“I hope you’re having a nice Valentine’s Day!” I said to her as I handed her a gift of a lovely heart candle. She looked at me seriously and asked, “What really IS the meaning of Valentine’s Day?” I knew that this tradition did not have its origins in her culture. I was speaking in the Thai language to a woman working in Thai brothel in The Netherlands. Here in Holland, there isn’t nearly the hype about this day as in the USA, but people do give valentine cards and flowers to people they care about. It’s a day that is given notice here.
“To be honest, I don’t know its REAL beginnings,” I said. “Something about a person named Valentine. What I do know is that this can be a difficult day for people who don’t feel loved.” She looked at me more intently than ever. And thus began a conversation about disappointment and heartbreak. And then about the origins of Real Love, and how we can know God’s Love, no matter what our life circumstances. I gave her a brochure I had brought, that was written in Thai, letting the women know that they are so very precious and loved, and that God just wants them to look to him. First, she was surprised and delighted that it was in her language. And then I sat quietly as she read it all the way through. The message ended with information about where the women can find further information plus help and counsel. At that moment, other women came into the room with various needs, and she left me to take care of them. We gave each of them a gift and the message, and started to leave. Before I walked out the door, she gave me a big hug, and I promised to come back. “Please do”, she said. And I will.
My teammate and I visited 6 Thai “clubs” on Valentine’s Day, and the women were thrilled to receive the gifts and our message about Real Love. They loved hearing this foreigner speak Thai—and I was thrilled to be able to use my rusty Thai! They plied us with spicy Thai food and desserts (YUM!). And we heard stories of desperation and heartache and hopelessness. And though I felt sad listening to them, my sadness was surrounded with thankfulness—because I knew that God Loves them and cares deeply for them. I felt thankfulness that God has called local groups into existence, which have great Christian counselors who can minister to their spiritual as well as social needs. I felt thankfulness that I have the privilege of going into those dark places with the Light of God’s Love. And I know that “showing up” as God’s servant in these places will serve God’s purposes.
Thank you for being there with me. And thank you for supporting this “God Journey” that God has given to me….