Alida Bosshardt, of the Netherlands, is a legend in her lifetime. For many years she worked as a Salvation Army officer in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, the confidant of prostitutes and the means of helping many to find a different way of life. Even members of the Dutch royal family have been among her friends.
One day she was approached by a prominent Christian lady who wanted to go into the homes of poor people and also some of the bars and brothels regularly visited by Alida to see for herself what life was really like both for the poor and the “ladies of the night.” There was some reluctance about the proposal on the part of Alida because the area of Amsterdam to which they would have to go could be dangerous. She consulted her colleagues in The Salvation Army and the idea was finally agreed upon.
The day came when the lady climbed the stairs to Alida’s flat where the two had a cup of tea and then shared a reading from the Bible and a time of prayer. Because the lady’s face was well-known, it was decided that she would go in disguise. The two set off, arm in arm.
They visited some poor homes and then they made for the pubs and brothels. The lady was amazed that Bosshardt got in without difficulty and prostitutes and others greeted her so warmly.
All was going well until in one bar photographer Peter Zonneveld recognized the lady with Alida and was able to take a quick picture before the two managed to escape by a side door. They jumped into a taxi and at one-thirty in the morning Bosshardt and her companion arrived back at their starting point. Back in Alida’s room it was time for coffee again. Then at four in the morning the lady rang for a car to take her back home after what she described as the most fascinating experience of her life.
The next day De Telegraaf, one of Holland’s most popular morning papers, carried a large photograph on its front page of Alida in the Red Light area of Amsterdam. But it was not the picture of the Salvation Army officer at work that gave Peter Zonneveld the scoop of his career. It was the lady next to her, snapped in the act of distributing copies of The War Cry, for she was none other than Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Beatrix, heir to the throne of the Netherlands and now that country’s queen!
“Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matt. 22:9-10).
Wesley Harris, Truth Stranger Than Fiction