Friday, January 30, 2009

More Brokenness

It was my intention to report on the trip I took to Hua Hin on Wednesday and Thursday where I visited my friends from China, however, my time on the beach today must take precedent.
I am staying in the home of Sandy T., who ministers to those with HIV. At the moment she is residing right across the street from Jomtien Beach, which is in Pattaya. This area attracts people from many countries. At first appearances it is the typical tourist town; bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops line the streets. The beach itself is not deep, but it is filled with beach chairs with umbrellas. You pay thirty baht to use them.
Some of the people who populate this area have retired here or have come for an extended vacation. It is relatively inexpensive. If you look more closely, you will realize that there are many more men then women. In one section you will only find men.
This is the home of ladyboys and gays. Transvestites are ladyboys. Men who are so inclined come in large numbers to indulge themselves.
One of my friends in Khon Kaen had referred to this area as Sodom and Gomorrah. Pretty apt label. It was difficult to walk past all of this and it has stirred up many emotions in me. My heart breaks for those trapped in such a lifestyle. Then there is the disgust and anger. To see older men, who have come here for such purposes - makes me want to deck them!
We stopped to visit with some of those who Sandy ministers to regularly. There were a couple of mats laid out where they sat and all their worldly possessions were piled on them. Actually, piled is the wrong word, as that would imply a lot of stuff. Not so. Just a few beat up pillows and maybe a few items of clothing. What there was an abundance of was alcohol. Thai whiskey is suppose to be pure alcohol and that is what they were downing at eleven this morning. Most were feeling no pain. People in pain like to numb that pain. Jaba is also very popular. It is a narcotic.
One of the fellows, Soc, who is gay, was not drinking. It seems that he has had an encounter with Jesus and has lost his desire for much of his former life. Why was he there? Because he has no job and no where else to go. He told us that his few possessions were stolen recently and so he only had the clothes on his back. We promised to help out when we finished our walk.
After a few more minutes with Sandy's friends we continued our walk. She wanted me to get the whole picture. It is a very sad one. As we traversed the beach, I wondered how those who are not caught up in such a life style can sit there relaxing and acting as if everything is fine? How does one close their eyes to such darkness and pain?
On our return trip we stopped to collect Soc. Another man had joined the group. He had more grotesque tatoos than I have ever seen. He had a spike through his neck and one through the skin over his checkbone. It was difficult to look at him, but when I did, I saw desperation. He was there, he said, to help these people out. Every day he gives them money for food, but he knows that they buys drugs and alcohol instead. He says that was up to them. He just wants to help out. I don't understand his thinking, which, I guess, is not surprising. Such a lost soul.
Soc came back with us to Sandy's place so we could gather a few things to help him out. A Young Life t-shirt from Connecticut has a new home in Thailand and is now being worn by this man.
He told us his story. He was never wanted by his father. As a matter of fact, when he was born, his father tried to throw him into the fire. We asked why he would try to do that and were told that the man was crazy.
Soc spoke of men who 'befriended' him and one who even taught him English. He was vulnerable and they knew it. He does not understand much about his new life in Christ and needs discipling, which is not easy to do. However, he is on the right path and Sandy, along with others, are speaking into his life at every opportunity. One thing he does understand is that God is with him and keeps extending His grace to him in situation after situation.
Next Wednesday we will be gathering up all who show up at the designated spot to go to the HIV clinic to be tested. Soc is suppose to come. He doesn't know whether he has HIV or not yet. Pray that he shows up. He does not have anyway to know what time it is and he, like many of them, does not wake up early. Life on the beach does not allow you to sleep well or early.
From the moment I arrived in Southeast Asia I have seen so much and so many that are broken. However, the greatest brokenness that I have sensed has been in God's heart for each and everyone. And not only those that I have encountered, but for all that they represent. Father, do not let me forget, but make my heart as Yours!

1 comment:

  1. Debbie, there's something I've always wanted to know about non-Christian countries, and for some reason it didn't occur to me until just now that you, being on the scene so to speak, are in an ideal position to find it out!

    This is my question: Here in the US, and I'm sure in other predominantly-Christian countries as well, non-believers often react very strongly with contempt and anger against Christianity and, sometimes, Christians.

    What I'd really like to know is whether atheists and agnostics in Buddhist countries react with that same level of scorn toward Buddhism. Are there online message boards where Thai non-believers respond furiously to Buddhists who defend their beliefs? Or is there more of a don't-care-much-either-way attitude among Thai non-Buddhists?

    If you can find this out, Debbie, lunch is on me! Until then, don't deck anybody, tempting as it may be. May the Lord be with you every moment.
    Love, Joan