Global Outreach Trip Blog

Cambodia+Thailand 2018

Day 2


Hello everyone my name is Felipe “Phil” Villalobos and I am excited to be one of this years Cambodia/Thailand team members.
I want to take a moment to describe some of the most memorable moments of our first two days:

Yesterday we toured S-21, which was used as an interrogation/torture compound built by Pol Pot in Phnom Pen. To say it was an eye opening experience would be an understatement. The brutality that occurred on this compound was simply appalling. Enough to turn your stomach. It is hard to believe that a group of human beings could treat another group of human beings in such a disturbing manner. What made it more disturbing was that these acts were done by Cambodian people to Cambodia people. Unfortunately this type of behavior has repeated itself throughout history.

Today we attended church in Svay Pak. The Senior Pastor’s message was amazing. The church’s worship team led the congregation of nearly 200 with just as much enthusiasm and love for Jesus as our worship team at Crossroads.

After church we ate an amazing lunch then toured the Killing Fields. Once again, I was appalled and disturbed by all the death that occurred at this location. It’s almost unfathomable that between 1975 – 1979, nearly 20% the entire Cambodian population was eliminated by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. When you have a chance please google S-21 and The Killing Fields of Cambodia. The story is quite amazing. After each tour we are told to carry the memory of these places to honor the millions of unnamed victims. They must not be forgotten.

Tomorrow we begin our VBS with AIM. I, along with the entire team are so excited to be working with the disciples from AIM.

-Phil V

Today started early with a 6 am wake up call for the 45 minute trip by shuttle to church. Arriving at the church we were greeted by the familiar faces of some of the local disciples from AIM we met on our last visit. 

I was impressed by how God has been working here in the last year. What was once a dirt road is now paved. The church that used to meet in a factory warehouse now has a large outdoor building with room to grow. When we last visited they were hard at work building the support structures. 

Most impressive however was the addition of the school building. The four story structure is nearly complete and the Pastor told me they will have 600 students when it opens soon. 

God has taken in just a little over a decade what had been a center for child sex trafficking and turned it into a thriving community. After service the Pastor told me how his first church service was held with just 16 people in 2008. The first sermon he preached was how children were a gift from God and not a commodity to be sold. Several walked out of that first meeting. Today the congregation numbers in the hundreds and is still growing.  

I couldn’t help but think how an entire community and hopefully, with time, a whole country can be changed because people of faith stepped outside their comfort zone to address some of the worst kinds of evil. 

A trip to the Killing Fields later in the day really brought this point home. Thousands of people were executed here over the course of several years in the late 70’s.  It is only one of the numerous execution sites discovered around the country after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Up to 300 people were transported to the site and executed in a single day. To save money they used hand tools, axes and clubs as their means of execution. Bullets were too expensive. 

In the middle of the site is something horrific called the killing tree. Children were executed along with their parents. It was apparently easier to just beat them against the tree and toss the bodies into a common grave. 

It is heartbreaking to see the evidence of how far people can go without God.  More than ever I understand how important it is for believers to be at the forefront in spreading the gospel. It is the only thing that can combat the evil that human beings are capable of.

-Joe (Papa Joe)

Day 3

Today I was greeted early morning with an amazing Cambodia sunrise! I feel the presence of God here in the midst of this beautiful pain filled country.  During my prayer time I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. “He always answers” I knew in my heart God had planned an amazing day! 
During the day we broke away to go to the brick factory that we heard about in church. We met to meet the little children who live and work there. We hand the humbling pleasure of trimming their little nails. Each one held out their precious little hands and patiently waited for their turn. My heart ached! 

“For I know the plans I you have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Next on the list VBS and making earrings and jewelry from recycled materials! 

I don’t think it was any surprise that I previously attended the Repurposed conference and Gods whole plan was unfolding! The theme we focused on 

Making something beautiful Repurposed! The young adults (disciples) made earrings from bottle caps and their creativity was immediately visible. Smiles and quiet laughter made the time fly by! 

For God is repurposing each one of us for His glory!!

Peter 5:7  its says… Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  How many times do we go through life, worrying about things, daily tasks, family just things “stuff”. The scriptures are full of Gods affirming love for us and how he provides and cares about the smallest things to the largest things going on in our life. Today was a quiet reminder of how to re-focus. Now if we could just bask in his words and remember that He loves us so much and cares about everything. As children of God we only need to have faith and ask in prayer. 

The day before we attended the memorial S21 and again my heart broke seeing the memorial and all the people who were killed there during this atrocious genocide! It all was a sobering look at what happened so recently.

Questions were asked in debriefing what could we do in this short time here in Cambodia! My only thoughts were “pray” for peace, pray for the work that is being done here in the name of Jesus to be magnified! God is in control and I know that His heart is breaking to see all this also! 

When you ask Him you will receive! So my final words are to be careful what you ask for because you will receive and answer! For God is Ecclesiastes 4:12 we are told that and though a man might prevail against one who is alone?, two will withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  

When we surround ourselves with other believers we are stronger together. We can pray for one another, lift each other up with affirming words and hope.

This is my second trip to Cambodia. Even still, I wasn’t sure what to expect on our first full day serving. Our team was asked to lead different workshops for the disciples. My workshop was to build a bookcase. The challenge was: not knowing what tools they have, where would we get wood, how to build it over five days, how to include two different groups of people, and I’m female in a male-dominated society.  My partners in crime, Kerry and Gene, encouraged me to take the lead and they would follow. As it was, the young men were very interested and excited to learn. After taking measurements, we loaded into a tuk tuk and were off to the “lumber store”. Which was really a tiny roadside open market that only sold wood. I was wondering how we would get the wood back to church. No problem–they loaded the wood we purchased onto a horse-driven cart. Then off again to another market to purchase screws and another stop for the stain.  It was very surreal riding through town and down the dirt backroads with our friends in a tuk tuk making purchases to build a simple bookcase. I can’t wait to get back tomorrow to teach these young men how to build a bookcase. It may seem like a simple task to learn, but to them it’s a skillset that they can continue to use after we are gone.

And that is life-changing!

Meanwhile, the day continued with a trip to visit brick factory families where part of our team clipped fingernails and the others delivered bags of basic necessities.  Then back to church to have lunch and to prepare for kids club. 

It’s super exciting to have  kids club in the building that was just a slab last year.

I love to see their smiling faces. They want to touch you, jump on you, ask you your name and just be loved on.  It’s an exhausting hour and a half of songs, a puppet show, a craft, and ending in a game.  I’m sure looking at it from the outside, it looks like chaos. It’s hot and loud and tons of fun. Here, the kids get to be just kids. 

What a blessing to serve with my team and the AIM staff and disciples. You sense the joy of the Lord and you see God working in this place.

On our way back to the hotel, we experienced a downpour. The street flooded quickly, thunder and lighting and we all got soaked.
It was such a fun and amazing day. I can’t wait to see what else God has for us.

Lastly, I got to spend this amazing day with my husband, celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. There’s no place I’d rather be than serving the Lord along side with my husband.

Day 4

Today was an amazing and exhausting day all in one!
We started out this morning with our disciple workshops. My group is teaching self defense and it was great to see the girls’ group gain such confidence and empowerment!
After workshops, we accompanied the AIM disciples to one of the brick factories to deliver rice and minister to the kids. It was heartbreaking to see the conditions that the people live in but they received us with such joy and thankfulness it filled my heart.
We then went back to AIM to eat lunch and got a tour of their facilities. We were told that just a year ago the church building was just a slab and the school was just being graded. Now there is a paved road, full church shelter with a stage and offices and an almost fully completed four-story school. We also toured the employment center and other church buildings in the area. The brothels are now gone and AIM is growing and having a great influence on the area and local young people. You can truly see God’s plan unfolding in the most amazing ways!
VBS or Kids Club is where we minister to the kids of the community. They were so excited and just loved to jump and hang on us. I also never danced and sweat so much in my life. Once we cleaned up, we were off to play soccer and volleyball with the disciples where we actually won! (LOL, I am sure they let us win but gotta give kudos to Gene, Phil, Joey, Papa Joe and Jennifer to giving it their all on the turf).
Now it’s time to leave and head back to the hotel to shower and eat dinner. After debrief, I am sure I will have no trouble at all falling asleep and look forward to what God has planned for us tomorrow and who He will put in my path to bless as well.


A group of men, women, and children sat waiting in the dirt underneath the scorching heat. Some sat under the shade of a weary tree. As I stepped down from the bus, a distinct smell filled my nostrils. I can’t really explain it exactly; maybe a mix of hot metal, sweet, and illness. Either way, it is something I will never forget.
This brick factory was the second one we visited this week, but this one was much different. As I walked through the mud toward the brick workers, I saw a baby girl. She couldn’t have been more than 6 months old, with her right eye glued together by thick yellow mucus. My heart broke–would this child’s vision be compromised?
Our group split into two groups, and my team was in charge of passing out sacks of rice. I lined up to pick up twenty-three-pound sacks of rice and began to pass them out. I was blown away by the organization. Each person had a number and they took their turn to pick up their rice. As the men,women, and children received their rice, they bowed in gratitude. From what I was told, the bag will feed a family of four for a week!
The more time I spend here in Cambodia, the more I get to see all the good work that AIM is doing here! I am convinced that they are doing exactly what God has called them to do. They truly have been faithful with very little, and with my own two eyes, I can witness that now the Lord is giving them more! I look forward to all the Lord has for AIM and the people of Cambodia.


Day 5

I don’t know whether to cry or shout for joy in this place. Going to the brick factories and seeing the absolute terrible living conditions tears at ones heart. No one should ever live like that.

Sadness also comes to mind when I think that these people accept their living conditions with no hope of ever escaping their current situation.

On the joy side of things, the mission team is doing its job. Adults and children alike are so thankful to receive a simple bag of rice that may feed a family for a week. It is very evident that these people, with no hope around, see the love of Jesus coming to them in the form of the numerous Christians that now work and serve these communities. The little kids pray and parents acknowledge that our God is doing these good things even though they don’t believe in Him.

The sadness and tears don’t go away. They are just are over come by the victory in each and every, and there are many, small battle that is being won by our great and faithful Lord and Savior.


The day started like ever day, we had breakfast together and then prepared to leave for V.B.S. The trip to Svay Pak takes 40 minutes by bus. To prepare us for the day we give praise to God by singing and praying for direction in how we can assist A.I.M. with their goal for the people of Cambodia. This time on the bus is a special time for me because I can really feel the Holy Spirt within me. It prepares me for the things that we hear about, but do not see, and now we see it.

We have been asked by A.I.M. to teach their young disciples in five areas. Each disciple selects two of the classes they would like to attend. 

1 Crafts
2 Wood working
3 Self defense
4 Young Disciples
5 Leadership

In the morning I have been helping in the wood working class. The project we are teaching them, is how to make a book case. Many of the students do not know how to measure, use a screw driver, saw or use a hammer. Once you show them how the tools work, they are amazed by it. Their face has an expression of joy and excitement can be seen in their eyes. After using the tools, you notice how proud they are. By the end of the week we are praying that they will complete the task of building a book case. This will be used at A.I.M. in the office for supplies.

The afternoon session we are coordinating games for all the children. Day one we had soccer ball races. Day two we did tug-of-war. For today we did three legged races. They are always excited to play and really get their competitive juices going. They have so much energy it is hard to stop them when the day is done. From the youngest to the oldest they all end up with a smile on their faces. Like it says in Psalms 127:3 “Behold, children are a gift of the lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward”. 
They are a gift indeed. 

In our daily devotion book the verse of the day is Psalm 46:10
He says “ Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”.

The verse of the day makes me think of all the trials and tribulations there have been in this country. What A.I.M. has done shows that God is in control. He has wrapped his arms around them, so they can lead the march from darkness to light. We give praise to A.I.M. For bringing the word of God to some many people in need.


Days 6 & 7

First off, Cambodia is something to experience! Today was amazing! The team begins every day with worship and prayer in the bus to prepare us for our day. It’s such a special time for me to see the sights of this country and pray over it and what God is preparing for us. When we arrived at Rahabs Church in Svay Pak, we were greeted by our sweet new AIM brothers and sisters, families and children in the community.

Today was my turn to lead the Bible study for the young disciples. These Pre-teen and teenage leaders are some of the hardest working people I have ever seen. They have all be rescued from some sort of poverty stricken environment. The more I seek stories, the more I see God’s work flourishing there!! Pastor was sharing a story of a young man who was in front of us kicking a soccer ball around. Pastor shared that at the age of 2, this boy was given up by his father. His mother died of cancer and his dad remarried and did not want him or his brother! Pastor took them both in, and the boy, now 15, loves Jesus and goes to school and is one of the disciples that helps with the children!

These amazing disciples lead out the Kids Club everyday! (Kids club is where children from the brick factories come and sing songs about Jesus, play, and interact with people who love Jesus!!) During our bible study time, I had them get in small groups. First I had them encourage one another. Some shared how they were a good friend or how one took time to take care of them when they were sick. One young girl was at the point of tears when her friend shared what a sweet friend she had been. (Culturally in Cambodia it is very rare to show emotion.) After that I had them pray for each other in groups of 3-4. It sounded like beautiful singing while they prayed.

The AIM staff leader who is Cambodian and who was translating in their group shared that the disciples don’t get very many opportunities to share and pray like they did today. He shared that our time was very important for him because he needed encouragement and a time to share like we did today. He said he got so much out of watching the disciples share and pray it touched his heart and he was so blessed!!

After workshops, we headed to a brick factory to hand out rice to the families and wash the hands of the children! Going to the brick factories is so humbling. We have heard stories of the brick factory and the families and the poverty there. I’ve been to Kenya and have been around poverty, but the danger and poverty these families live in is extremely dangerous. The fact that this type of slavery still exits is appalling. It was quite a scene to experience. First we were hit with the different smells all around as we watched small children running in the filth around their parents and grandparents sitting and waiting for us! You see the evidence of their sickness from the illegal cloth burning and cole. Chickens, cats and even dogs were running around with the oven burning directly next to where these families sleep. Don’t forget it’s 98 degrees hot with the same in humidity. And, we are told that the factories are not burning as hot as they do in the winter months!

It’s completely unfathomable to me that these babies, the same age as my grandchildren, are living like they do. AIM staff is incredible with their outreach. They invite the children to Kids Club and the families to church and offer weekly free medical care! The families are so thankful for our visit. We pray over them and it appears they know and understand prayer!

After the brick factory, we returned to prepare for Kids Club! Honestly my favorite part so far is the puppet time!! Our team rocks! Phil and Jennifer have taken our puppets to another level, and the kids love it and I think our team looks forward to it as much as the kids! Today’s story was about the Good Samaritan. We could see and hear the kids coming into the building! Typically they start gathering around the window to the room we prep in! As soon as we walk out, we are lovingly attacked by little children, some very little! Some of the older siblings around six years old take care and bring their younger siblings who are as little as 1-2 years old to Kids Club!!

We had a blast with worship but we were all anticipating the awaited puppet time!! Just as soon as it started, a huge rain storm hit. Not like our California “rain” I mean RAIN like torrential rains! The rain lasted through the puppet show. It was so loud it was difficult to hear the lines of each puppet!! The disciples translating did an incredible job. The children didn’t budge– they were fully engaged and stayed connected to the story! It was pretty awesome! During Kids Club I recognized several of the children from the brick factory. What a blessing to have them involved in the program!

Once kids club was over, we loaded up in the bus and stopped at Daughters of Cambodia shop which is another organization that helps rescue women and men from sex trafficking! In fact the young women who work there were all rescued from sex trafficking. It was so cool to walk in the shop and immediately hear worship music playing!! Items there were also made by women rescued from that horrible life of sex trafficking.

I didn’t know what to expect in Cambodia, but what I’ve experienced and seen has touched my heart in a way only God can tug! I see the hope and love of Jesus in Svay Pak! I see the hope in the disciples! I see the caring for the sick and widows!

The verse that our puppet Lamby shared today was “love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself”. I see this happening in Svay Pak. I see this tiny place making a difference in the entire country one day.

Yes Cambodia has changed me! I will go back home with a different set of eyes!

Debbie B.















MARK 4:26-28 “And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head…”

Matthew 13:31-32
“…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

Matthew 17:29
“…if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

As we enter our 4th day working with AIM, I can honestly say that the time change, weather, and a “little” sickness was getting to me. I was tired. I wasn’t feeling well. I wanted to stay back and maybe rest a little more, but most of all I just wanted to feel better. However, while doing my quiet time in the morning, God reminded me of the reasons why I am here. I am here to do His Will, be His joy, His hands and feet, and because of that He will give me the strength to carry on through the day. He reminded me that when I rely on my own strength, I will grow weary. With that in my mind, I knew that God has my back and that whatever I need today, He will provide.

When we arrived at Rahab’s House, the disciples were finishing their daily devotional. I was so happy and joyful to see them and to be with them. I was still feeling a bit under the weather, but there’s a quiet strength there that I can feel which God has promised me.

On the first part of the day at our Arts and Craft workshop, the disciples completed their project of using recycled water bottles to start planting vegetables. They designed the water bottles, filled them with soil, and dropped in one or two seeds of vegetables. They had a variety of vegetation to choose from such as radishes, kale, onion, squash, carrots, tomatoes, & jalapenos, to name a few.

It’s amazing to see the disciples get excited to plant their own vegetables. Once we got started, they did not want to stop. It’s amazing to see that something so simple can bring joy to their lives and smiles to their faces.
We also taught them how to make earrings using seashell, beads, and pearls. Their creativity blows me away! And the fact that it doesn’t take much for them to be joyful is something you and I(!) can learn from.

Right after the workshop, we did brick factory outreach. It was a bit muddy due to the rain the night before. The teams were divided in half, and in our team 3 of us washed hands while the other 3 dried hands. I was drying the children’s hands, and I love that I was able to minister to them even if it was just something as small and insignificant as drying their hands. I gave them little hand and arm massages and prayed that even in that little gesture they can feel the love of God. One of the little kids about age 2 was naked and dirty, so the disciples gave him a quick bath. The look on his face was priceless. He was just adorable. Once he was dry, he ran back to his parents living in the little hut at the brick factory.

Most if not all of the brick factory workers and their families live in small huts around or at the brick factory. As the team walked through the brick factory, I can feel the heat radiating through the walls as the bricks were being cooked. It was hot!!! I can’t imagine being there during their hottest season with all of the ovens working.

After the brick factory, we went back to Rahab’s House and had lunch with the disciples. I sat with a couple of the young disciples and was happy to be able to serve and be present with them enjoying lunch and getting to know each other.

The second part of our day is the most challenging, and yet the most fun and rewarding time of the day. I said challenging because the kids are so rowdy and when they play, they PLAY! While we waited for Kids Club to start, we hung out and played with the children. They have such high energy. Trying to keep up with about 125 high energy kids is not easy, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything! Several little girls asked to be carried, a couple more asked to play a clapping hand game, and a few tried to climb my back (a couple of them succeeded without taking me down). Several times, I had a girl on my back hanging on to my neck, legs around my waist and another hanging on to waist with legs around my thigh not wanting to let go! I was hot, sweaty, and I’ve got two girls hanging on me not wanting to let go. All I was trying to do was not fall and hurt all of us. Despite it all, it was such a joy–all I could do was just laugh and enjoy these little precious moments I got to spend with the daughters of the Almighty. We sang and danced, listened and watched the puppet show.

They loved the puppet show! They sat down in rows of 4 (boys and girls separated) and they listened. They were very attentive and engaged in the play’s little Q&A. In the middle of the puppet show, the sky opened up and dropped gallons and gallons of water. But that didn’t hinder them from listening to the word of God, nor did they get distracted from
it. They were ‘drinking in the story of the bible’ and it was refreshing to witness.

We played a little game afterward and did coloring. As the day came to a close, and the kids were waiting for their turn to be taken home, the girls who were hanging on to me and a girl, who I assumed to be their older sister, came by and gave me hugs. As they were leaving, they looked back and waved and waved and waved. I prayed that they know how precious they are and how much God loves them. They all have a special place in my heart and I prayed for God to continue to watch over them and to use them for His purpose.

As tired and unwell as I felt in the beginning of the day, by the end of the day I was filled with joy, gratitude, and love. Little did those kids know how much they have blessed me, how God had used them to give me the strength and joy that I needed for the day. I pray that the little seeds that we planted this week will grow and be used to move mountains.
















Today we finished our time in Cambodia serving with AIM. In just five days we made new friends and new family. There is something special about traveling to some place so far from home, and meeting a brother and sister you never knew you had. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Cambodia are vibrant, alive, and full of passion. Our team has felt loved, welcomed, and valued beyond compare.

I had the opportunity to lead, with Brianna, a workshop for the Disciples on leadership. Today, on our last day, we taught the disciples what it means to be a servant to our teams. We taught on the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. At the end of the lesson we had each of the Disciples wash each other’s feet. This was a powerful moment for all of us.

Today we also had the chance to take a tour of one of the brick factories. Through building relationships, AIM has been able to make an incredible difference in the lives of the families who work at these factories. Often, families work long hours, for little pay, in very poor conditions. AIM is now able to provide food for them, medical services, and schools for the children. While the greed of humanity has oppressed so many families, there are obedient Christians here who are carrying the burden, side by side, with the families here at the brick factories.

Kids club this afternoon was insane. We had over 200 kids from the community come out to participate, whereas on the previous days we were averaging between 120-150. We enjoyed a time of worship songs, puppet shows, and crafts. While many of these kids are rowdy and out of control, this is a place where they are safe. Kids club is a place where these kids can be kids without having to worry. Looking into the faces of these incredible children you can see joy, hope, and fun. You can see they are tasting the love of Jesus.

We finished the day going out to eat with the Disciples. I know I can speak for the whole team in saying we were blessed to share a special meal with these incredible people. They have such a great love for God, for each other, and for their community.

I am blessed to be on this great team. I am blessed by what God is doing in Cambodia. I am blessed by having even the smallest of part in what God is doing.






Oh Cambodia! I can’t believe it’s been a year since my first visits and here I am again. I am so amazed by all the growth in Svay Pak. God’s hand is truly over this community. Last year I marveled on the steps of buildings that were once brothels now turned into places for ministry. This year I looked over the balcony of the current school and praised God for the new huge building that has been erected for the new school. From the same view we could see a tall white building that was once the biggest brothel in the community…now abandoned. God is so good! The growth in the youth is also something to be celebrated. We saw countless faces from last year all grown up and in new positions of leadership. They are hardworking, energetic, passionate and hungry for knowledge. Our team lead different workshops for these young men and women and they were all so eager to learn. I was blessed to be a part of the leadership workshop! I was amazed watching them hang on to our every word. We talked about the leadership styles of Saul, David, Absolom and Jesus. Many of them already knew each story well. On the last day we read from John 13 when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. I know the story well but I was blessed as Joey uncovered special details and the meaning behind them. I loved getting to watch the disciples come into a new understanding of this passage. To wash feet was a lowly slave job, even seen as shameful. It was very powerful to discuss how there is freedoms in Christ in a culture that is bound by shame. We had the disciples wash each other’s feet as pray blessings over one another as they did so. In a lot of Asian cultures the feet are the dirtiest part of the body. It’s seen as offensive to show the bottom of your feet fans yet these young people knelt down and prayed blessing on each other and they washed feet. It was so incredible to see their vulnerability and emotions as they did this for one another. The only time we see a ritual like this is during a wedding. The parents’ feet are washed. To be respectful we made sure only men washed the feet of men and women where with women. In both rotations we had odd numbers. So we, as leaders jumped in and washed the feet of those left without a partner and had them wash our feet. I admit that vulnerability is not always my strong suit. So when two girls came in to the second session I breathed a sigh of relief and assisted with towels and filling to bowls with water. Once every one was done with the exercise I began to pack up. One of the girls asked “what about you?” Long story short, I couldn’t talk my way out of having these beautiful students wash my feet. Both girls prayed over me as they washed my feet and the young man joined in to dry them. It was extremely humbling for me. My life is to serve. My constant prayer is for God to take all of me and use me to his good works. We came as a team to be used by God and glorify him. To love and serve the people of Cambodia who stole my heart just a year ago. And yet here I sat, being served in such a impactful way. Our hope was to teach these young minds small useful tips of ministry that they can carry with them and use when needed. Some of them learned how to measure wood, use a power tool, stop an attacker, plant veggies, and to edify each other. On Monday we came in to a busy, tired and timid group. We wondered if we would teach them something they haven’t already learned from past teams. Last night at dinner we saw beaming faces reciting the very lessons we taught. People who were shy to speak where stepping up to give praises in English! It was VERY hard to say goodbye. We could’ve stayed in that restaurant all night. My prayer over our team was for divine appointments and special connections, from all the tears I saw last night I believe God answered my prayers. My trip last year was a huge catalyst for change in my life. After serving in Cambodia and seeing the transformation of an entire community I couldn’t go home and continue doing the same thing. I was so blessed to watch our first time teammates experience everything. I loved watching their faces as they tried new types of food, experienced the city through a tuk tuk and pick up rambunctious kids from kids club. It was so fun watching out big tough police officers sit and color with kids or make a puppet come to life. We laughed so much on this trip. Even though we were all dripping in sweat and tired we were filled to the brim with blessings as we loaded the bus each day. No complaints, just huge smiles. Last year our biggest Kid’s Club attendance was 175, this year we had over 200! The Khmer team explained to us that it grew over the week as the kids began to hear about the team. We discovered that we are the only team that brings puppets and T-shirt’s for the kids. They know that they are loved when they spend time with us. I am so thankful that AIM has worked hard to bridge gaps in their community and now hundreds of children have a safe place to hear about Jesus. One of the disciples thanked us at dinner for our hearts to serve. She said “this isn’t your country, this isn’t your culture, this isn’t your language these people are poor and yet you come and serve them with humble hearts. It’s hard work what we do and you can tell your team works hard to show compassion. Even though we are from different places we still love and work together and it’s because of God.” Last year we heard Pastor’s message at church. He spoke about how we are all one. United in Christ. For me this year felt like coming home. Serving with my family and I was especially blessed to do it with my mom on my side. They love I feel for this place is incredible and I am just praising God for allowing me to come back.

-Brianna H

Day 8

It’s been one year since the Crossroads Team has been to Thailand to visit Shear Love and so much has happened in that year!! It‘s incredible to see friends and family from my home church here to support this ministry that my team has worked so hard to build. This team will get to witness all of the incredible and beautiful fruit that’s coming from the spiritual and prayerful support of Crossroads.

This week, the team will get to lead devotions for our third class of beauty and barber students. The students are so hungry for Jesus and I cannot wait to watch team connect with our rescued men and women. Our students come from a variety of different backgrounds. Whether coming from a history of trafficking or extreme poverty, each of our students is on a journey and I’m grateful beyond believe that my amazing home church is here to empower them.

Daily our long term volunteers and staff on the ground in Pattaya walk with them as they heal from hurts of their past. The team will get to be a small part of their restorative process through devotions, self-defense classes, and empowerment.

Their presence alone will bring encouragement and give value to each one of the men and women in our care. We’ve made had so much growth and the only way our program will continue to grow is through the financial, emotional, and prayerful support of churches like Crossroads.

I can’t wait for this week to begin!!!!!

-Diana Bautista
























Day 9

Today began with church in Pattaya. Both Brianna and Debbie participated as part of the worship team. A combination of Thai and English worship demonstrated the universality of Christ’s church. We got to hear the testimony of a trafficking survivor who found hope through outreach workers who loved on her and shared God’s love with her. Her story was heart wrenching and painful to hear. The miracle is today she is thriving despite having HIV and shares her story of salvation and redemption with the world.

Her success was great to hear because tonight we toured the beach road and walking street where prostitution is rampant. Walking along the beach road we saw well over a hundred women trying to lure customers and probably twice as many customers. The bored disengaged looks on their faces spoke volumes. Not a single one of them looked like they wanted to be there. Single and groups of men openly solicited them for sex every few yards. In one disgusting scene a man was poking and prodding a young girl as he had her turn around so he could take a look at her.

But in the midst of the decadence and depravity I saw a sign of hope. Maria one of Shear Love’s outreach workers saw someone she had developed a relationship with. The young woman’s face lit up as the two hugged and embraced. They laughed as if they had been long lost friends. She introduced her to a friend who was also working.

Walking Street was crowded, hot and sensory overload. Hundreds of girls parading outside of bars. Loud music blaring. Large tour groups and packs of men walking up and down the street. Everywhere hawkers trying to lure you into their bars.

The volunteers and workers at Shear Love are in the front lines in the battles against the evil of sex trafficking. They venture into the seediest of places and put their hearts and soul into bringing hope for people who may have absolutely none. More than ever I see that the only answer to this is Jesus. The spiritual battle is real and these men and women are heroically at the front lines.

At the end of the night as we were dropped off some of the girls working at a bar across the road started waving. The outreach staff of Shear Love walked over and again there were hugs and laughter. Once again I saw the hope that love can bring. One girl had asked about maybe entering the school next year. Another invited the staff to a birthday party.

I am so proud of the staff at Shear Love. In a time when real heroes are scarce they are mine. I am also thankful to be part of a church community that supports the work of those who bring the love of Christ in a place where real love is scarce.

If you think about it please say a prayer for all of them when you can. It would be greatly appreciated.

-Joe Vargas Sr.





















Today we were blessed to attend “The Red Light Church” which is right in the middle of one of Pattaya’s red light districts.

The church’s worship team opened with some amazing songs which included our two songbirds, (Brianna and Debbie).

The sermon was given by our one and only Pastor Joey! Joey did an amazing job and I felt the holy spirit was flowing out of him.

I was surprised and blessed to be asked to share my testimony. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that someday I would be standing in a church sharing my testimony. God is amazing.

Unfortunately after church, I had to visit to the local Emergency Room. The Doc said I tore some tendons in my right foot, argh!!!

So needles to say, my night ended early but the remainder of the team ministered on “Walking Street”.

Please pray for the energy and health of our team.

We will not allow the evil one to hinder our mission here in Thailand.

God bless all of you!!



Day 10

Today we started our morning at Shear Love with a worship service with all of the staff and students. Dianna began the service with some great news. They had been trying for several months to negotiate a lease for two vacant buildings across the street from the salon and she had just been informed that they accepted the offer! Praise God! They really needed the boost and encouragement today!

After service we all went to a yummy lunch, then readied ourselves for the self defense class. While we were in Cambodia last week, Papa Joe, Phil and I taught this class over five days but here we condensed it into a three hour session for the Shear Love staff and students. Everyone was very receptive to learning the skills and seemed to really enjoy the class and camaraderie. It was wonderful to see the students’ confidence soar!

After class, it was back to the hotel for a quick little nap to prepare for our outreach tonight on Walking Street and Beach Road. We had prepared little packages of condoms with a note hidden inside that has a hotline number for Shear Love to call if they want a way out or feel they are in danger. My Shear Love partner and I were assigned to Walking Street which is very much like Fremont Street-in-Vegas-on-steroids. I was totally out of my comfort zone walking up to the “working girls and lady boys” and handing them condoms, but they were very appreciative. We had some good conversations and really tried to get to know them and let them know they are loved.

It is heartbreaking to know that most of the women have children at home and families they are working to support, but this is precisely why Shear Love does outreach: to let them know they are loved, they have self worth, and to give them hope and a way out.

 -Marie V.
















Share each other’s burdens and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). This is the verse God shared with me as I tried to prepare for another night on the Walking Street in Pattaya, Thailand.

Last night I honestly felt so useless as I walked down this street filled with loud music, lights, vendors holding sex menus, groups of men (mostly younger men), tour groups, families, and women for sale! These women came in different colors, different sizes and even spoke different languages. What stood out to me the most about the women for sale is they looked nervous. I couldn’t get one of them to make eye contact with me. As I exited this famous street, I felt absolutely useless. I asked the Lord, “Why did you make a way for me to be here if I can’t do anything for these women?”

I woke up today feeling homesick with that same question lingering, ‘why am I here?’. With a heavy heart, I spent the whole day at Shear Love with staff and students. We had church service for the second time this week! And as a team we prayed over two women, one was young and barely beginning her life, the other was tired and beaten down by life. The contrast broke my heart!

The students were taught self-defense by some of our team while the rest of us wrapped condoms for outreach. During our lunch break, I got to speak to four of the students! Our conversations were more like icebreakers, but I am hopeful for deeper conversations. And as we walked to dinner, I met a really nice woman named Ruth. She knew the Shear Love team and yes, she was for sale.

During dinner one of the ladies on staff at Shear Love asked me how I felt about last night’s walk through The Walking Street. I looked into her caring eyes and said, “useless” and she said, “not at all–you will share with others everything that you have seen here.”

As our team split up, men went to one area and we women to another. I prayed, “Ok Lord, tonight as I pass out condoms to the women who are for sale I will share their burden!” We split up in teams of two, some groups went to pass out condoms on Beach Road and some on The Walking street.

My partner and I began walking through The Walking street, and right away we both noticed a woman crying in the alley and another trying to console her. So, we decided to go down the alleys, and our first encounter was with a Lady Boy (transgender). We greeted in the proper Thai way with a big smile and hands clasped together (like in prayer) and bowed saying sah wah dee khaa (which is how you say hello to a woman). The Lady Boy made eye contact with us and greeted us in the same way! I was nervous, excited and relieved all at the same time! We gifted our new friend with a small packet of condoms wrapped up in a beautiful bow and then we made friends with this Lady Boy’s coworker and gifted her condoms too! They were so thankful, and we made some small talk before they went back to work!

From there it was on! We were walking down all the alleys, making new friends, and passing out condoms! At one point we made a bit of a ruckus as we were making friends with a large group. What I believe to be a pimp cleared his throat and all of us got the message that it was time to move right along! These women were eager to share with us– I mean I even got to see pictures of one woman’s children! Needless to say, we ran out of condoms fast!

As I sit in my hotel room trying not to disturb my roommate as I write this, I can say I know now why I am here in Thailand, why God has called me so far away from my husband, kids, and community. I am here to share the burdens of women, men, and children who are for sale! I ask you to pray for our team, the staff at Shear Love, their students, and for all the work they are doing here.

Sherri G.

Day 11

Today was an amazing experience. We started our morning by spending a full day at Shear Love. We had an amazing time of worship, praising God by singing songs and praying. I really love spending time with the students who are bright and articulate men and women, who all have new hope and feeling of renewal now, thanks to this organization. The staff is amazing and I thoroughly enjoy their company. They are to be admired.

We continued our day by preparing for our night outreach. We neatly packaged up hundreds of condoms to hand out to the ladies on beach row all with a pretty bow and note inside to call if they need help, with an invitation to church. My heart was full as I prayed for God’s work to be done and that the women we would meet would be receptive to talking with us.

As we headed out in groups of three, we hit the streets with our gifts in hand. Each one of us handed out our gifts to the women and made light conversation with them. I stopped and asked two women how they were doing, and the conversation flowed. One shared with me that she doesn’t want to be doing what she is doing, but it’s a means of providing for her child. She then glowingly showed me pictures of her son and her home in Cambodia, and the conversation drifted from why she was there–now we were just two Moms talking about our children and the love we have for them.

She allowed me to pray for her and she thanked me for spending a moment talking to them. Under a beautiful moonlight night, we shared a hug and light laughter and a fleeting moment in time when we were just two Moms removed from the barriers between us and the darkside of the nightlife in Pattaya and the circumstances in which we met.

In my short time here I have seen God move in big ways with ground-breaking changes happening before my eyes.

All the glory and praise to God!!!

Love from Pattaya Thailand
Carla D.















The last few nights we have been doing outreach in the darkest part of Pattaya, Thailand. The men have been going into the Red Light area and making contacts with the male prostitutes in the bars. Since we have been out late, we have not been getting as much sleep as we would like, but today we were able to sleep in.

The morning started at 0900 hours when the two vans came and picked us up to take us to “Shear Love’s” facility. Like each day, we start it with prayer before splitting up into men and women groups for devotion time. Today’s men’s devotion was conducted by Kerry Casler. His inspiring message ended with Matthew 6:9-14, the Lord’s prayer. The Thai students looked very pleased and respected Kerry’s presentation.

For lunch today we went to a very special place called “The Lighthouse Cafe”. What makes this so special is the two American missionaries (Joshua and Tina) who started it. The husband and wife left the comfort of the United States to serve in a dark part of the world, even though they did not want to be there. As they described it, God chose this place to send them. They humbled themselves and followed what God had told them, and now they have a cafe that is thriving in the area. But the best part is, they are spreading the word of God and all the Thai employees are now Christians.

This evening we went to an area called “Section 6”. This location has to be the darkest area in Pattaya. There is no doubt that this is the devil’s playground. Even though satan has a stronghold of the area, it still belongs to God and will be returned some day. The street is lined with bars and women dressed as provocative as can be. The women are known to be aggressive and advance towards men walking the street. They will try to pull the men into the clubs. To prevent this from happening to us men, our faithful and fearless women had us walk in between them as they surrounded us. They then escorted us into the Christian “Tamar Center”. We looked at them as our heroes and thanked them for caring for us.  The Tamar Center is located in the heart of Section 6. The building is four stories high and you can look down on the street from the roof tops. We all gathered on the roof tops and prayed for the salvation of this place and for the people who work and visit it.

Afterward we went back inside and sang praise for the next hour. God does have his hand at work by having the “Tamar Center” there to help any one who comes and wants it.

Gene L.








Today was our last day working with the students at Shear Love. Final hair cuts and beard trimming for the guys and the girls got their hair done. They are all looking beautiful. All had a great time.
This area of Thailand is so dark and evil. Yet there are a number of small Christian organizations out spreading the gospel nightly. Getting results one person at a time.
We are in a brothel and bar area as I write. My stomach is sickened as I look down on the activity below. Father, touch the hearts of the people here. Let your love replace the sin I see. Heal these people and this nation.

Kerry C.















Hello my family and friends,

There is so much to share about what we have been doing here, it is hard to know where to start. Our days have been filled with spending time with the staff and students, here at Shear Love.

Today some of us continued to wrap together condoms with ribbon to hand out at night. A few of us ladies, including me, had the privilege of sitting in on the devotional time which was taught by Carla. We prayed, read scriptures, and learned what it is to have a heart of stone vs a heart like a sponge. God softens our heart, and we become compassionate. God can use us, transform us, fill us with His love and joy. Then we will pour out into others from the abundance in us. The most beautiful sound was heard when the students read scripture, turned to it in their bibles and ALL read together, as one, in Thai. What a sweet sound!
After dinner, the SL staff and our team met at the hotel to regroup and pray before we went out. The guys left together and headed to gay bars. The rest of us jumped onto a “sung tao” and headed to ‘beach street’. Last night we passed out condoms and we will do the same tonight. But it’s more than just giving a girl (or a guy) a condom, it’s about building relationships. I’m paired with two staff, Keri and Juliann. It’s Keri’s first time doing “ condom Outreach” too.

Last night, we started with a Thai greeting and gave a “gift”to each girl we met (the gift is six condoms tied together with ribbon). We smiled and asked different questions, such as, “How are you?”, “Do you have any babies?”, “How long have you been here?” “Where are you from?” and then we would see where the conversation went from there. It’s amazing how grateful the ladies are. At first they are hesitant, but then when they see we genuinely care, they smile back and start talking. They are all beautiful children of God who have been caught in a bad situation. Some are desperate to provide food for their babies, some were lied to, some have no education or skill to earn money. There are so many different stories as to why they are here, but ALL said they did not want to be there on the street and that this is not good.

Last night was amazing. I felt overwhelmed with compassion and love for each girl. They each had a story and I was blessed and honored to serve them.

Tonight, I’m excited to go back and talk to the ladies we met as well as a young man whom Juliann had lost contact with. She was able to reconnect and get his contact information. He too expressed a strong desire to get off the street, that it was “not good”.

However, it started pouring rain as we were about to leave the hotel. We prayed and waited for the rains to stop, so we could go out to do condom outreach. When it stopped to a sprinkle, we were off in a”sung tao” to beach street.

The rains definitely made a difference in the traffic of people. Nevertheless, divine appointments were about to happen. Tonight the girl’s faces lit up as we approached them–so happy to see us and talk with us. “Business “ was slow for them, but that gave us more opportunity to get their information and invite them to church, even as we handed them the condoms. Juliann is a rockstar! Her love for them was so evident with each conversation.

One lady in particular wanted to know why we were out here. She didn’t understand the importance of using a condom; of course we explained. She said some ladies have black hearts but we have white hearts. She was so touched and wanted to be our friend. Others were so excited to have an opportunity to learn English, learn a trade, and to know someone cared and loves them, unconditionally. My love for each of these ladies is unexplainable.

Last night, my little group passed out over 50 “gifts”, whereas tonight, we only passed out less than 20. God had used the rain to allow these moments. We were able to talk more, love more, and hug these ladies, leaving them with hope and new friendships.

Our night was not over–Juliann was on a mission to find our young man. We finally did! Enjoying an ice cream with him and a friend, Juliann shared with him about Shear Love and what they can offer him. He was ready! He wanted to start tomorrow. And he agreed to come in. I’m so excited for him. He is so excited to change his life, to get off the streets.

When I first heard we were doing “Condom Outreach”, I couldn’t imagine what it really meant. It’s like the ‘Asah Shama’ we believe in at Crossroads. You don’t understand until you do it. It may sound like a silly thing to do, as if we’re supporting the cause. BUT since we hide an invitation inside to connect with Shear Love and escape this life, it’s vital in opening doors, sharing Christ, changing lives, and keeping the ladies safe. As the girls on my team like to say “safe is the new sexy!”😘 It truly was my favorite thing to do. What a blessing it has been to love on these ladies and men in a way that comes through Jesus!

Jennifer V.

The young man we met last night came to Shear Love. Dianna interviewed him and he starts tomorrow in the Barber program. So awesome! He is off the streets! My heart is so happy! I will never forget the look of joy and gratefulness on his face when we told him about Shear Love. Praise God!!

Day 12

Today was so amazing!! After a week of serving among some of the most difficult sights to see, our team had a chance to see a different side of Thailand!

We went to the Sanctuary of Truth, an incredible, beautiful sight to see. It was insightful to see and hear about the history of this beautiful yet broken country. The intricate detail of the hand-crafted wooden sculptures by some incredibly gifted and talented Thailand workers was so impressive.

As we toured this amazing structure, we were given a guided tour. It was so interesting to hear about the Buddhist culture. What was even more interesting was our beautiful tour guide who introduced himself openly as a ladyboy. He was witty–actually hysterical, and also very good at his job! Our team was so sweet and kind to him as he’d share jokes and stories. I’m sure he usually got a different reaction out of other guests but didn’t get the same reaction from us (fully understanding the reputation of Pattaya and why visitors go there!)

The funny thing was during his tour he shared his journey/testimony and all of us could see the pains and scars of the choices he had made in his past. You could see he had gone down an empty path and was trying now to gain a type of “normal life”. He probably sensed something different from our group as we didn’t react to some of his jokes. He asked if we were Christians. He shared about the Buddhist culture, and one of the “characteristics” is that they are encouraged to do good in the world and that mankind should take care of mankind. He shared how he was discriminated against in his workplace, but he knows his own heart and that he, as they believe, needed to do self care first. We all felt his sincerity.

At the end of our tour I asked him if I could take a selfie with him. I wanted to remember his face to pray for him when I got home. His heart and story touched us; of course he said yes! He could actually pose for photos better than all of us! Then a group of us ladies all took a photo with him and he loved it! We all hugged him, and Lisa stopped and told him that Jesus loved him no matter what others said and we would be praying for him!! He was obviously touched.

After our tour we were able to take a little gondola ride and sip on fresh coconut! UHHHHMAZING!! I kept thinking to myself, how can this place be so beautiful and just a few miles away it is so very dark.

We were then spoiled with a little foot massage–so nice! Papa Noel, aka Santa, aka Gene, fell fast asleep and I think even snored. We had a good laugh!

Spending the day with our incredible team was bittersweet! We had a tough week with the things we experienced together, but as we were wrapping up our journey, this team was amazing, jumping in and digging in together!! I’ve known some of these people for years and serving alongside them on this trip has made me love and respect them even more!

We had a bit of free time before dinner! I was happy to share a sweet moment as I explored the beach with my co-leader/ daughter Brianna. We went on our last little shopping spree to get trinkets for the kids and our family. Brianna was adamant in making sure we took a little time to stick our feet in the sand and dip our feet in the Gulf of Thailand! As we let the cool water hit our toes, we looked out at the beautiful water and sight around us. It is such a beautiful sight, one that you would see in photos that describe the beauty of Thailand– and again it is so confusing that this same beautiful place carries so much darkness and disparity! My heart is so torn.

Brianna and I both agreed this place has a piece of our heart in the strangest way! The team at Shear Love is so inspirational, I truly think they are angels in disguise! I have the upmost respect for them! I was very excited to have our last dinner in Thailand with them.

We had a beautiful dinner at a very fun restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms!!! It was a restaurant that was started for the purpose of creating sexual awareness during the AIDS campaign!! As we entered, it felt like a dream: green trees like a jungle, and as we found our way it opened up to a breathtaking oceanscape sunset!! I mean like WOW!! We were not able to enjoy the sunsets like this earlier in the week!! We all took photos of it and really took in the beauty of it all!! What a sweet time we shared! I feel like I have a whole new set of daughters across the world! I sat across from sweet Meagan who has the cutest southern accent and next to our own Crossroadian Lady Di!

We had fun singing to the background music that played The Carpenters and other oldies!! We had a blast with this team! Sweet Juliann, resident IE girl also stole my heart a bit and let’s not forget the enforcer Maria!! I love them all!!

We sat and stuffed ourselves one last time, laughing and enjoying the beautiful sunset, Thai Tea, and peaceful surroundings with no sight of what we’d been witnessing earlier in the week. It was honestly refreshing for us all.

We shared stories of the young man who started school today! This is the same young man who our team met on the street just two days prior during our condom outreach! We witnessed a miracle, an actual life saved from sex trafficking! It was a sweet miracle to me because of the prayer my husband made the night we went to do the condom outreach. He actually prayed that we would connect with many but specifically for one lost soul that would come to the program!! God answered prayers!

As we laughed and ate, we could feel the time drawing to a close for us to leave, but none of us wanted to go! So many God stories, so many miracles we witnessed! The ups and down of this place are vast, but the hope and light of Jesus is here and growing, It’s here! Lady Di was almost refusing to leave her seat– she like many of us didn’t want our time to end! Our time was sweet with her and her team! So sweet for me because I never thought I would actually be with Dianna in the shop, definitely not on the streets of Pattaya with her! Yes a sweet memory to hold for a lifetime. We all hugged those sweet NEXT GENERATION abolitionists for Jesus and said our farewells!

We then headed to our hotel to do our last debrief! Joey and Brianna were amazing leaders! Leading out a team of mature adults (oldies like me) could have been daunting, especially when both of them had their parents on the team, but these two have been trained well. They led well and were thoughtful and so patient, and great communicators! As a team member, I was so blessed; as a parent, I am so proud!

Our debrief was full of deep thoughts, sweet words, edification and affirmation to each one! “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11

This was a powerful attribute that I feel our team was strong in this entire trip! With 3 retired policemen, 2 elders, 2 staff, parents and a heap of laughter, this was our best debrief yet! Even the little visitor (Thailand bug) who blessed Joe Sr. couldn’t detour us from our time together!!

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV

I feel this scripture represented our team. We worked together as a tight team and we were strong together! Each one bringing different gifts to the table, each one of us challenged to go outside our comfort zone, each one of us called by Jesus to serve in this trip!

He calls us to go make disciples. He didn’t say it’d be easy, comfortable, clean, or beautiful– He just called us! I truly feel our team answered this calling on this trip. This is a great cause but a tough trip, and yet a beautiful trip! Today was a good day of fun, laughter and reflection! We have spread the light of Jesus internationally, and now we will continue to do the same at home!
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
John 1:9 NIV

I am going home with so much to process and so much to share! God has again impressed His message and words on my heart to share and give to others. I’m am forever blessed!!! Last shout-out to the best roomie ever…. Zenia you are the cheddar to my cheese!! I can’t wait to see what God’s got planned for you!!

Debbie B.

Day 13

Today is the last day of our mission trip, and we took the day to enjoy the beauty that Thailand has to offer. After working alongside Shear Love and their students this week, we got to learn a bit about Thailand.

We started the day with a trip to Sanctuary of Truth. “Sanctuary of Truth is an all-wood building filled with sculptures based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu beliefs.” It is an amazing piece of architecture, which was started in 1981 and is expected to be completed by 2050.

At the Sanctuary of Truth, Oom (pronounced with a long vowel, not to be mistaken with om short vowel, which changes the meaning drastically), who was our tour guide is a lady boy. She was great!! She was extremely funny and witty. It was very clear that she enjoyed her job. She took the time to explain the meaning of each section of the sanctuary. It was thoughtful and very thorough. Since the sanctuary was made of wood, it was extremely hot in there. I think all of us were sweating bullets (more so than usual); we were pretty drenched by the end of it.

Once the tour was over, several of us stayed back and took pictures with Oom and poured a bit of God’s love into her life by laughing and talking with her. In the few short minutes that we got to spend with Oom, God showed me that it doesn’t take much to show and share His love. It can be done with kindness, kind words, and giggles or laughter. He works in miraculous ways. I don’t understand it; but then again, if there’s anything I learned from missions trips, it is that I don’t need to.

After the Sanctuary of Truth, we took a gondola ride while drinking fresh coconut juice followed by foot massages!!! It was much needed after the walking we did the past couple of weeks.

The rest of the afternoon we relaxed, packed our luggage, and for some of us … last minute shopping.

At 6 o’clock we left our hotel for our last meal in country with Shear Love staff. Our dinner was at Cabbages and Condoms. Yes, you read that right! It’s a condom-themed restaurant. “The founder believes that birth control should be as accessible and as easy to buy as vegetables in the market!” It uses jokes and fun visuals to overcome reluctance to discuss issues such as sex, family planning, and HIV/AIDS.”

Dinner was amazing with an assortment of Thai food and our last Thai Iced Tea in Thailand. It was bittersweet to be spending this last night with Shear Love team. This week has been a roller coaster of emotion, and in just a short time all of us bonded with the team. I feel like I am leaving a piece of my heart behind. I love each and every one of the staff at Shear Love and their heart for the lost. While we get to go home, they are staying to continue the work for the Lord. Please pray for them as they are fighting on the front line of the battlefield in Pattaya. I know I will continue to do so.

After dinner, we had our last incountry debrief and it was powerful, as each of us shared what stuck out or what we’ve learned during this trip.

I cannot believe two weeks has gone by so quickly and yet it feels as if we’ve been here forever. I will never forget the open smile faces of the Khmer kids, and the heart, dedication, and love of the brothers and sisters in both Cambodia and Thailand.

As they always say, it’s not a goodbye but a ‘see you later’.

Akun, Svay Pak! ❤
Kap kun ka, Pattaya!❤

Zenia B.

Day 14

I cannot believe our time has in Asia has come to an end already! The best advice I was ever given about mission work was “expect nothing.” There is something to be said about answering God YES when he calls you. There are amazing things that happen when you wake up every morning and ask God to use you. I was reminded daily that this is God’s ministry. I was to enter in with open hands and allow him to lead me as I was charged to lead others. I loved getting to watch the team experience Kid’s Club in Cambodia, fall in love with the disciples, marvel at God’s hand over Svay Pak and shed tears over the people of Cambodia. It was incredible to watch each person make connections with staff and students at Shear Love. I watched as hearts broke when we prayed through the streets of the red light district. I watched them light up ministering to the men and women enslaved there. It was so amazing to get to support our very own Dianna Bautista and her team of angels this week. The work here is extremely overwhelming. There are so many people to help and with every moment of victory there is apprehension of eminent defeat. I love the hearts of these people as they trust God EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. They are diligent to be in the right place at the right time. While our team hugged and supported their staff through hardships we felt the weight of these beautiful people. The spiritual oppression runs deep through this land. But God owns this city! He is the King of these people and we see the hope. The light. It is in the faces of the students who have been rescued from their chains. They see God in the love they are shown and we were blessed to hear story after story of victory. It’s all God! All the time. One of the best moments was on a rooftop in the worst street of the red light district. We gathered with people we just met as brothers and sisters to praise God. There in the midst of darkness, He met us. We prayed and interceded for the men and women below and we asked God to redeem them. We asked for a new day when they will be freed and we are believing in that day. Never in a million years did I think I would see by God passing out condoms on Beach Road and Walking Street. But He met us there. He was in the precious conversations we had and hugs we received. From this week alone we have had at least 5 people express interest in joining Shear Love. We danced in the salon as we witnessed God answer a prayer. “When Jesus say yes, nobody can say no!” We serve the God of miracles and He is not done in Pattaya. No, He’s just getting started! Last year’s trip wrecked me. It forever changed me for the better and I praise God for that. This year we had a lot of conversations about not wanting to forget what we’ve seen. Where on every street people, humans, our brothers and sisters are being sold. Men, women and children are being exploited and there is no excuse for it. May I never be overcome by the mundane. May I not get so busy in my normal day to day routine that I forget their faces. Join me on praying for the teams and the awesome works here in Cambodia and Thailand. Pray for every person who has sacrificed for these unreached people. Pray for miracles and continued protection on the frontlines. Pray that we would all be hearers and doers of the Word.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:19-25‬

I will miss these beautiful places but mostly I will miss our Khmer & Thai family! May God continue to bless and flourish there.

Brianna Hoover
Phil. 4:13

I am never at a loss for words but this trip has left me at times speechless. I have traveled the world and sadly you can become used to the poverty, injustice, and spiritual emptiness that surrounds us. I know at times it’s a coping method, other times it’s just knowing that God’s plans are not ours– we don’t chose the life God has planned for us. We can only hope to be a light no matter what our circumstances.

This is my third trip to Thailand, and each time has been harder than the last. As I stared evil in the face for this past week, there was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, darkness and my biggest question, why? Why are there people, with such evil hearts who would sell men,
women & children over and over. The cycle is exhaustive, generational, and seems endless.

At Shear Love International, founded by our very own Dianna Bautista, there is light that shines in the darkest corners–meeting those who are trafficked right where they are, late at night in the red light district handing out small stacks of condoms. Each stack had a note hidden inside with scripture and a phone number where they can begin conversations on how to leave the industry they have been enslaved in.

The missionaries walk the streets and visit the bars to build relationship; there is no judgment, just love. Over time they have helped men and woman leave the industry and learn a trade as a hair stylist or barber. As they have built partnerships with other Christian organizations, they help find placement in other trades as well.

Lighthouse is a new ministry that works hand-in-hand with Shear Love. They run a cafe/coffee shop that employs those at risk. They also do community outreach in the slums feeding families, providing medical care, and sharing the gospel. Prevention is a key component to eradicating the cycle of trafficking.

Shear Love is part of a movement that is attacking the overwhelming evils of trafficking one life at a time. You can make a difference too. You have been made aware, now make others aware. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to experience trafficking. It’s everywhere. “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know” ~ William Wilberforce

Lisa M.

I had been anticipating this trip for months. As the leader, I knew what we would be doing, and I had visited both Thailand and Cambodia before. I knew the sadness that would come from leaving my wife and little ones behind, and I knew the pains of jet lag. I was looking forward to the joy of living and working as a team.

Yet, nothing ever prepares you to see God’s mighty works. During the entire trip, I was overwhelmed by our brothers and sisters here in these countries. They work tirelessly, and often without any real thanks and reward. I was truly inspired once again by their commitment to seeing God’s Kingdom come, and His will be done.

Our team could not have been better. This group, now family, was one of the best teams I have been a part of. They stayed engaged the entire time, loving people well. Our last night of ministry we ended with a worship night on a rooftop looking down over hundreds of women and men buying and selling themselves to one another. Never have I seen praises lifted high for Jesus in such a dark place. That night we felt heaven touch earth.

I pray I can remember every smile, every prayer and moment. We had tears of sorrow and tears of joy. I will never forget my friend who I had the honor of getting to know while playing pool together in a boys bar. He prostitutes himself so his three younger brothers can go to school and learn English. At 24 years old he has already made the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

While we live so far away, I couldn’t help but feel we are all responsible for what is happening here. I must learn to love people deeply, and to not think so much of myself. Our world is reaping what we have sown. I want to sow a little more Jesus, and less self-interest.

If you are reading this, I hope you will continue to pray with me for Thailand and Cambodia. They are beautiful countries with beautiful people. Crossroads has started some incredible partnerships working in areas where not much is being done. I ask for your continued support, and maybe even think about joining us and our team.

Joey V.