There is one place in Vienna that seems to have very little hope. Women from Eastern Europe and Africa are brought to Vienna, often under false pretenses.
Human trafficking is a serious problem in Austria, and many people’s lives are being destroyed on the streets and in the clubs of Vienna. One member of the board from Heart Factory, a ministry to women, shares how she became aware of the issue. "When I first moved to Vienna, I had to walk my daughter to school, and we passed by women on the streets and clubs,” she said. “I began to wonder if anyone was reaching out to these women with the love of Jesus. My next thought was, 'I hope it will not be me.' That feeling changed when I attended a meeting where one worker shared stories from the lives of women on the streets. Instantly, these women became real to me as women with names, stories, and families. I asked people interested in helping these women to come to a prayer meeting. I expected maybe five or six people to show up. To my amazement, many people from nine different churches came. Every one of the participants shared how God had put these women on their hearts. It was from this meeting that a ministry born of prayer was begun."
Heart Factory attempts to meet women with a sense of dignity and respect that they rarely experience in their lives. Workers and volunteers try to show love in practical ways by bringing the women hot coffee in the winter and food when they have been standing all day on the streets. They might help find an apartment for someone needing a place to live or visit women in jail who are arrested as illegal immigrants. The board member shares, “Sometimes the women ask for Bibles. They tell us that the first thing they do when they get home is take a shower and read their Bibles as a way to get rid of the stuff of that day and be able to go to sleep.” One of the most meaningful acts of kindness that Heart Factory does is celebrate birthdays with the women. The prayer of the Heart Factory team is that they will have the opportunity to celebrate a new birthday with many women who will find new life in Christ. When asked why they are so open to receiving Bibles and hearing about Jesus, one of the women responded, “When you live in hell everyday, you understand the hope of heaven very well.” Heart Factory hopes that God will soon provide a ministry home for women who want to leave the streets and begin a new life.
-Written by Ray Scott
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, September 2010]
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