Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint hearted.
Last night, Rob Morris, founder and President of Love 146, an anti-human trafficking organization, took me through the Red Light Districts of Bangkok. As you can imagine, all sorts of perversity and depravity exist in these dark places. Areas like this exist in all cities, but people from all over the world visit Bangkok specifically to experience the sex tourism industry here.
As we walked through Nana Plaza and Patpong Bizarre, there was a jovial air around us, like we were walking through a grand party and celebration. Girls scantily clothed, and in some cases, not really covered at all, smiled sweetly to us and urged us to enter their establishments. Many of them wore numbers so they could be easily picked by the men who wanted them. Street vendors approached us with menus for whatever your perverted dreams might imagine. On the surface, it seems harmless, women choosing to offer a service to these men in order to survive. It might not be what we would chose, but life is hard. However, we know what lies beyond the fake facade. We know that an innocent young girl would never chose to enter such a lifestyle filled with horrors and abuse. We know that they are required to meet a quota every night and that she fears what might happen if she doesn’t make it. A man’s t-shirt in Patpong Bizzarre summed it up this way, “God’s busy. Can I help you?” And with no other means to survive and no one else to turn to, girls all across the globe fall prey to the powerful people who can provide for their needs. That t-shirt says it all for those of us who know that God is not ever too busy to care for those He loves, but what about His church? Have we been too busy?
As we completed the rounds through the red light districts, Rob took us to one more bizarre. We walked through one more street, and this street nearly was the end of me. Signs advertising “Fresh Boys and Hot Males” lit up the street. Young boys sat outside waiting for customers, smiling at us, and like the women earlier, invited us into their establishments. Some of them were dressed up like beautiful women, and a man walking with a cane greeted these boys. Old men sat among them, having the desires of their flesh met and growing in intensity. And, my heart broke. I saw an old man lean in and kiss a boy, and I saw the excitement run over his face and he smiled. I wanted to run from the street as fast as I could. And I remembered that God also sees such things.
This was the first time I have seen evil in this capacity. I have seen a lot of things, talked with prostitutes, and felt the darkness of evil in these places. However, this was a new experience for me, and as hard as it was to see it, I wondered how God’s heart must handle this night after night, day by day, all across the globe. It is in these situations that I am thankful for God’s hatred of the evildoer. I am thankful for his love of justice. Psalm 10 teaches much about the evil intentions of those who prey on the innocent, “He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net” (Ps 10:8-9). I think about the net that these boys and girls have been entrapped in. It forces me to cry out to God like the Psalmist, “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted… you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none” (Ps 10:12, 14a-15).
Yes, our God is love and mercy and grace. But, He sits on a throne whose very foundation is righteousness and justice (Ps 89″14). And if you have ever doubted the existence of evil in our world, let me assure you that it is alive and thriving today.