Months of praying, planning, working and building relationships have come to fruition and ended in the greatest blessing I could have ever imagined. It is difficult to carry quietly in your heart the greatest message the world has ever known, a message of freedom and hope, and to remain shackled by the barriers that keep you from relaying this important message.
To cross seas and continents into the unknown, to face such uncertainty and possible risk, to daily love the enslaved you would set free, but to know that you are incapable of presenting your message or revealing to these beloved the hope that is so close to where they live is a great hardship. To know these beautiful women live in a hopeless shadow of darkness, a circle that repeats and continues again and again in their lives and the lives of their children, when Hope’s light shines less than a mile away and to remain without the ability to convey this truth or the knowledge of whether or not the opportunity will ever arise, is draining to say the least.
Yet, the simplest solution was found. We invited the girls whom we have developed relationships with in the main three pool bars to a ‘goodbye’ luncheon since Rachel and I will be returning home shortly. We had no idea how many would come or if any of the girls from the GoGo bars would come. Often in Thailand, when people do not want to offend, they say they will be there although they never actually intend to come. Many of the girls would not be able to come because they are working and the bar fee they have to pay to miss work is 500 Thai Bot ($17).
So the day of the party we spent the early morning helping Ann and the girls prepare food for the possible guests and then we ventured out to the pool bars to meet our friends. We paid 11 girls bar fines and 17 came to the party. Each of our close friends from the bars came. Each girl was told by the house mother or by the Thai girls living in the home what Beginnings was about. They learned that at Beginnings they would be offered a different lifestyle, education, a free home, and even a stipend to send to their families or to do whatever they want with while living under the Beginnings roof to make up for the money they would no longer be making in the bars. Now each of these girls has been introduced to Beginnings.
The party was such a success. Visitors from distant lands (US, Russia, Israel…) just happened to be at Beginnings on this crazy day. One made a ton of balloon hats, dogs, bikes and flowers for the girls. They paraded around and posed for tons of photos. They ate the free and delicious food and enjoyed Thai tea and other drinks. Then we spent hours painting each other’s nails. We even painted some of their toenails, which in Thai cultures would be demeaning for the person doing it. The feet are considered the most unclean part of the body and to lift one’s heel to another is the ultimate insult. So to get down on the floor and paint another’s toenails would show not only humility but strong friendship, love and honor.
It was nothing to me to paint my friends toenails, but it meant everything to her. I wonder what it was like for Christ the day he washed his disciple’s feet. I wonder if it was so easy for him to do because of his love for them. To them, it was unthinkable and Peter even tried to stop him from lowering himself in such a way. I bet to Christ it was nothing to love another so much—especially considering he lived and died for his disciples, even the one who betrayed him, and for the entire world.
Two of the women, very close friends of ours, stayed with us until dinner that night. They picked out the Eclipse DVD to watch and after seeing this sequel they desired also to watch the first movie, Twilight. I was amazed by the way they inhaled the love from the screen. I saw the craving in their eyes for such a love to exist in their own lives. It is expected for men here to cheat on their wives. It is common for a man to have a minor wife, which means a mistress. It is not even looked down upon. I cannot imagine living with the knowledge and expectation that my future spouse, the man I would love more than my own life and desire to give everything I have and am to, would be unfaithful and untrue to me—that he would have many women and I would simply raise his children and be nothing more to him than the woman who bore and raised his children.
Many times during this trip I was approached with different repulsive offers from men. But sex here is more like a commodity; it is just something that is done, not something that is personal or private. The truth: this is common all across the world. This great gift we have been given to be so intimate with another that our souls become one has been disgraced and turned from a great gift into an indifferent mediocre activity.
Despite this, I saw that in the depths of these women’s heart, they had a longing for a deep and unquenchable love that no fire or time could ever destroy or even begin to touch. I saw a pining in their lives they have tried to fill, a void that leaves an empty hole of agony in their hearts. Are they any different from the rest of us? We all have moments when we wonder: what is life about? What is the struggle and hardship for? Why do we endure day after day? Isn’t there more than this?
The answer: YES, there is more and it is found when Christ fills the void in our lives. He is the only one who can. No love of man can satisfy the fire that longs for the undeserving, unearned and unconditional love of THEE God who created us for a relationship with Him. No earthly man or thing will ever fill the void or erase the pain; only through a relationship with Christ can we find peace and be made whole again.
For these girls I do not know what the future holds. All I know is they have been loved by us and they are even more loved by God. Who knows what will happen in the future or what would bring them to change their course and live at Beginnings? But now they know hope exists and in their darkest hour they know they have a place to turn. Now they can tell others, any who would leave the lifestyle yet feel trapped and without alternatives.
Our purpose in coming to Thailand has been fulfilled. I praise God that He brought all this to fruition. I know that all I can do now is thank Him for the opportunity He blessed me with to come to this place, to learn much from and in this different culture, and to share His love and hope with these girls. I leave them in His capable hands. He is the savior. I am just the messenger and how the message is received does not matter so long as the message is delivered. Only God can change and heal the heart of man and it begins with this simple message of the love and grace of Christ.