Love Neighbors Mission, a Light Amid the Darkness of the Korean Red Light Districts [part 1]
Love Neighbors Mission is an extraordinary church and justice ministry founded and led by Pastor Sun Choi in South Korea. They strive to love our neighbors as God wishes for us to do so. Their mission is to convey the love of Jesus Christ to souls who have been neglected and ignored by society–particularly those who work in the red light districts in Seoul, Daegu, and Busan. Pastor Choi started this ministry in March of 2010 in Cheongryangri Yunrakga, one of the most infamous and frequented red light districts in Asia.
God had spoken to Pastor Choi and revealed His undying love for the prostituting sisters who worked in this area. Thus Pastor Choi obeyed the calling from God and started going on-site to Cheongryangri Yunrakga to conduct on-site snack and gift delivery. He and his wife wrapped each snack and gift carefully with letters of scripture–all to give these precious girls messages of hope and love. Rain, snow, sleet, or shine–Pastor Choi went to the red light districts weekly, and these relationships that seemed so impossible to build in the beginning, began to form.
On August 22, 2011, Pastor Choi was blessed with an office space adjacent to the red light district, and he opened it to the working girls as a shelter and haven from the dark sex industry. In 2013, Love Neighbors Mission expanded their ministry to the some of the darkest red light districts to exist in Korea–in an area of Daegu. With wrapped gifts and scriptures in hand, Pastor Choi has never missed a day of outreach or spreading the gospel to the sisters of these alleys. Take a look at this sign on the left. It states that children are restricted from this red light district alley–in the Korean language. How ironic is it that there is an official, governmental warning sign when prostitution is illegal in the first place?
These sisters have expressed that it is like being in hell because there is no escape out of the red light district. Although some of these women may physically leave, they are imprisoned from doing so because of their emotional, spiritual, and mental bondage. There are grandmothers who live in the red light districts as well. These senior citizens say they pray for a way to leave, a change, new hope, a life outside of this world, but they feel there is no way after decades of being in this industry. Many of these women express that they would like a church to go to where they will feel no shame and only acceptance. Pastor Choi goes behind these glass windows and gives them a time of worship where they are selling their bodies. Why does he do this? He is most concerned for their salvation. Without salvation, they will not be able to return to a normal life or function in society with the rest of the world after enduring what they have. It took a very long time and a lot of immense effort for Pastor Choi to open up these girls’ hearts to what he was trying to convey. Some of them were even able to leave thanks to his tireless and tremendous efforts. There is a special sister who works with him now to get other girls out.
At first, the pimps were very suspicious and distrustful of Pastor Choi, but as time went by, God’s love broke barriers through Pastor Choi’s dedication. The pimps started to make coffee for him when he came by on his weekly gift offerings. He would accept the coffee so that he may have the chance to pray for them. He realized that the pimps and traffickers were undeniably victims as well, victims of evil and corruption.
“It takes a very long time and lots of patience to build relationships and trust with the sisters,” Pastor Choi said. However he is grateful and thankful that he is able to do God’s work and help even one sister get out of the industry after an entire year of outreach and efforts. This is how devoted he is to these sisters, how devoted he is to serving the Lord, and how much he desperately seeks for them to know that God views them as His precious daughters. Many people view these girls as despicable and undeserving. However we must all remember that the people God loves the most are the ones who are neglected the most–the victimized, the abused, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the injured, the trafficked, the widowed, and the orphaned.
“learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17