Tag Archives: ministry

When a heart breaks

She walks out of the massage parlor with the sun-glassed man. Japanese, I think. He leaves quickly. She sits down on the bench, avoiding eye contact.

Everyone around knows what’s just happened.

As I’ve sat and listened to my friend teach English the past 30 minutes, she’s been upstairs in a room with this man, most likely doing much more than a massage.

She’s in it for the money. Most of these women are. Many come from poor families in eastern Thailand and many haven’t finished high school. They are left with few opportunities. Some can’t read Thai.

When she comes back she pulls out a deck of playing cards and starts playing a game, most likely to get her mind off of what just happened.

Watching her that day broke my heart. Every time I go down to the red light district it break my heart. Every single time.

We’re hoping and praying that these women and men will use the English we’re teaching them to get out of the business. But, we’ve just heard that some women are going to another massage parlor to learn English sex talk to help “empower” them.

When your heart breaks, what do you do about it?

I chatted with a woman today who’s married and has three daughters. We talked about how the flooding in Bangkok has affected her sister. I asked her about her daughters and about the massage parlor’s business.

I don’t know if her husband knows what she does. He might. She left our English lesson early to wrap her arms around a Western man and lead him upstairs.

When your heart breaks, what will you do about it?

There’s a new girl who works at this massage parlor. She lied about her age. She said she’s 18 but she’s only 17. She has a boyfriend, she told us, he’s 16. She also left the English lesson early with a customer. I don’t know if every time these ladies have a customer if it results in more than a massage. Many times it does.

When your heart breaks, what are you doing about it?

One of our regular students brought her 17-year old son. She doesn’t look nearly old enough to have a son that age. He’s looking for work. We want to make sure he doesn’t end up working in the red light district like his mom. His mom left the English lesson early today with a man. She escorted him right past her son. Does he know what his mom does?

When a heart breaks, what should you be doing about it?

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call me rude

Rihanna’s “Rude” plays in the background of a darkly silhouetted bar. Western men lean in to whisper dirty nothings into the ears of petite and scantily-clad Thai women.

These women work in Thailand’s sex industry. Many come from eastern Thailand to find work in the city. Some come under false pretenses. Some know what they’re getting into. The journey to Chiang Mai and Bangkok work in bars, massage parlors, clubs and strip clubs.

Men from around the world come to Thailand to hook up. Many of these men are 50 + and many come to find a woman in her 20s. Many of these men are old enough to be these girls’ father and some are old enough to be their grandfather.

Every night children wander up and down the aisle of bars selling roses. These children are under 10 years old and selling flowers to the Western men to buy for their woman of the night. The money the children make from selling roses goes to an adult at the end of each evening. They walk past these bars late at night and they see all that goes on.

They live in red light.

Last night several friends from the U.S. went with one of my colleagues and I to prayer walk in this area, in Chiang Mai’s red light district.

We had the chance to talk with several of these flower-selling youth for a few minutes.

It breaks my heart. At their age I was playing with Pet Shop Animals and Polly Pockets – not watching drunken men seduce women to the tune of this week’s favorite hit hip hop artist.

“God bless you,” I said in Thai to one of the girls as we said our goodbyes, leaving the children to make their rounds.

“God bless you too,” she answered.

Does she know who God is? Does she know Jesus loves the little children? Does she know true love isn’t a one-night stand?

I don’t know.

She knows the tune of Rihanna’s song.

Will you pray for these children?

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washed in the waterfall

“I’m so happy,” John* said, smiling and shivering a little from the waterfall’s cold water.

Angie* emerged from the water with a smile I won’t easily forget.

I’m still recovering from a recurring case of glorious goosebumps.

Today, my two dear friends from the red light district followed Jesus in believer’s baptism. We went to a nearby waterfall to baptize them. We celebrated with roast chicken, papaya salad, sticky rice and brownies.

In the past year, several women I work with started a ministry to reach out to men and women in the red light district here in Thailand.

God has placed on my heart a burden for the women and men in the red light district. As I’ve traveled for work, I’ve encountered stories of redemption, heartbreak and renewal in red light districts across Asia. These are my people, God told me. “They need me, they’ve always needed me, and this is the time,” He said.

For the past several months, I’ve been venturing into Thailand’s nightlife with my coworkers, trying to meet people and share Christ’s message of redemption. It’s been God, all God. Whenever I don’t feel like going or don’t feel like I have anything to say, that’s when God knocks my socks off.

Isn’t it awesome how His power is made perfect in our weakness? It’s so we know that this all-surpassing greatness is from Him and not from us.

Let’s back up a little and I’ll explain how we met Angie and John.

Prior to my busy summer travel schedule, I’d been going out once or twice with other women involved in the ministry to share God’s stories. A friend and I met Angie one night after a door closed with another friend of ours.

Angie approached us and invited us in to sit and talk at the massage parlor where she works. This started a beautiful friendship.

Angie told us she’d been wanting to learn about God and Christianity. This caught me off guard. Not many Thai people say this.

I told her that my friend and I like to talk about God and that we would love to talk with her. She was very excited. I pulled out my Thai-English Bible and started to flip through to the book of John. Just then, a little old man came, asking us to sign a petition. Another man came out of the massage parlor and walked purposely toward us.

“Blast,” I thought, we are going to get her in trouble.

Turns out, he was coming to make sure the man with the petition didn’t bother us. His name is John — and there started another beautiful friendship.

John also showed an interest in learning about God. Let’s study together, we suggested.

“But, where do I read, where do I start?” Angie asked. From there, my coworker and I decided to start studying John with them. We visited weekly, reading a chapter at a time, and studying. Angie’s English is excellent, John is wanting to improve his English. We used our Bible study times to also teach English.

The beginning of June, John trust Christ as his personal Savior. Several weeks later, Angie decided to become a believer.

Today, they were both baptized.

To God be the glory.

There’s much more to the story, so stay tuned to the next installment.

*name changed.

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Upchuck and Uplift

The trash can never saw it coming.

I upchucked into a yellow public trash can in front of a pool table in a street night market tonight. It was mortifying and humiliating. But after the spew, I made an instantaneous recovery and could continue on with my North Face backpack purchase and relationship building with Thais.

Let’s back up. Why did I upchuck in a trash can? Is this normally part of my ministry? Well, not really.

I pushed myself hard tonight in my work out at the gym tonight. I ran for 40 minutes, did an ab workout and squatted. After showering, my roommate Holly and I headed over to a nearby night market that we’ve started ministering in. Last week was our first week to go and we made two new friends. Our goal for tonight was to visit our new friends and buy a backpack for our upcoming beach jaunt this weekend (more to come on that later).

I ordered a spicy noodle dish for Holly and I in the market. It was spicier than I’ve ever had it. We stomached all of it though. I really wasn’t hungry but out of pride and stubbornness I made myself eat more than I really should have. I also guzzled an Oishi green tea.

Almost immediately after eating nausea set in. I ate too soon, too much spicy and too much for a post-hard-work-out tummy.

“Gotta, get, home,” I grumbled and mumbled. There goes ministry for the night, I thought.

I managed to upchuck in a trash can and not in front of a store, thank you Jesus. I didn’t want to be remembered as the “foreigner girl who threw up on the doorstep of a stall.” Now, I’ll only be known as the “foreigner girl who threw up in front of the bar.” Hopefully no one will believe the guys playing pool at the bar–blame it on the alcohol–people will just say they were intoxicated. (At least this is what I am hoping. I really think they were sober, but for the sake of my pride let’s say they weren’t).

“You OK?” Holly asked.

Yep, all good. All better.

I made my backpack buy. We got to pray for our friend Niw* who’s been having a rough week. We also got invited to listen to traditional Thai music at our friend Lan’s* second workplace. We are forging a relationship with the spicy noodle restaurant staff.

All in all, tonight proved productive. Despite my unfortunate upchuck, Holly and I were able to uplift two Thai friends.

If you’re ever feeling woozy I’d advise the following:

1. Don’t throw up on the storefronts of those you’re trying to tell about Jesus

2. Don’t let unfortunate circumstances distract you from what God’s called you to do

3. Roll with the punches. Life’s an adventure

3. Count it all joy

*names changed

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