Pastor battling prostitution outside church building
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- What happens when members of one church walk outside its doors is enough to make them turn around and head right back to the sanctuary.
It's no surprise to hear the oldest profession in the world is happening along West 10th Street in Huntington, but New Day Ministry Pastor Helen Wolfe says it's worse than ever.
She says prostitutes proposition her church members before and after church services.
"These ladies are literally chasing them to the front door," she said.
Even Pastor Helen has been mistaken for one of the ladies in question.
"An older gentleman about 62 years old pulled in front of the daycare," she said. "I walked out and I said, 'Hey, can I help you?' and he said, 'Yeah. How much?' And I looked at him and I said, 'Salvation is free.' "
She doesn't intend to tolerate it any more.
"Somebody has to go out and say I'm going to put a stop to this," she said.
While a WSAZ crew was talking with Helen, she confronted a couple of the women as they were walking by her church.
She told one of them, "Somebody is going to cut you up, somebody is going to kill you. and you're worth more than that."
She also told one of the women, "Tell the pimps I'm coming after them."
One of the ladies agreed to come inside the sanctuary and share her story.
"I used to be a supervisor," she told WSAZ. "I had a good job, a nice home, car, everything, and I got really badly hurt and got on pain pills."
She claims to no longer be addicted to drugs but continues to work as a prostitute because she can't find another job.
"We're not bad people," she said. "We're just trying to survive like everybody else. That's all we're trying to do."
So is Pastor Helen.
She also runs a daycare next to the church. She says more than half the children's parents have pulled them out in the last couple years because of this problem.
"The pimps are now getting into my pocket," Helen said. "Now the daycare is decreasing because the parents know it's a good daycare, but they tell me all the time, we'd love to bring our children there, but they say they get chased down by the prostitutes. I'm going to flip this and get in the pimp's pocket."
Pastor Helen plans to start taking pictures of people involved in criminal activity outside her church, including the men who pick up the prostitutes, and sending them to the police.
"If the enemy is bold enough to come on this street, I'm going to be bold enough to confront him," she said.
The city of Huntington is working on new strategies in dealing with this problem, as well.
The WEAR program began back in November. That added 20 spots in the drug court specifically for women who got into prostitution to support a drug habit.
Huntington Police also announced in October they would begin displaying the faces of people caught picking up prostitutes on billboards.