Shining Light into the Darkness
Did you know that:
- Every 26 seconds a child is sold into prostitution1
- It is estimated that there are 2.8 million people working in prostitution in Thailand – almost one million of them are children2
- 1.5 billion children worldwide have been affected by violence3
Statistics are an important tool to educate people, but they can be overwhelming and often debilitating. They can make us feel powerless in the face of so much pain and corruption. Human trafficking, particularly of children, is a hot issue right now – everyone seems to be talking about it. I hear statistics about children at risk and children who are already victims of trafficking – both into the sex trade and forced labor – very often.
Here in Pattaya, there are many faces to replace statistics, and each face has a unique story. Some are stories of poverty and need, some of abandonment and hopelessness, and others of confusion and deception. But there is a story being written to stand in opposition to the overwhelming darkness and pain that is so obvious here. The Bridge Children's Center will be a refuge for the hurting and lost, and a place of joy, laughter, and learning for children in the red light district of Pattaya.
The Bridge Children's Center was founded by Jason and Sarah Rickett along with their four children in March of 2011. The Ricketts moved to Thailand from their home in the Southern United States in 2006 to complete a YWAM DTS and then work with World Vision Thailand. They have felt God's heart for hurting children throughout their time in Thailand, and they are now working towards a tangible expression of God's love for those children through The Bridge Children's Center.
The Bridge Children's Center will be located in a large four story building in downtown Pattaya. It will serve as an educational care center during the day for children who are unable to go to school. It will be open to the kids in the area as a safe place to come play, learn, and spend free time. It will also serve as an overnight care center for children who do not have a safe place to sleep.
The Ricketts chose the Bridge Children's Center location because the surrounding neighborhood is known as one of the worst areas for child trafficking, pedophiles, and sweat shops in Pattaya. Many of the children who live in the area come from poor families. Their parents often work late into the night, either bringing them along as they work, or leaving them un-attended, often at 24 hour internet cafes so the children can play computer games. Unfortunately, these same internet cafes have turned into pedophile hot spots, making it a very dangerous situation for unsuspecting children and their families.
The Center is currently being renovated to accommodate children throughout the day and night, and to provide staff housing. The Ricketts envision a place that combines loving, quality care, with adventure and fun – a place where children want to spend their time, and a place that renews a sense of dignity to parents by providing a way for them to take care of their families. They see the center as a tool for God to continue redeeming the city of Pattaya.
There is a lot of work that must be done before the center can open its doors and bless the city around it. If you would like to come as a volunteer or on a team to help the Ricketts as they continue construction, please contact them through this link. If you have a heart for justice, love, and children, prayerfully consider joining the Ricketts as long or short term staff at The Bridge Children's Center.
We live in a world plagued with darkness, where injustice, pain, and brokenness are commonplace. But we know that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5). We must not be numbed by nameless and faceless statistics, we must reject the lie that the darkness is too great. Instead, we must allow the love of Jesus to compel us to step into the darkness, into places not many would choose to raise a family, because we believe that God's light is more powerful than the darkness we oppose.
1 Destiny Rescue
2 Dr. Nitet Tinnaku of Chulalongkom University
Meet the Author
Currently working with the Communications Department for YWAM Thailand.