Sometimes when I share with people about my heart for those in the sex trade, they ask why I don’t work with one of the bigger organizations here in Bangkok. There are several well-established NGO’s here doing wonderful things and helping women and girls to leave the sex industry. Coming here alone, as a pioneer for a newer ministry not based in Thailand, may seem odd.
If I had joined an already existing organization here, I would not have had the freedom to minister to the group that is on my heart: the exploited boys and young men of Bangkok. The male sex industry in Bangkok is thriving, and while there are ministries and safe-houses supporting women, there are few helping hands for men.
It may seem hard to believe that males are used and exploited in the same ways that women are. But here in Bangkok it is a reality. The city caters to sex tourists and the gay community, and even though some gay clubs are legitimate, there are many that exploit prostituted men and underage dancers. Some of the boys are brought in from Laos and other surrounding countries to be dancers and escorts.
As I continue to visit the red-light district, listen to the stories, and hear the dreams of these guys who yearn for a fuller life, I am glad that God has led me here through HOPE61 to be an agent of change. I’ve been building a small team of passionate people from my church community who do outreach regularly with me. Our vision is simple. We sit, we love, we listen. We ask the guys what they need and do our best to provide for them in ways that are helpful. We talk about their futures and their dreams. We are friends with them, and they know that if/when they need help they can contact us.
I don’t yet know what the future scope of this ministry will be, or how it will look in a few years’ time. I think most of that depends on whom God leads here to join me in continuing this work. Passionate, relational volunteers are needed to invest in these guys’ lives and help them achieve their dreams. Right now, I am setting the foundation for future ministry by building deep relationships, establishing trust, and learning the needs of the community I serve in. Please pray for more people willing to serve on the ground with HOPE61 in Bangkok, loving and living life with these guys.