I’ve just come home from an amazing trip to the Philippines and Thailand, where I spent time with Heaven’s Family partners David, of Hope House Cebu, and Jack and Jaidee of The Hiding Place, respectively. Both of these ministries are get-your-hands-dirty efforts that build long-term relationships of love and acceptance, shining the light of Jesus in some very dark corners. I felt privileged to share in their day-to-day lives, meeting many of those they care for.
David founded Hope House Cebu to reach poor, forsaken residents of the city. This is a simple ministry, and he lives very humbly right there in the slums, bringing the kingdom of God to a needy community. As a result, lives have been changed and many children are being protected from the human traffickers who prowl neighborhoods like this one in search of easy targets desperate enough to believe their lies about a better life in Manila or abroad.
Together with his wife, Ailene, and a few other helpers, they provide a safe place for girls and boys to hang out, hear the gospel, and occasionally receive food and clothing as needed. They are also implementing a discipleship program for the many who’ve given their hearts to the Lord and get them involved often in ministry to the homeless on the streets.
As I met dozens of the children and watched them talk and play games, I couldn’t help imagine where they might be were it not for this man and wife team who obeyed the Lord’s calling. It’s hard work, with many discouragements, but when I saw child-like joy in their eyes instead of the emptiness you often see in other kids like them, I could tell that the ministry of Hope House is making a difference.
The new school year is coming soon, but the children there are too poor to afford the required purchase of uniforms, backpacks, shoes, and school supplies. I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to help. Early one day, several of us split up and went shopping! My group purchased shoes (some for as little as $3 a pair!). We regrouped that afternoon, and the children were so excited about trying on their new outfits! Altogether we were able to buy 90 uniforms, 50 backpacks, 40 pairs of shoes, and dozens of notebooks and pencils. Keeping these kids engaged in school and the work of Hope House seemed like a very good use of gifts to the Human Trafficking Fund. Thanks to all who have donated to make this possible!
Next stop: Pattaya, Thailand.
The economy of this city is firmly founded on sex tourism. The evidence is everywhere, and it’s obvious that the tourists, made up largely of older men from the U.S., Europe and Russia, enjoy the anything-goes atmosphere—truly an “everyone’s doing it” sinner’s paradise. For the right price anything can be bought, including the supposedly illegal sale of underage “inventory” that is often available in back rooms.
My dear friends Jaidee and Jack spend their lives trying to bring the light of the gospel to this very dark place reminiscent of Sodom or Gomorrah (click here to read more about this ministry). What impressed me most about them is that, unlike many well-intentioned, compassionate ministry workers involved in efforts to stop trafficking, they truly love those trapped in this lifestyle just as they are—they don’t see them as their next “project,” which would essentially be using them (just like their customers). They befriend the most unlikely people—those many of us would never approach—and show Jesus’ unconditional love for them—something they haven’t yet experienced.
God also touched my heart deeply as I met many women and transgender “lady boys”—all who sadly sell their bodies every night. They became real people to me, not just statistics I read about or help from a distance. How awesome it was to see Jesus’ love flowing to them through Jaidee and Jack—and to see the change in the faces of so many. Our partners in Thailand walk where Jesus would walk, with the sole motive of showing people His love and then trusting Him with the results.
Thank you for going with me through your prayers and gifts to the Human Trafficking Fund. I returned feeling very encouraged about seeing effective efforts at prevention and restoration firsthand, and having the privilege of looking into the eyes of those who are being touched for eternity. I’ll be returning to these places and other areas where Heaven’s Family is working in the coming months, and I occasionally can bring along two or three friends who also have a heart for this ministry. If you’d like to be notified of upcoming trips or have any other questions about this work, please send me an email at: [email protected].
Because of Him,
Portraits of a few precious lives being changed in the Philippines and Thailand