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From the Field | Reaching the Streets of Pattaya

I’m continuing my journey on to Pattaya, Thailand—a beautiful coastal city . . . and home to an estimated 30-50,000 sex workers.

It’s hard to imagine that this relatively small city is one of the sex capitals of the world. In fact, this is where Thailand’s sex tourism industry all began. During the Vietnam War, American soldiers would come to this beautiful fishing town on leave. And soon, Pattaya became known as a place to come for “innocent fun.”

Today, the city is a menagerie. But I was totally unprepared for how enmeshed family-style entertainment was with Pattaya’s blatant sex tourism. I saw families with young children walking casually through the streets as “bar girls” negotiated rates alongside their pimps who were looking on.

I couldn’t help but reel at how normal everyone seemed to be acting. It was like going to a circus or street festival—but this was the farthest thing from innocent entertainment.

Just as unsettling was the amount of trafficking victims we saw. Thai, African, and Russian girls lined the streets at every bar.

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Often these women are uneducated and promised a lucrative career in Pattaya. This offer is especially enticing for the young women who work to support their families. The better paying the job, the more money they can send home.

It’s a vicious cycle. These women are paying the ultimate sacrifice by laying aside their dreams and safety in order to provide for their families. Their work in Pattaya puts them at serious risk, and all the while, the shame of their lifestyle destroys their future little by little.

But God is blazing a new way in this darkest of places. Through a strategic partnership, we’re working to curtail the sex trade by transforming one life at a time with help and hope.

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World Help is in the process of building a safe home that will care for up to 20 at-risk girls at a time. These young women will receive the best care possible within a family-style environment, an education, counseling, and even opportunities to attend college or earn a vocational degree.

The campus will even include a café where girls can earn wages and learn business skills. But most important, each girl will hear of God’s love daily through a Gospel-centered community.

Because an estimated 50 percent of women in the industry have followed their mother or sister’s footsteps, it’s critical that we present the reality of an alternative lifestyle to women in Pattaya. Sisters and daughters will continue to follow the example set before them. This home could literally impact tens of thousands of lives over the coming generations!

 

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One evening, as the situation in Pattaya seemed to come crashing down on me, our compassionate partner Ann reminded our team of Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

Maybe the sex industry overwhelms you like it does me at times. Maybe you want to throw your hands up in the air and say “It’s hopeless!”

Don’t give up. Every life counts. Every investment matters. I believe God will use our efforts to reap something incredible in Pattaya in His perfect timing—a generation of women free in Christ.

We believe this new project will rescue and restore lives trampled on by the greed and injustice of the international sex trade. But we honestly can’t do this without you. Groundbreaking on this new program in Pattaya is in its beginning stages and funding is desperately needed to bring this to completion.

Please pray about how you can partner with World Help to bring light in the darkest areas of our world. And please keep the victims of the sex industry in your prayers.

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