Transforming lives on four continents

Freedom from the sex trade: Yim’s story

From despair to glory, our hearts are filled with joy to share Yim’s amazing journey.

You leave school aged 13, are pregnant at 15 and by the age of 16 are working halfway across your country as a prostitute in Bangkok’s notorious red light district. Barely more than a child, you spend half a decade coerced into selling your body to strangers to earn money to send back to your village for your grandmother and your little boy. You contract HIV. You’re overcome with depression. You have no hope. You contemplate ending it all.
 
Six years later, you’re a worship leader, a talented guitar player, fluent in English, and a translator for foreign teams coming to serve in the red light district. You’ve gone back to school and got your secondary diploma, and you’ve just accepted a well-paid, full-time job. You’re providing for your son, who now lives with you. And you spend your evenings going into the bars you used to be trapped in, sharing your story with women who feel hopeless – like you once did. 
 
You’re free.
 
“If you met Yim*, you would never ever think she’d gone through such a traumatic time of her life,” says BMS World Mission worker Sarah Brown. “When she comes into a room, she lights it up. She has so much vibrancy, so much laughter.”
 
Paul and Sarah Brown are BMS mission workers helping women choosing to leave Bangkok's notorious red light district
 
Sarah and her husband Paul have been walking alongside Yim for the last five years, as she’s been learning that she is a loved and valued child of God. 
 
Yim’s transformation began one night when she had reached rock bottom. Contemplating suicide, she called out for help to a God she had heard of, but didn’t really believe in. “God, please help me,” she remembers pleading. “If you’re real, help me.”
 
Soon afterwards, Yim found herself walking into a church. As she entered, an overwhelming joy gripped her. “She said a love poured over her that she had never ever experienced before,” says Sarah. A Christian Yim met at church invited her to come to BMS-supported NightLight, where Sarah works. NightLight is an organisation that exists to help women like Yim find freedom from sex work, and the invitation Yim received was the one she needed to leave her past behind.
 
Since joining NightLight, Yim has overcome the enormous challenges she has faced, but her path has been marked by doubt and insecurity. She’s had to accept herself, her past and her HIV status. She’s also had to resist her family’s pressure to go back to more lucrative sex work. But her faith in her God and in herself has grown and grown and she’s unrecognisable from the hopeless, traumatised woman she once was.
 
Bangkok's Khao San Road
 
“The list of what she’s achieved is endless,” says Sarah. “It’s been a joy to watch her progress.” Over the last five years, Yim and Sarah have become close friends – Sarah mentoring and encouraging Yim to go back to school, to pursue her potential, to live as the beautiful, valuable person she was created to be. 
 
Sarah and her husband Paul will continue their friendship with Yim as she moves on to her new job – a position she has earned through her own hard work and the gifts God has given her. They’ll also see her at church every Sunday – often at the front of the service, leading worship, or playing bass guitar after getting lessons from Paul.
 
“I feel very honoured to be part of Yim’s life,” says Sarah. “It’s a pleasure to see her fly.”
 
Yim’s is just one of the stories of transformation you’re helping to make possible in Thailand. The team at NightLight continues to help women who desperately want to leave the sex industry. Women who have been taught that they are worthless and that their bodies are things to be sold for a price. For Sarah, and for BMS, the work we’re doing in Bangkok’s red light district is not just about compassion for hurting women. It’s about justice – justice for humans who are being stripped of their dignity and their self-worth by an industry that traps far too many women every year.
 
“We meet women who don’t realise who they are. They’ve lost their identity,” says Sarah. “God has so much purpose for their lives. They think they have no potential at all – we’re showing them that they do. And it’s great.” 
 
Sarah describes walking with Yim and the other women at NightLight as like watching flowers bloom. God has seen their value and potential all along. It’s our job to help them see it, too.
 
Thank you so much for supporting BMS and being a part of Yim’s story.
 
We’re passionate about our work bringing freedom to women trapped in the sex industry in countries like Thailand and India. If you are too, you can help us do more. Become a 24:7 Justice Partner today.
 
*name changed
 
04/05/2017
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