Below is an excerpt of the beginning of a prayer email we sent out to a group of people who pray for us (posted here quite a while after it was initially sent out):
Last night [June 4] Iven received an invitation to join a small team (two other guys) from Thailand to go to South Africa (during the World Cup) and reach out to men soliciting services in red light districts, leaving TONIGHT for 10 days. This is a short-term outreach put together by the MST Project – a ministry here in Bangkok that seeks to share God’s hope and love with men who come to Thailand as sex tourists. Iven helped MST project while it was getting started initially and we are both big supporters of the ministry (Our friend Chris, who started it, is a stellar communicator – you can find out more about this ministry at www.mstproject.com).
MST Project raised airfare and lodging funds for three staff but the third staff person that was planning on attending needed to change their plans, hence the last minute invitation. We discussed and prayed about it and together feel like this is an opportunity that Iven needs to take – it exercises a lot of his strengths and gifts and he would be a very valuable addition to the team. Additionally, just earlier this week we learned that the 4 interns we were expecting from UPC in Seattle will no longer be coming, due to the political unrest here in Bangkok. That was definitely a disappointment for us but it does make it possible for Iven to join this team and it reopens the question/discernment of how best to transition and invest over these next few months as our little girl is allowing us to be out-and-about and back to work, and is such a natural magnet for relationships. So, completely uncharacteristically (it usually takes us forever to make decisions) we both agreed he should seize the opportunity to serve, and now, 28 hours later, he is boarding a plane headed to Africa. We will all miss each other terribly. Izayla is growing and learning SO FAST and it does genuinely feel like a sacrifice to be away from her for a week and a half. Practically, caring for our little almost-3-month old daughter 24-hours a day by herself will be quite a big job for Kashmira as well (probably bigger than we realize right now), and our neighborhood also does feel a bit less secure without a husband/father at home. So, please be keeping our little family in your prayers…
So that was how this got started :). Here’s what happened: Iven felt God’s nearness through the whole trip. (Read our newsletter Rak Teh #13 for a short update). Additionally, the MST team’s local hosts had committed to take turns praying 24 hours a day for 40 days during the season of the World Cup, specifically focusing on sex trafficking and those that were expected to be trafficked in for the event. Iven spent some significant time in their prayer room and felt that it was a blessing to him just as much if not more than he was a blessing. A CNN story released a month later reported that prostitution levels in Johannesburg were dramatically down even from normal, and there was much, much less business than was predicted. Not often do we get to see direct answers to prayer reported on international news.