally changed and they became human. Now, obviously, I know that they are human, made in God’s image and deeply loved, but they have been objectified to the point that there is a disconnect with who God created them to be. So when they received something beautiful for simply being loved by God, grace came flooding in. With some it was a little more obvious than others, but I know that the messages symbolized in the flower were delivered precisely to the people they should have. It was an amazing time, I too, felt valued and loved by God.

We continued to walk, praying. We realized that we were no different from the people walking around the RLD searching. They search for the girl that will satisfy, but we know that the love of Christ and the Father is the only thing. We have all given ourselves over to selfish desires as well, searching for that element of life that will set us on fire with fulfillment. It is part of what being human is. One of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning puts it this way. “To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace.” We all need the remarkable, exposing, and uncomplicated love of Christ. Since I have seen a glimpse, it doesn’t make me any better, because without Him, I am nothing, wretched.

[St. Nicholas Church in towers over the Red Light District (not seen here). Interestingly enough, St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of prostitutes among other things]

We were on our way out of the district when I looked down and saw a broken flower on the ground… someone in our group had given it out. I reached down and picked up the discarded blossom saddened by what it represented. The paper was torn, the writing blurred beyond recognition. The head of the daisy was incredibly whole so I kept it, not knowing what the future would hold. As we passed the last window on our way out, my eyes met the disconnected glance of the girl who occupied it. I approached the window, again putting my hope on the line. She opened the window and we began to talk. Deni and I stood awkwardly as she explained all the scenarios of why we should come inside… It was difficult to stand there, extremely uncomfortable. Why was I standing there? Why had I found that last flower? Why this window? We eventually paid for 30 minutes of her time (how it usually works) and entered the room, flooded with red and black lights. We took off our rain soaked jackets and sat down on the bed. As we talked about life, hopes, family, and hard times, the time flew by. 45 minutes later it was time to go, she had to get back to work, we had to go back to our residence. Since then, my mind has replayed the events of that night over and over in my head… We said goodbye and I hoped that I would never see her in that window again. What can I say? What words can describe the thoughts in my head and feelings in my heart? There aren’t enough flowers.

[“Window Shopping” as it is often called]

I came to Amsterdam frustrated, but left with a broken heart. I look forward to going back. It is a city of confusion, brokenness, and misguided seeking, but also a city where those who are searching can be filled with everlasting water and the Bread of Life. Where sin abounds, so does Grace(Romans 5:20).

May love flow from God into your life and from your life into the lives of others.
The opportunity is ours.

Backseat Writer welcomes John Paul Vicory to the site! JPV is traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing the love of God with others as he goes.

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