Cambodia and Thailand: part 2

So at the end of the last blog we left you at the point where we were about to head to Thailand.

The majority of our time in Thailand was spent with a ministry called Nightlight. Nightlight is a ministry that works in Bangkok to address the lack of opportunity for women trapped in Bangkok’s sex trade by providing them with an alternative means for supporting themselves and to introduce them to the love, mercy and healing power of Jesus Christ.

One of our goals on outreach, is to be a blessing to the ministry or church we work with and to serve them in the way they most need. Sometimes when you go in with that approach it can feel like you’re not really doing anything significant, not really doing much, because we’re not always on the ‘front lines’ and often we will do lots of practical, background things. But the more that we do this the more we realise, as we walk in obedience to God and humbly serve the ministries, however they need us to, that’s when we’re most effective. Whether that’s cleaning, praying, worshipping or doing very hands on things with the ministry. All of it is worthwhile and more. They are the long term workers, they are the one’s with the long term investment in the people there, and we want to do all we can to encourage them, bless them, and support them as they work with people in need everyday.

So, we here are a few of the ways we were able to support Nightlight…

– We lead their weekly chapel times by leading worship and sharing testimonies
This was a great time to encourage the women that have come out of the sex trade and are now at various points in their walks with God. It was amazing to see how God has rescued them and brought them into freedom, not just freedom from prostitution but freedom in Him. To see them going after God and Him taking them further and further in their journey of freedom from fear and despair. I think we ended up being encouraged just as much as we encouraged them!

– The women in our group were able to go out with the Nightlight staff on bar outreaches in the red-light district.
Reaching out to the women working in the red light district, day after day, is on of the most important parts of Nightlight’s ministry as it establishes relationships with the women working there, shows them that there are people who love and care for them and what to help them find a way out of their life if they are ready. Although being in that environment was an intense experience for all the members of our team, it was a privilege to be able to meet the women there, to talk to them, hear their stories, share something of God’s heart for them and pray for them.

– Bar research
One thing Nightlight had been waiting for for a while had been for a team to come who could do some research for them. Many people ask Nightlight “how many men use the red light district around them every day?”. Up until now they had only been able to give a rough estimate, but really wanted to get some specific figures. As we wanted to do what was helpful to them, we volunteered to do this research for them. What this involved was sitting at the entrance to the main red light district for 3 hours a night from 9pm until 12 midnight and count every man who went in and every man who left with a female worker. We did this over a variety of different nights to get a well rounded picture of the situation. Although this wasn’t the most exciting job we could have done, it was a perfect way of serving Nightlight and the long term work they are doing in Bangkok.

An unexpected story from Thailand:
Near the end of our time in Thailand, unexpectedly to us, God led us to connect with a Pakistani family that were living in Bangkok. Their whole family had fled religious persecution in Karachi, Pakistan as the father was a pastor of a church there in what is a predominantly Muslim nation. However, Thailand does not have a refugee law or functioning asylum procedures and being officially recognised as a refugee in Thailand is incredibly hard. While waiting for their application with the UN for refugee status to be granted this family are technically in Thailand illegally. Because of this, around a year ago the father of the family was arrested and placed in the International Detention Centre(IDC) in Bangkok and has been locked up there indefinitely since then. This is particularly tough on the rest of the family as although they live just across the city from where he is they are unable to visit him for fear of being arrested themselves. After connecting with the eldest son in the family we were able to arrange to go and visit the father in the IDC. We were allowed to take in food to him and to spend an hour talking to, praying with, and encouraging him, which was such an honour for us. In the IDC there are many Pakistani Christians(men, women, and children as young as 14 months) locked up not knowing when they may be released. However they consider this far better than the threats to their life they face back home. After spending time with the father of the family we were able to then visit with the family, worship and pray with them and encourage them too.
We continue to pray for this family and would encourage you to too.

This was our 2nd time in Thailand on outreach and each time we leave we are shocked by the scale of the injustices in the country but more amazed by all the things God is doing there through His people and the hope for change there is as people encounter the Father’s love for them.