I don't even know where to begin to tell about yesterday. By the end of the day I felt like we'd just experienced three days packed into one. Such a juxtaposition of hope and chaos. The issues surrounding human trafficking are so dehumanizing. People are just stripped of their dignity. It's like this steady beat of oppression that just tries to lull people into accepting all of this as normal. It's incredible what is socially acceptable; it's okay to use others, and corruption is just a part of the fabric of society.
But there are pockets of beauty all around. The programs we saw yesterday are seemingly small against the backdrop of numbers, but they are making a huge difference in people's lives and communities. It's mostly individuals who just saw needs and took the necessary steps to meet them.
We visited a center that's giving boys a place to go during the day to get off the streets and just experience love. There's English classes for guys in massage parlors and new job opportunities being offered so they don't have to live that way. There's the organization that is offering alternative job opportunities for women to make beautiful clothes and accessories and take ownership in selling them, and then there's the group providing work opportunities for "lady boys" as well. We saw the beauty of the local church as children who had fallen behind in school were given the opportunity to catch up with their studies and get back into classes. They're working with people in extreme poverty in order to change the course of their lives.
We drove through the red light district in tuk tuks at night, seeing the abundance of massage parlors and karaoke bars (yeah, they've highjacked one of my favorite things) where people sell themselves for the twisted pleasure of someone who cares nothing for them.
All of this can be quite overwhelming. It feels so big, so much bigger than we can even make a dent in. I get angry because I have no acceptable answer as to why God allows such things. It makes me wonder why we pray the things we do sometimes. We have our "it's a God thing" moments where we credit God for some silly, material blessing that we received, but then we look at things like this and wonder where God was for these people's "God thing" moments. Where is God?
I have to rest in the fact that I know He is there. Even in the darkest of dark moments, he's still there. He still hears us. He is a God that entered into our mess, walked through our pain and poverty, and suffered through the worst of what humanity had to offer. I think of when Jesus walked this earth and people's expectations of him. They wanted him to intervene. They wanted him to free them from the oppression of Rome. They wanted him to take up arms and fight for their freedom. But He didn't. His way was not by power or force. Power and force don't work. They kill and destroy people, communities, whole nations. When the powers of this world rose up against him, he laid his life down.
I have so much I'm thinking through and trying to unpack and reconcile in my own mind about all of this. Especially after visiting the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng. Try to post more tomorrow.