I have recently returned from Southeast Asia, where I co-lead a team of DTS students to work with human trafficking ministries. It was two months of intense schedules filled with daily glimpses into the horrors that exists in our world. We saw a ton of amazing things and met some incredible people. However there was still the daunting reality that there are so many girls and boys being trafficked every day. So where is God in all of this? What is He doing that I cannot see? I have so many stories from this trip, but I’m going to talk about how I discovered a piece of God's heart for this issue.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of the worst places for sex work in this country. People come from all across the world to purchase men, women, girls, and boys. Each morning we would go and pray over the red light district. We’d pray for the things that occurred the night before, for the freedom of all who walk there, and for the night of ministry to come.
Several in our team were drawn to one specific bar. The sign out front was a small child dressed so cute and innocent. What demented horror must occur behind the doors of this bar? We soon discovered that the advertisement was indeed accurate. There were two specific girls that worked there each no older than fourteen. There owner knew who we were and why we were there and that did not sit well with him. He would never ask us to leave, but instead would crank the music to ear bursting levels. However this didn't matter much because these girls spoke little to no english at all.
So how do you reach girls that you can’t speak to? You just be there and let them be girls even for just a moment. We would play game after game of Jenga with only hand gestures and smiles to communicate. Although I only went to this bar a couple of times, a group of my students were consistently there being a constant face of comfort to these young girls. Something that struck me as unique was when this group of students came the girls eyes would light up and they would run to hug each of them. In a place where the only touch you see implies desire of purchase, this was a refreshing sight.
Sadly our time in Thailand quickly came to an end. All we could do was trust that the time and words we had invested were enough. We were obedient and that is enough. He will use the seeds we planted for something great. Goodbyes are always hard especially when you have to leave someone you’ve grown to love in a place like this. We spent our last night saying goodbye to all the women we’d befriended.
I went back to the bar with the young girls for the last time. One of the girls was not there, but the other was. She had just gotten a hair cut. I smiled and said she looked beautiful and I believe she understood that because she giggled and looked away shyly. I tried to explain that we were leaving for good this time and I think she understood that as well. I might have given her seven hugs in the ten minute span we were there, but I didn’t want to let go. Finally I had to leave; she held on so tight. I kissed her on top of her head and felt every emotion possible welling up inside. So where is God in all of this? Where was He as we walk through one of the darkest places on earth? Why wasn’t He breaking down all the doors and saving these girls?
Once I came home I really felt God wanting to help me process all the things I’d seen in Asia. It was time to ask Him the hard questions. The first Sunday being back at my church the speaker talked about how we must go through pain in order to have hope, not just avoid it all together. We must let our hearts feel the pain of the world for us to have the hope this world needs. I dug deep and unpacked my sorrow over the brokenness I saw; that is where God met me. Not in the fake smiling burying doubts and sadness, but right in the midst of my questions and pain. He showed up, lifted the burden of needing to save everyone and gave me a glimpse of His heart. It was one of those moments that shifts the way you think about life. He brought me back to that last moment of hugging the young girl in Thailand. With every part of my whole being I wanted to scoop her up and take her out of that awful place. To somewhere she could be whole, free, and fully alive. I wanted her to be a fourteen year old girl, with her biggest issues being what outfit she’d wear to school and wondering if that boy liked her. I wanted to take her from the reality of sitting with broken old men night after night. Most of all I wanted her to experience the same sense of love that I have felt from God.
If I had the power to do that I 100% would have. I do not have the ability to do it, but God does. He has the power to stop everything terrible in the world. He could take everything away, but if He did then we’d be left with nothing and so would He. I mean that if God takes away everything bad in the world, then He takes back control of the earth, we would no longer have free will, and we would not be children of God, but merely slaves to an almighty ruler. The pain I felt for the women I met and the millions who are trapped, was only a fraction of the pain God must endure each day as He watches His kids suffering knowing that if He intervenes then we would no longer be His children. What a price love costs. For God never withholds love to protect Himself from the pain of us not choosing Him.
Instead He runs! He whispers of freedom and roars with justice. Wild and Fierce he comes with everything pure. God is never still, but instead He fights with every part of His whole being. There is a war being waged each day and the prize of such a victory is our very souls. The heavens are roaring along with our Father. They roar for Justice over those who are lost to the darkness and they roar with victory when we step into who we were created to be. We have a father who is not absent, but rushes in at the moment we need Him most. He will never stop pursing that young girl as long as she lives. He feels the pain of His daughter as she lives out the horrors most of us fear. You can bet every dollar that He will stop at nothing to embrace her at the end of her life. Take her into His arms and wash it all away. He will trade the ashes of her life for a crown of beauty and purity. My team and I were merely a tangible display of the ways He is chasing after her. I wish I could be in heaven the moment that roar of justice turns to one of victory.