She showed up at our doorstep over a decade ago. We were young and inexperienced, innocently suspicious of the audacious stories she told. Terrified, she quickly and quietly told of a large web of prostitution and trafficking throughout the cities of El Alto and La Paz, surreptitiously known as “La Casa Blanca,” or “The White House” for the number of political figures that frequented.
She recounted her horrific experience of being gang raped for days and left pregnant. And then later detailed the satanic ritual that led to a forced abortion and human sacrifice.
When she found herself pregnant again, she fled for her life and that of her baby. We did all we knew to do at the time: purchase a return bus ticket to her hometown in Brazil. And we never heard from her again.
A little more than two years ago, Obed Quispe, a young man of only 26 years of age, well-trained in the Bible and a talented musician, took a large leap of faith and planted a church in the heart of La Paz. Iglesia Gethsemane began meeting in a downtown building basement, but over the years was forced to move again and again. So Obed began searching for a new space in the expensive city center.
Meanwhile, a group of intercessors had been praying specifically and strategically for La Paz, and 8 strip clubs and brothels with trafficking of minors, well known as “The White House,” began to close. Pastor Obed went to see if there would be space available for his church to occupy. When questioned about a church occupying a former prostitution house, Obed responded that Jesus went to the sinners and prostitutes to shine as a light in the darkness. He said where sin abounds, grace abounds. What faith!
Rent was way out of reach for Pastor Obed and his faithful little congregation. So the church began fasting, hoping to receive direction from God. They were confident that God was telling them to occupy that building, but how? While in a circle of prayer a coin rolled into the center, 10 centavos – the equivalent of a penny. No one knew where it came from, but they received it as a sign from God and the next day they told the owner they would take the space—all 3 floors!
They only had $200 from Pastor Obed’s personal money, money that he had been saving for a new TV. By the end of the week, the landlord wanted $1,500 as a deposit. Obed and the church remained in prayer. Day after day his faith was tested as more deposits came due, but in the end, Gethsemane occupied one of the brothels formerly part of The White House! Church offices have since replaced the private rooms set aside for lap dances and other sexual services; the church meets on the 2nd floor where strip shows once took place, and the former bar is now a restaurant.
Miracle after miracle.
Years later, I remember our friend from Brazil begging us to help another girl who was also pregnant and still trapped in that place. We made a few phone calls, but felt helpless to do anything more. But over a decade later, the Lord has finally brought freedom to hundreds of girls. And now, even more will find full transformation in the most unlikely of places. Praise be to God!
*This story is shared in partnership with Lovely Feet Ministries through Ron and Rhonda Haynes, and Anticipando, a local house of prayer and worship. We are deeply grateful for the collaborative work of the Church for Kingdom redemption throughout Bolivia and beyond.