Sunday, February 5, 2012


We had a really amazing lady present in our church today. Her name is Marie Enns and she is a lifelong missionary in Cambodia. I've always been interested in Cambodia - it was the first place I tried going overseas and although the trip fell through I've always felt an affinity with it. Marie has a huge ministry there ministering to hundreds - taking in families devastated by AIDS, receiving children who've been abandoned, rescuing women (and sadly) children from the sex trade, helping the elderly, and so many other things. This woman was amazing - her love for the people, Jesus, and life is contagious. She is an extremely competent and faithful woman - the kind who is rare and inspiring. Kind of a Mennonite version of Mother Theresa.

Check out Marie's website here.

Anyway, Marie said something today that kind of blew my mind. She was talking about the problem of AID's in the population and how quickly it spread. She said this:

"100% of Cambodian men use prostitutes."

I was completely shocked. Could this be true (or even close)? It seems unbelievable. But apparently widespread acceptance of prostitution is a part of the culture. I did some research and apparently over 30% of 13 year old boys have slept with a prostitute and 90% of Cambodian men in university use prostitutes A few other quotes:

"Cambodian men are quite ready to admit that they seek the favours of prostitutes, even though they may be married and have two or three girlfriends on the side. It has become very much a part of life. For many Cambodian men, giving his friend a treat means taking him to a brothel. Men who decline such favours are looked upon as unusual, even abnormal."

Leela Barrock, "'Golden Flowers' a Thriving Trade," Business Times (Malaysia), Oct. 14, 1996

"...[L]ocal demand for prostitutes is estimated to contribute between 49 to 70 per cent of the demand for commercial sex in Cambodia. A 'high demand for virgins from Cambodian men fuelling the flow of underage girls into Cambodia's sex trade' was also cited as a concern...

There is a persistent belief among Cambodian men that sleeping with a virgin has rejuvenating powers and can even cure HIV/Aids."

"Locals Fuelling Child Prostitution," Straits Times (Singapore)/Agence France-Presse (AFP), Oct. 7, 2010

(Worldwide prostitution stats: click to enlarge)

As both a Christian and a counselor I cannot imagine how terrible the results are of such evil. An entire country where the vast majority of men use prostitutes? The mental, spiritual, physical, and relations effect on the people (men, women, and especially children) is unfathomable. Marie mentioned the children and women she met having "dead eyes" and I believe it. It is common in Cambodia for families to sell their daughters into sexual slavery and for men to sexually exploit women and children. It makes me ill to think of this but this is the shocking reality.

The work of people like Marie Enns is just a drop in the bucket, but for every woman or child that she rescues from a life of exploitation and hopelessness she is literally saving them from death. Besides protection, her ministry offers healing, hope in Christ, and love. My hope is someday to see her ministry in Cambodia with my own eyes and get involved. In the meantime I ask you to pray for the people of Cambodia who live in such darkness and ask God to raise up more Marie's to go and make a difference.


Terry L said...

The subject matter is really hard for me to process, especially now that I have kids of my own.

TJ said...

Mark, I met Marie 3 years ago when she had the booth directly across from Heartstrings at Missionfest so we had the chance to chat a lot. It was one of those "I want to grow up to be like her" moments. Truly encouraging inspirational woman! I love the way she keeps pointing me to Jesus in every interaction.
She was on 100 Huntley Street today if anyone wants to watch her interview online.