This blog is a little late, but better late then never.- Tonight I find myself on this crazy adventure, full of flexibility, hard but rewarding lessons, community, and stretching, all located in Chiang Mai, Thailand working with a ministry called Lighthouse in Action, this ministry reaches women in the sex industry here, along with prevention in the slums and villages ALL, along with a variety of other ministries, with the love of Jesus. So far, considering we have only spent one day here we have only experienced a day of orientation and night market life.
I wish I had some crazy amazing story of breaking down doors at a brothel, but tonight, The Lord did a simple thing- He brought revelation.
Two wonderful Spirit-led ladies, who make up my small group on a team of 20 and I stood on the roof top balcony and looked down on the street that had come even more alive since since 11pm and runs in front of our hostel, ran by the organizations Zion Cafe. We were talking about emotions that The Lord had surfaced in our lives, and ways that we felt the enemy's darkness, and the discouragement that often accompanies those feelings when we leave them in the dark.
In the sex industry you have the pimps, the exploiters, and the johns (the customers). One of the hardest things walking into ministry with something like sexual exploitation is forgiving those who fuel the fire and viewing them through Jesus's eyes. Earlier in the day Lauren, one of the before mentioned ladies, and I watched as grown white men exited there cars with young Thai escorts who "lovingly" caressed there arms. Silence enveloped our conversation with quick intervals of disbelief between scenes as we watched the "couple" disappear down the street, to be replaced minutes later with a similar scenario.
Here in Chiang Mai it is estimated that there are at least 5,000 women, children, and ladyboy prostitutes… It is also estimated that In the Bangkok airport, a larger city than Chiang Mai, 73 percent of foreign men are there for the sex industry. To show the connection in the sex industry between these two cities: a bar owner when confronted by an organization that works to take prostitutes off the street said "it doesn't matter how many women you take off the streets, I will only order more from Chiang Mai".
When looking at these statistics and being faced with it on a daily basis it can be intimidating and infuriating. It is easy to get angry with the men who travel so far to visit there "Thai girls" or "girlfriend", escaping the wife and family at home, being trapped in a fantasy world of addiction, searching for fulfillment in a place that will never fill. These men, and even these pimps are what I was, and what anybody who now knows The Lord was before they had that life-changing encounter with the One who can and will fill the void.
I shared this revelation on that roof-top and from there it flooded in, They are that lamb that Jesus said he would leave the 99 for in John 10. The little lamb he loves so much. He viewed us the same before his redeeming love that cleansed me white as snow.
This blog, I am sure took a turn you probably weren't expecting, because surely I am not saying that their sin isn't greater than yours, or that The Lord loves them just the same as He loves you… That would make most uncomfortable.
But I AM. Because HE DOES. So this summer I WILL show them, the Johns and bar owners, the same compassion I show the Lords precious daughters and men in the industry, because they are broken people in need of His love, and vengeance is His- Not mine, or yours.