Freedom in Thailand

December 16, 2021 | Written by Jonathan Cleveland

One of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve had the privilege of doing is serve as a volunteer with The Exodus Road. We’ve supported this organization at Pulpit Rock for a few years. And this December I was able to travel with them for the 4th time.

The work is equal parts heartbreaking, tedious, exhausting and redemptive.

There is a cost to trying to make a dent in something as dark and horrific as human slavery. Even as an occasional volunteer, I have to lean so heavily on Becky (and my friends, my church and my therapist) to go and then to recover from going. Yet there are dozens of people around the globe who do this work every day.

I am so thankful that as a church we have been able to rally around these men and women.

In my volunteer role, it is a privilege to be able to work directly with the staff in Thailand. They have had amazing success all year finding victims of trafficking and working with the Anti-Trafficking Police to facilitate rescues and arrests. The commercial sex trade has changed like everything else during COVID. And while the “Red Light” districts aren’t fully functional right now, there is a lot of online trafficking. The Thai staff has gotten creative and adjusted their approach accordingly. I got to see firsthand some of their results.

I want to ask you specifically to pray with me about a few active cases that we worked on involving minors (14-17) being sold for sex. I can’t share details here, but the evidence that has been collected is solid and actionable. Pray with me that the police would move quickly!

(By the way – if you ever want to hear more about what this work is like, it is a little safer to share face to face instead of online about it. Reach out to me and we can grab coffee and talk.)

One really unique part of this trip was the opportunity that I had to visit the Freedom Home. We began investing in this part of the Exodus Road last year. The idea is simply to provide a safe place for victims who are over 18 and need support and resources to change their life.

The core of the sex trade industry is poverty. In countries like Thailand, you have a lot of poor girls and boys who are taken advantage of, and then have very few economic options once they have been victimized. One of the heartbreaking parts of trafficking is, in many countries, there are a lot of resources for those under 18, but very few for those over 18.

The Freedom Home is a strategy to provide help and options for the victims looking for a different life.

During this last year, the Exodus Road has found an amazing group of leaders and social workers to launch this home. They just opened and have already gotten their first client!

This client is a 19-year-old girl who was trafficked at the age of 14 and has a 5-year-old daughter. She has tried to leave prostitution before, but as you can imagine, after so many years of victimization there are some huge hurdles to overcome. The hurdles are not just practical (like job training), they are also spiritual and emotional (both her and her daughter have experienced enormous trauma). Now she is in a place where she can get job training and medical care as well as trauma informed treatment and spiritual help.

The director of the Freedom Home met with her early on and asked her what her dream would be for work, for her daughter, for life. Her heartbreaking response was ‘no one has ever asked me that… I don’t know.’

The road to recovery will not be short (or easy). But today she is in a safe place where she can rest and begin to heal. And maybe even God can give her a dream of a life not full of abuse and desperation.

I was so truly amazed by the team at the Freedom Home. They are just getting started and they have really good ideas and plans to grow the ministry.

Pray for this first client and the continued work of the staff of the Freedom Home!

If you want to hear more – let’s talk!

If you want to help – start by giving to the Christmas Offering.

If you want to pray – these are “God-sized” problems. Pray for God-sized solutions. Pray for the girls and boys He loves that are caught up in this darkness. And pray for the amazing men and women in the trenches every day.


On a personal note – I’m so thankful that we are a church where we can talk about the really ugly stuff in the world. And that together we are finding the light of our beautiful Jesus in the darkness. Let’s keep being like that!

I love you people!

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