Mission to Bangkok Transvestites

Our team just returned from one of the wildest, most unusual mission trips ever. John Crowder brought a team to Bangkok, Thailand for a week of outreach and sharing the love of Jesus to the transgender ladyboy community.
In November 2014 our team ventured to the red light districts of the city to tangibly release God’s loving presence, instilling identity, hope and honor – treating them like human beings who carry the image of their Creator. Our aim was to awaken them to the reality of their True Self in Christ. Obviously, the ladyboy community is known for its glam, showmanship and flamboyance. Our team carried the happy, intoxicating joy of God’s presence into an area most Christians would fear to venture!
Nearly all our local connections in Bangkok fell apart at the last minute, and we were forced to dive into the deep end, navigating our way by the Spirit! Through conversations, laughter and prayer, our aim was to count conversations more than conversions. Departing from any notion of non-personal proselytizing, we simply entered the brokenness of their world, listened and connected. While the church has failed miserably at reaching the homosexual community, we felt the way forward was to drop any agendas and simply allow love to overcome any obstacle to the truth of the gospel.
Also on the trip, we had the opportunity to preach the gospel to hundreds of Pakistani refugees – mostly Christians who fled that nation due to persecution, but whose situation is dire in Thailand due to lack of work and immigration status.
Thailand is the international hub of gender bending – a worldwide center of sexual alterations. The capital gets more than 11 million foreign visitors per year – the focal point of the sex tourism industry. Amid this rampant sex industry are the ladyboys – a loose term for male homosexuals who dress as women. Large percentages have undergone some degree of sex change from Thailand’s street surgeons. The term “ladyboy” applies to any intersex, transgender, transsexual or homosexual cross-dressing males. Thailand has the most transsexuals per capita in the world at 300,000-500,000. Up to half of transgender people in the Asia-Pacific could have HIV.
With all our trips, we often come back home with more than we gave away. There is a massive blessing on pilgrimage, and everyone experienced such an indescribable impartation of love and insight into the gospel along the way. In all honesty, ministering to transvestites in some of the seediest areas of the world would not be “comfortable” for most people. But the joy of the journey and the amazing revelation of seeing Christ in those dark places was well worth the adventure.
The late monk Thomas Merton, who coincidentally died in Bangkok, left us an amazing quote that summarized the journey:
Our task now is to learn that if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgrimage. That is why pilgrimage is necessary, in some shape or other. Mere sitting at home and meditating on the divine presence is not enough for our time. We have to come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves - which is the same as saying we find Christ in him. For if the Lord is risen, as He said, He is actually or potentially alive in every man. Our pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher is our pilgrimage to the stranger who is Christ our fellow pilgrim and brother.

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