By Matt Snyder
I vividly remember the one night Mark and I summoned bravery from the depths of the royalty hibernating within us, and ventured willingly into the Red Light District tucked away in downtown Bangkok.
I’m not sure we really knew what was in store for us.
As Mark and I were walking around one evening praying relentlessly for the kingdom of God to manifest itself with absolute authority in one of the darkest places either of us had ever been, we ran into Wood. It’s not like one could easily not notice him. In the midst of a swarm of white American men stood a sole Asian man… on one leg. Clinging to his crutches, he stretched out his hand to each person that passed him by, holding out a cup and shaking it about in an attempt to solicit some extra change.
He wasn’t having much luck.
Mark and I walked over to Wood and introduced ourselves because during our travels, our hearts began to normally open up to beggars. They’re family, and because of that, we approached our brother with sincere joy. We made conversation with Wood for a good 15 or 20 minutes. He didn’t know much English, but no matter what, he never wiped the smile from his face. He was from Cambodia and was trying to get enough money for a bus ticket back to the border where he lived. He lost his leg to a land mine years earlier, and while it handicapped him, I’m not so sure that he really cared.
We prayed for his leg to grow back, but it didn’t. It’s our luck, eh?
After time, Wood went on his way begging sex tourist after sex tourist, hoping to score some extra cash that the prostitutes might have received for a tip. I thought it was wise marketing on his part, but he was obviously having no success. Before I knew it, I lost track of Wood and I carried on with prayer… and people-watching, plotting my next move in how I might unleash God’s loving wrath on the next American’s face that crossed my path (thankfully, that never happened).
About half an hour later as I noticed a girl, no older than 15 years of age, standing about ten feet in front of me. She was young. And as she stood there in barely any clothing, I could see her shaking. She was scared.
I immediately knew in my spirit that this was her first time on the street.
Next thing I know I see an American male in his mid-forties walk up with a bunch of his cronies wedding band on hand and all. I wanted to beat him in the face because he walked up to the girl and slipped his arm around her like some creep. Then he forcefully grabbed her chin and turned her head side-to-side looking her over. Pulling her in closer to him he displayed his approval and started talking quietly. My ears were piercing through the crowded street to their conversation, the whole time I was burning with the Lord’s passion for this girl.
“What’s a pretty thing like you doing out here? Where are you staying? Why are you staying there? You need somewhere with a soft pillow. Why don’t you come back to my room? You’ll sleep much better there.”
He wouldn’t stop. To top it all off, the girl wasn’t responding to him. And then to make it even worse, she kept looking back at me with glances that screamed for me to come liberate her. She knew that I wasn’t there to take advantage of her. She knew that men like me rescue her.
But I couldn’t.
The grown man’s buddies were fawning over prostitutes surrounding the fifteen-year-old girl and they weren’t having any luck. I’m not sure that they had done this before themselves. And while I could easily say I was disgusted with these men, I was more broken for them than anything else. They were just as enslaved, fooled, and deceived as this girl.
And then I saw it. My heart shattered and I knew what was coming next.
Wood began hobbling up to the American man with the little girl. As he situated himself and propped his stub-for-a-leg on his crutch, and tapped the man on the arm with his cup. He turned around, looked at Wood’s face, looked at his leg, jumped back, and then screamed taking position behind the girl as if Wood was going to hurt him.
Then he turned to the girl and said, “he almost got me.”
I was ready to crawl out of my skin. In the matter of seconds the man shoo’d Wood away and went back to trying to get the 15-year-old to have sex with him. I was steaming with anger. No matter how hard I tried to move, no matter how much I pleaded with God, He wouldn’t let me move. He simply said: WATCH.
Wood continued down the line of cronies, and each time, he was animatedly turned away.
I was angered at the injustice.
And so this is the kind of stuff I remember the kind of stuff that I carry around with me in my heart every day. It’s what motivates me to do what I do, to continue to raise up a generation to go out and change the world.
I don’t know what happened to Wood. I don’t know where he is. I know that we gave to his cause in getting him back to Cambodia so he could be with his family. I have no idea what happened to the 15-year-old girl giving herself up to a lifestyle of imprisonment. And I don’t know what happened to the American man who cheated on his wife.
But I do know one thing.
Freedom is here and I’m willing to take it wherever I need to.
Matt is an ordinary radical who just finished an 11-month, 11-country pilgrimage around the globe with the World Race. In early January he’s moving to Port Huron, MI to work on staff with the same organization. Matt loves to see the Kingdom of God manifest itself in the most unlikely places through his own life. He loves Jesus and hopes that you do too.