Beyond the Red Lights: How CBN Helped Prostitutes Heal from Trauma and Rebuild Their Lives
Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, historic buildings, and vibrant culture. But behind the scenes, there is a dark side to this city: the notorious Red-Light District, where thousands of women and men sell their bodies for money, drugs, or survival. Find out how CBN’s Orphan’s Promise is stepping in and changing lives.
About The Cleft
Many of these women and men come from poor backgrounds, abusive families, or human trafficking networks. They face violence, exploitation, addiction, and stigma every day. They have lost their dignity, identity, and purpose in life.
But there is a place where they can find hope and healing: The Cleft.
The Cleft is a project of CBN Orphan’s Promise that seeks to meet the emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual needs of orphaned and at-risk children around the world with the love of God.
The Cleft was founded by Esther van der Ham, a former prostitute who experienced God’s grace and transformation in her own life. She felt called to reach out to her former colleagues and show them that there is a way out of their situation.
Located in a former brothel in the heart of the Red Light District, The Cleft offers a safe space. Women and men can come for coffee, tea, snacks, conversation, prayer, counselling, and friendship. The staff and volunteers are trained to listen with compassion and respect, without judgment or condemnation.
The Cleft also provides orientation classes and language classes for those who want to learn new skills or pursue education or employment opportunities. The goal is to help them discover their gifts and talents, build their self-esteem and confidence, and empower them to make positive changes in their lives.
“The Cleft is a project of CBN Orphan’s Promise that seeks to meet the emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual needs of orphaned and at-risk children around the world with the love of God.”
A Way Out
One of the Orphan’s Promise team shared, “During one of our outreaches, we met a lady. And it happened to be her first day of work (prostitution), and she shared with us that she hated doing it and felt very much ashamed about it. She said she is a Christian, but was so desperate for money to pay off her debts, that she decided to work in prostitution. She mentioned to us that she was so thankful and amazed at God’s love that He would even come and find her in that little room in the Red-Light District and sent us to encourage her and remind her of the truth of God’s character.”
The Cleft does not force anyone to leave prostitution or convert to Christianity. It respects their free will and choices. But it also shares the gospel message of God’s love, forgiveness, and restoration through Jesus Christ. It invites them to experience His presence and power in their lives.
“We offered to pray for her, but she said that God is holy and it would be disrespectful to Him if we would talk to Him while standing in a prostitution window. We shared the parable of the prodigal son with her and emphasised that God is a loving Father with His arms wide open, but it is our responsibility to run into His arms and not away from Him.”
The Cleft is a project that welcomes anyone who needs love, care, and support. A project that believes everyone has value, worth, and potential and shows that there is a greater purpose in life than selling one’s body for money.
“We exchanged phone numbers to make sure we can follow up with her because she has left the windows and will not be coming back. She contacted us to let us know she is now getting help from a social worker from the city government, so she can get out of debt. We are planning to stay in contact, so we can see where we can offer practical help, but more importantly, continue to encourage her to keep her eyes focused on Jesus. We also believe that God has put her on our path so that we can intercede for her life.”
Thank you for caring about these precious women and men in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. God bless you!
“We exchanged phone numbers to make sure we can follow up with her because she has left the windows and will not be coming back.”