Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 8, 2010

Champions of Light

Bangkok, Thailand

Earlier this year, I met one of the co-founders of NightLight International — a ministry that enables women and children to escape sexual exploitation by empowering them to live and work in community. NightLight’s mission is to build relationships with people involved in the sex industry, offer alternative employment and vocational and life-skills training, and provide physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking a way out of the commercial sex trade. Today, I visited NightLight in Bangkok along with Kingsland members Mary and Sandy. NightLight is located exactly where it should be located — the place where light is needed the most — in the heart of darkness. Although prostitution is not legal in Thailand, it is accepted by local authorities because of the billions of dollars it generates for the local economy.

NightLight’s offices are within walking distance of the sex tourism areas of Bangkok. By some estimates, 7 out of every 10 foreign men who travel to Thailand do so to engage in sex tourism. Men of all ages from all over the world travel to Bangkok to satisfy their every sexual fantasy. And, they are not disappointed. According to NightLight, there are services in some countries that offer sex tours to Thailand. Those who are not travel savvy can actually hire someone to guide them in their adventure into depravity. Experienced guides lead sex tourists to engage with women in beer bars (sports bar type of environment), Go-Go and show bars which feature nude dancers, massage parlors, hotels, escort services, and other venues. There is provision for every pocketbook from the wealthiest to the poorest.

There is high demand for prostitution and sexual services in Thailand. In addition to sex tourism, Thai men also contribute to the demand side of the equation. By some estimates, 80% of prostitution caters to them. With the demand as great as it is, there are never-ending opportunities for poor women to find employment as prostitutes in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand. And, the demand has created an opportunity for sex traffickers to lure women here from other countries. Many of the women who come here from other countries are immediately saddled with huge debt. They are kept locked up during the day and forced to work at night. Most of the money they make services their debt. These women are abused by their agents and some are killed. This is the world in which NightLight works to bring hope and to offer women a way out.

One of the practical way in which NightLight helps women to leave the commercial sex trade is by offering them employment. The women of NightLight make beautiful jewelry which is sold around the world. The women earn a modest income and enjoy benefits such as medical insurance and child care services. They work in a loving environment that enables them to heal and to make a new start. All of the women that we met today were polite, welcomed us with smiles, and thanked us for our interest in their welfare. Many of the women at NightLight have found new hope in Jesus Christ and are determined to never return to a life of abuse and exploitation. As we toured the facilities, we could hear one group of women singing praise songs, a beautiful reminder of the transforming power of the gospel — new creatures singing a new song.

The ministry of NightLight is much more extensive than what I have described here. To learn more about NightLight and how you can pray for and support their life-changing work, please visit their website. Sign up to receive their prayer letters and determine to pray faithfully for the girls and for the staff who care for them. You can also purchase NightLight jewelry or make a donation that can help them to continue their work as champions of light in the dark work of prostitution.

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