Rescued to Rescue – A Pastor’s Perspective
I found myself surrounded in a darkness of neon lights shining on girls being displayed for anyone’s choosing. What I saw around me broke my heart and knowing how those girls must have seen me, as one of the many other men there only to please themselves, broke it further. The darkness was so heavy it smothered me. It was not something I was used to. The truth is, I hope I never get used to it.
Let me back up and take you with me through my journey. Due to various arrival times of the other team members, I was able to spend my first day experiencing some of the most amazing sights, people and culture of Southeast Asia. When the afternoon was over – my taste buds still rejoicing over the Mango Sticky rice and my adrenaline still rushing from my first tuk tuk ride through the over-filled streets – I quickly sobered as I prepared to visit a red light district for the first time in my life.
These red-light districts are notorious for being filled with neon and video signs, numerous bars, live music and jam packed with people from all over, all there for one very sad reason.
I remember when I first looked down the crowded street, my chest became very tight and my breathing labored. It was a heaviness I had often experienced as a pastor when entering a place or situation of spiritual darkness. My first prayer came out as mostly stuttering and half-finished sentences. I slowed down as I focused on the heart of God.
“Father God, protect me from fear and self-protective thoughts so that you can empower me to see what you want me to see and understand what you want me to understand and Holy Spirit, please, may these girls notice my eyes are not ones of lust like they are used to seeing but eyes of compassion. May they see Light as I walk in your light and somehow know that, though they may not understand it, a divine presence is about them and hope and salvation has not escaped them. May I walk in your presence and power I pray in Jesus’ name.”
As we walked down the narrow and crowded street there was a rush of people bumping into people. We were tugged on, groped, pulled and had pictures of things for sale shoved into our faces but everything fell silent for me. I saw people laughing but no joy, I saw sexuality and lust but no love. I saw people filling themselves while remaining empty. It was all empty, but what I encountered next will never leave me.
Girls were displayed in windows as eye candy and were lined up in front of almost every store front, holding numbers so that interested parties could reference the girl that they wanted. Men of all ages were groping young girls, leading them by the wrists as if they had conquered prey. As I was moving through the crowds down the street I noticed how the girls in the windows all had their eyes pointed up to the sky or down at the ground. They stood stiffly and moved robotically communicating they were not really there. That they wanted to be anywhere else. Upon noticing this I continued to pray for each group of girls.
As we continued to walk, now and then the young eyes of a girl would lock with mine. As a man groped one girl, she walked toward me as she saw I was coming her direction, then followed me even as I passed by as if to plead, “Please, do something!” I noticed another very young girl, tears streaming down her face, doing her best to cover her body and hide herself behind older girls.
As I saw each case of almost unbearable hopelessness in these girls’ eyes and situations, my prayer beckoned:
“God please whisper deep in her soul ‘I see you…I am coming for you.’”
The night after this, I went undercover with a rescue agent. We went beyond the streets and through the door of a brothel. Much of what I saw I really don’t like to talk about. But what I will say is that our rescue agents are called and anointed for an overwhelming field of work and they are in need of continuous prayer.
To this day I cannot lay my head down at night to sleep without thinking of the countless girls that will be forced to lay their head down not to sleep but to work.
As evil as these scenes were, I can only stomach revisiting these stories because I know of how miraculously God is working through Destiny Rescue in this country and many others. God is truly working through this ministry to turn victims into victors and tragedies into triumphs.
While we were there, I had the joyous pleasure of visiting Destiny Rescue’s restoration homes. We got to meet with the incredible staff and hear stories of redemption, hope and love. Listening to these girls laugh and celebrate, seeing how they are receiving their dignity back, receiving an education, getting healing through counselling and Christ-centered teaching was incredible. Each of these girls are being given their choice of vocational training and have a safe bed, nutritious meal and close friends to share life with.
I listened in a circle as one girl after another shared her name, age and what she wants to do with her life. (They are dreaming again, how awesome!) Each dream is being made a reality as Destiny Rescue provides opportunities for each girl to learn, graduate and pursue the life God has destined for them.
I am so grateful that Tony said ‘yes’ to God when He birthed this mission in his heart. I am so grateful for the hundreds of people who left their homes, careers, and comforts to offer themselves to the work of rescuing and restoring lives of children who have been trafficked. I am so grateful for sacrificial givers who give so that the work can continue.
I am reminded of Exodus 3:7-8, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from them…”
I believe I have been rescued to rescue. I believe God wants His church on His rescue mission across the street and around the world. He has heard their cries and so have I.