There’s a lot I’ve learned about this journey called life in the past year.
I’ve learnt that working and settling down can be a good and meaningful road, but sometimes God thinks learning from people who don’t have the opportunity to work, might teach me even more. I’ve learnt that pursuing a Masters Degree is not necessarily a bad idea, but sometimes God thinks being surrounded by extreme material poverty and seeming hopelessness might prepare me better for my future. I’ve learnt that wanting a home with a door that can lock and window with curtains is a great desire to have, but sometimes, God thinks being newly married and living in community might shape me more into who he wants me to be right now.
I’ve learnt well and deep that my thoughts and hopes and plans for my life are often good… but aren’t always the exact plans he wants for me.
And I’m so thankful for that.
As you might already know, the next step of the journey for Jacques and I is a two-month outreach we will be co-leading to Thailand and Cambodia.
There, our focus will be on ministering to women and children, especially those at risk of being trafficked into the sex trade, and those who already have been.
As we’ve been learning the stories of some of these girls, I’m horrified at the way their lives have unraveled in a way contrary to what they would have ever dreamed.
Some of these girls were sold by their families at age 6, to pimps or brothels, simply so their family could eat. Others at age 14 can’t bear the pain their single mothers carry alone, and choose themselves to join the sex trade, not knowing at all what kind of pain, emotional and physical, they will soon experience. Some girls at 17 are lied to and taken for ‘jobs’, but are later forced to strip, dance and have sex with men they’ve never met.
Whatever their age, and however they entered the world of selling their bodies for money they barely touch – they are living a life that none of them ever expected or hoped for, and certainly a life God never desired or planned for them.
It’s typical for a girl to sleep with 10 to 20 men nightly – each session costing the ‘john’ a few dollars, and the girl another piece of dignity from her heart. It’s common for girls to trapped by being told they are indebted to their pimp, a debt they are never likely able to pay off. It’s normal for a girl to be beaten violently on a regular basis by their pimp, for a ‘wrong’ as simple as speaking back to him.
As a team of 8, we will be journeying through the country of Thailand, and then crossing the border to Cambodia, to understand better the story of trafficking in these nations, and to do what we can in two months, to contribute to the story of justice.
We’ll begin in Chiang Rai, which as you can see is right up north. This is a key area where hill tribes and poorer communities live – the majority of these people are illiterate, live in poverty, have no identity records and have no access to healthcare, education and employment. Because of this, they are extremely vulnerable, making them a prime target for pimps and traffickers, who lure them into major cities such as Bangkok under the pretense of getting a good job, where instead they find themselves trapped in the sex trade or slave labour.
In Chiang Rai we will focus on ministering to children who are at risk of being trafficked, and also working with those who are trafficked over the borders of Laos and Burma.
We will then travel down to Bangkok (pray for a vomitless 10 hour bus ride, please!), where one of Thailand’s major red light districts exists. Here, prostitution is normalised and the stories of the women and how they got into the sex trade are often overlooked. We’ll be working within bars and night clubs to meet these women, and in a short time build relationships and show them the perfect, unconditional love of the Father. After crossing the border into Siem Reap, Cambodia, we will be again working with women and children in the red light district.
There are a lot of emotions that their stories make me feel. Sad, helpless, and furiously angry. But, I know that emotion-driven actions without the love of Christ are futile, and so we will go, armed with not much else than the powerfully transforming love and truth of God, believing that in two months, some change can be made.
We are so excited to be a part of this story. If you would like to partner with us either prayerfully, we would be so grateful. As always, we want to be partnering with you in prayer too – so let us know if you have any prayer requests.
With love and gratitude,
Emily & Jacques