Team member: Jessika
I look forward to this day coming for the past two years, imagining myself sitting among the children in Svay Pak, and yesterday was the day. Svay Pak is only 11km outside of Phnom Penh and also a notorious child sex tourism district where pedophiles would often travel to and prey on vulnerable children.
I was sitting in the middle of the van with a heart full of mixed emotions. I stayed quiet and prayed under my breath, yet opened my eyes to absorb as much as I can as the van waived through the traffic on such dusty road. My team leader, Beth, whispered in my ears to remind me that we shall focus onto the hope of Jesus despite facing the evil doers is difficult, we shall not back down and allow not Satan to taunt us, “I am not going to let satan take that part of me. I have had enough of it. I have had enough!!” she said.
The children there have an air of resilience that none of us could possibly compare. What they face head on in the evening is absolute torture – 10-20 clients a night, working from 6pm to 3am???? Imagine that, please just imagine that!! Yet they don’t have the luxury of simply imagining about it, but that is their reality, day in and day out. They will be drugged up before being carted to the hotels in Phnom Penh so they can be compliant sexually and enhance their performance upon all these pedophiles’ request. My blood is boiling up to 100 degrees by thinking about it.
Before we went to Svay Pak that afternoon, we had our first taste of driving through the brothel areas in Phnom Penh the night before. The drive on a tuk tuk around that area already too hard for my eyes and senses to imagine what is it like being enslaved in one of the brothels. The smell, I will always remember the smell. The colourful Christmas string-lights indicate there are girls for sale. The pedophiles and sex tourists stroll down the streets with a Vietnamese or Cambodia girl following him. How old is she? Under her thick make up, probably 15 or 16 years old. The sex tourist (I am quoting one of team mates here) acts like he is taking a stroll on the beach, having the moment of his life, claiming his toy and heading “home”. I saw invisible shackles between the sex tourist as well as the girl. The girl is obviously shackled and exploited as sex slave. The pedophile is also shackled in his own sexual fantasy and power play leading to his predatory behavior towards vulnerable young girls.
Psalm 23 strangely settled in my heart as my emotion took me to a rocking ride on my way to the hotel.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup OVERFLOWS. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Many fronts of brothels and its streets intricately are woven together in a narrow dark alley when there are people all clustered out on the street. The tuk tuk can hardly drive through it in a speed. Yet my LORD invites the 13 of us to walk through those places, and bring our gospel of peace with our feet fitted with the readiness, so that even in the presence of the enemy, a table will be prepared before me. This is exactly what happened this past Sunday when we celebrated communion in the Sanctuary (church in Svay Pak) . We enjoyed the table that the Lord has set before us even in the midst of traffickers, mama-san, and pimps sitting amongst us --- after all His table is open to everyone--- to everyone who turns to Him!