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The sex trade will break your heart

The World Race team we coach just arrived in Thailand en route to Viet Nam and then Cambodia.  One of the things they’ll be doing is ministering to young girls caught up in the sex trade.  It can be confusing, tumultuous, and often horrific.   Jim Larson, my suite-mate from …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The World Race team we coach just arrived in Thailand en route to Viet Nam and then Cambodia.  One of the things they’ll be doing is ministering to young girls caught up in the sex trade.  It can be confusing, tumultuous, and often horrific.  
Jim Larson, my suite-mate from Wheaton College (circa 1976) has started a ministry with which we partner called The Well – a ministry of Servantworks.  They pull bar girls off the streets and get them living in community and getting discipled.  He and his family are heroes who have to deal with heartbreak on a daily basis. Here’s his recent blog entitled “Last Thursday”:

Last Thursday Na, 17, told me about the 3 times she has been raped.  The first was by 4 men.

Bpu told me that her cousin was once again badly beat up by the guy she
has been living with off and on for over a year.  She ran to Bpu’s
apartment, and cowered in the corner, crying at every sound she heard, [afraid]
that the boyfriend was coming after her.

Pim, drop-dead gorgeous with an even more stunning 8 month-old girl,
told me how her husband has been staying away nights, and shows little
interest in either her or his lovely daughter.  He is almost certainly
using and dealing drugs.

Pear, the 14 year-old we’ve had in her home who ran away in April, called several times asking to come back.  

June told me about the memory stuck in her head of a guy holding a gun to her head while he raped her.  

If we are to help Bpu’s cousin, we need to reach her mother, 7 hours
away, and get her to stop allowing her daughter to sell herself.  

If we are to help Pear again, we have to take her back in our own home,
because we really don’t have an appropriate place for her elsewhere and
don’t know of one that would take a troubled girl her age.

If we are to really help Pim, we need to start spending time with her
boyfriend, who began his relapse when he lost his already low-paying
job–a typical scenario for young uneducated Thai men.

Na and June need lots of counseling, prayer and patience. 

Friday morning I arrived at The Well Center 1 at
8:10 to hear the sound of our students singing for morning worship.  My
heart leapt.  They are so dear and precious, and their brokenness
doesn’t take away from that one bit. 

Comments (4)

  • Seth, I just met Jim today. My team is ministering with him and Judy at The Well for the next 3 weeks.

    Tonight Jim took us downtown and into the epicenter of the sex trade… I’m having to remind myself to go after the one; its overwhelming. There are so many girls of so many different ages, they wear numbers around their necks, and their gazes are blank… yet they smile, hoping you will be where their money for the next meal comes from.

    I’m sitting in Bangkok, shaking and knowing that this is a reality that is going on every second of every day, SOMEwhere in the world.

    In the midst of everything, Jim is a father to these girls. He went to the specific street corners where he knew each individual would be, and he sought them out by name. And he hugged them like only a dad can… and the girls breathed sighs of safety with him.

    They need help here. There’s so much work to be done; so many girls to be loved they are starving for love. And where Jim and Judy SHOULD be (out on the streets with them), they can’t always be, because they’re in need of more man-power.

    I was reminded tonight (in the middle of me feeling a little helpless overwhelmed), that God sends His ambassadors into the darkest places to bring focused light. Kingdom WILL penetrate here.

  • 20 years ago I used to work on a street outreach team in the red light district of Manchester, UK. The girls there were mostly young teens, runaways caught by pimps who gave them drugs without them knowing and got them hooked before they knew what had hit them.

    Too ashamed to ever go home, they mostly worked the day trade because most of the guys who went there said they were out at a meeting to explain their absence from the office. Night trade was slow, but they were forced out there nonetheless, freezing in their bare legs and skirts the width of a headband.

    One of them got pregnant and her “boyfriend” beat her almost to death because he knew he would lose business. Another girl got beaten up because she was seen by her pimp talking to us and accepting some hot coffee from us on a cold night.

    The oldest trade. The world over they are out there, exploited, abandoned, despised. But there is no place where God is not. God bless people like Jim. Lights in a dark place. Every Jim makes a difference.

  • I remember one of those ladies and her story. Blown away by the “update.” My heart is broken!

    Interesting that you post this today! Praying…

  • I think of those girls often. It breaks my heart wondering if my friends are still out there, what may have happened to them and all the others I never met. I often wonder about human trafiking here in the US. I know it’s here. I wonder how many times I pass by unaware.

    God open our eyes to see the unseen suffering. Show us how we can be hope for these women, men and children. Send more workers to shine the light of hope, salvation, and redemption. Lord, send me to someone who needs you.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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