It is nights like tonight that stir a passionate fire inside of me. I want people in the western world to see, to see what happens here on the streets of Bangkok. Do you want to join me? Do you want to see?
Outreach evenings always start with prayer. Our team meets at our offices to share about the current events our organization is facing, to talk about, strategize but most importantly pray. We realize that going out into the red light district is no easy assignment. The darkness is prowling all around so we, not out of fear, but out of discernment, call out to God for His protection. We pray that God would thwart the plans of the enemy, that He would open our eyes, make us aware of situations; that He would lead us to the women and children who are most desperate, who need that touch, a kind word, hope, freedom. After prayer we go to a local hotel and eat. This is a time to just enjoy each other's company, tell stories from our past week, laugh together, get our tummies filled and watch. We notice the women sitting just a few feet away, putting on more makeup, eating, engaging with a passing man who shows an interest in them. We watch the men come in and comment as they often pass our table, seeing who he wants to take out for the night.
Leaving the hotel restaurant, we make our way toward the red light district. Passing some beggers on the way we enter the plaza where all the Thai Go-Go, Beer and Show bars are. The bar we went into was filled with women...wait, actually it took me a little while but then I realized that most of them were lady-boys. Seeing this made my heart very sad as I thought about how Thailand is loosing it's men. They see becoming a woman as more attractive, more fulfilling, safer and are exchanging their identity by the hundreds.
Then I noticed this girl among the lady-boys who was dancing...after she got down from the stage I motioned for her to come over. As soon as she sat down I noticed the tattoo of her name on her right shoulder. "I haven't seen you in a long time!" she said. "I recognized you." Sure enough, we had met before! We exchanged small talk. I found out she has been working there off and on for 2 years. She is going home next month, hopefully to stay there and help her family by selling things. She has three younger siblings, one married, the rest in school. At the end, before she went back to dance, I gave her my phone number and offered, if she wanted, that we could meet up for dinner before she works some night. I am praying she calls.
After leaving the bar, our team went down to speak to some of the street walkers. Women from Central Asia, Africa. They are so beautiful and yet so controlled by the dream of making money or the manipulation of those who brought them here. Rarely do they not know what they have come to Bangkok to do. However, the reality of it once they get here, begins to take a toll on some, throwing them into silent desperation or hardening their hearts as they accustom themselves to the life they live.
And then there are the children from Thailand's surrounding countries, who run down the streets carrying roses, or baskets of gum to sell for near 75 cents. And then there are the mothers, with their babies wrapped up on their laps, begging for money, the men who stand and watch, we are not sure if they are just observing or keeping an eye out. So many relationships, so much need.
As I come home tonight there is a burden on my heart. A burden for the western world to see, to see that there is a world of people who are desperate to be loved. These women, men, and children are living lives that are ruining their hearts and future. But who is going to come and help them, give them a loving touch, continue to visit them, show them a way out? This is what is burning on my heart. I want to see a movement of love that reaches here to Asia. To see more people who will follow the call to go. Who will get involved? Who will pray? How about you? What will you do?
These children know freedom