Pattaya, thanks for reminding me

I forgot what it was like.

During the day, they’re sitting around the bar putting on loads of makeup. At night, the miniskirts come out and the smiles turn on like clockwork.

As I walked down a street lined with bright lights, bar stools, too many old white men and half-dressed young Thai women, my stomach tightened and eyes watered. I exhaled some prayers and tried to manage my way to the other side.

Back in my tiny $5 hostel room or sitting by a nearby hotel pool, I can easily get lost in my own world and forget about what I just saw. But the moment I bring myself back to the memory of that street or look up from my book at the pool to see only 40+ year old men, I feel sick again. It feels like Gehenna, like Hades, like Sheol, like Hell…whatever word you choose to use.

My soul is weary in such darkness. My entire being can’t even stand to be near it. And yet, I know that God is there. I don’t understand it but I’m convinced of it. There is no darkness in him, and yet even the darkness is not dark to him, it is as light to him.

My God is too kind, too compassionate, too humble, too in love with his creation to leave this place. And I think that’s what my spirit is crying for while I am there. It’s crying out for repentance. It’s hoping for justice and begging for mercy. It’s crying out for people to stop exploiting, stop using people as objects, stop believing the lie that they are unlovable, and to stop choosing destruction rather than true life.

Brennan Manning says, “The dogged fidelity of Jesus in the face of our indifference to his affection and our rampant ingratitude for his faithfulness – he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self (2 Tim. 2:11) – is a mystery of such mind-bending magnitude that the intellect buckles and theology bows in its presence. Humbly acknowledging our limitations, we are driven to the fervent prayer, “Lord, I do believe! Help my lack of trust!”

I can feel the bondage and the chains that people live with as I walk around this city. They grope at me and pull at me but they can’t hold me. All they can do is move me into passionate prayer and tear-filled intercession as my soul yearns for the kingdom of redemption to crash into this place.

If God can be in such a place – where indifference toward him fills the air, my soul can endure to walk into the darkness as light and to expose his outrageous love and radical grace.

Dear God, please don’t let me forget again.

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3 thoughts on “Pattaya, thanks for reminding me

  1. …i was there last november for s squad’s month 4 debrief. it was rough. did you know that the worship song “God of this City” was writtean about Pattaya?? Check it out…

    “God of This City” has a complete life of its own, it started in a place called Pattaya, Thailand. We were part of a small missions team within a band called Pattaya Praise. Pattaya is a small coastal town in Thailand which has been built up around the sex industry. There are 30,000 female prostitutes over the age of 18, that doesn’t include the children, the men and the little boys. It’s a crazy, crazy place. It’s physically dark; it’s spiritually dark, and when I drove in and saw what was going on, I just couldn’t see God there at all.

    So, we were doing the usual missions stuff; sweeping streets, playing in prisons and a school. But we wanted to play way more. We asked if there was any chance we could get another gig somewhere, anything, it didn’t matter. So, we ended up playing in a bar on Walking Street, which is a quarter-mile long street in the middle of Pattaya where it’s the hub of all the prostitution and the craziness. The bar, called the “Climax Bar” was pretty much a brothel. It was just a horrendous place. The deal was we could play there for two hours if we brought 30 Christians with us who would all buy Coca-Cola, because Coke is more expensive than alcohol there, and the bar would make a little more cash.

    We brought 30 of our friends from the conference, and played a two-hour worship set. We did every worship song we knew in the first 20 minutes, and were like, “What do we do now?” So, we went into a time of free worship, and began singing some riffs over the city.

    It talks in the Bible about the “now” Word of God. That’s what those lyrics were, the now Word of God. We started singing, “You’re the Lord of this place, You’re the King of these people, You’re God of this city and greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done here.” And that’s the truth. In the midst of all that darkness and craziness, all the sex and child abuse, when it’s so impossible to see God, He’s still God. He’s still God of that city. He still longs after every single one of those people, and He still wants relationship with every single one of those kids, every one of those women and every one of those pimps. That’s our God. That’s the God who is massive, mighty, and amazing. The essence of it is; we didn’t have that song when we went into that bar, and when we came out, we did. Everyone has a different take on the whole “prophetic” thing, but that was definitely prophetic.

    AMEN!!!

  2. YEAH!! I did know that about that song! Also, another crazy story…Jordan McGuffin’s team from my squad did ministry in Pattaya and also got the chance to play worship in one of the bars! Insane. I didn’t realize that you went to Pattaya for that debrief. It’s a rough place. But GOD has not given up!

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