by Jenna, Children at Risk DTS student
My two friends and I walk through the red light district of Patong, Thailand. Bars flank us on both sides and heavy club music pulses all around. We are going to make friends with the women in these bars and I'm excited to show them not everyone is out to use them.
But the deeper we go into the district, the heavier I feel. It's like the very atmosphere is thick and dark. I push through the feeling and my friends and I pray quietly as we walk down the next alley of bars.
Girls dressed in next to nothing dance on the tables while others pull passers-by to come and sit with them. At this point, I'm really feeling uneasy and unsure what to do next.
We finally arrive at a bar with five girls and an older woman, who I'm assuming is the bar manager. We sit down, order a Coke, and then pull out Connect Four.
“Do you want to play?” I ask one of the girls nearby.
Her face brightens and she sits down by me. That's when I realize I really have met my match at this game–I've never seen someone so good at Connect Four in my life!
As we play the game, we chat and get to know each other. Her name is Pane and she has been working here for five days. Pane's demeanor is fresh and innocent. She's one of the sweetest people I've met. When it's time to pack up our game and go home, I tell Pane that I'll be back in a couple of days.
“Will you remember me?” she asks.
Grinning and laughing, Pane tells me she's looking forward to seeing us again. And I'm really excited to spend more time with her. I want to show her what true friendship is about. I want her to know she's valuable for who she is — not just for her beauty or her body. And I want to introduce her to the God who created her, who gave up everything for her to be free.
I've never felt so much love and compassion for someone I have just met. I know there is hope for Pane and for all of the girls who work here. With God, there is hope!