I just got back from spending some time with Su and Jom in Su’s small storefront home in their building. I wrote about Su’s transformation in this post the other day.
I went to visit because this morning I got a message from Ann, our social service worker, that a twelve-year-old girl had just confessed to Su that she had prostituted herself the night before, and that Daeng, an older teen, had been her agent. This agency system, a common practice among lower-class young women, is called “sending kids”. Ann is knowledge and experienced, and will provide the best possible help for the girl. But I went to visit out of concern for Su.
I had two concerns: First, Daeng got started “sending kids” because Su used to send her. But now Su has clearly shown repentance. How will she handle the guilt of knowing that her misdeeds are causing a ripple effect? Even at her worst, Su wasn’t trying to sell girls that young. My second concern was positive. We had prayed for a breakthrough in this issue for years, and God had handed it to us with Su’s joyful transformation. But we have seen repeatedly a fear, in this type of culture, of standing up for right. Would Su be willing to do that, even if it meant confronting Daeng directly, or going to the police?
She and Jom, a veteran member of The Well who was actually the first to introduce me to Daeng 3 years ago, were sitting together just inside the open door as I drove up on my motorbike. They called to me with excitement . “We were just saying that we needed to talk to Pa Jim!”
Indeed Su was not her usually bubbly self; there was weight in her smile. Yes, she was feeling guilty and responsible. “I keep seeing myself in them,” she said several times. Su herself had started out in business at age 15. But Su was also ready to work on making things right. I had already shown her Psalm 51:10-13: “Create in me a clean heart….Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” Su had already agreed that she would no longer lead kids into evil but to Jesus. Now the rubber was meeting the road.
Su was particularly concerned about 6 girls, as well as Daeng herself. One case was imminent: a girl who apparently had never done it before but was asking to be sent. She isn’t particularly poor, just wants what she thinks will be easy money. Su said she would be willing to take a stand. We talked about how to work with the girls, the parents and the families in the complex. We agreed to pray and wait for Ann to get involved starting tomorrow.
I showed Su 1 Timothy 1:12-17, where Paul famously calls himself “chief sinner”. Jom already had it highlighted in her phone app. I mentioned the opening words of a song, that we sing often: “Your kindness leads me to repentance,” and at Su’s request we sang it together. We prayed about turning Su’s little storefront into a ministry center. She has already begun hosting a team from The Well that reaches out to teens on Friday nights.
You just can’t beat this stuff. It’s why we never want to stop. The gentle, humble, friend of sinners got another friend. And there’s more to come.