On the Streets of LA After Hours

Two weeks ago, at 2:00 am in the morning, I was on the streets of South Central Los Angeles looking for prostitutes.

I was the guest of Julia Speck, shadowing the After Hours team who were doing their Friday night outreach to the women working as prostitutes on the streets of South Central LA.

Our evening started at 11:00 with the After Hours team gathering for a time of community and prayer, team members updating and sharing about their own lives. After prayer the team was briefed about the women who have been befriended by the ministry, along with requests to keep an eye out this night for women known to the team who were in difficult situations. We prayed that we'd see these women on the streets if they needed our help.

Sent out, we were divided up into three teams, each team given a particular part of the South Central "track" where the Johns drive and the women stand on corners.

I went with Julia's team, shadowing Bryan Cullison, the After Hours men's outreach leader.

As we drove the track, from midnight to 2:30 am, we looked for women working a corner, the Johns driving up to them from the side streets, stopping, and rolling down their windows to solicit.

The team would greet the women with a gift bag, the female team members taking the lead. The male team members (Bryan and I) would hang back, watching over the female team members so they could have their conversations without worrying about threats on the street.

After handing out the gift bag, the team would visit with the women, eventually asking if they would like prayer. Common prayer requests are "for protection" and "getting out." When the women seemed comfortable with men, Julia would wave Bryan and I over to join the conversation.

In each gift bag was a card with the After Hours phone number along with the invitation for the women to call if they needed help and wanted to reach out.

During the night I shared with After Hours we talked with about fifteen women working the streets, they were mostly in pairs but sometimes they stood there all alone.

It was a heart-breaking, tragic, beautiful and holy night.

And I was profoundly moved by the After Hours team, their fidelity to the women, being there on the streets with them, for over ten years. And for their vulnerability and courage as they wade into great darkness, evil, sorrow, and pain. After Hours is a ministry that calls you into suffering. You cannot easily move past what you bear witness to on the track.

At 2:30 the three teams came back together to share how the evening went, along with any updates about women they had relationships with: Did anyone see her? Was she okay?

At 3:00 am our evening ended with a prayer for the streets of LA.

For the Johns and the pimps.

But mostly for the women. Still out there on the streets.

May they be safe.

May they call if they need help.

--for more information about After Hours and how you can support their work, you can visit their website

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