Mary Tindall travels great distances for her ministry. Most recently her heart has been focused on Thailand.

After moving from New Jersey to Kentucky in 1996, Tindall went into full time ministry in 2000.

She went to World Harvest Bible College and was ordained.

“I always believed in doing it the right way,” she said.

She joked she used to think all missionaries and evangelists were crooks because they were always asking for money.

“Then, what does God tell me one day, ‘You’re going to be a missionary’,” she said. “When God put something in your heart, your heart burns for it.”

Her first mission trip was to Kenya in 2004. She’s been back four times. She’s also done mission work in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Equator, Cuba, India, Nepal, Oklahoma and Thailand.

Thailand and Honduras have been the places that have stayed on her heart the most.

This fall, the 69-year-old will be going back to Thailand for the sixth time. She will be there for a month. In 2017, she stayed there for six months.

Her work is to get people out of the sex trade industry. Most are children and women who have been sold into the sex trade. In Thailand, she said, there are rows and rows of bars where people go to buy time with women. In the ministry, she buys their time and then takes them to a restaurant to talk about options of how to get out.

Last time she was in Thai­land, the owner of one of the bars told them no because when they talk to the girls there they leave and never come back.

“I went ‘Yes’,” Tindall said, knowing that meant some of the women have gotten out of the sex industry. “Sometimes you feel like a drop of water in a big ocean and that’s when you see those ripples going out.”

But, she said, these women don’t always have support from their family because it’s often their family who sells them into the sex trade for the money.

“When I first got there, that was hard to take,” she said. “I have to get past that and let the girls know they are loved and valuable.”

To get them out, Tindall, who lives in Radcliff, tries to get them to organizations to teach them English and find other ways to make money.

In some cases, change happens. Other cases break her heart.

In one success story, a man married the woman he was involved with in the sex trade and became a Christian. He has offered their home for Tindall to stay in while she’s on her next trip.

One woman in her 40’s keeps in touch and has her own business. Another woman she works with started a salon last year and helps in her ministry.

“That uplifts you and encourages you,” she said.

In those cases, you get to see what God is doing there, she said.

When she sees the change, she just says “wow.”

“Even if it’s just one person, it’s one person with a new direction in their lives and knows there are people and a God that loves them,” she said.

She keeps connected with the relationships she builds there so they aren’t left alone to try to change on their own.

They often remember her when she goes back, even if they didn’t get out.

There are hard cases where the women are bought, and if they try to leave, they will be killed, she said. Two years ago, Tindall heard of a woman who was thrown off a five-story building. She later found out that this woman’s last text to her mom said “Mom, I’m in this and I’m not going to be able to get out of it and I think this is it,” Tindall said.

“It’s not easy, but I love it,’ she said, adding when God gives you a heart for something, only he can pull you away from it.

She has to make sure her bills are paid back home and she’s able to fund the ministry, often through a gofundme account. Her church, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, also supports her.

“Mary is dedicated to helping the poor and destitute in Thailand, Vineyard pastor Mike Smith, said. “She is steadfast in serving freedom to the c­aptives.”

He called her a great lady who walks with an excellent spirit.

“Prostitutes are rescued and given opportunities to come out from the oppression of sex traffic,” he said. “Mary listens for the voice of God in her everyday life as much as when she is in Thailand — she prays and she obeys.”

Since March, Tindall also has been the part-time pro­gram assistant at Warm Blessings.

“Mary has been working as our part-time program assistant at Warm Blessings for a short time but has been a great asset to me,” Warm Blessings executive director Linda Funk said. “She has good judgment and shows compassion in dealing with the many issues we face working with those who deal with almost constant disappointment and struggle with poverty or are homeless.”

Her background in ministry helps with her work at Warm Blessings, Funk said, adding that experience offers her sup­port and direction when needed.

The ministry never stops, Tindall said.

“God has done so much in my life and my desire in my life is for him to be glorified,” she said.

She admitted it’s an emotional drain when she leaves because the people she works with want her to stay.

“But I’m not supposed to do that, yet,” she said, with emphasis on the yet.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Becca Owsley is a features reporter at The News-Enterprise.