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I am so excited to report that the Pattaya Home in Thailand is up and running and rescuing women and young girls who are desperate for a way out of the sex industry. This home is a bright beacon of hope for these women who have no other options.
Here is the latest story of a woman who has found refuge in our home:
Pin (not her real name) spent several years in the bars. She was originally from an area of Thailand where she owned a business but lost it when the mafia demanded protection money. She eventually moved to Bangkok where she opened a beauty salon but lost everything in a flood.
She could not afford uniforms, transportation, and books to keep her daughter in elementary school. Desperate, she found “work” in Pattaya. About two years later an American customer invited her to live with him. She welcomed the support and the opportunity to be with her daughter in the evenings. Then, she became pregnant. He found out and kicked her out. Desperate again, she returned to the bars until she could no longer work.
“Then I heard about (the home in Pattaya) from my friend who was rescued by them. I heard that they provide shelter, vocational training, and other necessary things. I had no hesitation to move in and start my new life again. One thing that I really regret is that if I just have known sooner, I would not have to end up in the bar.”
“Since my dream is to have my own hairdressing salon again, I intend to take an advanced hairdressing course after giving a birth … I hope I can stand on my own feet and be able to provide a good quality of life for my kids — especially giving them a good education. I have learned from experience that without education, you tend to be taken advantage of by others. All the time.”
This is just one story of how we are charging into the darkness of the sex industry with the bright light of God’s love. Want to join the fight?
“We step into freedom. We step into all He has for us.” (Bethel Music)
It is ironic to me that the same month as I have been focusing so much on freedom I will also be launching my oldest son out into the world as he graduates from high school in just a few days.
And it makes me think of Om.
I met her in a bar on the street of Bangkok. She works in the sex industry and as she shared her story I was surprised to hear that she was only a few years younger than myself. She also shared that she had a son the same age as my own. And for just a brief moment, I felt like we had so much in common. For that moment, we were both just mothers who loved their sons.
And then it hit me that our lives could not be further apart. We both want the same things for our sons and want to give them the best future possible. But, I have options and resources to do just that. She has little to no options at all. Poverty has robbed her of any choice but the streets.
Her story impacted me then, and this week as I prepare to attend my son’s graduation and celebrate that special day, it hits me in a whole different way.
Last Friday people from all walks of life and all across the country took a one-night stand for freedom – giving up what they would have spent on entertainment for one night to help set a girl free.
This was such an important and powerful night as we gave a voice to the voiceless and shined a spotlight on an issue few rarely even speak of.
The ugly truth is that we live in a world where in too many places women and young girls are still exploited. Maybe that exploitation doesn’t affect you directly … but maybe it should.
If we were more “affected” perhaps we would do more about it … talk more about it …. raise our voices more about it … and demand that the world change. And when I think about all that could be done if more people simply cared, I start to imagine a very different world than we live in now.
A woman deserves the right to choose freedom. And not just for one night, but for every night and every day of her life.
Freedom is so much more than a one-night stand. It is something we should daily live out – longing for it, living it and passing it on.
Scripture tells us that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Our freedom can truly set others free. And perhaps we can only live a free life, by setting others free.
We are rescued to rescue. Redeemed to redeem. Set free to set free.
Two hundred fourteen: That’s how old I would be the day women across the world finally achieve income equality.
According to the World Economic Forum, we are 169 years away from the day the global economic gender gap is projected to close. The Swiss foundation even designed a calculator to determine how old you would be by the time this happens. Select your gender and country and date of birth, and not only will you see your projected age for that date, but also your country’s current information, by gender, on annual income, healthy life expectancy, the rates of labor force participation, and the percentage of literacy achievement.
Until recently, I had no idea I had glaucoma and to be honest that was a word I didn’t think I would be using or even thinking about at my age. I didn’t need glasses until I was in my early 30’s so this whole eye thing still feels relatively new to me.
When you have glaucoma, pressure can build up in your eyes and bring on what is called an “acute attack”. And without prompt medical treatment, you can lose your eyesight.
With my travels to remote parts of the world, I took this diagnosis a little more seriously. I didn’t want to be far from treatment in the event of one of these attacks.
So, today I go in for a minor eye procedure. It’s nothing too serious or life-threatening, but I am amazed at what I have learned from it already. This procedure will create slits in my eye, a drain so to speak, to relieve the pressure and prevent an acute attack. In other words, it will preserve my sight.
Days ago I returned from Thailand where walking the streets will open your eyes in a way you might not be prepared for. The red light districts are overwhelming. The streets are booming with wall to wall people, music is blaring and girls are being sold everywhere you turn. It is modern-day slavery in every sense of the word.
You see things you would rather not. Things that are shocking, degrading, heartbreaking, and infuriating. Things you could live your whole life without seeing and still be perfectly content.
When we have seen too much, we get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with that feeling. It is as if we almost go blind to the need. It is simply too much pressure.
The pressure can build leaving you overwhelmed to the point that you just want to shut down. You become numb and can’t see anymore. You lose your sight … and you lose sight of the bigger picture.
And then you meet a young girl that you have the opportunity to help – a girl that has been rescued. And it is as if all that you have seen comes pouring out.
The pressure is relieved and your hope is restored. You regain your sight and can once again see the bigger picture of God’s redemptive plan and remember that he chooses to use you … if only you will choose to see.
Check with me tomorrow and I’ll let you know for sure, but I’m told that the first day after this procedure your eyes feel a little strange, a little itchy and uncomfortable. But, it should only last about a day. The recovery is pretty simple.
And isn’t that what happens when we truly embrace those dark and difficult places? It doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a little bit itchy and uncomfortable. We want to rub our eyes and make that feeling go away.
But, what if we allowed what we have seen to pour out – to literally drain out into the rest of our life? What if we embraced it, and shared it with others? I believe that is when the pressure is relieved and our sight is restored.
What we choose to see matters. It is the only way to bring about true change.
This year, I’m starting with a word – just one word. There’s nothing really special about this word. In fact, it’s a word that is used often, so often that it’s started to lose the power of its true meaning. But to me, this word is revolutionary.
You see, I’ve realized how much of the work that I do revolves around that one little word.
Freedom from the grip of poverty
Freedom from the sex trade
Freedom from darkness
But as I am fighting for freedom for the captives, I am also fighting for freedom for my captive soul.
Freedom from my fears
Freedom from expectations
Freedom from self-doubt
I’m passionate about bringing freedom to those trapped in darkness around the world … justice for all. But if that’s true, then I must start with myself. I need to be freed from anything holding me back. I need God to help me break free before I can help others experience true freedom. I must let go of fear, anxiety, self-doubt, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, feelings of inadequacy and of never being enough. I must let go.
When Christ sets us free, we are then empowered and commissioned to lead others into that same freedom.
So I’m declaring this the year of freedom. Freedom for the captives and freedom for my captive soul. Will you join me?
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1
My great uncle was a missions pioneer. In his role as missions director at a large Christian university he began taking groups to Mexico on missions trips long before it was popular to do so. My dad was a teenager on one of those early trips with his uncle – an experience that forever defined the course of his life.
A week after he married my mom, he even took her along on one of those trips … on an unairconditioned school bus all the way from West Virginia to Mexico. And for the next couple weeks he stayed with the guys and she stayed with the girls. I’m not sure how their marriage survived.
My dad then followed in his uncle’s footsteps taking over that same missions director position and continuing to lead university students on missions trips all over the world. This was the life that I was born into. You could say that missions is in my blood … or so I thought.
Born in 1761, William Carey is known as the “father of modern missions”. His work inspired the missionary greats like Adonairum Judson, Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone.
But what I find interesting about Carey was his frustration with the church and what he perceived as their lack of missions interest. He argued that “Jesus’ Great Commission applied to all Christians of all times”, and he called out fellow believers of his day for ignoring this truth.
Looking back at Carey’s life and words make me question my own views on missions. Is missions really in my blood? Or have I simply made my vocation choice an excuse? And as a church, have we really come so far?
You see, I believe that we have all been taught from an early age what missions is supposed to be about. If you are like me then you grew up with the images of our own missionary greats lining our church halls – people who made great sacrifices to go to the ends of the earth.
Some of the best people I know are full-time missionaries on foreign soil and deserve to be honored and celebrated. But somehow in the process we have made it a choice to be a “missionary” instead of a commission applied to all Christians at all times.
We have made it a choice “to go” instead of a mandate to live “on mission” everyday.
To really simplify it, perhaps we are all called to be “missionaries” – we simply have a choice of where we live.
You see, the lines of missions are now blurred more than ever. It must be so much more than a choice to go on a trip once a year or a committee to serve on, or an annual conference to attend.
This is the Christian life that we have all been called to.