Author: Adrienne McKinney, Go To Nations Missionary
"Welcome for God!", a Thai woman said to a newly baptized woman from Uzbekistan as she hugged her and welcomed her into the Kingdom.
We had the honor and privilege of watching four years of rough and raw relationship come to fulfillment in a baptism, two baby dedications and the genuine trust in God started in a young woman from Uzbekistan.
These women are brought to Thailand with the promise of honest work. When they arrive, their documents are taken from them. They are given a skimpy outfit to wear and told, "You owe me a lot of money for the plane ticket to get you here, now you're going to work it off." These young women are then sent to the brothels, bars or streets to work off their "debt". As you walk down the red light district it is loud with the music of the different bars blasting; you can hardly tell what the songs even are as they are playing over each other so loudly. It's crowded with people from all over the world--men, women, and even families all walking down this long strip as women and "lady-boys" dance, serve drinks, flirt, sing (and more) to get attention and "pay off their debts". There are people shoving provocative posters or signs in your face to promote their events at the different bars. There are street performers, police checking documents of the tourists (ignoring the illegal activities happening behind them), and little old women who can't work these streets but need to survive so they sell homemade flower necklaces to anyone who is drunk enough to buy one.
I had the opportunity to lead a group of freshly graduated students into this environment. We were surrounded by lights, disgusting activities happening, men who were drunk out of their minds being foolish, women who were flirting so they can meet their quotas, greed, lust and so many people living out their lives searching for something but never fully finding it. Looking around this chaos, I saw all of them as little children--scared little boys who were hurting and broken, scared little girls who were ashamed and lost. You see how lost they are in their eyes, you see how broken they are in their actions; you see the good, the bad and the ugly. Not all of them are evil, mean people (some of them are sweet and care), but their lives are tainted with this lust for flesh that makes the hair on the back of your neck crawl.
It is a messy, hard, and frustrating situation. What wrecked me the most was walking through that mess (feeling like I was in a daze because every one of my senses were overloaded) and seeing the little old women whose retirement plan is selling flower necklaces. I saw that little woman, and I walked past her. My heart was broken for her, so I begged the team to come back with me. We all bought an overpriced necklaces from her and proudly wore them--thanking her, hugging her and loving her. Her cute little smile made the night worth it. I could have just sat with her the whole night.
One night, I led the team to all the local bars and clubs and handed out Christmas presents to all the women and "lady-boys" we met. They were all surprised, and some were even confused. They don't get things without a cost, they aren't bought a drink without an expectation. We walked up the hotel stairs to the floor that is rented out as a brothel and started singing Christmas carols--we completely changed the atmosphere of that floor. The women came out of their rooms, they took pictures, they filmed us, they laughed, they sang and then we handed them Christmas gifts--little perfumes, pretty nail polish, little things. Little things that meant so much to them. The brothel manager texted the next morning saying that our visit was the highlight of their night! What an incredible joy to escape their harsh reality for a moment--less than 6 minutes--to just enjoy life, to be filled with joy and to experience unconditional love without expectation.
Adrienne Studied at Christ for the Nations and has been with Go To Nations since 2014. She currently serves in Pemba Mozambique with a missions training program called Harvest School. Her love for God's people isn't limited to just one nation. She travels around the world worshipping and ministering to people.