Mission team journal
LiveOnMission Update: November 3, 2011
Hey everyone. We are just checking in letting you know how we are doing and what we've been up to.
We arrived in Thailand and spent a few days acclimatizing to the heat and time change, and shot some "B-Roll" stuff for the episodes we will be doing after our current one in the Philippines. Although I've spent a few weeks in Bangkok before, I never ventured into the redlight specific areas. So we spent an couple evenings learning what goes on, and quickly found out that camera's aren't too welcome on the street. The western mens feathers get ruffled when they see someone taking pictures on the street(for fear of ending up in some documentary I suppose), so the next night we just wondered around while I wore a wire, recording all the 1000's of propositions for every strange sexual act under the sun.
We left Bangkok on the 30th, and flew to Manila. We spent out first night in a little rescue house that Tamar Ministries (YWAM) has in a lowerclass prostitute district called Pasay. We got to interview a young mother (23 yrs old) who has been working there for awhile, and she spoke quite openly on camera, sharing how she services 5 men a day, for 5 dollars each (before paying her pimp). This area is the roughest prostitute district from what we gather, and the woman sell for very little because of it. It was very eye opening, and heartbreaking to be in the area. Yet, as we walked the streets shooting here, we felt safe, and saw a strong presence of Christianity (The Philippines is a Christian nation) and "Jesus loves you" bumper stickers, "Christ Is King" churches, etc. There is no shortage of the gospel anywhere we've been so far in the Philippines, just a drastic shortage of the application of it. We've been asking all the bar-girls we meet if they are aware of any Christian ministries/NGO organizations that would help retrain them for new employment, and the resounding answer has been "NO". really sad.
We only spent one day in Pasay then left for Angeles City. This town reportedly has about 150,000 woman working the bars. And walking the streets here was disturbing/enraging to say the absolute least. Angeles City is like disneyland for men who want young foreign girls for pleasure. I saw things I didn't imagine seeing, and that have left a pretty large gash in my worldview. 50+ yr old men EVERYWHERE with young girls on their arms, some very young (8-12) and some older. We witnessed one man pulling 7 girls out of the bar who he had just purchased for $20/each, each girl only getting a fraction of that. He walked like he was the king, and grinned so smugly I felt like starting a Justice League and taking out all the gross old men instead of making a movie. Senses prevailed, but I had to grit my teeth the whole time.
All these things are leaving me pretty shaken and I was praying and asking "where are you here Lord?"..the people we were interviewing weren't really communicating the darkness here, eve though they had been working in the bars. Rather, they even appeared to be defending it sometimes....then we met Arlene. A 20 year old Christian girl, from one of the provinces who came here for work with a friend not knowing what went on in this town. She spent 6 months working the bars before a local restaurant gave her a job and helped get her out. She spoke openly (with great english) about the industry with us, and we finally saw some of God's grace in this place. She had life in her eyes, and hearing her story and how she was able to leave the bars here, securing employment that pays, still being able to support her grandparents (one of the leading factors girls remain in prostitution), was a reminder and indicator that HE was at work here too! We were guided by a local lady (Celeste) who owns a beauty salon, and ministers to the bar girls who come in to get their hair done. She has a BIG vision for Angeles city, and wants to open a training center to help woman learn new job skills, and help them secure jobs doing hair, facials, nails etc. This was another great confirmation that Jesus has His servants at work here, and we are excited to be able to show you the footage, and reveal more of Celeste's vision for retraining here.
We are currently in Olangapo city, with Destiny (Shannon & Rita's daughter). This place only has around 1000 woman in prostitution, which is still alot, but due to decreased US Military presence the industry in this town isn't what it used to be in it's heyday when 8-12% of the town were prostitutes. We haven't seen strong evidences of prostitution to the scale of Angeles city, and have had a harder time even locating bars that have any girls in them. We have however, met alot of woman that are currently in Tamar who are fired up for Jesus, and running away from the history as bar-girls. They are wonderful, full of life, laughing and smiling all the time, and their kids are awesome. We will give you an update on our filming as things carry on. Everyday new doors are opening for us in the strangest ways here. New connections, and interactions that answer prayers we had been praying in the morning, or sometimes even just minutes before. God Is Great.
I (Joshua) have been doing my best to keep us on budget, but looking into a starving kids eyes, who has no shoes, half his teeth, and only has a long t-shirt for clothing, and telling him "no" isn't right. I encountered a large group of people sleeping under a tree in dirt, visably hunger and in need of a meal, so we got them a bunch of gorceries, and got to know there kids as we saw them begging around town too. People here will thrown their cigarettes at them, kick them, etc, and it's been awesome getting to know the kids and play with them (something no foreigners, and no locals will do). True religion is the opposite (James 1) so we have started spending on the needs we are seeing, trusting Jesus for provision. He has come through in so many ways before, We've decided to just be doing as the word says to do, and Jesus'll take care of the rest.
We actually had a donation the other day that more than replaces what we've outputted on such causes, so now we are looking for other people and other ways to be helping. We met a 76 yrd old lady her in Olongapo who's husband died 27 years ago, and her twin sons died in a motorcycle accident together. Now she has no one and sleeps on the street. She is robbed constantly by kids and vendors, who play off her blindness, and steal her stuff when she can't see. We went and bought her a blanket because she was sleeping on cardboard (she called them cartoons) and have bought her a few meals. We are searching for a little shack or stall that we could rent for her, so she can spend her last few years NOT being in the rain and dirt of the street. Please be praying we are able to. I am not sure I will be able to knowingly leave the awesome old Christian lady to die on the street. We've been visiting her for a couple days, and she lights up now when we visit. She says she hasn't been to church in a long time, because she is too embarrassed about the clothes she wears (literally rags). We are going to try (if time permits) to go buy her a dress and take her to church this sunday. We need to find a place that will care for her here, so please be praying!
Thanks so much for keeping us in your prayers. We have been safe despite living on the edge, and shooting in places that has had locals warning us of danger. Gods is around us and before us, and we feel very privileged to be able to be doing His work in the way.
Joshua Dool and Joshua Redmond.