Every month, we take a team to prayer walk through the red light district of Pattaya, an hour from our home in Chonburi, Thailand.
Last month, we walked and prayed through the darkest part of Pattaya, Walking Street. As I have many times over the last five years, I saw a young girl with a small green plastic basket of candies to sell.
Her nails were long and dirty, and she looked like she needed a shower and a heaping plate of fried rice.
Her big eyes always locked with mine, and my heart broke every time I walked past her.
“God, you know I am leading this team tonight. If you want me to help her be safe, I can’t just grab her and run,” I prayed. “Please just give her to me. Amen.”
A month later, I got a call from the emergency shelter in Pattaya.
The social worker asked me if Abundant Life Home would take in an 11-year-old girl they rescued out of Walking Street. Her name was Day.* Every night, her dad took her there to sell candies. He beat her when she did not make enough money. He did not feed her and had never allowed her to go to school.
Could this be the same girl I was so drawn to all these years?
When the social worker brought her into my office, I could not believe my eyes: it was her.
You asked me to save her, I heard God say. Why are you surprised that I heard your cry?
We offered her a week to decide whether to stay. Instead, she moved in that day with just the clothes on her back!
We took her to school that afternoon, bought her a uniform and books, and she started the next day. At 11 years old, she is not embarrassed at all to start in Grade 1; in fact, she squeals with joy that she is in school for the first time.
Day is now in our Zion MB church family and worshipping God every evening at ALH.
God plucked her off the streets out of a nightmare and gave her hope. Her smile and the sparkle in her eyes gives me encouragement to keep on going with this crazy ministry call God has placed on my life.
[Karen Huebert Sanchez is an MB Mission/Multiply worker in Thailand for two decades. She is a church planter and founder and executive director of Abundant Life Home, a home for children orphaned due to HIV infection or other social factors.
*Name changed to protect privacy.