Girls for Sale: Reflections from the Red-Light District


On a muggy night in Chiang Mai, I walked "home" to the YWAM base. My backpack was heavy and I could have caught a ride, but I felt the need to just wander. So I meandered through the Thai streets, enjoying my worship playlist and how the city comes alive at night. To get home, I had to pass through the heart of the bar district. I slowed, walking up and down the strip. I tried to pray for those I passed - I really wanted to - but the words wouldn't come.

For the girls that can't be older than 16, their faces a mask of heavy makeup, always tugging on miniskirts hugging their straight bodies ...

For the women that used to be little boys ... before the lies whispered "You should have been a girl. Take these hormones and you can look like one. Show off your body and see your true value. Make a little bit of money."

For the mothers, with crying babies and sullen teenagers at home, far too old and too long in this business, but in desperate need of money ... just some money to put food in their childrens' mouths ...

And for the men that come to buy them, eyes glazed, searching for respect or manhood, "a good time" ... or maybe just someone to listen to their stories.

For these I tried to pray, but words wouldn't come.

The pack on my shoulders weighed me down. Pulsing lights barely lit the dark, uneven street beneath me. The hypnotic beat of dirty rap invaded my headphones, polluting my music, driving my despair for these children of God - these Jesus died for. They don't even know his name.

And it all became too heavy - my backpack, the hopelessness, the heavy sin that drenches Loi Kroh road. The deception that clouds everything.

And so I returned to what I knew - I worshipped. I worshipped the God of us, the God who came down to dwell in our darkest places, among twisted & starving humanity. I turned up the volume until all I heard ...

Wonderful savior How may I bless your heart? Knees to the earth I bow down, to everything you are Be blessed, be loved, be lifted high Be treasured here  Be glorified

And I walked. And my heart praised my king, lover of their souls.

I found myself in the parking lot of the strip club, and partway through Phil Wickham's Beautiful --

I see Your power in the moonlit night Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright We are amazed in the light of the stars It’s all proclaiming who You are You’re beautiful

I looked up ... no stars were visible beyond the neon lights - but I knew they were there, even though I couldn't see past the distractions. Just as I know Jesus cares for these women, even when they can't see him.


The Lord reminded me what a beautiful savior we have - a lover like no other.

I see you there hanging on a tree You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me

He died for all the sin, all the heavy. He took our dirty and made it pure. He took our load and made it light.

And there, in the parking lot of the strip club - in Thailand, "land of smiles" - tears flowed in a stream down my face. Becuase this sin-soaked soil, he called it Good - tov - when he breathed his God-breath on it.

And his precious blood, it washes everything clean; our old sin, new sin, even the ugly sin we don't know we'll find on ourselves tomorrow.

When we arrive at eternity’s shore Where death is just a memory and tears are no more We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring Your bride will come together and we’ll sing You’re beautiful

I desperately, desperately want these women standing next to me on eternity's shore. And you know what?

I think Jesus wants these women at the wedding feast also. He's coming to tell them: "Your tears are no more." Becuase as I write this, there are over 100 World Racers all over Thailand, carrying the Holy Spirit into dark places. YWAM Thialand has hundreds of missionaries, both Thai and foreign, spreading the news of a wonderful savior.

The truth of his word illuminated my mind, and I was finally able to pray...

"They don't know how beautiful you are yet .. but Lord, show them your face. Soon."