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Summer missions changed my life says young woman ministering in East Asian brothels

By Barbara Denman

August 29, 2013


The brightly hued neon lights of the East Asian city flashed as Molly Frank walked along the streets at night. Looking for telling signs and symbols of sex trafficking, she easily spotted the brothels, as many as ten on each street, within blocks of each other.

Many of the young women walking the streets, enticing men in bars and along sidewalks originally came from outlying villages, searching for a way to support their families still living in the countryside.

What they find is isolation, physical abuse and sexually transmitted diseases in this degrading form of prostitution and slavery. They live in a tangled web unable to escape their predators—their hopes for a brighter future dashed by cruel reality.

“A lot of the girls were younger than me and I kept thinking what if it were me or my sister or friends,” said Frank. “They don’t realize that they are getting into something that they are not going to get out of.

“I wanted the girls to know that God has not forgotten them and that He does have a plan for their lives, regardless of their circumstances.”

Molly Frank is not her real name, but today when the worldwide internet makes information accessible to groups antagonistic toward Christianity, she must go by a pseudonym if she hopes someday to return to minister among the hurting East Asia women. Even the specific city and country where she serves cannot be named to protect full-time workers who continue to minister there.

Although a language barrier existed, Frank was able to make contact with several of the young women roaming the streets and working in brothels.

“They were really surprised that people from America would just come and spend time with them. I didn’t know that would make them feel special, but they are not used to anyone giving them attention,” she explained. “That someone would come, just sit with them, give them a hug and bring them little gifts.”

Frank and the small team of summer missionaries with her offered the women something many of them had never experienced – genuine, Christ-like love and compassion.

One young woman in particular seemed “stand-offish at first. She didn’t want to talk about Jesus, she just stood there, looking scared,” Frank reported.

But as Frank began to model the hands and feet of her Savior, the young prostitute grew comfortable with her and the Americans. Hearing the story of Christ, she accepted Him as her Lord. Now joy springs forth within the East Asian woman, visible for the world to see, said Frank, proving to her that one life matters.

The East Asia city is far geographically from the small West Florida town where Frank grew up and the university she attended. During her first months of college, few would have envisioned her serving Christ among the sex trades in that East Asian urban center.

Arriving on campus as a freshman, Frank was much more interested in her sorority’s party lifestyle than living out the truths she had found through her own home church.

But when she attended a Baptist Campus ministry event, the Panhandle student heard another young woman—and former party girl—share her experiences as a summer missionary.

“I remember thinking that God would never use me like that,” Frank said. So she spoke to the speaker who told her if she would “give up all that stuff to the Lord, you will be amazed at what He does with it,” Frank recalled.

“I was like, okay God, I’ve made a mess of some things but if you can use this, here you go.” The next summer Frank participated in summer missions for the first time.

That year Frank conducted vacation Bible schools for Haitian churches in Miami where she led a child to Christ for the first time. From then on, she spent her summers and spring vacations finding opportunities to serve Christ. She traveled globally to spread the gospel message—to Canada, Russia, Ghana, Georgia and Alabama for tornado relief.

Upon graduation from college, the 28-year-old joined the university’s BCM staff leading Bible studies and mentoring young women, taking a group of them with her when she returned to East Asia.

As one life touched hers, she, in turn, has touched others, both in her Panhandle community and a world away. Through her mentoring she invested in their lives, demonstrating a heart of generosity of time and spirit.

Now Frank challenges others to follow in her footsteps through summer missions. “It’s something that changed my life in college so I’m always trying to encourage other students to do summer missions. It makes it possible for people to experience what God is doing all over the world.”

Florida Baptists have the opportunity to demonstrate a heart of generosity through the Maguire State Mission Offering, which provides funding each year for students like Frank to participate in a summer missions experience. In 2013 offering proceeds allocate $15,000 to underwrite the cost of the trips for students who serve as Florida Baptists’ missionaries around the world.

“God is working through the lives of college students,” Frank said, “yet a lot don’t have money to go on mission. The offering helps them raise that much needed money.

“And that will change their lives like it changed mine.”

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