Thursday, May 29, 2014

Girls Are Not For Sale: A Personal Experience

"No, I won't go with you."

The most devastating words I've ever heard in my life.

I sat in a brothel in Bangkok, Thailand horrified by what I saw.  These brothels are called "Go-Go bars" - they look like strip clubs from the outside but at any point during the "show" customers can purchase a girl for the night/week/however long the customer wants.  The ages of these girls vary but every girl that I saw looked like she couldn't be over 18.  From what I heard, the younger girls (under 10) were hidden upstairs for customers that were willing to pay a hefty price.  Makes me want to throw up.

Most of these girls were kidnapped from the streets or from their small hometown in the country, sold by their parents for a little extra cash or were tricked into working there, thinking that they had taken a waitress job.  Many were told that they'd only be a bartender and not be required to dance but were forced into it once they got there with threats of losing their lives or their family's lives.

Most customers were white European or American men.  Most looked down and wouldn't make eye contact with me, because they knew that what they were doing was wrong.  Most of them probably had a wife and kids back home.  You might pass this guy at the grocery store in a cute little suburban town. We also saw women and couples coming in to purchase girls for the night.  Lord, forgive them and forgive my judgmental heart.

In May 2011, I went on a mission trip to China and Thailand to help connect girls in the sex industry with local organizations that could help them escape it.

I went to China with one other friend to visit our friends who are there helping these girls.  They have started a business so that they can offer them jobs in place of leaving the industry.  They provide them with free medical care and counseling as well.  We prayer walked through a red light district that consisted of these tiny storage units, used for "business".  Girls would sit outside waiting for their next customer.



Then in Thailand, I joined a group of about 20 women with a passion to fight human trafficking.  We prayer walked through two different red light districts and met with two organizations (Rahab Ministries and NightLight) that help these women/girls to leave the industry and provide a safe home for them as well as employment.

First we went to Patpong Night Bazaar, one of the most famous red light districts in Bangkok.  Here we split up into groups and went into the bars with gifts.  One night we had fruit, one night we had jewelry.  First we asked the bar owners (aka pimps) if we could give gifts to the girls and surprisingly, they were excited we were there.  They let us in immediately.  We talked to the various girls, gave them the gifts, told them about Rahab Ministries, prayed for them (if they let us) and then left.  Yes, we actually felt safe.  I know you're thinking this sounds crazy but I can't tell you how much we felt the power of the Holy Spirit with us.  We saw some amazing things!  I had the opportunity to pray with a few girls and I really believe that great things have happened since then!






Sorry about the blurry photos - taking great photos was not our goal that night

I could see the desperation in the girls, but they also put on a face that their bar owners tell them to. They are supposed to act like they love it and are having fun.  I just wanted to pick up the girls and run. Ummm...yeah, now that would have been dangerous.  I have faith that some of them contacted Rahab Ministries and are now out of it!

In a different red light district called Nana, we threw a party with NightLight Ministries.  This is where the story at the beginning of this post comes in.  A few of us went out to the bars to "purchase" girls for the evening so that they could come to our party.



Nana during the day

I had to sit there like a customer until the Lord showed me which girl to invite.  I started talking with a cute little Thai girl in broken English and then I asked her if she would come to the party - no sex involved, a break from the sex and men.  I think it weirded her out.  She wasn't sure what to make of it so she said no.  It broke my heart, because she didn't know what she was rejecting.

I cried as I walked through the red light district back to the party. I'm sure I looked like a fool but I didn't care.  I pray for that girl to this day!

The party went well with about 5 women from the bars.  They were able to meet other Thai girls that had left the industry and hear their stories and give them hope of redemption and safety.





NightLight Ministries women making jewelry

All jewelry bought from these ministries goes to support these girls who have left the industry and now make jewelry instead of selling their bodies.

Buy jewelry from Rahab Ministries HERE
Buy jewelry from NightLight Ministries HERE

So what can you do??

1) You can pray.  Pray for redemption for these little girls all over the world.  Pray for strict regulations in the countries that let it happen.  Pray for our own country - it happens her more than you know.  I'll post about that in the future.

2) Volunteer with an organization in your city.  I volunteer with New Friends New Life in DFW which I'll talk more about in a future post.  Research organizations in your area.

3) You can purchase jewelry from these organization to help these women stay OUT of the industry.  See links above.

4) Give.  So many organizations and campaigns need money to function.  God will provide through His believers and I find it such a privilege to be a part of that.  Here's a tangible way that you can help right now.  Nina from Flowers in My Hair is passionate about this issue and provides many steps of action here.  She shares about an amazing way to help these victims through musicians with a heart for justice:

"Support Remedy Drive’s album: Commodity | An Anti Trafficking Album through Kickstarter. Go here, watch the video, read about their vision, and then give. This is the first time I’ve supported any Kickstarter campaign and with my moving expenses + the job search, I could not give as much as I wanted to. I basically wanted to pay for the whole album. So then I considered what else can I do? I have this blog that people read and I don’t tell you what to do very often (I hope) so when I  strongly urge you to consider something, I hope it counts. It needs to count now."



I hope this was enlightening!  I have so much more to say but I don't want to lose your attention so I'll share in another post.  This issue is so HUGE in the US and should not be overlooked.  This was my international experience, but soon I'll be share about my domestic experience.

Praise God for His redemption and grace!!



12 comments:

  1. While reading this I felt like it was a script for a movie - there are parts of the world that are so dangerous, so sad, so terrible and yet there are people like you that help shed light on the terrible things happening and what we can do to help change the world and make it a better and safer place! Thank you so much for sharing this Kelli!!

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  2. You are such a blessing. I watched a documentary on this type of situation not to long ago. it completely broke my heart. I know it happens around me and I will definitely be looking into getting involved. Thank you for posting.

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  3. Thank you so much for posting about this. Reading your firsthand experience broke my heart but I truly believe it should and out of that brokenness we must act and pray. Love your heart, sweet girl.

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  4. Blessings on you! How amazing that you got to be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out to these girls!

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    1. Thanks Bekah! It was a great opportunity - so weird in that it broke my heart but was also amazing to meet the girls who have been rescued and live a different life now! :)

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  5. i agree with B completely, some of this seems so surreal. but thank you for sharing, and for being the person so involved in helping others. you're a wonderful person!

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  6. Wow, thank you for sharing your experience. This is so eye opening, we take so much for granted. I can't imagine the mix of emotions you must have felt during this trip. Wow!

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  7. This makes me sad and sick to my stomach. Our church contributes to the A 21 campaign to raise money for saving women. My heart breaks!

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  8. Wow!!! I love your heart for these girls - so much awareness needs to be brought to this and I'm so glad you posted!! What an opportunity to go over and minister to these ladies and what an eternal impact it was on them!! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Kelli- as if I didn't adore you enough..you just stole my heart. I ALWAYS tell my husband that if I had enough money it would go into fighting human trafficking, etc. I've read a lot of books (fiction and non-fiction) and looked into various organizations. I admire you for not only getting involved but sharing it in this post! Thank you!

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  10. I don't even know what to say Kelli. It took me all morning just to write this. I wanted to cry reading this. I had no idea how bad it was over there. And the young girls....just makes me so sick. I'm so glad you shared this with us and what you and the other ladies did was amazing. You are brave, brave women. I'm so glad you were able to touch some of these women's hearts and hopefully changed their lives for the good.

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  11. Wow. I felt sick and sad reading this Kelli. Bless you for sharing, for praying, for being an advocate for those who can't speak up for themselves.

    Thank you for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Blessings to you my friend.
    xoxo

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