Yat Lau Yat Fung Yat Mong

16 Jul, 2014 | Hong Kong
OM International
Pink lights in Hong Kong, red in Amsterdam, the message is the same
Sometimes, you have to discover need and opportunity elsewhere before you can recognise it at home. For Debbie*, from Hong Kong, a six-month mission and discipleship training in South Africa took her to the streets to connect with the sordid life of women in prostitution. Debbie learnt that some of the women saw it as their only financial option; most were dehumanised by pimps and yet trapped and unable to imagine a better future.

Upon returning to Hong Kong, Debbie was discouraged that only one Christian organisation was involved in ministry to women in prostitution. She considered this unacceptable and set about to challenge and involve local Christians.

OM Hong Kong’s Companion Ministry began in April 2013. They didn’t have to go far: Within a 20-minute walk from the OM office, over 300 women work in what is known as Yat Lau Yat Fung – one woman, one-room walk-ups – recognisable from the busy streets by a pink neon light. 

Everyone knows what goes on there, but few really know or care about the real cost of turning women into a commodity of shame. For every one woman in one room, OM works to bring her Yat Mong – one hope in Jesus Christ.

The goals of the Companion Ministry are that many of these women would trust in Christ for their redemption and, secondly, that they would begin a new life of dignity and productivity. Debbie knows that before this can happen, trust needs to be established, which is a long process. 

Over the past year, she and seven to eight women volunteers have visited with over a hundred such women and have ongoing relationships with 20-30 of them. They visit the one-room brothels twice weekly with small gifts, Gospel literature and contact cards for the women to call if needed.

Often, half of those they contact welcome them in to talk and feel valued. It’s a courageous act of faith to climb the darkened stairwells, to sit and listen, to pray together and to trust that this kind of friendship never before experienced by these women will develop into a connection that will lead them to new life in Christ … and new life in Hong Kong.

For the most part, churches have been reticent about ministry to society’s forgotten and seldom speak about confronting these issues. One secular group in Hong Kong lobbies for sex workers’ rights and freedom from police harassment. It also provides health advice on free STD testing, which is a valuable service. However, in a sense, it is working to better the existing system, not overthrow it or liberate and restore women. For that reason, the Companion Ministry focuses on the spiritual component that alone can bring meaningful change to individuals while challenging the injustice of sexual abuse.

Debbie says, “It was overwhelming at first; it challenged my view of men. I saw myself as a saviour – a wrong role! I can at best be a conduit between women and Jesus. This work is still emotionally exhausting unless I train myself to give it all to Jesus. In the midst of all the darkness, the hurt, the despair, the struggles of these women, I find Jesus there, who said that ‘Without me, you can do nothing.’

“We need more women to help who speak Chinese, and we need people everywhere to cry out for these women, so that they will live in the hope of Christ.”

*Last name not included for security reasons

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OM exists to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

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