Thursday, August 23, 2007

Svay Pak

After the visit at Newsong, our partner Don takes us to Svay Pak. It is the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah that is about a 25 minute car ride from the city and is notorious for its brothels. A few years ago, IJM (International Justice Mission) did a raid here. The government has been under pressure to close Svay Pak down but the reality is the illicit sex trade for under age minors is still prevalent here. Instead of the girls being visible, the whole sordid trade has gone further underground and the supply of young girls is still readily available as Don shares with us about a recent fact finding trip he went on in Svay Pak.

One of the organizations we know has rented a property in Svay Pak. Their desire is to see transformation happen in this seedy environment and so they are doing exactly what Jesus would have us do---go to the places where the darkness is and be a beacon of light for the people in the community. It will no doubt not be easy but if God can tear the walls of Jericho down, surely He is a God who can break the ancient gates in this community and shine His light in this place.

We enter the buildings our friends have rented, it is a former brothel and as we walk towards the hallway, we observed several cubicles with numbers on it. For those of you who saw the Dateline NBC Documentary Children For Sale, you may recall some of the photos of the brothels. Condom ADs still hang on some of the walls. In one particular room, we see two crosses drawn. One has a sad face in it and the other an angry face. Some child that was being held in here knew of God. One can only imagine the atrocities that were being done to the girls who lived imprisoned in these cells and as we take photos, there is a errie feel of being in a crime scene. As I walk around the inside, I pray blessing on this place and ask the Lord to cleanse it. After all, He can take any filthy place and make it new again. One day this place that was once a place of debauchery will become a place of worship to the One who sees and hears the cries of His precious ones who once lived in such horrendous conditions. Lord, let your kingdom come in this place and make it holy ground where your glory will shine forth.

As we head outside the building, not too far from us is a group of men sitting playing cards. I'm told they are pimps and this is their daily routine. They hang out together and if a foreigner comes down this road, they will all rush to speak to him. It is one thing to hear about this place but in visiting it, one gains a different perspective. Truly it is only Jesus who can penetrate such places and bring transformation to this community. Those who are seeking to be HIs light in this environment are up against a lot of obstacles and risks, yet they are willing to risk for Christ. A book I am reading while here called The Healing Path sums it up best: a person who lives a radical life, who is on the healing path towards becoming more fully himself and more essentially like Jesus, moves into the hearts of others with a redemptive purpose; to expose depravity and draw forth dignity. May it be the desire of each of our hearts to live radically for Christ.

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