These photos warm my heart. These ladies work tirelessly everyday on the front lines, going into the KTV bars a few times a week to build intentional friendships with women who are trapped in exploitation, listening to their stories of trauma, teaching them how to protect themselves and be more aware, and allowing themselves to feel the pain of watching the cycle of abuse happen daily. I am deeply moved by their commitment to the work they do, especially letting their heart draw near to loving each individual they journey with as they continually encourage them with hope and healing.
I had met Precious Women briefly during my first exposure to the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia three years ago. This time, we had the privilege of spending two days with these ladies on a spiritual formation retreat. It has been such a gift and I learned a lot from their courage to step out boldly in faith and obedience to what God has called them to, despite the heaviness of their everyday work.
One evening, just as I was about to head back to my dorm, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the men who work with Precious Women. Victor works in the outreach department and goes into the KTV bars weekly to teach girls how to protect themselves by empowering them to notice danger signs. He encourages them to value their bodies and not be afraid to defend themselves. He shared how some of their stories really break his heart and are very painful to hear. When I asked him about his own personal self-care rhythms, he says he regularly goes swimming and does weekly exercises to unwind. Despite the challenging work, he believes that there is hope for each individual he coaches and that God has called him to continue in this ministry.
Watching Solida and her team come together eating crab (their favourite food!), sleeping in the same room, sharing laughter, tears, and bonding in friendship was such a gift. I know it’s rare they are able to spend two whole days out of their workload to travel to the seaside and getaway. It’s such a treasured time for their group to feel encouraged, rest, play, and worship God and pray together.
Waking up early morning before sunrise in Shalom Valley, I look out into the horizon and rejoice at God’s goodness in making Shalom Valley a dream come true. After years of fervent prayer and the incredible generosity of partners like Tenth Church, this camp was made a reality and able to serve its exact purpose of hospitality – a beautiful environment offering a space of healing and restoration to bless groups like Precious Women.
In the afternoon, our team came together to lead them in worship and we were all deeply moved to witness how the Lord is rekindling His deep love for each of them. Voices go out among the crowds, crying out for God’s mercy, His healing touch, and His strength to equip them in this battle. Solida, the founder of this ministry, stood up in the middle of worship and led a powerful prayer. Tears of lament, tears of joy, tears of the Father’s love channelling through her as she empowers her beloved disciples through spoken words.
At the end of the retreat, our pastor Patrick and missionary Kevin had a chance to send them off in prayer and commission them as they continue to battle the front lines and do the work God has called them to.
What a precious time with the Precious Women team.
Some of Precious Women's items will be on sale at Fair Trade Christmas.
This post was written by Elaine Cheng. Elaine is a foodie, entrepreneur, and manager of Oasis Cafe. You can find more of her blogs at They Call Me Little One.