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Archives for May 2018

May 30, 2018 - No Comments!

ZOE from a Missionary’s View

Interview: Lori-Ann, ZOE Missionary

It’s about this time of year when in the office, the desks start to empty and the workspace gets a lot quieter. Where is everyone? From about the months of May through to the end of July, many of our missionaries take their annual trip back to their home country to share with supporters, churches and schools about what ZOE is doing to fight child trafficking and raise support to stay working on the field in Thailand.

Lori-Ann Tsang and her husband Simpson

Recently I had the privilege of interviewing one of the newer ZOE missionaries, Lori-Ann Tsang who is here with her husband Simpson. They have been here for almost a year and I was able to chat with her right before they head back home to Hawaii for the first time. Check out what she had to say about life and working in Thailand.    

What’s the best thing about being a missionary?
It’s way better than I expected! There are two best things: working with our fellow missionaries (I don’t think I would’ve met them anywhere else in the world, even though some of us are from the same country) but also being able to affect and impact the lives of our ZOE kids and also the rescue part… being able to see that what you’re doing every day impacts their lives so directly.

What local Thai sayings have you picked up?
“Su su” is one of them for sure (don’t give up) or instead of saying “Ummm?” they will say “Aray na” which is like, “What?” or they will say, “Pay nay?” which is like a greeting and like “Where are you going?”

Have you had an answer to prayer recently?
God has continued to be faithful but one thing that happened recently was an immigration situation.  We had booked our tickets back and we didn’t realize that it conflicted with having to be here (in Thailand) for our check-in.  We were really disappointed about it but God was faithful and despite us not knowing, the error being on our part but now because of our change in dates, we are able to be back for a close friend who is grieving right now.  If the change didn’t happen, we would not have been able to be with them but now we can be there for our friend and I can see God’s goodness in all this.

What are some cultural differences between living here and yours when you grew up?
Actually there are a lot of similarities because of the Asian culture but with the American culture in general, it’s been about getting used to how things get done. Urgent things don’t seem as urgent here (not so much at ZOE) but in general, if you need to get something fixed then the amount of time it takes or the amount of follow up is different. But I think it’s about learning to be in a good place of understanding that it’s not a sign of disrespect or that they don’t care, it’s just a different culture and understanding that and being gracious even though it’s not the way I have done it in the past. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to is that things just take a lot longer and also the fact that you’re still learning the language and so you’re not just able to do things on your own but you have to ask for help to get something done and that’s very different and a whole different level of dependence on God too. You have to lean on other people and you have to lean on Him.

Has your testimony grown since leaving home?
Definitely! God has shown us so much about who He is and who we are and just being humble and learning from Him but also seeing the amount of faith that our fellow missionaries and our fellow Thai staff have and seeing God at work. It’s given us a lot more boldness about the Gospel and believing God for miracles and healings.

What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you so far?
When we first got here, a couple of things happened but it was because it was so new and we didn’t really understand. So one day Simpson backed into a car, which left very little damage at a mall but we didn’t really know what was going to happen. Or being pulled over by the police but not knowing why and wondering what’s going to happen.

What’s been the best part of your mission so far?
I think the best part has been a deepening reliance on God and God putting in our hearts more of a desire for intimacy with Him which is the best part. There are so many good things but Him teaching us that if we seek after Him always and we put Him first that He is with us. He’s always with us. And that all the other things will fall into place.

In closing, I wish to thank Lori-Ann for her honesty and openness and for letting me share some of the ups and downs from her journey here so far with our blog readers. We trust that your upcoming trip back will be full of encouragement and sweet times with your families.

May 30, 2018 - No Comments!

CMTA 2018

by Karen Miyamoto 

Recently, I was blessed to be able to attend the Annual Children’s Ministry conference that was held in Pasadena, CA.  ZOE has attended this event that is open to Children’s Ministry leaders for the past 7 years.

 

Being surrounded by leaders and volunteers that are eager to learn how to impact the next generation is always so encouraging.  These leaders and volunteers come to this conference to continually seek new and creative ways to share the love of Jesus and the

gospel their kids.  This event is always fun for me because I get to spend time with some amazing ZOE volunteers that help me at our booth for 2 days.  It’s also great seeing current ZOE supporters stop by our booth to say HELLO as well as getting to meet new people who love the work we are doing.

Dr. Jason Plunkett

This year, our newest addition to the ZOE team, Dr. Jason Plunkett who is our USA Regional Director, taught a break out session at the conference.  The topic he shared about was how the church can get involved in combatting human trafficking.  He enlightened the attendees on various human trafficking statistics as well as different signs to look for to spot a possible victim. Dr. Jason’s session was very informative and educational.

Along with various breakout sessions educating leaders and volunteers on how to teach, interact, and make church a fun place for kids, there were around 40 other vendors/ministries selling products related to Children’s Ministry and/or sharing outreach opportunities children can get involved in.  Speaking with other vendors and ministries always reminds me that there are so many people out there doing great work.  Though I may never see them again, we all take a small piece of the puzzle, to help make a difference in this world.

Being able to share about ZOE’s Kids Helping Kids program at this event with leaders impacting children is always fun.  Kids Helping Kids is a program designed to help children learn in a fun and interactive way about caring for others in need and empowering them to know that no matter how small they are, they can make a BIG difference in the world. Children are given plastic tubes to collect $15 in quarters. This small amount of change can feed, clothe, and educate a child in Thailand fora full week! Funds collected through this program play an active role in assisting ZOE International’s efforts to help human trafficking victims in Thailand.  If this program is something you would like to get your church or home school group involved in, let us know!  It’s a great tool to be incorporated during VBS as well as the holiday season.

If you are a church leader or volunteer that works with children, I highly recommend registering for next year’s CMTA conference.  You will be inundated with so many amazing resources and beneficial breakout sessions.  It’s also a great place to network with other leaders from different churches.  Working as a team is always much more fun.  Click here to get more information about CMTA.

May 22, 2018 - No Comments!

Japan’s Needs are Unique

As we face the problem of human trafficking among Japanese children, we discovered many problems related to sexual exploitation, such as force of appearances for pornography and other sexual exploitations. The background is different from other countries that are havingissues of sex trafficking due to poverty. The situation in Japan is quite unique.

Many parents tend to put children under pressure for them to be academically successful. “Success” means to get good grades and get into a good university, which then will lead to a successful career in the future.

In Japan, there are an estimated 34,288 reports of missing children and young people from teenagers to those in their 20s in 2016. Family relationships seem to be a main cause for this.  There are cases where children are being neglected by parents as well. “Trust” and “security” are missing in the relationship between parents and children.

There is a famous Japanese proverb that says, “Deru kui wa utareru” (the stake that sticks up gets hammered down).  It means “if you stand out, you will be subject to criticism.” In schools, children are under the constant pressure to act and behave in the same way as others around them. There is risk of being bullied if a child chooses to do something unique or different from the majority of the group. This is a very exhausting friendship children face in schools as well as society.

There is a lack of encouragement, someone to say “you are valuable the way you are”

around these children. Traffickers prey on these children who are craving love and affection. Sadly, the strategy to coax those into trafficking is similar to those in other countries.  Traffickers camouflage themselves to be a scouting agent for modeling jobs, and sometimes even a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Before a child realizes it,he/she is victimized to appear on various pornography outlets and forced to do other sexual services. They are in bondage to the trafficker who gives them an irrational debt and proclaims not to release him/her until the debt is paid. They also know all of the child’s information, including parents, friends, school, and etc.

Japan is a country that is economically blessed and our physical and material needs are always taken care of, but the voice of children crying out for love and affection is drowned out by the noise of parents and society.

What do Japanese children need?

  • Loving and caring parents (adults) who accept and value them for who they are
  • Biblical counseling that can help children to make better decisions in life
  • Biblical truth and teaching about sex that God has designed

One thing we can all do for the children of Japan is PRAY!  Needs are great in Japan. Not necessarily physical or material needs, but spiritual need is crucial. This is why ZOE is passionate about doing prevention work in Japan through sharing the love of God in Christ. We believe that we can make a huge difference and bring light to children’s lives through Jesus.

May 7, 2018 - No Comments!

Why Short Term Missions?

by Betsy Meenk (STM Global Missions Manager)

At ZOE, we have been conducting short term mission trips since 2004.  Hundreds of people have traveled to Thailand to see and participate in the work God has called us to do. They have come from all countries, all ethnicities, and all walks of life ranging in age from 13-75 years old! Here are thoughts from a few of those who have been to Thailand and experienced our Children’s Home first hand:

A Trip of Many Firsts by Jessica Ramsay  http://gozoe.org/2016/09/12/trip-many-firsts/
Thailand x4 by Stephanie Chabot http://gozoe.org/2016/08/29/thailand-x4/

With every trip, we aim to make this a life-changing experience for all involved; including our children, ZOE parents, and staff.  This can sometimes be a challenge because our ultimate job is to make the care and protection of our children top priority. We recently came across an excellent document from Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) outlining 8 principles for short term missions to benefit vulnerable children and families.

Jedd Medefind, the President of CAFO says, “Short-term mission trips carry the potential for much good and much harm.  Wise engagement is critical, especially when we hope to benefit children.”

This beautifully articulates the heart of ZOE.   He goes on to explain that “These principles have been developed and approved by CAFO, comprised of more than 190 respected organizations serving children in more than 130 nations.  We establish these principles in unity, seeking to empower every church, organization, and volunteer participating in short-term missions to be more thoughtful and effective, particularly in respect to vulnerable children.”

Christian Alliance for Orphans has established the following 8 Principles that ZOE wholeheartedly embraces as we continue to improve our short term missions program.  

#1 Protection – Safeguarding children from harm is first priority

#2 Attachment – Support bonds between children and their parents or primary caregiver

#3 Caregivers – Honor the role of parents and primary caregivers

#4 Community – Support the communities surrounding vulnerable children

#5 Expectations – Make sure the trip purpose is clear and expectations thoroughly understood

#6 Partnership – Anchor every trip in long-term relationships with quality partners

#7 Training – Commit to learning before going

#8 Media – Share stories and images with care  

For more information about these principles click here https://issuu.com/christianalliancefororphans/docs/8_stm_principles-a?e=28419024/59243837  

Dates for our 2019 short term mission trips are up! - http://gozoe.org/short-term-missions/
If you are interested in a short term mission trip with ZOE, please contact
betsy@gozoe.org

 

May 4, 2018 - No Comments!

Not So Flashy

by Marji Iacovetti

Obtaining accreditation for a nonprofit organization is a daunting task. The process can take 80 personnel hours each week for 18 months. It is also a new legal requirement for organizations that provide residential care for youth in California…so ZOE is beginning theaccreditation journey.

We purchased manuals that describe more than 1,200 standards surveyors will use to rate ZOE during a site visit to our Southern California facilities. Two of our staff members flew to Florida to attend a 3-day accreditation conference. ZOE is also contracting with a specialist who is helping us draft several dozen procedural documents.

Earning accreditation is challenging and costly. When donors think of compelling causes to support, few think about ensuring compliance to hundreds of detailed standards.

In truth though, dollars (and hours) ZOE will spend earning accreditation will bring a solid return on investment. The process will help us to gather useful data, measure our effectiveness, identify needs for improvement, avoid waste, and move forward strategically. It will equip us to serve well.

Accreditation is all about providing excellent care and ZOE is deeply committed to doing that very thing. If you feel drawn to provide financial support for a not-so-flashy but truly meaningful project, please call ZOE’s U.S. office at 661.255.7963.