Deep depression hit me. “What is my purpose now, Lord?…just take me Home.” Feelings of despair overwhelmed Jack at times, especially last year, when his bout with Parkinson’s Disease—diagnosed in 2011—intensified, severely limiting almost every aspect of his life.
Jack and his wife, Jaidee, are partners with the Human Trafficking & Slavery Ministry of Heaven’s Family, and have fought for over 20 years against human trafficking in Pattaya, Thailand, a city many have called the “sex tourism capital of the world.”
In the midst of Jack’s anguish, the couple rejoiced in the answer to a long-time prayer—the opening of a coffee shop where they could also live and use as a ministry center. The desire of their hearts has been to offer an oasis where Jaidee could provide love, counsel and prayer to those seeking to escape the sex industry, and then provide them with training, mentoring and employment. But they’ve also wanted to reach out to ordinary walk-in customers with the love of Jesus while serving a good cup of coffee and a tasty snack.
They named this place of refuge and ministry “The Hiding Place Coffee Shop.” When it first opened, Jack, having great difficulty getting around most days, of-ten found himself hiding—behind several shelves of books in the small lounge area, out of sight of most in-and-out customers.
But then something strange began to happen. In the midst of Jack’s depression, God began sending hurting men to him. Jack and Jaidee have worked in a local prison for years ministering to incarcerated men, many of whom are foreigners who came to Pattaya for what they thought would be non-stop partying with plenty of beautiful young women—but who instead ended up in jail. After release, many are broken and hungry for spiritual answers, so they seek out “their friend Jack” for help.
One of those men once walked into a Catholic Church a few blocks away from The Hiding Place, looking for answers. “You need to see Jack at the coffee shop,” he was told. That man was just one of the 20 men and 2 women the Lord brought to Jack over an 18-month period so that they could be mentored and discipled—right where Jack had been questioning God about his usefulness. Jack’s life is a testimony of how God is willing to use anyone who truly submits to Him and is available.
In speaking of the group of disciples God has given him, Jack says, “Many of us came to Pattaya for all the wrong reasons Most of us are tattooed. Most of us have drug and alcohol issues in our past and many of my men have done time in prison. We come from many different nations, but our kindred hearts break down all cultural barriers. And the one thing we have in common is our desire to find God—and [as we seek Him,] He shows up all the time!”
In our fight against human trafficking Jesus has shown us, through Jack and others, that we need to also work on the other side of the supply-demand equation, as abhorrent as that might be to our human natures, because God desires to be reconciled with rapists, abusers and perverts—many of whom have deeply wounded hearts from which their behavior stems. God’s love and forgiveness can change the hearts of these sinners too, just as He does for so many others who are undeserving, including us. And for every former sex offender who’s repented and whose heart is transformed, we’re reducing “demand,” thereby protecting many women and children!
Jack is no longer hiding from God or others. He recently told us, “This morning I encouraged my men with these words: “God has a soft spot in His heart for rebels…like the adulterer David, the drunkard Noah, the traitor Peter, the torturer Saul of Tarsus. What can God do with a murderer, an abuser, a drunk who is now completely consecrated to Him? Let’s find out.”