Thailand: Behind the Smile

Stephanie Wilkins, USM
June 27, 2017

 Stephanie Wilkins

It’s hard to believe, but I have now been in Thailand for three weeks. And man, a crazy three weeks it has been! Three weeks of many tears shed, desperate prayers, Gospel conversations, and seeing God showcase His sovereignty and love.

In my last post, I told you that I would be working on the social work team within our organization, and I have officially begun my one-on-one sessions. I am meeting individually with two students to help encourage them and assist them in their healing process. These students have left their jobs in the sex industry. It is difficult trying to connect with people who have experienced so much abuse and exploitation, but the Holy Spirit is lovingly directing those interactions for me. I have spent much time helping them identify practical ways to heal. Most of our conversations have been Gospel-centered because we will never truly heal or stop feeling shame until we trust in the One who bore our shame for us. Jesus is where we find rest, healing, hope…everything. One of the students is asking a lot of questions, so please pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to her. Pray I would be faithful to answer her questions and continue to love her well.

My team had the opportunity to partner with another ministry that focuses on the homeless population in Bangkok. We went out in groups, paired with Thai believers, to go have dinner with some of the homeless. We were able to share the Gospel with three different individuals, and two of them showed great interest! Please pray as the Thai believers follow-up with them. Pray that they would believe and follow Jesus. I have also been trying to meet up with a woman for the past two weeks but our schedules have not allowed it. Pray for us to find time to meet, because I would love to get to know her better.

Outreach in the red light districts continues to be difficult. I don’t know if I will ever feel comfortable doing ministry in this environment, and I’m not sure I want to. It breaks my heart watching utterly lost people buy other people for sex.  However, God has allowed us to develop two really great relationships with two of the workers. One of the guys told us in secret that he would like help getting out of the sex industry. Praise God! Pray for us as we share the Gospel of Hope with him, and pray he would take the first steps in getting out of the bar. We also plan to “buy the time” of one of our other friends for the night to take him bowling. (*Note: People in the sex industry literally sell their time for their livelihood.  So when we find someone in the trafficking bars interested in talking about what we have to share, we also make a financial investment for the opportunity.)  Please pray for Spirit-led conversations!

I have a few more prayer requests! Please pray for one of our students who just received news that he is HIV Positive.  Also, pray for the growth of a believer we met that was homeless. She has entire portions of the Bible memorized! And pray for the customers who are coming to Bangkok.  I need to constantly remind myself that my heart should break for them as well.