If you drive down the R310 towards the N2 towards Cape Town on almost any given day, you will see a small cluster of women sitting on the side of the road in a bush area. With two to seven or eight of them gathered on most days, they come to this area to work as prostitutes on the side of the road. They crouch on stacked tires or rocks as they chat amongst each other and engage with clients, the ground around them littered with trash and condoms. All of them have one or more children to feed and put through school, and they are often without a partner to help them. Most of them feel this is one of their only choices in order to survive.
Marcie Harris, one of our EM staff in Stellenbosch, had been feeling a tug on her heart for these women who she drove by on a weekly basis. It turns out she wasn’t the only one. Soon, a small group from local Stellenbosch Baptist Church came together to form a ministry team called The Butterfly Project. The name was inspired by the growth and transformation caterpillars go through as they become butterflies.
In the ministry time with the ladies each week, those on The Butterfly team strive to get to know the women more as well as lead them through Bible studies in the book of John. The team has also handed out CV (resume) materials to help the women build their CVs and potentially find new jobs. Then there is always time spent in prayer where the women stand up off of the stacked tires they have been crouching on, and join hands with the team in prayer. The requests most often center around protection and provision for children as well as a new job. The team also once made a home visit to one of the women who had been in the hospital. Spending time with her and her neighbors in her home was incredibly special.
Much of the inspiration for the ministry comes from a well-established ministry called Straatwerk that works to bring women out of prostitution on the streets of Cape Town. There is much to learn from such a ministry, and much to learn from the specific women that The Butterfly team works with. Being a humble learner is a huge part of the process.
The Butterfly team is currently trying to figure out which of the women are seeking and more open to relationship, and may start giving out vouchers for fun activities that will help the team build deeper relationships with the women. Trust has to be built, and the women have to be empowered to take the steps for their physical, emotional, and spiritual benefit. Please keep this fairly new ministry in prayer as the team members discern what the next best steps are to take in terms of lifting these women up and helping them to leave their careers of prostitution behind them.