By Mark Ellis, Special to ASSIST News Sevice
BANGKOK, Thailand (ANS — March 2, 2015) — There should be a warning sign at the entrance to Bangkok’s red light district: any resemblance between this street and Dante’s second circle of hell are purely coincidental. Proceed at your own risk – few escape without burns to their soul.
But inferno is an apt description of Bangkok’s sex trade capital, and the squalid streets bear an eerie resemblance to Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem describing his journey through Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil.
On the last night of our mission trip to Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, we decided to venture into the heart of darkness. Our church has begun to support the mission of Annie Dieselberg, who has lived in the red light district in Bangkok with her husband Jeff for almost 20 years, offering hope, healing, and rescue through Jesus to young women trapped in the sex trade.
We knew she operated a coffee shop in the midst of the squalor, but weren’t sure how to find it. As God led us, our taxi driver dropped us very close to her storefront location near Nana Plaza.
I had some trepidations as a man in entering this adult fantasy world, but thankfully, they evaporated quickly when I saw that the seedy, fetid reality was merely depressing and sad, with none of the enticement or allurement I might have expected.
Most of the male customers appeared to be Europeans or Americans, mostly gray, paunchy, long-in-the-tooth sad sacks, who spent a substantial amount of money to transport themselves to this man-made gehenna – something akin to the smoldering trash dump Jesus likened to hell.
At the open-air bars, with tables for two lining the boulevard, stacked 10 deep, the men consumed by demons of lust prey upon young girls with fair skin from the countryside. Sipping tropical cocktails, they look longingly into one another’s eyes and make silly jokes, attempting to bridge the gap between the depravity of cruel intentions and lost innocence.
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