“She is heart and soul in the work and has been wonderfully blessed in her efforts.”
Comment about Florence Dedrick made by the Superintendent of Midnight Missions, Ernest A. Bell – 1910
As the Wild West became more civilized, tolerance for prostitution and the women who owned and operated houses of ill fame became less and less. Morally upright citizens spoke out against the trade, politicians drafted legislation that made the profession illegal, and missionaries ventured into parlor houses and cribs to reform the soiled doves.
Sister Florence Mabel Dedrick, a missionary from the Moody Church in Chicago, was dedicated to rescuing women from the “underworld.” She believed she had been called by God to “serve her fallen sisters and persuade them to repent.” She authored several articles about her experiences in helping to save women from the perils of “evil living.” Their salvation was a burden that weighed heavily on her heart.
In 1910, Sister Florence wrote that she was “more than happy to share her experiences with readers everywhere.” The following excerpt is from a publication she wrote entitled For God’s Sake Do Something.
“What are we doing for our tempted sisters? Are we going to let the business of prostitution have free and undisputed sway without a word of protest, blighting and ruining the homes in this fair land of liberty and freedom? Are we going to let evil exist and triumph and not rise up in arms against it?
“The question, what are we doing for our sisters came up as far back as Solomon’s time, but has an answer been found? No! It was only when Jesus met the woman at the well did a new life open for our unfortunate sisters. I plead with you do not draw away your skirts for fear of contamination. Remember, the Master Himself allowed a fallen woman to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with the hairs of her head. It was a fallen woman who was first to see the omissions and deficiencies of hospitality forgotten by others. Are not fallen women included within the scope of the Master’s great commission?
“A woman may fall lower than a man, but this is due to her sensitive moral nature. With the conviction that she is past redemption, doors closed, no one loving her, people, yes, her own sex, ostracizing her—she becomes hopeless, desperate, and reckless. Can you blame her? Again, let me recall to your mind, Jesus Himself forgave and renewed repentant ones. Even when a woman had fallen to the depths of sin and degradation, He still called her “woman.”
“Not every girl who leads a life of sin and shame is by any means a free person. They are in a sense a slave to sin and God is no respecter of persons and the same judgment will be hers unless she hastens home to her Father’s House, where room and warm welcome awaits her. Not many doors await in her world.
“An example of this is found in the case of a young girl in Colorado who, ruined, went from door to door to find someone who would befriend her. Some have one excuse, some another. All said: “We cannot take you in.” Tired, discouraged, only one door open and that is the brothel door from whence she once came.
“Many ask: “Who are these girls who go astray?”— having an idea that it is only the ignorant class who are down in sin. It is not so, and let me undeceive everyone on this point, though many, many of the ignorant class do go astray also. Satan is claiming our best, our VERY best girls of education, refinement, advantages and religious training. In one of the most notorious and elegant resorts, known in the red-light district of Texas, there are college girls, who have had every advantage. Only lately, as I have done personal work there, did I learn that these very girls were at times in such despair as to threaten to commit suicide.
“Some girls come to me when in these resorts and say: “I used to sing in Moody Church Choir.” Others will tell you they went through every department of the Sunday school; some were Sunday school teachers. Members of almost every church you will find among them. When these facts are considered one cannot help but realize the need for action.
“A sad incident occurred in one of Colorado’s churches. Seven or eight boys, whom everyone considered pure, were found, upon investigation, to have caused the ruin of thirteen girls. One girl, in telling me how she had been led astray said she had been getting $3.50 a week for her lifestyle.
“When it comes to reform there must be cooperation on the part of the state, the home, and the church. What we need is a practical salvation, something more than saying: “Be ye saved.” The church can do what the state cannot, and vice versa. Not only present, but future generations are in danger. Vice and crime are being flaunted, as it were, and advertised in our very faces. Every man, woman and child have a place in the battle.
“Its girls whose ages are from 13 to 22 who are going astray, even as young as 9 years; deceived, betrayed, led away by the promise of making a fortune selling themselves. The conscience of these girls is by no means dead. Upon giving one my card, she said: “If I had only known it before; many tell me about being a Christian, and another world, but I never could understand it.” The cry of another sin sick girl was, amid sobs and tears: “Oh! It is awful and sin has done it!”
“Oh, Christian women, mothers, give recognition to the fact; yes, welcome it, that a fallen woman can be saved, and extend to her sympathy, encouragement, and love! Especially let me say: “The girls of today are the mothers of the morrow, and as in the life and influence of mother rests the making of men and nations, let us, with God’s help, save the girls.” Knowing the price of a single soul, the burden of my heart is, that the minds of our American people may be so stirred and awakened to the existing causes of evils that are engulfing our girls, that we will each take our part, appoint ourselves as a committee of one, to do all we can to stamp out this monstrous soul scourge, and hinder and stop its further progress.”