Just in case anyone happens to come back and read the blog this year –
Do you remember Ae’s story below? It’s a story that is hard to forget. You may also remember how I followed up and gave you an update on Ae – how her parents forced her to continue in her work, to provide money for her family – despite the absolutely awful nature of the work and it’s terrible consequences. You may remember how she completely withdrew from the Christians in her life who desperately wanted to help her, and how she went back into the world of prostitution, and wasn’t heard from for the longest time. Well, after over a year, the same young ladies from church and on Thailand Campus Crusade for Christ’s staff who had been trying to contact her, and who provided us with the most vivid details of her life, both during my time there and since my return, have given us an update.
Several of them recently saw Ae at a local mall and talked with her and had lunch with her. It was their first contact in over a year. Ae told them how she has been able to leave prostitution at the hand of a well-to-do Thai businessman. I can’t think of a polite word to describe the arrangement – but basically he pays for her apartment and living expenses and clothes her in the latest fashions as his mistress. This allows her to elevate her status in society and to remove some of her shame I suppose – thus her agreeing to have lunch with her former friends.
Is it good news that she is out of the world of prostitution? Yes, for sure. But forgive me if I can’t help but be saddened still. I know, I know, the world would say “”great, awesome, she is doing alright, she’s gotten out of that work.”” Some in the world view her new arrangement as perfectly ok.
But we’re not the world. She has simply exchanged one form of sin and bondage for another. We hoped to see her set free, not just temporarily in this world, that’s never what we were about. But to see her set free forever, in her heart and spirit, freed from the guilt and penalty and power and bondage of sin – to be enslaved in love to Christ, united to Him, saved from sin, and alive to God. Our work to help her in this world was to show her the outrageous love of the other world – to show her by helping with earthly debts that Christ could pay her eternal debt by His sacrifice 2,000 years ago.
But it didn’t happen that way. We must now hope that God will use her new openness to talk with the Campus Crusade girls in the future – and work through those relationships again to draw her to himself. We must pray…
I can’t help but think, a year later, that God doesn’t have some other purpose in mind as well – that He would use Ae’s story in my life and in the lives of those who have been touched by it in this blog, in some way. I was rocked by this story in such a deep way. I will never forget. It is a story that we simply never encounter here in America, we know it exists in the world, but we never see it – but having met her, talked at length with her, seen her come to eat and hang out with Christians, having seen her come to church, and then heard of her slipping away – can’t help but change you in some way.
It was amazing to learn, (with Ae’s story sparking the conversation to a deeper level), how a few of these TCCC staff girls, who we knew for two years in our previous Stint in Thailand, had faced pressure to enter this dark world of prostitution as well. One told me of her “”family”” wanting her to enter prostitution at the age of 15, in order that she could meet a wealthy “”Mister,”” to take care of her – to take her out of poverty. (Instead she studied hard, went to college, was saved by Christ, graduated, and is using her life to the glory of God, sharing Christ with others each day!)
Then, I learned how the little church that our group of nine Americans went to for two years of living in Thailand, was home to two ladies who had been in prostitution years earlier in life, and Jesus had saved them and rescued them out of that hell and the one to come! My eyes were absolutely blasted open in a few short months of being there in ways that they had never been in my first two years there, and had never been in the more than 20 years of my life here in the States. I will never be the same.
So, what will God do? What’s His plan through all of this. I don’t know. But I know He is faithful and wise and He is working ALL THINGS to His glory. I’ll update this space when I receive updates from my friends in Thailand. For now, let’s pray that he will save Ae, and others like her. For there is no salvation in any way, shape, or form outside of Jesus Christ. May He break our hearts for the condition of the lost, may He use us for His glory, drawing those out of darkness, and into His light. Ask Him how you can be involved in helping girls like Ae. Consider these ministries:
This is real. May our lives be significant…