A few years ago, I wrote the book ‘Red Alert’. This book tells the stories of girls who are forced into prostitution. Arnold Wienen phoned me with an idea to put the story of my life and the stories of these girls together in a concert. The idea was that I would tell my story, and songs would be played in between. I was enthusiastic right away, and we met many times over the last two years to work out this concert. We also prayed a lot for this project. A few months before the tour everything was slowly falling into place. Auditions were being done for the choir, songs were being written and concerts were being booked. The Plan from the UK even flew over to the Netherlands for this project.
Scott (lead singer), James (guitarist), Jesse (pianist and my son) and Anthony (sound man), from the Plan, arrived on a Friday evening. They were being driven by Paul, the roadie. They all stayed in my house the whole week. In the concert, I told my story and the story of forced prostitution and human trafficking. I also told about God’s unconditional love and hope. If God can see and use a small girl like me, then he can see and use everyone. I told a story from my book and called people to be a light and get up and shine. I called people to see one another and to help each other. To help one person is better than not helping anyone. Be a voice for the voiceless.
The choir, band, Arnold & I really grew close to each other and we had a really good feeling of unity and were a team.
We did seven concerts; in Drachten, Emmen, Waarder, Delfzijl, Assen and Zwolle. We also did a mini-concert in a Farsi church.
The response we had after the concerts was overwhelming. We could never have believed that this concert would touch and help so many people. Many people cried during the concert, and a lot of them came to us afterwards to talk and to pray. Some people even chose to believe in God during the concert! We heard a lot of heart-breaking stories from the people who visited the concert. Stories about depression, abuse, rape, and suicidal thoughts.
A man dealing with some of these problems came to us and said that he felt God did not see him, but during the concert he suddenly realised that God did see him.
Someone else came to us with the most heart-breaking life story. She was thinking about suicide a lot. After the concert, she came to talk to us about it and prayed with us. After this she felt free and she decided she wanted to live!
Two women who were Muslim came to us and said they wanted to become Christians.
Another woman who came to the concert had not been out of her house for years because of anxiety. She came to the concert because she had read my book and felt that she had to come, even though she was really scared. She felt like this was an important step in her recovery. She now wants to get counselling to get better so she can help other people in need.
There are so many more stories of God’s love reaching peoples heart through the Shine tour. It’s so powerful that God can use us, simple people, to bring light into darkness. We are already making plans for another tour next year!
One of the goals of this tour was to raise awareness of forced prostitution and human trafficking. We also held a collection every concert to raise money for these problems. After the tour, Arnold and I went to Frits Rouvoet from Bright Fame. Bright Fame is an organisation that helps girls get out of prostitution. We gave Frits the money that was raised from this tour, which will be used to help the girls start a new life. He showed us around the red-light area, because Arnold had never seen the work of Bright Fame. It was so sad to see the girls behind the windows in their underwear. Tourists, drunk people, teenagers, groups and groups of people walked by staring at the girls. Frits spoke to a few girls and one girl asked him to help with a few tax letters she had received, which she did not understand. They made an appointment to work it out that evening.
The red-light area has such a horrible atmosphere. It smells of weed, alcohol, sweat and sex. All over you could see the sense of despair.
We want to do the Shine tour again to raise more awareness and money to help some of these girls get free. We were made to shine!