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Delivering from Bondage

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On Thursday, we drove south from Bangkok to Pattaya City. Pattaya was a small village on the Gulf of Thailand until the 1960s and 70s, when the US military invested in the village as a source of R&R for Navy seamen, attracted to the beachfront and the short drive from Bangkok. The “success” of this investment brought great wealth into the city and it now receives nearly 10 million visitors a year. Sadly but unsurprisingly, this investment also encouraged a demand for things to satisfy the vices of idle military men, and Pattaya has become world famous for its red light district, most notably Walking Street. Poor young girls from remote villages are offered work in Bangkok in a restaurant or laundry, and their parents send them, eager for the promise of financial support. This dream is quickly shattered, though, when these girls are instead enslaved in labor of the most horrible kind, and they are paraded around like wares at a market, men shoving laminated cards in tourists faces offering their choice of young girls.

The irony between the beauty of God’s creation—the setting sun on the ocean, the optimism of the coconut trees—is held in stark contrast to the darkness of what has driven this city’s popularity. The nightly festivities are dripping with filth and despair and oppression, particularly for our team who knew more about what goes on deep behind the closed doors of the go-go bars.

Seth and I felt it was important for our team to see this, since tomorrow we begin our service in earnest, visiting our first safe house in Yangon, Myanmar. It’s good for us to be aware of why these ministries are so important. This morning I read from Exodus, about Moses’s work with Pharaoh to free the enslaved Israelites, whose lives were full of despair and hardship and must have seemed hopeless. Just like Jesus would later come and pay the ultimate price so that we would no longer be held in bondage. Our trip down Walking Street was a great reminder that God has called these ministries (and us!) to work to free these girls who are trapped in slavery and must feel helpless and hopeless. To be light in the darkness and move people from bondage to freedom.

***

Today we drove back to Bangkok. We checked into our hotel and then headed to one of Bangkok’s red light districts, which was fortunately quite calm at 2:00 in the afternoon. We were able to see a ministry that Seth worked with in the past called Rahab Ministry. This ministry, located right in the heart of this darkness, works to get “bar girls” off of the street, to train them in skills that can provide income and a way out of this miserable way of life. Rahab Ministry has a store front that features crafts the girls have made, and proceeds from the sales of these crafts helps support the ministry. The team had a great time looking at the beautiful merchandise, although the highlight for them, I suspect, was the presence of one of the staff member’s young child. Watching the team interact with the little boy makes me excited to see them in action tomorrow in Yangon.

 

This evening we had a chance to ride Bangkok’s rail train. I always think navigating public transportation in a foreign city is an important, meaningful exercise, so I was glad we were able to do it. The fact that we took the train to find a Korean BBQ place didn’t hurt, either.

***

We will fly out of Bangkok early tomorrow and then head to the safe house in the afternoon. Pray for our team, as we’re all very tired. We’ve done a lot of walking, and it’s hot, and we’re still fighting the last remnants of jetlag. We’re verging on sensory overload. There are a lot of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. In our day-to-day lives, our brains do so much subconscious work in filtering our world, but this isn’t as easy in new settings. So we’re physically and mentally tired. We’re also processing the reality of Pattaya and Rahab Ministry, so we’re emotionally and psychologically tired, too. Tomorrow brings new challenges (it’s our firt run at our VBS program), and we no doubt need your prayers.

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One thought on “Delivering from Bondage

  1. Thanks for sharing. You are all in our thoughts and prayers

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