Monday, February 15, 2016
So what is a safe-house anyway? It's a place that rescued women can come for safety, protection and refuge. It's a place that gives them an alternative to working in the sex-trade. I think I envisioned a safe-house to be a house, where girls lived. A kitchen, beds, and a big family room. I'm learning that each outreach creates their own model for helping women, and they all look different. Today we visited a safe house here in Bangkok. We have been asked not to take any photos, so I've barely had my camera out. In a way, it's helping me to not be distracted. It also helps us all be focused together, present in the moment.
This safe house is a ministry that has grown as needs were understood. It started out as a place the women could come during the day to find safety. They began classes, giving the women eduction. Then they added a craft location down the street. They trained the women in jewelry making and sewing so that they could begin to earn an income to support themselves and their families. Then the wanted to begin creating relationships in the neighborhood so they could educate the women, thus reducing the likelihood that the girls would turn to prostitution. Then they bought another home down the street where women who were in crisis could live. The home can handle 6-8 women at a time. Here the women have a place where they are safe if they are in physical danger. It is a place they can detox if they are addicted to drugs. If the woman is going through emotional stress and trauma, this is a safe place for them. I'm begining to see examples of what works in rescuing a person.
I had a wonderful time at this house. They did a presentation expalaining how their model works. A Thai couple who are in seminary told us their story of freedom from this bondage. They are now preparing to take a major role in the running of this safe house ministry.
Then we sang. It was beautiful. Sixty women mingled together. Brown faces and white faces singing in Thai and English, praising God together. It was amazing.
They wanted to do a little game with us. Two girls from the safe-house got up front and went through some hand motions with the guitar. The one girl caugh my eye and my heart stopped. She looked just like my Elena. They are the same height, same build, long hair, strong noses. Just a change of color would have changed the girl in front of me. She walked my way and picked me as her partner to play the little hand game. It was hard, my eyes welled up and my throat got tight. How had one girl lived a protected life and the other had one with such hurt and pain. Her smile got me through that game. I wanted to throw my arms around her and never let anything bad happen to her again.
The girls had made cards for us. A pretty flower on front and a verse in Thai and English. Inside is a photo. We had to walk around and find the girl in the picture and talk with them, then pray for them. I found my girl, upstairs in the nursery, taking care of the toddlers. She looked at me and we began the tedium job of trying to communicate. Occasionally she would ask the girl next to her for some more words to use. She told me that she is 20 years old. I smiled and said that my son was 20 and that it was like she was my daughter. She asked me how old I was. When I told her I was 44, the tears started trickling down her cheeks. She said if her mom were still alive, she would be 44. I don't know what this dear girl's circumstances are. I don't know why she needed to come to this safe house each day, but I could see she was crying out to be loved. Oh my heart breaks for these girls. The wounds are so deep. Only God can heal those wounds, and she was trying desperately to hold onto Jesus but she told me how lonely she feels sometimes. We all know loneliness. Sometimes we need Jesus in the flesh and blood to fill that ache that we have. I pray that today I was able to be Jesus to her - that I was able to hug her and share her tears and bring her a glimmer of hope for one afternoon.