International Ministries

Pilgrimage: Bangkok

September 7, 2010 Journal
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Bangkok, September, 2010

The smells are the same—but not. In March, 1986 when I arrived in Thailand to begin language school and my missionary career here, I remember the smells being repugnant.  Actually, everything was repugnant.  I didn’t want to be here.  IM had sent me to China—and that’s where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.  I was in China a month, and a serious back problem forced me out of China and back to the US for surgery.  Someone else took my teaching job in Nanjing, and I was left with the option of going to Thailand.  I was grieving over the dashed dreams and hopes I had—and nothing about this city was appealing.  Every day I had to walk down Patpong Avenue—at the time, the most famous red-light district in Southeast Asia.  And every day on my journey to that blasted language class, I railed at God about my sadness and disappointment—and inwardly screamed at the plight of the women working in the bars and nightclubs.  “God, where are the Christians in the midst of this?  Why isn’t anyone offering these women economic and spiritual alternatives to their situations?  God, why don’t you DO something about this?”  Dangerous thing to say to God….

Many of you know this story—and its outcome:  how God, dramatically and mystically called me to offer economic and spiritual alternatives to girls and young women through the ministry of the New Life Center in the north of Thailand.  What you may not know is that within a 3 year span of time, there were 5 new ministries started in Thailand which addressed these very issues from different angles.  God’s Holy Spirit was being poured out in Thailand—and around the world at this time--shedding the Light of Grace, Forgiveness and Truth into very, very dark places.  One of these creative ministries was founded by my good friend Patricia Green.  She opened up a beauty salon in the middle of Patpong and while “working women” were having facials and shampoos, Christians beauticians were praying for them and ministering in Jesus name.  I visited “Rahab Ministries” today, and was inspired by the continued commitment of the staff to share the Good News in Jesus name on Patpong.  Oh, so many women have come to know Christ at Rahab and left prostitution.

Patricia felt a calling similar to mine,  now lives in Europe, and does consulting all over the world.  Last week, she stayed overnight in my apartment in The Netherlands—and we met with leaders of ministries to people in prostitution in Amsterdam for 2 days.  Our purpose was to figure out a way to offer training programs and resources for those being called to new ministries with people in prostitution in Europe.  The ground-work was laid for some new “new things”! 

The smells in Bangkok are still the same—the frying food of the street vendors… the gassy vehicles....  The difference is that I am not the same.  Nearly a quarter-century later, I have had the privilege of seeing a tiny bit of God’s perspective and desire that his Love be made known in the darkest of places.  Thank you making the journey possible.  I hope you’re celebrating with me! 

The pilgrimage continues….