VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS)-The International Christian Conference on Prostitution - Living Hope - attracted more than 200 ministry leaders from 36 countries to the Green Lake, WI, April 22-27, 2006. Held at Green Lake Conference center, the consultation was organized by Lauran Bethell, a global consultant with International Ministries (IM), and the recipient of the 2005 Baptist World Alliance Human Rights Award for her work among prostitutes and victims of human trafficking. "Living Hope" was co-sponsored by IM, the Green Lake Conference Center, American Baptist Women's Ministries, and the Baptist World Alliance Women's Department.
Conferees came together for a time of inspiration, spiritual formation and collaboration. The spiritual fabric of the conference was woven through powerful worship experiences guided by Brad and Rita Berglund of Illuminated Journeys. Keynote speaker Dan Allender, of Mars Hill Graduate School, used a very personal and engaging combination of humor, Biblical wisdom and psychological insight to enter deeply into the spiritual dynamics facing those who minister to people in the sex industry. Stirring testimonies were shared by ministry practitioners and ex-prostitutes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. An entire day of the conference was devoted to empowering ex-prostitutes economically through businesses-as-mission.
In addition to further developing existing informal networks of collaboration in this area of ministry, the "Living Hope" conference gave birth to a new organization, the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP). Following the lead of the U.K.'s National Christian Alliance on Prostitution, ICAP is a partnership devoted to offer freedom and change to people involved in prostitution and those who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. Sensing a powerful movement of God's Spirit in this area of ministry, conference participants committed themselves to developing ICAP's organizational details gradually, while continuing to work to enhance one another's ministries. Conferees began to work on plans for regional follow-up conferences during 2007 in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Filled with the living hope that comes from Jesus' resurrection (1 Peter 1:3) and singing "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom," participants departed from the "Living Hope" conference renewed in their commitment to bring the light of Christ into the dark and deadly places of sexual exploitation in our world.
Andrew C. Jayne American Baptist Churches, USA Mission Resource Development http://www.abc-usa.org/