Let's get it over with and call me weird. I'm officially a Christian pastor, but if you read my previous posts (ok, I started strong and took a long break), you can figure that I can't imagine myself in a traditional role in a church of several hundred people, most of whom I barely know. For right now, the walls of what I like to think of as my "church" are lit up with neon signs advertising go-go bars. My church "members" are Thai prostitutes.
I never go there alone, but am always either with my wife or a male partner. It's not to avoid temptation, because I'd just as soon jump off a bridge as buy a prostitute. This rule does keep the guard rails on the bridge, but it also helps to prevent confusion in the women who know me there as "Ajarn Jim". "Ajarn" means "teacher" or "pastor".
Last night I took my friend John Walton to visit my "congregation". John was in town for a conference and wanted a few photos of the scene for a story he was working on. We stopped to see Plah and her cousin Ka in front of their bar. Ka was upset because her brother had wrecked the family motorbike that day, driving while drinking. Pastoral note to self: Ka is ready to learn about aloholic family systems, and how the money she gives to her family may be doing more harm than good.
I didn't see Toi at the bar next door, so went over to ask about her. Turns out she didn't work there anymore. Pastoral note: tell Judy to call Toi. I met for the first time Tik, 30, and An, 23, both with excellent English. I explained what I was doing there, and Ae seemed especially interested. I offered her a New Testament, and she was interested in that too. Turns out she's from Khio's province. Pastoral note: bring Khio with Judy to meet Tik and An. I also gave Tik an NT, as well as Tu, who came up very curious.
We went back down the street. Plah happened to be outside again, and Malee peeked out the door and she came out to greet us. Malee wants to study music and dance at a university but doesn't imagine that could ever happen. I reminded her of my standing invite to come over one day with Plah so we could hear her sing. "No problem" she laughed. I gave her a NT, told her to talk to Plah about it.
We walked back to John's hotel and ran into Ae, a freelancer that we met a year ago. Ae is always at the same spot, just sitting and hoping for a customer. She speaks almost no English. The last few times I had seen her she seemed angry or annoyed at my attempts to be nice to her without ever paying. This time she gave a big smile and appeared genuinely happy to see me. I asked if I could pray for her and she agreed. Pastoral note: bring Judy and spend time with Ae, maybe pay her for a couple of hours' time.