As I walked in the door of a local hotel in the red light area, my ears were instantly bombarded by the voices of two men, American and British, sharing their sexual experiences of the women here in Bangkok. As they described in graphic detail each of these sexual encounters and the women's humiliation, I began to feel sick to my stomach. They were too loud to dismiss and most of the men in this particular lobby were there for the same reasons. I sat there and prayed for awhile, wanting very much to confront them but very aware how unwise that would be. As I prayed, the song "Amazing Grace" kept coming to mind. I began to sing aloud quietly. The men seemed oblivious so I got up and decided to "wait" by the front door where these men were sitting. I kept singing over and over. One of the men got up and left. The other, a man in his late 50's or early 60's, sat there alone and began to notice me. Finally he stood up and came over to me and said, "I just want to hear what it is you are singing." He recognized the tune and joined me, ". . . how sweet the sound." He looked me in the eyes and then walked out the door! As I watched him walk into the darkness I smiled and continued singing, ". . . that saved a wretch like me." "Yes!" I prayed! "Get him God! Let the words of the song sink into his mind as he heads to the bars. Let the tune linger throughout the night and haunt him with the message!" Then it struck me, he wasn't the only one singing, ". . . that saved a wretch like me!" So was I. But for the grace of God where would I be?
I confessed my own self-righteousness and I prayed for this man. Where is the church, I wondered in seeking to save these lost? This man may have grown up in Sunday School. Today he wears several chains of amulets around his neck as he uses prostitutes. What went wrong? I struggled with the burning challenge for the church to be a place of grace that brings healing and restores men and women in wholesome relationships with God and each other. For many, the church appears too "clean," too "good," and too hard to relate to. Many men sit in church on Sunday, hurting and lonely and on the verge of going elsewhere to fill their loneliness and heal their secret brokenness. They slip out the back door unnoticed with "a wretch like me" mentality, missing out totally on the "amazing grace that saved." Lost, they come here to Bangkok hoping to find some piece of heaven in a sexual encounter with a Thai prostitute. Empty they return home and try to satiate in pornography addictions and fantasies. In their minds, intimacy with a prostitute or a pornographic image may be safer than a relationship with the church family.
As I prayed for the man, I realized it is only grace that makes me any different in God's eyes. God's heart is passionately longing to demonstrate His grace and truth to this man. I felt convicted and I sensed God's challenge to demonstrate His grace, stand up for His truth and to encourage the church to reach out to those who are lost on their journey for intimacy. Many are coming to Thailand but God's grace will continue to pursue them and to sing to them. When they return home who will take up the song and share the testimony until they fully comprehend, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see?"