Steamboat teachers Janna Hoza and Rebecca McNamara never thought they’d be “picking up” prostitutes in Thailand, but when they decided to be part of a church mission, they ended up doing exactly that.
The two women were part of a group from the Steamboat Christian Center who spent a week in Chiang Mai, Thailand, mingling in the bars where girls and women bargain their bodies out for dollars.
“The first night was really hard walking through the bars,” said graphic designer Jessica Wagner during an interview with fellow church members Hoza and McNamara.
“We worked with the children in the slums … worked with the orphanage and talked with monks. But our main focus was to minister to prostitutes in the bars,” Wagner said.
The church members paired up, and each night walked the gauntlet of noisy, neon-lighted bars where sex workers tried to lure in visitors.
“The prostitutes work for the bars,” Hoza explained. “They’re not on the streets with a pimp. There’s probably 25 to 30 bars in that area. Each of those bars would have three to 10 women working.”
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The Steamboat Christian Center sent the group to work with Lighthouse in Action, a Thailand group dedicated to helping women transition out of the sex industry. Church members say there are 2.5 million sex workers in Thailand, with almost 850,000 of those under 18 years old … overwhelming numbers for a little group from Steamboat.
“Our pastor told us, ‘Ask God to give you one, and do for the one what you wish you could do for everyone,'” said Hoza, a Strawberry Park Elementary School teacher.
In fact, Hoza and Pastor Daniel Susenbach connected with a young sex worker from Burma who had no…
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