I spent a wonderful day eating and roaming through central Bangkok last month with my awesome friend and colleague Katherine, founder of Relentless. She is a physician originally trained as a pediatrician, serving “at the intersection of health and justice” as she and her team address health issues affecting trafficked men, women and children around the globe.
In between several amazing food experiences we strolled through one of the red light districts where her team has a clinic every six weeks.
To be honest this was my first excursion into this type of neighborhood with someone so much in the know, and I was not sure what to expect.
We approached the main strip around 1 or 1:30 pm, and things were relatively quiet. A number of women were relaxing in barstools or on the steps next to the sidewalk, and K chatted with a number of them, even doing a quick follow up on the asthma of a woman she had seen in the clinic previously.
A few street vendors were out peddling fried things and smoothies, and other shops were selling T shirts and racy clothing.
She pointed out the brothel-looks-like-a-hotel where they have held clinics as well.
We noticed the gentle reminder that police were quietly watching all the activities without much repercussion, with a police sign at the entrance to one of the courtyards with several quiet suggestively named bars.
On their clinic nights, which run from about 4 till midnight, about 50 patients, mostly women come into the walk-in clinic.
I asked a shallow rhetorical question: “So should I automatically assume that every man walking down this street is a jerk?” and I was startled back to Katherine’s passion and compassion for the people with and for whom she works.
“No,” she answered. “The perpetrators, as much as the survivors in this field, are people who are hurting and in need of Christ.”
We are all wounded, broken and hurting people.
It’s easy to walk down a sidewalk and feel happy, relieved and perhaps secretly superior that “at least I’m not living this kind of life.”
Yet, it only takes me a moment of failure in my own relationships, of letting down someone I love, of hurting someone, to realize I cannot make my life work out OK on my own with help from Him.
I want to be less quick to judge and be angry, and more quick to listen.