114. The Don

In another dream I’m with Don Brewster.

In a coffee shop.

I’ve never met Don Brewster before, but I get the Agape news letters.

We’re in a coffee shop just outside the Phnom Penh town centre on National Road 6 going towards Svay Pak.

Svay Pak is famous for the child brothels.

I first read about it in Somaly Mam’s book.

Then in Gary Haguens book Terrify No More about the raid and rescue operations carried out by IJM –The International Justice Mission – which is the reason I moved to Cambodia in the first place.

When I was an actor, I used to get inspired by the Bourne trilogy.

By Jason Bourne.

And when ever I was in the gym that’s what would inspire me.

I’d be on the dread mill and the only thing that would keep me going was the thought of one day playing a character in a movie like Jason Bourne.

Then, after I read Gary Haguen’s Terrify No More all about the raid and rescue operations, rescuing kids from brothels – and after I saw the videos on YouTube – then, whenever I was training in the gym I’d imagine I was an undercover agent for IJM on a mission to rescue kids.

And when I’d push myself on the dread mill I’d imagine I was running fast to rescue a kid.

That’s what I’d imagine.

That must be when my dreams changed.

My goals.

After I read Terrify No More.

When I realized that being a successful actor, a movie star whatever, nothing was as important as saving these children.

Creating a safe world.

Protecting kids from the monsters who want to hurt and abuse them.

What work could possibly be as important as protecting poor, vulnerable, at risk children.

And suddenly my dreams and desires seemed selfish.

A bible verse I heard a lot at church in London was:

Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

I used to think that meant pray a lot and He would make me a successful actor.

But then God, He changed the desires of my heart.

He changed my desire.

From a movie star hero to a real life hero.

He showed me there is more important work than Acting.

Now I’m not saying Acting’s not important.

Of course films, TV can have valid messages and can influence inspire and make an impact.

Art can change the world.

Of course I believe that.

But sometimes there’s a need for more urgent work.

Some work is more urgent.

I’ve got to say it – some work is more important.

Work like what IJM and Don Brewster do.

So, yeh, Don, he set up a church in Svay Pak.

His Agape Ministries is based there.

So me and Don, we’re sitting having a coffee.

(I’ve never met Don ever remember. This was a dream).

He’s like the Don Corleone of the anti child sex trafficking Christian NGO world, Don Brewster.

He’s The Don.

Him and Gary Haguen, founder of IJM.

Godfather 1 & 2.

So there I am, sitting there with Don, and I say:

But you know, Don, I know most Christians won’t agree – but I don’t give a flying ferrari what anyone thinks – I know – or at least, I believe with all my heart – God allowed me to get addicted to crystal meth so I could get close to the sex workers I was reaching out to.

Don, he don’t flinch.

Most Christians, they’d chirp in with some judgemental, self righteous, know all statement like…

I don’t think God wanted you to take drugs, do you?

But not Don.

He’s like Marlon Brando, just staring straight into my eyes, listening.

And fuk all them Christians looking down their noses at me, criticizing me…

I continue.

As Jackie Pullinger says in her book Chasing the Dragon:

“It’s easy to be a Christian in Kensington.”

So what I say, Don, is this:

If you’re gonna criticise me / judge me / talk down to me, this is what I say to you:

Get out of your comfort zone.

Get up from behind your desk in London, stop writing your reports and research papers on sex trafficking…and come to Cambodia.

Live in the sex worker community for 7 years as I have.

Make friends.

You try and make friends in this community without smoking the local peace pipe.

And after that, after you’ve lived here, then and only then can you judge me.

Otherwise you cannot even enter the conversation.

Because I’ll tell you one thing, Don, when God called me He knew there was drugs here. I didn’t. Jesus knew and He still sent me. He sent me even tho He knew I would take them.

Let’s face it He probably thought:

“Who’s crazy enough to go into gangland Cambodia who won’t whinge and run a mile at the sight of crystal meth?”

God, He trained me for this 25 years ago when I walked through the fire of crack addiction in gangland London. Then He spent the next 25 years preparing me, healing me, loving me, strengthening me, empowering me with His people and his church and His word…

And then He sent me.

And you know what Don…

Don’s listening intently. His eyes stare into mine.

You know what? People have abandoned me, friends have disowned me…even the church has turned its back on me…but JESUS has never left me.

Don stares into my eyes.

His small brown eyes nothing but love and acceptance and compassion.

It’s like I’m looking straight into the eyes of God.

Author: Mark Dark

Actor turned Christian missionary turns his back on his Hollywood dreams to combat sex trafficking in Cambodia – and finds himself tangled up in gang culture and a surreal internal world of drugs psychosis. Based on true events.