Why I Know God Is at Work in the Red Light District

Walk down any Red Light District and you will sense the spiritual darkness permeating the area. But when Passporter Kristie Watkins and her team did this in Thailand, she left feeling hope—not because the pain she witnessed was any less, but because walking beside her was a young woman who just four months earlier had left the bars and gave her life to Christ. 

Words can’t really describe what it’s like to walk through the Red Light District, but I’m going to try.

Tonight was a night my team all felt specifically called to do. Together we walked on a road clearly claimed by the devil with one purpose: to pray for God’s justice and freedom.

Bangla Road is the heart of our town, Patong Beach, and it is Satan’s playground.

Walking down this road in the day when it was nearly dead broke my heart. But seeing it tonight all lit up left me with emotions that I can’t fully describe.

My team stood on the beach across from the entrance to Bangla and prayed before going in, “God, we thank you that you go into the dark places and that You are here.”

Pounding music, bright flashing lights, vendors, stumbling drunks are the images that initially fill my eyes. Girls, girls, and more girls, all wearing as little as they can. Some dance outside with signs for drinks, others shove menus for upstairs rooms, where shows are choreographed and sex acts can be purchased.

*Photo by Connie Rock

We have walked down this road before during the day, but now in the night it is a completely different place.

I noticed some poles before, but now there are hundreds, lining each of the bars along the road, all matched with a girl dancing for her worth.

A young man slaps his waitress’ butt as she walks away; a middle-aged man grabs a waitress fiercely around her waist pulling her towards him. A 20 something videos a woman shaking her butt in his face.

This is sex tourism at its finest: buying and selling humans for the pleasure of others.

This whole road is lined with bars, all holding the same thing: women who feel no worth and men and women who don’t see their value. The bars are all open they’re huge too. There are no closed doors.

Nothing is secret. Nothing is hidden.

By the time we reach the end, I can barely breathe. Tears fill my eyes and hardly stay inside. We walk back the way we came, still praying.

Caged women dance above the street. The church member with us says, this club, “Seduction,” is owned by the Russian Mafia and it is a well-known fact that young girls are trafficked there.

Many places have shady upstairs. If this much evil is in the open, how much more is put away? I walk back and notice the young man from earlier has a 10-year old looking girl and a woman with him; it looks to be his wife and daughter. The girl sits on a stool at the bar at the base of a pole dancer. There are so many families and children here, something that never occurred to me. Who takes their family to a Red Light District?

We meet up with the rest of our team across the street on the beach to pray, and I stand on the shore of Patong Beach, one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, only 20 steps away from the ugliest place I’ve ever seen.

And as I listen to the waves crash against the rocks I have hope. Here I see beauty and God’s creation is evident. But God’s creation is behind me too: His sons and daughters who He very much loves and is not done pursuing.

This whole time our sweet Thai friend and housemate, Noy*, is with us. Today she is very happy because she celebrates four months of walking in freedom.

Four months ago she was a dancer in these same bars but now she is living at the church and is passionate about the Lord.

We walk back home, away from all the lights and noise and as I begin to process, I am filled with hope because I keep remembering what Noy had just said after we finished our walk. She said, “I feel sad for what I have seen, that this was my life. But it’s okay. Jesus has saved my life.”

This situation here in Patong, on Bangla Road, seems utterly hopeless, but 4 months ago, so did Noy. If God can captivate her heart and break the chains binding her, He can do the same for the others here too.

Our God brings light to the darkness. Bangla Road is utter darkness. But He is there. And He is going to move and change this whole town.

God is at work in one of the darkest places I’ve ever seen, the Red Light District.

*Named changed for protection

Is God calling YOU to share His love and hope in the Red Light District?

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