While Rebecca Morgan was studying biochemistry at Western Kentucky University, she thought she was on track to go to medical school, but God had other plans, the Elizabethtown native said.
“God put a burden on my heart for women in prostitution. There were questions of how they got to the streets,” she said. “What do they think? Do they think they’re valuable? It made me sad to think they would think that (they weren’t).”
Morgan knew without a doubt that it was the Holy Spirit insisting that she pursue the ministry.
“I knew it was God telling me not to go to medical school. I felt like it was the Holy Spirit wanting me to close that door,” she said. “I stopped applying to medical schools. I started my last year at Western.”
Morgan recently spoke about her experiences at Woodburn Baptist Church, where she became a member while she was a WKU student.
“We love her. She’s very special to all of us,” said Woodburn Baptist Church Senior Pastor Tim Harris. “We’re proud of her. Rebecca is an intellectually brilliant woman. She’s passionate for Christ and helping others.”
There didn’t seem to be a way for Morgan to help the women she wanted to, but then she said God directed her through a friend to an organization called GoCorps.
“They have various opportunities for two-year mission trips,” she said. “What drew my attention was the compassion/justice tract. I feel compassion is a gift God has given me so I was interested to see what was in that tract.”
The route that stood out for her was the one in Berlin working with women in prostitution.
“In Germany, sex trafficking is a big issue because of the rise of sex tourism,” she said. “There are pimps and mafia. Prostitution is legal.”
The women are primarily from eastern Europe, Morgan said.
“They’re there primarily because of poverty,” she said. “They’re sending money back to their families back in their home country or forced by pimps to work on the street or brothels or feeding addictions.”
The women are raped over and over and over again before they put them to work, Morgan said.
“They realize they have no control,” she said. “That’s when they send them to the streets.”
Work in the brothels is much more consistent, Morgan said.
“On the street it depends on the weather or holidays. For example, the women may have more business on the weekends,” she said. “It’s not just single men. It’s married men, Christian men, non-Christian men, men with children. The women are desperate and being exploited.”
Morgan remembers a woman whose boyfriend forced her into prostitution.
“She has an emotional attachment and fear,” she said. “She works the streets.”
There was another woman who was in love with a man who verbally and physically abused her. Finally, she had enough.
“We helped her get to a safe house in Germany,” she said.
It’s a hard ministry because the prostitutes have a hard time trusting anyone, Morgan said. For that reason they have Neustart – which means “new start” or “restart” – a cafe ministry that has existed for about nine years.
“It was started by Christians. They were originally working with Teen Challenge (which helps teens, adults and families through issues such as substance abuse). (When they moved) they thought there still needed to be an encouraging presence there,” she said. “The women have a place where they can have their basic needs met. A lot of the women are poor or homeless. They will sleep at our cafe, too, like on our sofas.”
Morgan now works for Pink Door, which provides support for sexually exploited women who want to leave their life of prostitution behind. She teaches a reading workshop and does administrative work.
“It offers a halfway house and day school. We just opened our doors a year ago. There’s no other like it in Berlin. There’s this holistic investment,” she said. “They learn how to manage their finances, how to cope with past trauma, how to have good relationships and reconcile past relationships. God wants to give them a good future.”
The house has rules, Morgan said. They must be clean, meaning they can’t come to the house with substance abuse issues. They also must be committed to starting a new life. They have chores and responsibilities.
“What compels us is the love of God who is exemplified in Jesus Christ – for God to give his own son and Jesus to sacrifice his life when we did nothing to deserve it and do not deserve it and for Jesus to rise from the dead,” she said. “We want to offer our skills to help these women start a new life.”
The length of time the women are in the program is based on the individual needs of the participants. They go through three phases. The first phase is accommodation in the Pink Door House, social and mental health evaluation/consultation, basic courses in the Education Center and arrangement of internships/job sharing/appropriate jobs. The second phase includes accommodation in a more independent living situation, ambulant assistance, support and help in furthering education or job search and continuing courses in the Education Center, support with internship opportunities and vocational training. In the third phase, they receive accommodation in an independent living space, counseling and support upon request and job, school and continuing education.
Romans 5:8 inspires Morgan: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” She doesn’t know how long she will be in the mission field, but she plans to stay as long as she can.
“(The women) are so precious and valuable because they were made in the image of God. Jesus did for them just as he did for me and you,” she said of the women. “We have to try not to judge someone based on their lifestyle when we don’t understand their story and see the needs that they have. These women are just like me.”
Morgan also wonders about the traffickers and the men who use the prostitutes.
“The men are also broken,” she said. “They may have been abused by their mothers and that may explain their hatred for women. They face pornography addiction and sex addiction.”
Woodburn Baptist church sponsors and supports Morgan, Harris said.
“We make hats, scarves and gloves to send to Rebecca for the women. It’s cold in Berlin in the winter,” he said. “Not all the women are ready to leave the streets. She meets them where they are.”
Helping the women is dangerous work, Harris said. Some of the women may be in danger when they try to leave their pimps and traffickers as well.
“At the same time, Rebecca is rather fearless and determined to take the light where the darkness is. We pray for her safety and her wisdom and purpose,” he said. “She’s helping women who are forgotten and who are sometimes put away. It’s wonderful what she’s doing. She’s so kind and soft-spoken. I’ve never heard of her speaking of being afraid.”
— Follow features reporter Alyssa Harvey on Twitter @bgdnfeatures or visit bgdailynews.com.