Monday, February 2, 2015

We Were Elephants

I cannot begin to explain how it feels to watch.

Women sitting alone on a park bench, staring down at their feet.
Glancing around, waiting for customers.
Girls, not yet fully developed, taking the hand of a customer.
Haggling prices through car windows.
Customers driving away, because she is not even
worth the $15 an hour.

Customers.  As if this is just another service industry.
Men who, night after night, pay to pick them up, pay to use their bodies however they please, until they’ve had enough.

The thought disgusts me. Angers me! Breaks my heart! And seeing it happening in front of my eyes is heart-wrenching.

Walking through the park every Saturday evening with the Tamar Center team, praying and talking to these women, I have heard many stories. Many women are old, poor, with children they need to support. Some are married, to husbands who actually ask them to work as prostitutes, and take the money to fuel their gambling and drinking problems. One girl we met two weeks ago wouldn’t talk to us for very long. She kept saying in Thai, “I have to go. I have to go. They’ll hurt me.” She was only sixteen years old. I’ll never forget the hickeys across her neck, bruises on her arm, and fear in her eyes. Pray for this girl—her name is May.

It never takes long for tears to well up in these women’s eyes as we ask them their story. Every one is different, but they are all full of pain. We listen to their hearts, we love in any way we can, and we pray for them. On the spot, as we pass them, and always afterwards—we pray. We invite them to our English classes, and offer them the hope of a place, which takes in girls off the streets and provides them with a place to stay, food and clothes, and training for a new vocation and a new life.

Most days, talking is as far as it goes. But last night…last night was different.

Last night, we happened to meet a 52 year old woman named Nut (pronounced Noot). As I walked up to the group talking with her, I could see that Brooke was wiping tears from her eyes, and Tooktik was rubbing this woman’s obviously hurt shoulder.

Not wanting to crowd and overwhelm the group, I stayed on the outskirts and just began to pray. A man was sitting at a park bench nearby, staring. I was not sure what was going on, but I could tell there was a war going on around them, and there was lot at stake.

Nut’s story, as I soon found out, is a sad one. She has been trapped in an extremely physically abusive relationship for about a year now—with the man sitting at the bench nearby.  Every time she tries to run away, he finds her and beats her. Her right arm is near paralysis because of nerve damage, and there are cigarette burns on her arms. Her vision is cloudy because of the alcohol he throws in her face. She lives in depression, in and out of hospitals every time he beats her, and has attempted suicide. She started working as a prostitute a few months ago, because she needs to make money. Listening to this BROKE my heart. Why? Why is there such evil in the world? Why couldn’t she find a way out?

BUT GOD WAS THERE. He was fighting for her, the whole time.

As we all came together around Nut, and told her about a place where she would feel secure and earn her  her livelihood after going through vocational training, she didn’t hesitate—she was ready to come with us, but she was still scared of the man who wouldn’t let her leave.

After getting her phone number, we set up a time to meet later on so that he would be gone. However, when we got back, he was still there.
Waiting. Staring. Silently threatening.

She walked away anyway.

We surrounded her, our hands grabbing hers, our hands on her back, our prayers encircling her like a shield. And he didn’t follow.  We hopped on our songthaew, laughing excitedly with her, almost not believing we were playing a part in the physical rescue of such a special woman. We brought her to a hotel nearby, and then stayed for a beautiful time of eating, praying, worshipping, and loving. The first thing she did when she sat down in that room was to break her SIM card. She snapped it in half! What a perfect physical representation of the change happening in her life! As we massaged her hurt shoulder and tired feet, we listened to her story. That was when she told us something crazy… she recently had a dream that a group of elephants came to rescue her, telling her “we came to save you,” and she rode away on them.

We were the elephants.

Tears began to flow and smiles began to erupt as we all realized what Jesus was doing. How He had been fighting for her. How He was using us in her story. She could see Him working, too, and in that moment, as Shelby led her, she prayed with us to give her life to Him. She kept repeating how FREE she felt. It was BEAUTIFUL.

Nut left this morning for the place we've mentioned to her, ready to escape the horrors of her life here, ready to turn her life around, ready to follow Jesus. But there are so many more still stuck. Millions, to be exact. January is sex-trafficking awareness month. It’s time to FIGHT THIS EVIL.

Spread awareness. Change starts with awareness.
PRAY. Please, pray for these girls. Pray for those working to free them. Pray against those enslaving them, against the men buying them, against the mentality that keeps them there.    
Give. This cause is worthy of our money and our time.

I am beyond honored to be here, to join in with Korat’s Tamar Center team, to be a part of this. I am humbled that I could play even a small part in what God is doing through this ministry. And I am in awe of the good God we serve and how He uses me, even with my doubts and fears and sinful heart. 

Jacqueline Roig

World Race Team

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