Celeste McGee knows brokenness. She has seen it in the eyes of countless men and women who are caught up in the sex trade in Bangkok, Thailand.
McGee, a 2006 Southwestern graduate with a master’s in marriage and family counseling, spent two years addressing “huge sexual brokenness” as she worked with prostitutes in Bangkok’s red light district. With 10,000 prostitutes in a one-mile radius, Thailand boasts more prostitutes than Christians and more brothels than schools.
Burdened for this kind of ministry shortly after she finished college, McGee came to Southwestern for the counseling program. She spent her summers in Bangkok with “The Well,” a non-profit organization that ministers to prostitutes. For her practicum at Southwestern’s Walsh Counseling Center, she led a women’s group for survivors of sexual trauma.
Upon graduation from seminary, McGee was able to serve with two other Southwesterners at “The Well” as an ISC missionary through the International Mission Board. At “The Well,” McGee discipled and counseled women who had been prostitutes. Often, she and her team would buy the prostitutes for a night in order to share the Gospel and minister to them.
McGee says this type of ministry can be emotionally and spiritually draining and credits her time at Southwestern for keeping her strong. “If I didn’t have the training, I don’t think I could have done it,” McGee says. “Without His strength, without His leading, without His divine direction, you will fail.”
For McGee, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “We must be willing to go to these hard areas,” she says. “We must be fishers of men and women.” She is currently raising support to return and continue her ministry in Bangkok.