For One Night, She Was Free

While on a short term trip to the Philippines, Race Alum Taylor Brantley and her team spent time in the Red Light District sharing God’s love with women caught in human trafficking. 

Walking Street is the Red Light District in Angeles City, Philippines. It started as a response to the demand of the nearby military base. The town is filled with older white men from Australia Europe, the United States, and Asian countries, and they are there to buy women.

One night, my team gathered for prayer and worship before going to the bars. Then we left for Walking Street.

We walked into the bar and upstairs to the available seating. Our waitress, Jane greeted us and took our drink order. As Jane came back with our drinks, my teammates Meghan and Nicole began talking to her about Wipe Every Tear, our host ministry that rescues girls from human trafficking and gives them education and restoration care.

One of my teammates asked if she knew of any girls would be interested. Jane walked downstairs and called over an extremely shy girl name Linda. Nicole began telling Linda about Wipe Every Tear in her language so she could better understand.

Linda was very clearly terrified of what her job entailed. She did not want to be there, let alone go with any man who tried to purchase her. Meghan and Nicole continued to talk to her for the next hour.

Then I began asking Jane about her life, wanting to know more. She instantly opened up. Jane is 33 and has two kids. She was married and her husband passed away three years ago. In July 2016, her cousin told her that he found her a waitressing job in Manila.

She was tricked into this job, and her family has no idea where she works.

Jane has the stereotypical story of how she wound up working in a bar. She makes around $2-5USD a night to pay off a bar tab that is less than $100. She has been working there since July of 2016 and has dreams of going back to school and continuing her education in becoming a midwife.

She believes there is no way out, because of the debt she has to work off.

We sat alone on the second floor of the bar for almost two hours when a group of five foreign men began walking towards us and pointing at each of the women. We bought each of the girls a drink to sit with us. They wanted us to move, because they believed we had the best spot in the house, so they began to try to intimidate us. They began pointing at the women and each woman denied them.

We had four girls sitting with us, and it was their first night working in the bars. One was a virgin, two of them were sisters. All of them were filled with so much fear and were so, so, so shy.

Then another man walked over and attempted to pressure Linda to come with them. As these men began getting more and more persistent, I felt a desire for justice rise up in me. I couldn’t allow this girl to go with them if she didn’t want to. I thought, We have to buy this woman. She cannot go with them tonight. She is not going with them. So I jumped up and found my leader, Meghan, asking for the rest of the money to cover Linda’s cost, the equivalent of $60 USD.

We paid, and the other waitress that was helping the foreigners began stalling the men who wanted to buy Linda. They were so angry. I’m not talking the kid of angry where they just walked away. They threw a fit, talking to each manager and still trying to purchase the girl.

I watched her go put a shirt on and walk downstairs, and the foreign men followed her.

I thought to myself, No way. I am not letting these men take her home and booked it outside, with Meghan right behind me. From the tone of voice, their body language, arm movements, and energy, it was obvious they were upset. They were persistent and wanted Linda—the one girl they couldn’t have. Meghan ran and got my teammate, Derek. Having a male presence really helped diffuse the situation.  

Linda walked back inside after the Korean men walked away, but I couldn’t just leave without knowing that she actually left. Jane went and made sure Linda was gathering her things to leave for the night. As we all walked outside together, we told Linda that she didn’t have to work anymore that night, that she could go home.  

It’s hard knowing that we couldn’t just take every girl out. It’s hard to not be sure if every girl we talked to will actually come to check out the safe houses. We don’t know if the girls will actually come and stay with Wipe Every Tear. We have to do what we can and ultimately release these girls into the hands of God. It’s the releasing and saying, God, I know I have no control of this situation. I know that You are not only with me, You are walking right next to each woman.

But I know that He has been in each of those bars. It’s hard to not be angry with the Korean men who got so aggressive because they wanted to buy a girl for a night. But Jesus is with them, Jesus also died for them—as much as He did for you and I.

As for Linda, for that one night, she was free.

*Names changed for protection

Do you have a passion for sharing God’s love and hope for a future with women caught in human trafficking? CLICK HERE for short term trips to Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia!