And so my Thailand adventure is coming to an end, I am about halfway through my long journey home, flying over Pacific Ocean on the 3rd of four flights to get me back to Cincinnati.Our final week mostly centered around the Valentine’s Day outreach in the red light district of Phuket.
Each Sunday during my trip, I have been blessed to fellowship with very diverse expressions of the body of Christ (Lisu tribe church, international church meeting in a movie theatre, Thai deaf church, local Thai church in Phang Nga, and international house church in Phuket). The beauty of the body of Christ is always something that impresses me, but even more beautiful is when different parts of the body of Christ join together in unity for a specific purpose. To know that it must bring such joy to Jesus’ heart that what He prayed in John 17 before He went to the cross, that the believers would be one like Him and the Father are one, is actually coming true. This amazing unification happened in executing the Valentine’s Day outreach. This is the fourth year the outreach has happened, and it has grown significantly each year. Last year they gave gifts and flowers to 300 women, this year to 1000. Multiple churches from Phuket and the surrounding area came together as well as short term teams like my own, and others from YWAM and the World Race.
On Sunday night, it began with a multi-church worship and prayer gathering. On Monday, we converged upon a hotel to pack 1000 gift bags and receive training on how to share the gospel with those we met. At seven that evening, 24 hours of prayer began leading up to the event with different people from the teams and churches taking hourly shifts. It was such a sweet time to ask for the Lord for His heart as we partnered with Him in sharing His love. And at seven o’clock the following evening, we gathered on Patong Beach for a time of prayer and worship before going out. Many of the surrounding tourists were drawn by the music, which opened up the opportunity for prayer and sharing for the observers. Many groups were sent to Bangla street the main strip of the red light district, but my group of four people (all introverts!) were sent to Soi Kep Sam, where many of the massage parlors which provide additional services are located. Because this street is away from much of the business, it’s quieter and we had time to connect with each group of women we approached. Wiyida, the Thai translator for my group, boldly shared the gospel with each group and each were open to receiving prayers of blessing. The outreach also provided an opportunity for getting information out about some of the efforts For Freedom (the new group initiating various efforts for prevention and restoration for those who are part of the sex industry in Phuket) to build deeper relationships with the women. One of the opportunities being free English class and the other being a weekly hair and nails outreach, in which the women can come and get their hair and nails done for free. It is For Freedom’s hope is that through these relationship building tools that the women will be to hear about the love of Jesus, experience His love and hear about the vocational training programs that will provide opportunities to change their stories.
The response from the women were extremely positive: many expressing interest in the English class and hair outreach, some wanting to know more about Jesus, a number being open to prayer, one woman who is a Christian and new to Phuket had been praying for the Lord to send her Christian friends and is being taken to church this Sunday! 1000 women received a tangible expression of God’s love and were seen as treasures because they as called Beloved and Beautiful by their Creator not because of the “service” they provided! It was so powerful!
I’ve attached a link to some pictures from the event because I didn’t take many.
View from Phuket island
After five weeks of being in Thailand to find words to summarize all I’ve seen and learned feels impossible. One of the missionaries asked me the day before I left what God has been teaching me during the trip, and one primary thing did rise to the surface. In every place I’ve been Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga I’ve been reminded of how relational Jesus is and how much He wants to use relationships to share the gospel. Many times I have underestimated the power of showing up in the same place consistently, just with a heart to love and serve. But I’ve seen the breathtaking beauty in how teaching children English, caring with homeless neighbors medical needs, having a conversation with women at a bar, and sometimes just sharing a meal with someone expresses the love of Jesus. It’s incredibly simple but yet immensely powerful when it’s done with intention to share God’s heart and creates so many open doors for deeper truths to be shared. I am praying that the Lord renews this intention and expectancy in me as go back into my normal routine.
Final looks at Phang Nga
Finally, I would love to ask for you to join me in praying for a few needs from the missionaries I have encountered in Phuket and Phang Nga.
-For the YWAM Phang Nga base, many of their staff are gone currently for language school, furlough etc, so they are operating with significantly reduced number (3/10 regular staff members, I think). Please pray that the Lord will give them wisdom as they make decisions on how to invest their time in the community and will create time for miraculous Sabbath for ones currently there
-I believe I mentioned this before, but because of the English classes taught by YWAM in the community schools, an opportunity has become available to do a seminar in May on safe touch, sex education for these children at one of the schools, many of whom are victims of sexual abuse. The YWAM teams requests wisdom as they prepare for this and that opportunities to teach about identity and value from God’s perspective will occur
-For For Freedom International, they are in exciting days as many things seem to be happening simultaneously. They will hopefully have all their foundation paperwork in place within a few weeks. In addition to their weekly bar outreaches, they are launching the hair and nails outreach and hope to have a vocational training program in place by the end of the year. Also, the Thai police have approached them about being a founding partner in a child advocacy center in Phuket to address justice and coordination for children who are victims of sex trafficking, which they are hoping to open by May.
-Please for all those who were touched by the Valentine’s Day, that the seeds that were planted will start to grow and bring hope. Pray also for the relationships that will continue to bring life and light into dark places.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share this adventure with you, for all of your prayers and encouragement, and for joining me in sharing the Lord’s heart for executing justice to the oppressed. His Kingdom is breaking in on earth as it is in heaven!