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"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  he has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies."
Isaiah 61 1-2

Hands trembling, sweating from the heat, and with indescribable fear the eight of us girls piled into Sharon's truck for our first night to go onto Bangla road. Trying to use our little knowledge on what to expect we all tried our best to stay in constant prayer. We needed God to give us as much joy as possible to bring to these broken women we knew we'd be seeing. The difference of Patong, Phuket from day to night is so drastic that they are almost unrecognizable. The streets are packed and the neon lights are almost blinding coming from every angle. Music is constantly blaring, while people are shouting trying to over talk the noise. Walking onto Bangla road is quite a sight, and I don't mean that in a good way. You see men and woman from every age, elderly all the way to children walking around with stunned amazement at the lights and “entertainment” going on all around them. The smell of smoke and alcohol lingers in the air as well as the sweat from all the tourists. Its not a good smell, nor is a good feeling you feel in the pit of your stomach. Every where you look you see a girl dancing on a pole, dancing in a glass box above a bar, or having to throw themselves at tourists begging them to walk into their bar. You see fathers with their toddler sons and daughters in front of a pole, and you see wives nonchalantly watching their husbands record the Russian woman dancing in glass cages above the bars. I wonder if any of them know that many of those “Russian” woman are being held there under their will.

Bangla road is all about the customer. It is one straight road that has about 200 bars, with over 1,200 woman working in these bars each night. The women are either dancing on the bars, bringing drinks, or luring people into their bars where they have activities to “connect” with their guests. They have games out such as connect four, dice games, and a game that consists of attempting to hit a nail into a tree stump. Its much harder than it sounds! These woman are also able to be bought for the night, as long as the bar owner is paid off from losing a worker. Down this street you will find different “streets” that branch off of it. They are called “Soi's.” They are less like streets but more like a bunch of bars connected together down a line. These Soi's are called Soi Tiger, Soi Lion, Soi Gonzo, Soi Eric, Soi Easy, and Soi Crocodile.

It blows my mind that so many people can just walk by these woman and not see the hurt and longing they have in their eyes. The two most common things I have heard from these woman are, “I am ugly” and “nobody loves me.” Walking through these streets there is only one word that consistently describes it. Hell. Having the Lord anoint me the task to mission and tell the world good news is not an easy thing to accept. Binding up the brokenhearted, setting captives free, and bringing prisoners out of darkness is the most rewarding and satisfying opportunity to have. Yet, with those victories comes with heart breaks. Watching such broken people chase the wind, worship false gods, and becoming a religious “fool” to many people you know can leave you feeling helpless. But my God, is a mighty God and is constantly reminding me why he put me here in Thailand. I have already met woman in these bars that I will never forget. On the very first night I met a woman named Ale who we have already connected long term with. I also have made friends with a woman named Oy who used to work as a receptionist in Bangkok, but because of the flood she is working in the bars for her family.  Every time she see's me come back her face is filled with so much joy, finally having a friend and not another customer.  I even made eye contact with one of the girls dancing in the glass boxes. Not knowing quite how to communicate, I smiled at her while holding my heart trying my best to show her real compassion without lustful eyes or behind a camera. Stunned, she stared back at me and said goodbye. Heartbreak may happen in the future, but Gods declaring even bigger victories.

You will find signs and posters like these all over Bangla Road ^

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