We started our walk along the beachfront in Pattaya around 8:00 pm. This was the beginning of a very heart wrenching and eye opening experience. We are told that Pattaya has improved from a few years ago and immediately my thoughts wonder at how could there be more than what we were seeing.
As far as my eye could see, women were lined up along the beachfront walkway. These women, I am told, for the most part are not “owned” by anyone. These women have found no other alternative to their great need of survival for themselves or their families. A large portion of these women are HIV positive or have STD’s as well. Men of all ages walked along the walkway turning to talk to a young woman when his interest has been perked.
Men, young and old, come to Pattaya as sex tourists. A group of young men, the age of my son and his friends, walked in front of us for a short while. My heart was troubled by what I saw. Were they on vacation with their families and decided to “experience” and “purchase” sex? Were they here specifically as sex tourists? Were they military on leave? I never found out the answers to my questions, but those are the cases for many that are there. It wasn’t long before these young men stopped to talk with some young women who were there selling themselves for a hour, night, or whatever your pleasure is.
As I turned to look at the ocean, I saw a man and young girl about five years old on the beach on a blanket. My hopeful prayer was that this was her father or family member, however, the nagging doubt of what was happening was right beneath those prayers. Rats ran up the trees and some ran across the sand. This was not the same beach that I think fondly of from growing up in the United States.
We stop shortly thereafter to minister to a woman who is holding her side in pain as she sits on the cement curb. Through a translator, our group leader begins to minister to her. We find out that she just had surgery and she is in great pain. She tells of a husband and wife missionaries who visit her every year and pray with her. She allows us to pray with her and we encourage her that Jesus is with her everyday. She is trapped in a ugly cycle and is unable to get out on her own. We give her information on the Tamar Center, the local ministry we visited earlier that day, in hopes that she will contact them.
We have been walking for over thirty minutes and in front of us the walkway continues much further. We stop in front of a statue and to our right we see a group of European women. We are told these women are being controlled by sex traffickers, more than likely mob sex traffickers, as well as their handlers should be nearby. Our hearts are heavy for these women, all of the women we saw along the beachfront. How can you put into words the magnitude of what we are experiencing. Nowhere, in the United States do we have the amount of what we are witnessing in one place.
This night is not over and what is ahead is even far worse than anything we have yet to experience. For now we will stop here as it is so much to absorb within. Please join me in praying for all of these women along the beachfront, for the men of all ages who are there everyday to purchase sex, and for the beautiful city of Pattaya to be restored to what God created it to be.
#PrayForThailand #PrayForPattaya #NotForSale #StopSexTrafficking