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November 12, 2018 - No Comments!

Thankfulness is ZOE Culture

This time of year we are reminded to ponder the things we are thankful for.  God has called us to be continually thankful which is something we should all strive to do.  Although Thanksgiving is an American Holiday, the act of ‘thanksgiving’ is very much Kingdom culture and also ZOE culture.  

Our hearts overflow with joy and thanksgiving at ZOE when we see that God is transforming our children’s hearts.  Recently, one of our children came excitedly up to her mom with an idea. Apparently it had become very obvious to her the amount of money it cost to care for her and the rest of the ZOE children.  She was so moved by this that she wanted to help raise money to contribute. She was thankful and out of her thankfulness she was moved to action.

We feel a personal responsibility to continually be thanking God for you, our spiritual family, every time we pray. And we have every reason to do so because your faith is growing marvelously beyond measure. The unselfish love each of you share for one another is increasing and overflowing! - 2 Thessalonians 1:3, TPT

This verse is a prayer not only for the children in our care but for all of you who partner with us to see every person REACHED and every child RESCUED.  

We are continually thanking God for you!

November 8, 2018 - No Comments!

Recently Rescued Youth

by Lori-Ann Tsang

ZOE fights for the rights of children who have no one else to fight for them. The children that we rescue come from a range of backgrounds, including being orphaned; on the market to be sold; directly rescued from being labor slaves, begging slaves, and sex slaves or having been subjected to heinous crimes and abuse.  

ZOE will always act in the best interest of each child. Once a child comes into the safety of our care, they are instantly welcomed in and treated like family. Many children only need to stay at ZOE for a short time while evidence is collected, court cases are heard and their situation is assessed. The children and youth who arrive for emergency care and protection at our Child Rescue Center experience love, support, counseling and healing.  God is beginning His restoration process.

  •      For children who are trafficked internationally, ZOE will help repatriate them with their family, sending a team across country borders, to help a child settle back home. ZOE will remain connected with these children and their families to be confident that they are continuing to be cared for.
  •      For children who are trafficked domestically, ZOE will help reunite and reintegrate them with their family.  With support, including trafficking awareness education, as a priority, these families are given the best chance to provide long-term safety for their children in future.
  •      If there is no suitable carer, or biological relative who can look after a child, they will continue to live and be cared for within a small family group at ZOE. Even after children reach 18 years of age, they will be taken care of whilst working towards transitioning to semi-independent, and then fully independent living, as they feel ready.

Upon waiting to be reunited with family, one youth recently shared about the change in their attitude that has happened since staying at our ZOE Thailand campus. Prior to being rescued, they shared about wandering away from their family and not really caring about anyone or anything.  Since being with us, there is a desire to return to family and be a part of helping at home, whether it be to cook or do other chores.

“I want to go back to school,” they said. Previously they had no desire to study.  A new sense of responsibility and hope for the future is made possible because of God’s work in this youth’s life and the wonderful counselors and staff that walk along our children.

October 23, 2018 - No Comments!

ZOE RESCUE WALK COMES TO HAWAII!

Contact: Gaile Nitta - ZOE Rescue Walk Hawaii Coordinator
808 542-0850
gailenitta@gmail.com

ZOE International (www.goZOE.org), a non-profit organization that rescues and cares for child victims of human trafficking, is pleased to announce Hawaii’s first-ever ZOE Rescue Walk.

Begun six years ago in Los Angeles, this year’s annual ZOE Rescue Walk will also see participants in Hawaii and Tennessee walking to raise awareness and funds for human trafficking prevention, rescue, and restoration for children in the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

The walk takes place on Saturday, November 3 from 7-9 a.m. at the Mililani High School Track, located at 95-1200 Meheula Parkway in Mililani. This is a non-competitive, family-friendly, all-ages, at-your-own-pace, FUN event! The walk is just under 2 miles. All walkers who register by October 29 will receive a ZOE Walk t-shirt, a hand-crafted ZOE “Hope” bracelet, and a ZOE sticker. Registration is $25 (twenty-five dollars) for walkers 13 years and older. Walkers 12 and under are free, need not register, and will receive a free glow-in-the-dark rubber bracelet while supplies last. (A limited number of youth size t-shirts will also be available on walk day for $5.)

Advance online registration and more information is available at www.ZOERescueWalk.com. Same-day on-site registration is from 6-7 a.m. Be sure to sign up to walk with or support Team No Ka Oi Hawaii! (At this time, our Hawaii team is leading the way nationally in donations raised so far! https://give2.gozoe.org/event/zoe-rescue-walk-2018/e191953 Let’s show our Mainland cousins that Hawaii really is No Ka Oi!

Together, let’s be the UNSTOPPABLE HOPE to children waiting to be rescued from human trafficking and to bring full restoration and healing to those who have been rescued!

(ZOE is the Greek word for “life.”)

October 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Businesses That Care!

By Karen Miyamoto

The 6th annual ZOE Rescue Walk is just a few weeks away.  This year's Walk theme is Unstoppable Hope...our hope is unstoppable as we strive to rescue every child and care for them with the love to Jesus!  The event will be on November 3rd, Saturday at LA Mission College/El Cariso Park Sylmar, CA.  Our goal this year is to raise $150,000 and to have 1000 people walking to join the fight against human trafficking.  It’s going to be an amazing day!

Don’t you love businesses that care?  Currently we have 5 Corporate Sponsors that have donated funds to support our Walk.  It’s a great way to show people that your business is doing something to make a difference.  It’s also a great opportunity to gain exposure while supporting a great cause.  Do you own a business or know someone that may want to help sponsor our event?

Sponsorship opportunities start at $250.00.  Below are the different sponsorship levels and benefits:

  • Bronze Level $250.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites
  • Silver Level $500.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website
  • Gold Level $1,000.00 – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website, signage at the Rescue Walk
  • Platinum Level $2,500.00+ – Mention of your business once a month on ZOE social media sites, your company logo on the ZOE Rescue Walk website, signage at the Rescue Walk and your company logo in Rescue Walk newsletter (post Walk)

It’s not too late to become a Corporate Sponsor.  We thank you in advance for your consideration!  Check out our Walk website for more info!

October 1, 2018 - No Comments!

Freedom Frees Others

by Abigail Jennerson

Sometimes people ask me what compelled us to move to Thailand to work with ZOE… They ask how we gained this passion to see an end to human trafficking…

After meeting with a woman named Rosi Orozco, I finally have my answer.

I wanted to share about the unique experience my husband and I had with Rosi Orozco. We had the privilege of meeting with Rosi to interview her about trafficking in Mexico. She is a human rights activist in Latin America, with her main focus being human trafficking.

This woman is friends with top political leaders, making amazing strides in policy and restoration. She had just gotten back from a trip to meet with the pope. She is no joke. And so inspiring!

Rosi inspired me to continue fighting for the victims of human trafficking, and to continue fighting in humility.  She brought everyone in our meeting to tears with her powerful words.

When the interview came to a quiet moment, the pastor asking the interview questions tried to thank and compliment Rosi for everything she does for human trafficking victims in Latin America, to which she quickly interrupted him with, “No! We are just blessed. It is just justice.”

Which then led into the greatest monologue I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. And my answer to anyone who wonders why we decided to move across the world to fight human trafficking:
“The people around us, the victims of human trafficking, have experienced injustice, on top of injustice, on top of injustice. It’s so terrible what they have lived. When we give, we are just doing an act of justice. We are not good people, we are not generous...We are just...just…

From a home where my parents are now 60 years married, a lot of love, I lived in the United States, I lived in Europe, I have everything a person could dream. So when I stand beside [a trafficking victim], I realize that not one of us chose where to be born. So why do I believe I am better or being “generous” to her? It is only justice!

If you were a bank, receiving the deposits of love, of generosity, of blessing, and you feel you are good because you give a check with money? No. They were an empty bank that received zero, and after that they took away their dignity. So, it’s not an act of goodness...no we are not special. We are just conscious of how responsible we are living in this world with so much.”

She said it all! Everything I feel, everything I have wanted to say but never knew how to say!

I grew up in a wonderfully loving family, parents 30+ years married, a loving church community, an amazing husband. So when I stood next to victims of such abuse, neglect and injustice, I knew that all the blessings, all the protection of God on my life, were for the very purpose of helping others experience freedom and blessing!

Friends, we––me, you, ZOE––give because it is our responsibility.
We give because we were given SO much.
We give because we are blessed.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” ––Nelson Mandela

September 17, 2018 - No Comments!

Support for Parents of CSEC

by Marji Iacovetti

This summer, LA County launched a pilot program to support parents of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). ZOE was privileged to support the county’s efforts.

The weekly meetings were held at a church and were led by two experienced and caring clinicians – one from the Department of Mental Health and another from an organization called Saving Innocence. Members of the church demonstrated God’s love as they opened their hearts as well as their facilities. They greeted the women warmly, served them dinner, and provided childcare.

Eight mothers attended regularly. These precious moms wept for their children, bonded with each other, and learned valuable information. It was an honor to serve them. Human trafficking not only brutalizes the victims, but also violates their families. Please pray for mothers, fathers, other caregivers, and siblings whose hearts ache over the harm experienced by their loved ones.

Community partnerships are key to healing for survivors and their families. If your church has capacity to be a resource and partner in the fight against child trafficking, please email info@gozoe.org.

September 10, 2018 - No Comments!

Efforts in Los Angeles

by Ester Yu

In July, an undercover human trafficking operation in Compton recovered 2 girls from commercial sexual exploitation and arrested 36 adults. The 2 girls were 16 and 17 years old and identified as victims of sexual exploitation. One woman who was arrested is actually from Santa Clarita and was trying to recruit an undercover officer to work in commercial sexual exploitation. Read more here: https://ktla.com/2018/07/20/36-arrested-2-girls-rescued-in-human-trafficking-bust-in-compton-lasd

Compton is part of a larger Service Planning Area (SPA) identified by Los Angeles County as having the highest number of referrals for suspected cases of CSEC. (Source: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/121549.pdf) ZOE values our partnerships with community groups, organizations, and churches all over Los Angeles County, especially in the Compton area. By expanding our network, we are able to broaden resources for the youth we serve while also supporting our community partners who serve the most vulnerable children.

For the past several months, ZOE has assisted Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Probations in their pilot Parent Empowerment Program by supporting a Compton church partner to provide a nurturing, safe meeting space, child care, and food for the County to teach and lead a support group for parents of children who are survivors of human trafficking.

Recently, ZOE attended the Compton Human Trafficking Task Force meeting with guest Dr. Brenda Ingram who taught about the Intersection of Risk Factors for Black Boys in Sex Trafficking. Boys are at risk to become victims and/or exploiters of human trafficking. It is vital for our communities to invest and pour into the lives of our young men so that they can become allies and protectors of our young women. ZOE's USA Regional Director Dr. Jason Plunkett and Assistant USA Regional Director Ester Yu participate in a workgroup led by Los Angeles County Department of Probations to develop a CSEC prevention/intervention curriculum for young men. While interviewing former exploiters in Chicago, researchers discovered that most of the men who were interviewed were abused and trafficked as children themselves before becoming exploiters. (Source: https://law.depaul.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/schiller-ducanto-fleck-family-law-center/Documents/interview_ex_pimps.pdf)

We know that all of our current efforts, research, and collaboration are equipping ZOE's Los Angeles team to best meet the needs of our youth in Los Angeles County. Please partner with us in our efforts in LA: https://give2.gozoe.org/give/90447/#!/donation/checkout.

August 24, 2018 - No Comments!

Sowing Tears Into Japan

Last month, ZOE Japan sent their very first Japanese short term missions team to ZOE Thailand. Below is a beautiful testimony of one of the members that joined the trip.

I left ZOE Thailand having shed tears, yes. But the tears I shed were not the tears I expected. Psalm 126:5 says that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. It was as if I got to experience the reaping of the tears sown at ZOE. I’m convinced ZOE Thailand has sown countless tears over many years and the reaping of joy overflows to bless even the short term mission teams like us who come.

During the weekly prayer night they have had for over a decade, I began by praying alone before the Lord. Not too long later and to my surprise, I felt two precious hands rest upon my arm. I opened my eyes to see two little girls praying for me. The love of Christ is tender…

Outreach with ZOE to over 250 kids that arrived from surrounding villages – theme: anti-human trafficking. A gut response was to think “are these kids old enough to be learning about these “adult” subjects?” But this is their potential reality: either learn about it or fall victim to it. It was humbling and inspiring to see the ZOE ministry school students and the Child Rescue Center staff inform the kids about anti-human trafficking while loving them and having fun with them. The love of Christ is just…

As an engineer, I was particularly intrigued by their near self-sustaining capacity. From their growing medical and professional counseling capabilities to their extensive agricultural endeavors, ZOE Thailand touches almost every corner of life. Yet all of their capabilities are rooted first in Christ. The gospel isn’t just for Sundays but builds communities that become cities on a hill to shine for the nations to turn. The love of Christ is thorough…  

I am grateful for what I experienced at ZOE Thailand. I will carry the experiences of tenderness, the zeal for justice, and the thorough reformation of the love of Christ back with me to Japan, where God has called me and where my heart is. Knowing the tears of Thailand, the taste of joy was ever so sweet, but I desire to sow tears into Japan; the tears of Psalm 119:136 – “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law,” and ZOE Japan still needs a flood of tears before Japan will begin to reap with shouts of joy.

 

August 24, 2018 - No Comments!

The Link Between | Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking

The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part I: Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence

If you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the fight against human trafficking taking place all over the world.  However, you may not know what you can do right in your neighborhood, even from your very own home, to join the fight against trafficking.

This is the first in a series sharing some practical tips for fighting trafficking on the home front.

“Domestic Violence.”  To most people, this phrase conjures images of a battered wife or child cowering in a corner.  Similar to human trafficking, domestic violence is often a “hidden crime,” happening behind closed doors and away from the public eye.  Typically, domestic violence, like human trafficking, is defined by an imbalance of power. We see this when a vulnerable person suffers at the hands of someone who controls or manipulates them in a verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual context.

Researchers have identified correlations between the crimes of domestic violence and human trafficking. Two studies from the 1980s, by different research groups, found that between 70-80% of commercially sexually exploited youth had a histories of sexual abuse.1

A more recent London-based study referenced in the U.S. Department of State’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report found that almost 70% of adult female trafficking victims experienced domestic violence prior to being trafficked.

After more than two decades, this statistic has remained virtually unchanged.  Domestic violence is an indicator of, and directly leads to, vulnerability to human trafficking.  As long as domestic violence continues to flourish, it will create vulnerability that human traffickers will exploit.

Domestic violence breaks relationships, leaving fear, shame, and depression in its wake.  One trafficker stated in an interview that he would target girls who had “daddy issues,” referring to a broken father-daughter relationship.2  These girls were vulnerable to manipulation, intimidation, and, ultimately, control.

Ester Yu, Assistant USA Regional Director of ZOE International, noted, “Strong similarities exist in the coercive patterns that both abusers and traffickers use to gain and maintain control over a victim. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse and manipulation are often used to pressure or force a partner into engaging in commercial sex in what is called ‘intimate partner trafficking.’ Traffickers often lure, pressure, or force young girls into child trafficking by first acting as a boyfriend and someone who cares for them. This relationship soon turns controlling, abusive, and exploitative, leaving young girls in a situation where they have no choice and are dependent upon their abuser.”

An estimated 1 out of 4 women experience domestic violence on the level of severe physical violence by an intimate partner during her lifetime.3  However, for female victims of human trafficking, approximately 3 out of every 4 had already experienced domestic violence, before they were trafficked.

Domestic violence doesn’t just create victims of human trafficking, it also creates perpetrators.  The study, "From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 ex-pimps in Chicago," by researchers Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell, found that 88% of those surveyed experienced physical abuse growing up, while 76% endured sexual abuse. In many cases, the abuse forced them to leave home early and turn to exploiting others to survive.3

As we stand against human trafficking, one very practical action we can take is to keep our eyes open for signs of domestic violence.  These signs include5:

  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with or overly worried about pleasing a partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises and giving excuses for injuries
  • Sounds and signs of domestic violence or abuse

Signs of abuse can also be an indicator of someone who is currently being trafficked.  Many human trafficking survivors experience physical abuse that can be visibly seen, similar to domestic violence.

Unfortunately, even when we see these signs of domestic violence, we sometimes lack the courage to act.  We may believe the situation will get better on its own. It rarely does. We may believe that, if the person really wants to get out, they can.  But in reality, victims are controlled through emotional manipulation as well as physical threats. Many feel fear and guilt. Some fear for their lives, the safety of their children, and even the well-being of their abusers.  We may believe the situation doesn’t involve us, since it’s a private issue. But if we don’t speak up, who will?

Sometimes, we simply don’t know what to do or whom to contact (see the information below).

The truth is that you can make a difference.  By speaking up, you may save a person from a lifetime of violence and possibly even rescue that person from a future of enslavement at the hands of a human trafficker.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) – online chat option available also

http://www.thehotline.org/help/

http://www.thehotline.org/help/what-to-expect-when-you-contact-the-hotline/

Additional Resources: TED Talk Videos about Human Trafficking & Abuse

Woman who was trafficked for 10 years shares how it started with her running away from abuse at home:

https://youtu.be/U_kXuQHZmWs

Child bride (a form of human trafficking) shares about abuse and recovery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPAG3I8P34k

Why domestic violence victims (similar to human trafficking victims) don’t leave:

https://youtu.be/V1yW5IsnSjo

ZOE International, a U.S. 501(c)(3) NGO, has been combating human trafficking on the ground for 15 years in Southeast Asia and is active in Thailand, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.

1) Bagley & Young, 1987; Silbert & Pines, 1982

2) Nefarious Merchant of Souls movie

3) https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

4) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-09-15/news/ct-met-pimp-study-20100915_1_pimps-sexual-abuse-prostitution

5) https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-someone-is-being-abused-66535  & https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs#2

July 30, 2018 - No Comments!

A Dollar and Then Some!

by Karen Miyamoto

Summer always brings back fond memories…memories of spending time with friends, camp, beach and fun!  During the summer months at ZOE equals Kids Helping Kids. This program is often adopted during Vacation Bible School for churches as a missions/outreach tool.  

Kaylin Sugihara proudly showing her Kids Helping Kids Hero sticker!

This year, Cerritos Baptist Church, a local church in Cerritos, CA adopted ZOE during their July VBS as a part of their Compassion Project.  Steph Luna, their Children’s Ministry Director was so excited to share the Kids Helping Kids project with her kids! Their VBS theme this year was “Shipwrecked.”  Throughout the week, the kids learned that when you struggle, worry, do wrong, feel lonely or are powerless…Jesus Rescues! This year’s theme connected very well with ZOE’s mission of rescuing every child!

Below is a comment from Steph on how her VBS went…

Thank you for your prayers for this week! VBS was a success! The kids loved the treasure chest and filling it with money to help other kids. They were excited about helping other kids and my co-director’s son even put in his tooth fairy money!!! The parent letters were great information to give, because I think it really moved parents to give more than they normally would. On Day 3, I gave kids $1 if they could whisper the memory verse that was on our shirts (psalm 34:19)…one 5th grade boy listed it as his God Sighting for the day, being able to earn a dollar for ZOE! Our goal was to break $1,000 and we were able to raise $1,307.45!  We appreciate your support and the opportunity to partner with you! Praising the Lord for His goodness! 

Thank you Steph and the amazing team at Cerritos Baptist Church for adopting ZOE this year.  You guys are AWESOME!!