With our summer travel plans sadly postponed this year, we asked several members of our teams from 2019 to reflect on what they were doing this time last year. First up is Sarah, thinking back to her time with the Nightlight Project in Bangkok.
This time last year, after travelling for around 20 hours and passing through 7 different time zones, we arrived. Our team of 12 stepped out into the sticky heat of monsoon season and made our way to the hotel, discovering our new love: air conditioning.
Our first day was in Thailand’s capital, visiting the Nightlight Project, a ministry set up to rescue, restore and empower women trapped in the sex trade, reaching them with the grace and love of God. When we arrived, we met the founders of the ministry, Kate and Mick (names changed for security reasons), who founded the project ten years ago.
As Kate spoke of the work, I was struck by her burden to reach these women and her willing perseverance in the face of a seemingly overwhelming task. The extent of the sex trade in Bangkok is truly horrifying. To think of individuals ensnared in it and their personal stories is heart-breaking. Yet God is at work, turning utter darkness into beauty. Through this ministry, women are discovering an alternative life and learning of a God who loves them and wants them to be healed and set free.
The team at the Nightlight Project spend time building relationships through bar outreach in the red-light district. Women are invited to a programme of discipleship, job training, education and counselling. The girls are offered experience in cooking, jewellery making, sewing classes, beautician’s training and much more. During our visit, we got stuck into some practical tasks: cleaning and sorting the kitchen, painting the new jewellery workshop, childcare, more cleaning… meanwhile one of our team members selflessly sacrificed herself to hours of nail experimentation by one of the students on the programme. Later in the day, we had the privilege of coming together for a time of worship with some of the girls and the staff, a truly unifying experience across such contrasting cultures and backgrounds.
I now sit comfortably at home, back in the familiar every-season-in-a-day climate which is Northern Ireland. However, writing this has been a great reminder to me, as I hope it is for you, of the need in our world, and the beauty of our Saviour. For many ensnared in the sex trade, lockdown will have intensified already unbearable circumstances. So, let’s remember these individuals and our brothers and sisters who work tirelessly for their freedom in Christ. Praise God that He is always good, and at work in ways far beyond our understanding.