My heart was forever marked in Bangkok, Thailand. I was on outreach in one of Thailand’s most notorious red-light districts when I saw the faces of exploited girls that I could never erase. The bar we entered was set up in stadium style seating with girls dancing on a center stage surrounded by men watching them. The girls wore string bikinis, each identified by a number. One particular girl caught my attention as she struggled to keep pace in energy as she danced. The mama-san (the woman in authority over the girls) saw the young lady struggling to keep pace and, without warning, she pulled out a whip and whipped the young lady across her back. The sound of the whipping pierced my soul. In that very moment, I saw the young lady’s anguish. But she immediately hid her pain with a smile that masqueraded the true measure of what her soul felt. She danced with energy, with seduction, in the same manner as the other women around her. They all had smiles on their faces, carefully hiding any trace of sadness or distress within them.
What took place there is etched in my memory, and when I left Thailand, I knew I had to do more. That was in 2010. Since then, I’ve formed an organization called Justice Speaksto do local outreaches in Los Angeles. I’ve also returned to Thailand every year since, bringing a team with me. Answering the call to fight human trafficking can be daunting in light of the massive scale of injustice. But the Lord told us early on what our greatest weapon in warfare should be in our fight against this grave injustice: Prayer.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience…” The tone of this passage is not passive. We are told to aggressively engage in a battle and take a stance of warfare that is empowered supernaturally. In our own human ability, we cannot take down prostitution rings, rescue victims of exploitation, or expose arenas of corruption. It would be impossible. Human trafficking, like many other issues of injustice, exists because of a spiritual problem, and a spiritual solution is required to confront it.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Through a series of events, the Lord revealed to us very early on that He will TURN this issue of human trafficking through prayer. We stepped in with our measure of faith and the mandate on our lives in prayer and began to see immediate results. We have consistently led a justice prayer watch over the years at Radiance International(Hollywood House of Prayer) where my husband Jonathan and I pastor, and we have put on prayer strikes across Los Angeles and Thailand.
Through these initiatives we have seen numerous establishments shut down, women rescued, prostitution rings exposed, and major king-pimps taken down. In Pattaya, a city in Thailand known as the major sex tourism destination in all of Asia, there is a notorious street known as Walking Street. We have done eight prayer strikes there to date, and things have dramatically shifted with bars shutting down and the number of women exploited immensely decreasing. Stories of breakthroughs are a regular occurrence—not by coincidence, but because of prayer.
On behalf of my own city, Los Angeles, consistent prayer has gone up for the freedom of those trapped in the sex trade. I am certain there are others interceding along with us, but we have stood consistently in a stance of war battling in prayer to see breakthrough, and it has manifested at the city level. As believers, we need to realize the significance of our post in the spirit. If we relinquish our place of authority in the spirit, the individuals designated to engage the battle in the natural (law enforcement, etc.) will see minimal results. I believe because we have taken our post seriously in the spirit, our city has seen a significant breakthrough in the capturing of perpetrators and the rescuing of women and children. Our city launched the Human Trafficking Bureau, a one of a kind agency focused on investigating crimes of human trafficking rescuing minors, and prosecuting traffickers. Since its inception in November 2015 through March 2018, there have been well over 200 victims rescued and almost 1000 arrests made. I applaud the courageous men and women on the frontlines of my city rescuing lives, but they need us to break open the way in the unseen realm, so their job can be done in the natural. Likewise, we need them to continue the courageous work they do in the natural realm on a daily basis.
When you pray, you may not know the immediate results of your prayers, but be assured that your prayers areheard by God. Imagine your prayers being launched like missiles hitting the mark as God directs your intercession! As you choose to partner with God in prayer, He will use you as an agent of breakthrough upon the earth. You may never physically rescue a child trafficked in the sex trade, but through prayer He will bring you onto the frontlines to dismantle the structures and powers that hold these children captive. Your prayers just might be the missile that liberates not just one, but hundreds of victims.
Your voice counts!
Sharon Ngai is the Founder of Justice Speaks, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization based in Los Angeles. Speaking at conferences and workshops from college campuses and the United Nations, Sharon’s passion to end human trafficking and raise up a generation of Justice Champions has had immeasurable impact. In 2010, Sharon linked arms with Bridges to the Nations in Thailand to ensure that women and children at risk in traffic prone regions would be protected. Since then, hundreds of Thai children have been reached, including exploited women trapped in the sex trade. Sharon also launched the Students4Justice Human Trafficking Curriculum, with topics that include pornography and the objectification of women in culture. Her greatest passion in this fight is to fuel a generation in prayer for Justice–for the ending of human trafficking, and all forms of exploitation. Sharon and her husband, Jonathan, are Lead Pastors of Radiance International(Hollywood House of Prayer), an apostolic center in the heart of Hollywood that is training a new breed of creatives to impact Media, Arts & Entertainment for Christ. She is a proud mom of three beautiful children.
Originally published in the Fall (September 1) 2018 edition of Voices of Justice Magazine