So far gone…

Tonight was our first night of bar ministry in two weeks. Last week we went to the village of Mae Ai for the week, and following that we had our mid-trip debrief.  The two were very different, but also much needed for the growth and unity of our team.

But as I was saying, tonight was back to bar ministry.  I went out with Lauren tonight, and the night started off pretty well. We visited a few girls we've talked to before, and had a really deep conversation with a young woman who owns one of the bars we stopped at.  We asked her some hard questions about  her bar and the girls that work there, and she was more than willing to talk with us and answer our questions.  It was nice to have a real conversation with someone in the bars, especially without any language barriers since she spoke English well.  

So the night started off well; we had good conversations and caught up with people we had previously met.  Then the night got hard.  I can't complain, I've been praying to see with new eyes, to see the hard things, and have my heart break for what breaks His. And it happened tonight.

Lauren and I were walking down the street talking about the night thus far when I say a lady-boy that Jade and I have talked with a few different times.  We were simply chatting, catching up after being away for two weeks, when she told me that she quit her day job to work in the bars full-time during high season (Nov-March). While that was hard to hear, it was also encouraging as she now has free time in the afternoons, so Jade and I can spend time with her, and hopefully have deeper conversations.  

So that left me with mixed feelings.  I was still trying to understand this when Lauren and I went to another bar where we know some of the girls.  I saw one girl that I recognized, waved, and walked over to her. She was sitting down, but stood up to hug me. At first I simply thought that she was happy to see me (which she was), but she was also so far gone.  Alcohol is everywhere in these bars, but never here has it been so blatantly in my face.  This sweet girl had had so much to drink. The smell wasn't just on her breath, but on her clothes and in her hair too.  And she kept telling me she was sorry in her limited English, crying, and half leaning on me. 

I've been drunk before – it's not fun. And I've also been around people that are so far gone that they don't know what's going on around them.  Tonight was hard. It was sad. My heart broke for this beautiful young woman. In that moment all I could do was love her. There were no words. I stood holding her and rubbing her back for a good ten minutes. When her tears subsided I went to 7/11, bought water and cookies, and brought them back to her. In that moment, that was all I could do. 

I'm still not sure how I feel about tonight. It was tough, but exactly where I needed to be. I saw with new eyes, I saw some hard stuff, and my heart broke.  

God is working in those bars, and His spirit is working in me.

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