EDITOR’S NOTE: Human Trafficking Awareness Day is being marked today, Jan. 11, nationally and internationally.
THAILAND (BP) — “I can’t believe we did that,” I exclaimed, “but it was so much fun.” I had prayerwalked through the red light district many times over the past six months, teaching English to a group of young women each week. We tried to make relationships with these girls, but they often seemed closed to us.
When our team heard about a group of short-term workers from the United States coming to help us for a few days, we prayed that God would use them to open doors in the red light district. My friend, Lynn Andolini*, specifically prayed for a divine encounter on one particular street where we’d been working.
So I headed out with Bethany and Carol, two of our visitors from America. We began our time with prayer, asking God to show us who to talk to, to guide our steps and to open the doors that He wanted open.
Praying over each bar that we passed, we walked the road. The girls normally stood out in front of the bars at this time of night, putting on their makeup or just waiting for customers. But this night it was strange, almost eerie, because even though the doors were open, no one was out. Bethany, Carol and I continued walking and praying, thinking God might already be working to close the bars down.
When we crossed the street to begin heading back, we approached one Karaoke bar where I noticed the head man standing out front. As soon as we reached the door, a sweet young woman named Rutana* came out to greet us. She seemed excited to see us, and we realized our visitors had talked with her the night before.
We spoke to Rutana and her boss about offering English classes to the girls in the bar. The boss kept trying to talk us into staying to sing Karaoke, so we decided to throw caution to the wind. We asked Rutana to sing with us.
We sang American songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, including those by John Denver, Frank Sinatra and the Carpenters. Singing in the Karaoke bar was fun and also gave us an opportunity to talk to Rutana while her boss was away.
Rutana had been working at the Karaoke bar for two months, but she did not like the job. She really wanted to study cosmetology but needed to work to earn money since her family couldn’t afford to send her to school. When we asked Rutana if we could pray for her, she got excited.
“Are you Christians?” she asked us. She said her grandmother used to read her the Bible when she was little. When I learned that she still had the Bible, I encouraged her to read it. Rutana seemed happy to meet us and even invited us to teach English in her apartment.
What an answer to prayer!
The next week, we called Rutana to follow up, but the city was experiencing a lot of flooding. When the waters started to recede, our team went to the red light district to try to help and to check on Rutana. The other workers at Rutana’s bar told us she had gone home to her village because of the flooding.
We tried to contact Rutana several more times over the next several weeks, but each time she wasn’t there. On our most recent visit, we learned that Rutana had moved back to her village permanently.
Rutana’s move is great news because many Christians live in her village. We continue to pray that someone in Rutana’s village will teach her about the love of God.
*Names changed. Nicole Dell is a Christian worker in Southeast Asia. Among resources available on the topic of human trafficking is “Not in My Town: Exposing and Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery” by Dillon Burroughs and Charles Powell, available from New Hope Publishers at www.newhopedigital.com. New Hope is the trade books arm of Woman’s Missionary Union.