Archives for February 2019

February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

Lessons from Thailand

ZOE Thailand

By Gaye Obenchain, January 2019 USA Joint Short Term Team Member

Every year, two short term teams come to ZOE Thailand from the United States. We are privileged to have so many wonderful people over the years from all over the U.S. come to see first hand what God is doing through ZOE.

Gaye Obenchain, came to Thailand for the second time this past January.  

“On my first trip, I was so impressed by ZOE’s heart and intentional mission to spread the good news of Jesus. When I returned this year, I was even more impressed. Their focus has not changed...it still is all about Jesus. Yes, they rescue. Yes, they restore.  Yes, they educate. But all for the purpose of making sure that everyone has a chance to hear the Gospel. Their servant hearts, their humility, their joy, their hope is all about Jesus and it is evident in the faces and the worship of the kids, the missionaries, and the entire staff that sacrifice to make this place a reality.

As our team came alongside to serve, there were so many opportunities to see Christ at work. The outreach to the village had its moments of discomfort but it only served to remind us that it is all about Him. The work day gave us the advantage of getting dirty and realizing that by allowing Christ to plant good things in us, it will keep the good soil from eroding away, that sometimes we need to be power-washed to get rid of the mold that can grow in the rainy season, that ditches need to be dug to drain off the excess and dead branches need to be pruned to make way for new growth.

Teaching English lessons, participating in the cultural exchange, even our day off put us in places of seeing the beauty of Jesus at work as we experienced new people, places, and ways of living.

Upon returning to the U.S., I am praying that what I have seen and experienced on this wonderful trip will help me to remember that it truly is about Jesus and that in any, and every circumstance, someone is waiting to hear about Him.”

February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

Journeys Reclaimed

By Marji Iacovetti

ZOE was privileged to support a Human Trafficking Symposium at Camp Scott on January 29th. The theme of this beautiful event was Reclaiming My Journey. The symposium equipped youth at the juvenile detention camp with knowledge about tactics traffickers use to lure and exploit young people.

Trafficking survivor, Tika Thorton, spoke with youth about her experiences. Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean attended the event along with other community leaders. Zonta Club of Santa Clarita provided special food. Angelica Gomez from Journey Out and Dr. Jason Plunkett, ZOE’s Western USA Regional Director, led a training for parents of youth in the camp.

Though human trafficking is a weighty topic, the day was uplifting. Young people were honored at the symposium and the event helped empower them to stay safe. It was a truly inspiring day.


February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

ZOE Trains Hilton Hotel Employees

By Ester Yu

In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that requires human trafficking awareness training in industries where workers are likely to encounter human trafficking victims, including hotel and motel workers. By January 1, 2020, employers must provide at least 20 minutes of training to employees in these industries.

In a national study of more than 1,400 cases of sex traffickers of minors between 2010 and 2015, the most common venue where children were trafficked were from hotel rooms (56.6%).

Hilton Hotel in Universal City invited ZOE Los Angeles to provide human trafficking awareness training to more than 120 of their employees, from housekeepers to the General Manager, sharing about how to identify signs of human trafficking in a hotel setting. We were excited to be able to provide one session in Spanish.

Our team was so encouraged by the Training Manager who worked hard to coordinate this training after she first heard about human trafficking over a year ago. Participants were engaged, asked great questions, and shared what they learned in the training.

Our message to the employees was that this is happening in our communities and that each of us can do our part to look out for one another's children, sisters, and friends.

To help ZOE continue to provide these free trainings to your communities, visit gozoe.org/donate.

February 22, 2019 - No Comments!

Trauma-Informed Care Conference

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

“Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.” -Trauma Informed Care Project

Trauma informed care basically means that the care provided is an informed understanding of what trauma does to a person’s brain and body - and knowing what this looks like emotionally and socially. It no longer asks, “What’s wrong with this person?” but “What happened to this person?” It is the foundation of both healing and recovery.

Keeping abreast in our work, ZOE sent our psychologist and childcare staff to Nakonayok Province to attend a Trauma Informed Care conference, organized by the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, Ministry of Social Welfare, and International Justice Mission (IJM). It was so wonderful to see that not only did they attend the conference, they had the opportunity to contribute their experience and knowledge as well.

Soon after the conference, the attendees returned to conduct a training here for all our ZOE childcare staff.  

February 18, 2019 - No Comments!

The Greatest Love

ZOE Thailand

Brightly colored Valentine’s Day cards, carved fruit, roses and flowers; these were just some of the items for sale at a small “pop up” shop that our vocational students organized as a part of their business management class last week.

“Hearts” are a common symbol of Valentine’s Day but often we don’t stop to think about what the true significance of this well-recognized image is.

My church pastor recently sent out a short history on the “heart” based upon a post from the Archbishop of Canterbury. It read:

Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest ministering to Christians living under persecution. The help he gave, made him deeply unpopular with the Roman authorities, and put his life in danger.

On top of this, Valentine defied the Emperor by secretly marrying Christian couples, which meant the husbands didn’t have to go to war.  To remind those soldiers, and persecuted Christians, of their vows – and of God’s unfailing love – Valentine is said to have given them hearts cut from parchment.  

For these acts among others, Valentine was martyred on February 14th, so Valentine stands as an icon of love not just for those in romantic relationships – but for those who suffer, those who are alone, those who are afraid, those who are in danger.

Many of us enjoy Valentine’s Day as a reason to celebrate the lives of those we love by making cards and gifting chocolates and flowers.

As we see the symbols of love all around this February, may we appreciate the beautiful reminder that God’s “heart,” represents a love for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the poor.

We live in a lost and broken world, but His “heart” is for all.

God used a song to speak to us during our journey to come to work at ZOE. It was Hosanna (Hillsong), and in particular the lyrics,

“...Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours.

Everything I am for your kingdom's cause...

Will you let your heart be broken by the things that break God's?

February 15, 2019 - No Comments!

Wai Kru Day

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

Teacher’s day is celebrated in many countries around the world but Teacher’s Day or ‘Wai Kru Day’, as it’s called in Thailand, is a day when students show respect to their teachers by participating in school ceremonies to honor their teachers.

Many teachers around Thailand are given awards for outstanding service, for their attention to teaching and their love to guide their students. The teachers at the ZOE Learning Center, love teaching and do it wholeheartedly but one teacher reflected, “Though we may not get outstanding awards like other teachers, we have happiness and have peace as we serve God because we know He called us to come and serve here at ZOE. We help and teach students with God’s love, and we don’t do it for ourselves, but for our students and to honour God.”

We are so thankful that the amazing ZOE teachers answered the call to use their skills and talents to guide and educate the students in the Learning Center.

February 12, 2019 - No Comments!

Daring to Teach

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

It has been said that, “Whoever dares to teach must never cease to learn,” so when two educational supervisors from Chiang Mai Educational Service Area were invited to come and do training with our ZOE teachers, the teachers eagerly jumped at the opportunity to learn more. The supervisors helped them learn more about  curriculum, the structure of writing curriculum, and quality educational practices.

Although the ZOE Learning Center has been in operation for almost 2 years, the teachers recognize the need for ongoing development within both the curriculum and the teachers personally.

One of the ZOE teachers commented, “We were impressed by the two educational supervisors. They were kind, friendly, and they sacrificed their time to come to train us, give us knowledge, and explain about curriculum writing until we could understand it more and write it by ourselves.”

February 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Helping to Heal

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

You’ve probably heard it said that “hurt people hurt people,” tending to inflict their hurt and pain on others around them. Past hurts can cause people to become defensive and self-protective; hurting others can become a vicious cycle.

At ZOE, we believe that God can help break that cycle. He offers His healing and hope. In fact, sometimes healing does not occur in the way we’d expect, in the counseling room or in the ‘programs.’ Many times, we see that healing begins in the most unlikely places.  

Every week, the teachers at ZOE Learning Center in Thailand take students off campus to do charity work with the aim of training them to think outside of their pain and commit to helping others. Usually they go somewhere local but recently they took the students to a neighborhood farther away. Their mission, on this particular day, was to help a disabled man who, through his struggles, is trying to care for his teenage son.  

The students cleaned his house, played music, and prayed for him.

Upon their return to ZOE, they were all so happy that they’d been able to help. They excitedly began planning for the next trip. As the ZOE teachers intentionally look for ways to teach the students to focus on others, they planned the following week to go and help an elderly lady in a different village.

One girl, who later could not stop thinking about the man they’d helped, bought something with her own money and asked her teacher to give it to the man to bless him.

People in pain and crisis often find themselves the focus of others’ attention. They can get used to people asking how they’re doing and whether they need anything. Our ZOE parents are so great at loving, hugging, and caring for children in pain and meeting them where they’re at. But somewhere, in the midst of self-focus, it’s also healthy to be able to steer them towards helping others in need because sometimes it is in the ‘helping’ that the ‘healing’ can occur.

One of the teachers shared that, “The opportunity to serve others actually helps all of us.”  At ZOE, we recognize that “hurt people can hurt people” but we also see how sharing in other people’s pain can help some begin to heal. Relief from pain starts to come as they help others who are also struggling, enabling them bit by bit to let go of some of their hurts and begin their healing process.

February 6, 2019 - No Comments!

The Home Front and the Fight

The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part 2: Community Awareness and Action

By Jessicah Ray, PA-C

ZOE International

From Individuals To Communities

In August of 2018, ZOE shared practical tips for individuals to fight human trafficking on the home front by keeping eyes open to the signs of domestic violence, and by speaking up (http://gozoe.org/2018/08/24/the-link-between-domestic-violence-human-trafficking/)when the signs are there. In this addition to the series, we will broaden from the individual to the community - to learn how we can unify individual efforts to generate the greatest impact. 

Opening Eyes & Speaking Up = Awareness & Action

Community Is The Key

Entire communities are affected by human trafficking, so it is imperative that the community as a whole is prepared to recognize and react as a united force. This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) (https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf) emphasized the importance of communities as the key experts to incorporate local context, unique trends, and population-specific needs into their public anti-human trafficking programs (Department of State, 2018). Often, these contextual details are too remote for global initiatives but are nonetheless more effective in addressing human trafficking (Johnstone, 2018). For example, it is globally known that the combination of human vulnerability, high profits, and low risk is the greatest catalyst to fuel human trafficking (UNICEF, 2017), but what does that look like in our communities? Is human trafficking concealed in our nail salons, hotels, or massage parlors? Is it hidden in plain sight by the 13-year-old getting into the car of her older boyfriend on a school day? Is it more obvious when the same child walks around the dark parking lot of a motel? Empowered communities are aware of what trafficking looks like in their area, and can act by activating trained response protocols that utilize local resources and partnerships. 

Community Must Target The 3 P's

So how does a community develop an awareness and action plan? Several resources exist to train communities in anti-human trafficking public programs. Successful multilevel anti-trafficking initiatives have confirmed that the critical factors for an effective response must include addressing "the three P's" of protection of victims, prosecution of human traffickers, and prevention of human trafficking globally (Department of State, 2018). Community leaders can focus public development projects on awareness and action on these three P's, especially among the priority groups that are most likely to come in contact with human trafficking victims such as first responders, local authorities, and community resource providers. Trained priority groups must establish strong partnerships with each other to strengthen the community response through shared knowledge and resources. ZOE is privileged to partner alongside these priority groups domestically and internationally to address the three P's.

The TIP report serves as a guide for communities to build awareness trainings and action protocols with several step-by-step tools including how to:

  • Build multi-stakeholder partnerships 
  • Conduct community-focused needs and resource assessments
  • Conduct community-wide training and awareness programs
  • Develop Response Protocols

Strengthen Community Initiatives Through Research

Numerous anti-trafficking programs have been launched from local to international levels, but we are still learning which strategies are most effective. Evidence-based research is vital to enhance both the awareness and action targets of the three P’s. Through research we can determine the most effective prevention strategies, the risk and protective factors of victimization and survival, the effectiveness of current health care screenings and response protocols, and ultimately the best way to implement human trafficking prevention and intervention programs (Rothman et al., 2017). Community involvement in this dynamic research is critical because of the diverse resource needs of survivors of human trafficking.

National governments and international organizations should welcome communities as valuable allies in the global mission to end human trafficking. At ZOE, we believe communities have the power to serve as an essential advocate and foothold against human trafficking. We are so thankful to all of ZOE's community partners including law enforcement, government agencies, churches, schools, organizations, and families who stand with us in the fight to end child trafficking.


Department of State. (2018, June). 2018 Trafficking In Persons /report.https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf

Johnstone, K. (2018, June 28). The power of local communities in the fight against human trafficking. DIPNOTE. Retrieved from https://blogs.state.gov/stories/2018/06/28/en/power-local-communities-fight-against-human-trafficking

Rothman, E. F. 1. erothman@bu. ed., Stoklosa, H., Baldwin, S. B., Chisolm-Straker, M., Price, R. K., & Atkinson, H. G. (2017). Public Health Research Priorities to Address US Human Trafficking. American Journal of Public Health107(7), 1045–1047. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303858.

UNICEF. (2017, January 13). What fuels human trafficking? Retrieved from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/what-fuels-human-trafficking/31692

February 5, 2019 - No Comments!

Dumpster Diving

By Andrea Cross

Every week in Australia, 17.5 million steel cans are recycled. That is enough to build 900 cars!

Going through the rubbish to find steel cans is not what many of us think of when we picture ways to stop child trafficking but one Aussie man cares so much about the kids at ZOE, and seeing slavery ended, that he even digs through dumpsters to find cans that he can exchange for cash to raise money to send to Thailand.

And as if recycling cans wasn’t noble enough, Tony and his wife Margaret have also organized dinner auctions, barbeques at local markets, sold glow sticks at festivals, and even sold their chicken’s eggs all to help ZOE’s work in preventing, rescuing, and restoring children’s lives.

His daughter Rachael has also given profits she made from selling property, donated thousands of dollars to ZOE, and visited the children’s home several times.

Whether it be cutting 20 kg of onions, selling eggs at their workplaces, or “dumpster diving” (as Tony calls it), this family sure knows how to use every opportunity they have to be an inspiration and make a difference in the world.

Thank you Tony, Margaret, and Rachael! The way you choose to live your lives and the sacrifices you make to help the kids at ZOE, motivates all of us to do more and think about ways that we can use our time, resources, and money to be a change in the world.