Spiritual workout advice from the heart of the red light district

Staying strong:

spiritual workout advice from the heart of the red light district

Ashleigh Gibb shares how she’s learnt to maintain her spiritual health as she shares God’s love in the bars and brothels of Bangkok’s red light district.

They seem contradictory: strong spiritual health and Bangkok’s notorious red light district. But for BMS World Mission worker Ashleigh Gibb, who has been serving there for the last two years, staying spiritually healthy is one of the most important parts of her calling.

Ashleigh works with BMS partner NightLight. She goes into bars and brothels to provide the women working there a safe space where they can share their stories and be themselves. She spends every day with victims of human trafficking. She is surrounded by women who sell their bodies because they have nothing else to sell. Understandably, it takes a toll on her spiritual strength. So Ashleigh takes action to keep her spirit healthy, so she can get through every day serving these women in the best way she can.

We asked her to talk us through a spiritual workout, so you can keep your spirit as strong as Ashleigh’s.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok
Ashleigh Gibb stays physically and mentally strong while working in one of the world's most unloving places.

1. Don’t skip leg day

Your physical and spiritual health are two parts of one whole – make sure you’re working on them both. As personal trainers (like Ashleigh used to be) will often say: “Don’t skip leg day,” meaning: don’t just do the things you find easy or fun. For Ashleigh, discipline has paid off.  “God has blessed me with a phenomenal gym,” says Ashleigh. “I’m able to work out physically, but it’s also a good outlet for me to get all that trauma and anger out on a barbell.”

You don’t have to go to the gym as often as Ashleigh does, but why not try out something like pilates or a fitness class? It’s a great way to strengthen your physical body, as well as keeping your mind focused, so you can spend some time in prayer without distractions.

2. Stick to your exercise routine

It’s easy to say that you’re going to spend more time focusing on your spiritual health, do it for a couple of days, and then forget about it. Ashleigh knows all too well how difficult this can be. “I have to be so intentional about prayer and about being in the Word of God,” she says. “Because if I take myself away from that, then that’s when the enemy starts to feed me lies.”

It might be difficult at first. But if you create a routine and stick to it, you’ll soon find that it becomes a natural part of your daily life. Try to find a regular time when you can work on your spiritual health in whatever way you find helpful.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok's red light district.
Ashleigh Gibb keeps her spirit healthy, so she can always support the women she meets in Bangkok's red light district.

3. Find a workout buddy

You don’t have to do this alone. Let other people into your life who can encourage you and who can hold you accountable. “I’ve got some spiritual mentors,” says Ashleigh. “They love me, they guide me, and they aren’t scared to ask me difficult questions about where I’m at in my spiritual journey.”

Find someone you trust and who you can rely on as your spiritual mentor. Be open about your spiritual journey with them and encourage them to be open about theirs with you. Hold each other accountable when you make commitments in your spiritual lifestyle and tell each other when you are struggling. It’s easier to do it together.

My spiritual mentors aren’t scared to ask me difficult questions about where I’m at in my spiritual journey

4. Use your mistakes to bulk up

Ashleigh is open with the women she meets about the struggles she’s had in the past. She tells a story of an African woman she met on the streets of Bangkok, and how shocked she was at how similar their lives were. “We just stood on the street and wept,” says Ashleigh. “In that moment, she needed to be loved. And she needed to know that she was loved by Christ and I was able to offer that to her because I was vulnerable.”

Be open about your mistakes and learn from them. You’ll only hurt yourself more if you keep them shut away and refuse to grow from them. Use them to improve your spiritual strength, and, like Ashleigh, you will be able to help others improve theirs.

Ashleigh couldn’t be where she is today without your prayers. Please continue to pray for her:

  1. Pray that Ashleigh’s spiritual strength continues to grow as she continues working with NightLight and serving the women in Bangkok’s red light district.
  2. Pray for a brothel Ashleigh goes to regularly. It was recently raided and all the women who worked there were put in prison. Pray that these women are treated fairly.
  3. Pray for the Thai Government, that they will be able to crack down on human trafficking while still preserving the dignity of victims.
  4. Pray for victims of human trafficking worldwide, that they will receive justice and be liberated.
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Fearless: taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

Fearless:

taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

There’s nothing overstated about the headline above. BMS World Mission workers enter isolated, extreme and often dangerous places because God has empowered them to change people’s lives for the better. They tread fearlessly knowing you are standing alongside them in prayer. So please read on for some of their latest blogs.

1. When you get lost, stuck and weary in the desert

Nightmare journeys home usually consist of heavy traffic, train cancellations, or flight delays. Not so for BMS surgeons Andrea and Mark Hotchkin. For these two brilliant mission workers, along with their children Ruth and Rebecca, the journey home to Bardaï in northern Chad involved getting lost in the Sahara desert, camping outside as lightning struck, and digging for hours to release their vehicle from sand. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, a dust storm then hit. Read the Hotchkins’ blog to find out how they got home!

Truck stuck in the mud in a desert
The Hotchkin family not only faced flooding in a desert, they also had the problem of sand becoming mud.

2. Cable bridges, landslides and a lot of walking – just to reach schools

Simon Hall holding a book as children surround him
Children’s books (and Simon Hall) are clearly popular at this remote school in Lamjung District

It’s fair to say that Simon Hall put in a lot of effort to reach the school in the photo above. That’s what’s needed in Lamjung District, Nepal, where BMS teacher trainer Simon serves. The school you can see was one of 15 that Simon and three of his colleagues visited in just one week. Reaching them involved crossing cable bridges over raging rivers, walking for hours up steps, and then travelling in jeeps up to altitude-sickness-inducing heights. The journey was understandably draining, but it was nothing compared to what was to come for Simon. Please read his blog today and pray with him using his prayer points.

3. Joining the fight to eradicate TB

Can you imagine being part of history? BMS mission workers James and Ruth Neve don’t have to. As part of the Indian Government’s plan to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from the country by 2025, James and Ruth are going to be giving training to people who have been cured of the illness. Their training courses will teach vital skills to help some of the poorest and most marginalized people in India generate a better income and turn their lives around. Read James and Ruth’s blog post about the day they decided to help change the world.

Ruth Neve signing TB agreement
Ruth Neve signs a life-changing agreement

4. ‘I want women to understand that God created us beautiful’

Ashleigh Gibb witnesses pain every day. She serves with BMS in the red light district of Bangkok, where she enters bars and brothels to speak words of love and kindness to women who have been trafficked. She also works in a coffee shop, that gives women who have managed to escape the sex industry the chance to learn new skills. Ashleigh’s blogs are always very powerful and heartfelt, none more so than her latest post in which she writes about the importance of loving those around us, even those who are hard to love.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok
BMS worker Ashleigh Gibb takes the light of Christ into the darkness of Bangkok’s sex industry.

5. ‘May you know that you are loved with a constant and eternal love’

The Ovendens sit together with new baby Eleanor
Please keep Joe, Reuben, Lois, Eleanor and Connie Ovenden in your prayers.

This may not be the frontline of mission work, but we’re confident you’ll want to read about it. There was much joy in the BMS family when news came through about the newest Ovenden. Eleanor Ada Joy was welcomed into the world on Tuesday 18 September, a third child for BMS workers in Uganda, Joe and Lois. We give thanks today for the blessing of new life, and for everything that Joe and Lois do for BMS. They’ve posted a prayer for Eleanor in their latest blog. After you’ve read it, please pray for Eleanor.

God is with our mission workers, as are you. It is your faithful prayer and giving that enables them to be on the frontline of mission, helping the sick in Chad, children in Nepal, women who have been trafficked in Thailand, and many others in need around the world. Our mission workers across the globe write blogs about their work and we often post them on our Facebook page, along with prayer requests and videos. Please check it out, and please do comment on the blogs with words of encouragement for our workers! We love to hear from you.

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