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Missionary Teaches Student Excitement
Being the Vocational Training Director at ZOE, I have plenty of opportunity to interact with teen boys and girls, and I am thankful for my time with them. It is certainly a change of pace for them, as many are used to traditional education like math, science, history, and language study. Instead of pushing a pencil all day or reading books, they get to use their hands. They get to learn by doing.
One student in particular has blossomed. Before, it was hard to figure him out. No one really knew what his dreams or goals were, as he stoically participated in whatever was put in front of him. Nothing seemed to excite him. Recently, I began to see a change in his attitude and demeanor, and I had the chance to sit down and talk with him.
I asked how he liked the construction class, and I expected the same answer I’d received from the other students, “It’s a lot of hard work.” I was mentally preparing myself to respond, as the class was only a few hours a day, and if the students were to continue in the construction career path, much harder work would be in store for them. I thought about tactfully saying something like, “It’s only going to get harder” or “This is preparing you for more difficult work.” However, he interrupted my line of thought with a response I did not expect.
“I love it,” he blurted a bit louder than he meant to.
I was shocked by his enthusiasm, but I thought back to his performance over the preceding months and it made sense. He has been the first to respond to duties and lessons and, rather than preferring to sit and watch others, he would jump up to practice his new skills.
We continued to talk over the next few minutes, but one thing became clear. Whether he would eventually work in construction or not, he had finally found something he was excited about and this excitement was teaching him how to work hard and devote himself to a goal. I am very excited to see him progress over the next few terms, and I know that he has begun to put himself on a path toward success.
It is the heart of a missionary to make God known to those around them. This story is one of many that play out every day at ZOE as our missionaries love, direct, and teach our ZOE children. Think about supporting one of our missionaries, as they pour into the lives of the child trafficking survivors at ZOE.
ZOE Missionaries Help Victims of Child Trafficking
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Mr. Antolini, Catcher in the Rye
This quotation makes me think of ZOE’s many amazing missionaries. Our missionaries are men and women with professional experience in law enforcement, banking, business, rocket science, teaching, social work, and administration in a state government department. These are people who were effective in their careers. They experienced success and carried influence.
In the midst of their success, they chose to change their professional trajectories. They chose to live humbly in the service of children unseen or discarded by others.
These gifted men and women have chosen to live humbly. As a result, victims of child trafficking are experiencing safety, love, family, education, and vocational training. They are experiencing God’s love. The impact of these humble lives is truly magnificent.
I am deeply grateful for the missionaries at ZOE. I also suspect that, in truth, they were never more successful than they are today.
In 2006 when the pastor of their church in Hawaii asked them to take a scouting trip to check out ZOE Children’s Homes in Thailand, the Boyers were “too busy.” Ron was working for Hawaii’s governor and Cissy was selling real estate and homeschooling their two kids, and both were active as church leaders. But their pastor was insistent and – unbeknownst to the Boyers – so was God! So they went ...
It was during that 10-day reconnaissance trip that Drake, then 12, along with his 10-year old sister Elli, walked up to Ron and Cissy and pronounced: “Dad, Mom. Elli and I have decided that we should move to Thailand and help ‘uncle and auntie’ save the kids!”
And so they did! The Boyers became ZOE missionaries and moved to Thailand full-time in December 2010 and have been loving it ever since. Drake and Elli enjoyed living in Thailand and flourished at the international school where they participated in varsity sports, student government, and community outreaches while also earning academic honors. They have since left Thailand to study at Wheaton College in Illinois where Drake is a junior majoring in chemistry and Elli a freshman leaning toward international relations.
And the empty-nesters? Against all odds, they are somehow surviving without their kids telling them what to do! Cissy is busier than ever at ZOE using all those hours saved from doing extra loads of laundry to teach the ZOE kids gymnastics, running her sports conditioning program for the ZOE family, heading up ZOE’s English department, teaching in the business school, managing the ZOE store, and overseeing the kitchen which serves 450 meal servings a day. Ron keeps busy working on policies, grant-writing, and donor fulfillment but gets out from behind his desk from time to time to teach in Bible school, English class, and a course in leadership. Both are active members of a local Thai church where Cissy teaches children’s church and Ron is privileged to preach on occasion. Both are diligently striving to learn to read and speak Thai in order to better serve God among the beautiful people of Thailand.
Of course the Boyers miss their friends and family in Hawaii – and the food – and the weather! But in a very real sense, the Boyers have come to realize that going on the mission field has greatly increased their ohana – their family. As Cissy puts it:
“Our work with ZOE to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves has truly expanded our family. From the many friends in the USA who partner with us, to the 11 missionary families and the wonderful Thai staff at ZOE, and especially all the children who live at ZOE Children’s Homes, we are surrounded by love on all sides!”
Though they have seen and heard many heartbreaking accounts involving the children they work with at ZOE and the children whom ZOE is working to rescue, the Boyers are constantly renewed by experiencing the power of God’s Spirit to rescue, restore, heal, and bring new life in even the darkest of circumstances. And they have been blessed beyond measure by witnessing the “childlike” faith of their Thai co-laborers at ZOE: a faith that relies on the Word of God to be true and that believes that what God says He will do, He will do!
Please pray for each of the Boyers – Ron, Cissy, Drake, and Elli – that their own faith will mature into that highest of levels – childlike – and that their lives would be an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Children Running Away From Home
written by Andrea Cross
My son sat on the top bunk sobbing. “You’re so mean, Mum. I’m running away.”
The words stung, but I knew the temporary anger at not being given his way would soon subside and, after pausing for a second to be sure that the tone of my voice was calm, I gently offered to help him pack.
I left the room remembering other such occasions when similar heated conversations had taken place when I was a child. The backyard at night had seemed so much bigger than it really was and the darkness so much less inviting than daylight to a small kid with nothing much in her backpack but a few soft toys.
As I walked away to let my son take care of his “packing,” I reflected on a time many years ago when we had a particularly angry girl staying with us through the foster care program that we were a part of. How she’d thrown everything she could find down the stairs from the upstairs landing. How her mouth had been literally foaming, as she spat out words that revealed a heart that had been broken and mistreated too many times. I gathered her younger sisters and my own two children into one room, as I silently prayed and quietly slipped away to call our agency while keeping one eye on her as she ventured down our street.
And now here I was with my own young son, as he expressed his frustrations and disappointments in a way that made sense to him.
Escape. Run away. Go.
As parents, many of us can share stories about our children’s attempts at running away and, most of the time, I imagine that most kids make it about 10 strides away from the safety net of home and come running back into your arms.
For some children though, the decision to run is one that can be costly, dangerous and frightening. Would you please keep praying for the newly rescued children at ZOE (in particular the teenage boys)? Would you also join us in faith for the provision of the money to start building the custom-designed safe house? We desperately want to see these precious children safely through these hard times, as they adjust to a life that involves being loved and cared for. Sadly, this is something they may have never experienced before.
After 10 minutes had passed, and I was sure that my son’s packing must be almost complete, I slipped a tray of food and a drink through the bedroom door and quietly snuck away.
Sure enough, a few minutes later with a sheepish smile and solemn apology, my boy had returned to my loving arms.
As parents, we know there will always be something to correct, a lesson to be learned or a rule to be taught, but when a child returns home, like a long lost son, there is a beautiful feeling of unconditional love and acceptance that is exchanged and momentarily all else fades to insignificance.
As our ZOE parents say, “Though the road ahead will probably be rough, we are still so glad when a child returns home!!”
What was it that caused business owner David Cross and his wife, Andrea, plus their three young children to pack up their comfortable life in Australia and move to Northern Thailand? Was it the lure of more money … or the promise of a better life?
No. The inspiration for this young family to set off overseas in January 2010 was the conviction that they needed to do something to help children in circumstances where they could not help themselves.
[quote width="" align="left"]“When we heard the statistics about children, the same ages as our own being trafficked, we felt compelled to act. Now when we sit with these wonderful kids, each of the statistics suddenly has a face. It’s a face that is covered with a big smile, and their smiles are now a part of our every day.”[/quote]
Before coming to ZOE, David and Andrea always had a passion for helping children. Married in 1999, they spent most of their early married life either volunteering as foster carers (caregivers) or as buddies on ‘Life Gets Better Camps’ for children who have gone through major grief (such as divorce or a death in their immediate family). These voluntary roles were fitted in, and around, their full schedules of family life and business.
David is the Co-Founder of ZOE Foundation Australia and Manager of Child Protection and Communications at ZOE Children’s Homes in Thailand.
Managing Child Protection, David works to ensure that all the children at ZOE are continually looked after and protected in the best possible way. He trains staff, volunteers, visitors and the children, on an ongoing basis, about relevant safety and protection issues. He also oversees the implementation of projects and programs funded by ZOE Foundation Australia to assist in the task of combatting human trafficking.
Though there have been several challenging times throughout their time in Thailand, they have seen God show up in amazing ways through the protection of their family, healing and answered prayers. The support they have received from their family, friends and even people whom they don’t know personally has impacted them deeply and has been a very humbling experience.
The Cross family has grown to love living in Thailand. Their children who were 1, 3 and 4 years old when they left Australia have now all lived more of their lives in Thailand than not, and it has very much become their home. While language learning has been slow and difficult, the Cross children study Thai for one hour every day at the international school that they attend. They have many close Thai friends.
The culture, the food and the varied experiences that the Cross’ have had as a family such as serving together, visiting villages, tasting different foods and even the opportunity to occasionally ride elephants, have all been an added bonus to the true joy of seeing first hand the young lives that are being healed and transformed through the love and care that they receive at ZOE Children’s Homes.
Andrea is a trained primary school teacher and also enjoys writing. While she still views her biggest and most important role as being ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ in her own family, she is committed to being a positive influence, role model and hope in the lives of others, through displaying God’s promises of a life of joy and peace. She enjoys using her skills to help at both ZOE and her children’s school.
Working as volunteers, the Cross family’s “salary” is primarily based on the donations of those who feel led to support their work in Thailand. If you would like to be a part of their financial support team, you can give on a monthly or a one-time basis. Prayer is also a huge need and one that the Cross Family would greatly appreciate.
You can keep track of the Cross family on their blog.
This story is told by one of our missionaries...
Some of the children we rescue have wounds so deep that it is difficult for them to receive the love that is poured out upon them by the ZOE staff and parents. Often, the manifestations of the children’s pain are seen as they lash out in anger and disrespect through insults, rejection, and noncompliance. One teen in particular was one of the more difficult and challenging upon his arrival to ZOE. Because of his history and attachments to his life before ZOE, it was taking longer for him to adjust. He refused to accept being at ZOE and declared that he wanted to return to his previous life.
The ZOE parents patiently and with longsuffering, loved on, prayed for, and took care of this teen, even though their love was rejected again and again.
The teen refused to open himself up to receive the love that was being poured out to him, refused to enjoy the activities and friends that were available to him. But love never fails and slowly, we could see the affection the teen was developing for the parents who were caring for him. He started building connections with some of the other children as they reached out to him. One of the most difficult challenges about working with the kids we receive is helping them build healthy attachments. For this boy, this was a huge milestone.
Although he is still working through some issues, he has come such a long way from his early days at ZOE. He is going along with all of the activities and schedules, enjoying free time with friends, helping parents and staff all while being in community with the other children.
We are thankful for the ZOE parents and the entire ZOE family who unselfishly and sacrificially fight for our children every day. We are grateful for the love of a Heavenly Father that is unconditional, unending, unfailing and brings us all to total freedom. We look forward with hope to the day that this young man and many others like him will walk in the love and freedom that God has for each of them.
Vickie McCoy's Path to ZOE International
Vickie McCoy is ZOE International’s first stateside missionary. Unlike the other missionaries at ZOE who have left their friends and families, Vickie has been able to still live in beautiful, sunny California. In August 2011, she heard the Lord say she would be a ZOE missionary, but not in Thailand. After a conversation with ZOE’s co-founder, Carol Hart, about ZOE’s desire to open a group home in Los Angeles, Vickie prayed and asked God if this was where He wanted her to be. In November 2012, after much confirmation, Vickie gave notice to her employers of almost 22 years that she would be leaving and joining ZOE. On May 6, 2013, Vickie became part of the ZOE family as a missionary in the United States.
Vickie enjoys being able to be part of her home church, seeing friends regularly, and connecting with family on the East Coast. She also makes two trips a year to Thailand to see the extended ZOE family by helping lead Short Term Missions teams to Thailand to visit the Children's Homes and minister to the Thai people, ZOE staff, missionaries, and kids.
Vickie’s main role at ZOE is working with other team members on developing and launching another children’s homes in Los Angeles County. This first year has been one of learning and adjusting. She has met key people and has been networking with them, so that one day they could place human trafficking victims in ZOE’s care. Vickie loves being part of ZOE’s Think Tank Team where once a week she hosts a Google Hangout with a team of individuals in Thailand who are devising strategies on how to best care for, bring healing to, and share God’s love with the children at ZOE.
Vickie says, “I am so glad the Lord called me to be a missionary at ZOE where I can be a 'World Changer.' Though it looks a little different than my missionary friends in Thailand since I am here in Los Angeles, I need support both in prayer and in finances.”
Would you please pray for Vickie in the following areas?
- Finishing the Program Statement in the month of August (the formal documents for licensing a group home in the U.S.).
- Opportunities to share what she is doing in order to raise support for herself.
- Continual head space to learn all there is to learn in order to be a great caregiver for the children the Lord has for us.
Growing up in Thailand, I knew the presence of child slavery. Child prostitution was openly available in Thailand. Back then, the practice was not considered a big deal. I left Thailand for Wales, UK when I was 16 to finish my high school education and as a youth, I never gave much thought about how other children were being used as slaves—having to endure the most horrendously undignified things we could imagine.
Then in 2009, I was working as an engineer and living comfortably in Silicon Valley with my family of five. The issue of human trafficking was once again brought to my attention when we heard a friend speak about the topic.
Though the information was not new to me, I was now looking at it from a Christian perspective. Our Lord’s heart breaks to see how small children are enslaved for mere profit. He wants all Christians to do something about it.
At first, I did not think my role in this was beyond generous giving and perhaps a few short-term mission trips. But the Lord slowly worked in my heart to surrender all the good blessings that he had given to me. He said, “If I can bless you in California, I can bless you anywhere. All I want you to do is to let go and obey.”
So in July 2011, our family uprooted and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
At ZOE, the Lord has been using my life experience for the benefit of His Kingdom. Some notable projects I have worked on are: connecting ZOE’s Thailand campus to the internet, creating email infrastructure for our teams, managing the construction of the new Boys Dormitory, and creating a database for the Child Rescue Team.
I have also become the de-facto interpreter for missionary men when we serve the youth boys and their ZOE fathers. Most recently, we ran a youth camp for the youth boys where we tried to teach them about becoming responsible men. I also love to teach kids math and science. I tutor them whenever the opportunity arises.
Finally, I have a personal project when I am off work. For the past three years, I have been working on a translation of the Gospel of Luke into Thai historical literature form. I am hoping to print 500 copies soon.
Written by missionaries, David & Ester Yu
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." John 6:35
ZOE’s Mercy Network Program aims to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of villages and communities by sharing the love of Christ with them through the distribution of much needed food and through the message of the gospel. Through this program, ZOE establishes relationships with village pastors and networks with them, providing pastoral trainings and care, food, and supplies. The boxes of food that ZOE shares with these pastors are an important means for them to connect with those in their communities.
In addition to providing boxes of food, ZOE also helps pastors network with and encourage one another through various trainings. ZOE’s Mercy Network team travels near and far to help empower pastors and their communities become self-sustaining, income-producing, and spiritually healthy. We continue to research best sustainable farming practices in both agricultural and fish farming industries. It is especially significant to network with these communities, as some of them are targets for child trafficking.
Even though these pastors have little in material resources, it's encouraging to see how much they want to give in the abundance of what Christ has given to them. Please pray that God would provide for the needs of the pastors and their communities and sustain them so they can persevere in the midst of hardship.