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Archives for November 2019

November 26, 2019 - No Comments!

A World Without Orphans

"God put a new dream in my heart over 3 years ago and… 
guess what?!? It's happening!!"

Written by Jessica Dodd

A World Without Orphans.

Can you picture it? A world without any orphans? A world where all children grow up in safe, stable, and nurturing families? I can.

What an amazing experience to be able to attend the Global Forum for a World Without Orphans (WWO), which was held on 24-27 October 2019. With 600 attendees from 60 different countries, WWO has a clear vision to see children thriving, families strong, and churches engaged. The vision will be achieved by helping children remain in, be reunited with, or regain a healthy family, so that they can reach their God-given purpose. The forum focused on the spiritual, relational, and practical aspects for how to best accomplish this aim.

Jessica Dodd with Director of ZOE Children's Home Thailand, Yim at WWO

What was so encouraging about the forum was the spirit of “working together” to care for orphans and vulnerable children better. A united goal of implementing best practices and making realistic changes on every level...from the community/society, government, and even national policies.

A powerful time of worship, as well as the main session, focused on the Father's heart for orphans, steered attendees towards how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Breakout sessions were taught by experts from around the world, and included both valuable and practical takeaways.

It was awesome to hear about how different countries have changed their policies on every level as a result of the 1st global forum in 2016 (just 3 years ago!).

For me personally, the four days of forum were life changing, inspiring, challenging, convicting, stirring...all at the same time! I'm so glad I got the opportunity to attend. I'm excited about the future, in more ways than one! 

November 26, 2019 - No Comments!

On the Field: Self-Care

Last month, eight of the ZOE missionary women spent time away at a women’s conference. The retreat was planned around the theme of “joy” and the sessions, speakers, worship, and workshops were all linked to the theme in some way.

Over the years, I have seen many married couples and families arrive in Thailand full of joy and energy to serve overseas, but within two to three years, they have returned back home oftentimes discouraged, disappointed, and exhausted.

At ZOE, our missionary care team do a wonderful job trying to support our families, couples, and singles on the field, but there is also an onus on each individual to maintain their own self-care. The statistics relating to missionaries are actually quite startling.

Did you know?

80% of missionaries burn out and don’t finish their term.
46% of missionaries have been diagnosed with a psychological issue.
87% of those with a psychological issue are diagnosed with depression.(Source: freerainint.org)

Keeping in mind the high statistics of missionaries who do not thrive living cross culturally, I am all too familiar with the transitional environment in which we live and work, having seen countless friends outside of ZOE and coworkers “go home.”

By setting aside time this past weekend to receive teaching, have fellowship as well as take moments of quiet reflection and meditation, I am personally taking one step to care for myself in a way that I know helps me to thrive.  

Taking breaks is so important and yet is often one of the first things that gets overlooked. Even small breaks like stopping for a coffee, lunch breaks (leaving your desk), having a Sabbath, going out of town every so often and taking vacations - actually help us to get more done! 

Sometimes, missionaries find that their time is taken up trying to meet the demands of supporters, board members, in-country directors, nationals, governmental red tape, their families, etc. all while trying to serve people who have been marginalized, have suffered abuse and violence, or are in poverty.

They feel guilty for taking breaks and try to get “more” time by cutting out the very things that would actually be beneficial to their well-being. This may lead to less and less engagement in times of intentional prayer, meditation, reading the Word, time with friends/spouse/children, exercise, sleep, hobbies, and other outside interests. (missionarycare.com)

I will finish with an excerpt taken from missionary blogger Mari Hernandez-Tuten’s post entitled, “Just Take the Vacation.”

Our vacation was not sinful...We are not being unwise stewards of our money by taking a vacation...We personally used our own funds for this trip. In fact, we are doing something wonderful for our ministry by taking a vacation. Who wants burned out missionaries on the field? Who wants missionary families on the brink of divorce because they can’t say no to ministry needs?...No one does!…So, if you’re a missionary and you’re reading this and you feel guilty about taking a vacation please hear me out – Take the vacation! Don’t go somewhere else only to include some ‘work’ engagements so you feel better about your vacation. Just go and rest with your family or by yourself.”

A word of gratitude!
If you’re a person who has supported a missionary, encouraged them to take time off, have respite or go on a vacation...or maybe you’ve even given a specific donation to be used for self-care. Thank you!

November 22, 2019 - No Comments!

One Child Reflects on Being Raised At ZOE

One of our ZOE children was getting ready to leave ZOE and attend university.  He was in the process of packing up his things and going to his new dorm room.  However, before leaving, he wanted to say goodbye to all the staff, children and missionaries.

As he said his goodbyes, he started to tell Carol Hart, our founder, what ZOE meant to him.  He said,

“ZOE has given me a lot of opportunities…. a good education, a place to stay, good food, safe environment.” 

This was all very important to him, but in his wildest dreams, he never thought that ZOE could ever give him something that he thought was impossible to have.  He said,

“ZOE gave me a mom and dad.” 

He began to weep uncontrollably as he said this in front of his ZOE mother and began to hug her.  He never thought as an orphan, he could have a mom and dad.  Today, he still calls these ZOE parents his mom and dad. He regularly keeps in contact with them and even takes the time out to come visit and help around ZOE.

This is one of the key reasons why we have experienced so much success at ZOE, because we have staff who not only consider their duties as a job, but as a lifelong calling.  These children are not merely foster children passing through, but they consider them as their own.

November 14, 2019 - No Comments!

Walk For Freedom: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai recently had its first official Walk for Freedom!

ZOE was a part of the Anti-Trafficking Expo which took place after the walk. Attendants could find out about the work being done across Thailand to tackle the issue of human trafficking.

"Walk for Freedom is a global fundraising and awareness event, rallying tens of thousands of people, taking millions of steps, in hundreds of cities all over the world. We walk to disrupt the existence of slavery, shaking its very foundation with each step.

It’s an outward expression of A21’s inward desire to see slavery abolished everywhere—in our cities, in our communities, and in our world. One step at a time and one dollar at a time, we fundraise and walk to see a world without slavery.

ZOE's table at Walk for Freedom Chiang Mai

Last year, we showed up in 475 locations in 50 countries, reaching 70 million people through social media. Each step mattered. Each step made a difference." - A21

What an honor to be working alongside others in the fight to see trafficking ended. It was so encouraging that so many people turned up to walk - raising awareness and making a difference!  

November 12, 2019 - No Comments!

Going South East

ZOE recently sent a team to the southeast region of Thailand. The purpose was two-fold. We were there to bring food boxes to communities and to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Our team ran 3 outreaches over the course of the week and reached more than 700 students. Children and communities in this area are especially at high risk and they had the opportunity to learn about the dangers and schemes of human traffickers. These were the first prevention outreaches that ZOE has done in Ubon, Thailand.

We continue to expand our work in our fight to end human trafficking. Our prevention team leader shared his thoughts on the future of work in Ubon. He said, “I hope we’ll have more opportunities to do outreaches there. There are so many children at risk.” They also used the time on ground to build relationships with officials and other organizations with the future in mind.

While our team was there, they were able to witness first hand how much the area was affected by the flooding. News articles say it’s the worst the area has seen in 17 years. Our Mercy Network team was able to support and help pastors that we partner with to supply food and necessities to those affected. One team member shared how seeing where people were living because of the flooding was quite difficult. But “knowing that the pastors we partner with were going to bring food boxes to these locations to help people…this is what impacted me the most on this trip.”

November 12, 2019 - No Comments!

A Survivor’s Story: Peace

When I was little, I remember one day a Christian family invited us to go to church. We went, and I loved it, but my father did not want me to believe in God so he prohibited me from going back again.

When I was rescued and came to live at ZOE, I was amazed to hear about God for a second time.

I prayed that I would be able to see my family again one day, but I began feeling angry with God that my prayer was not being answered. I also started to doubt if God was even real.

After some time of feeling angry, about my prayer not being answered, a lady came to tell me that she could take me to go visit my siblings. I was so excited but I felt guilty for getting angry at God.

At ZOE, I continue to learn more about God, and read the Bible. When I have problems or questions, God answers me through the words that I read.

I praise God that he gives me the patience that I need to be at ZOE at this time. I know that God is in control of everything. When I surrender my family to God, peace returns to my heart again. Stress and worries about my family are no longer obstacles for me in daily life as I learn to trust in Him.

November 11, 2019 - No Comments!

The Gift of a “Work in Progress”

Our ZOE buildings are meant to be white, which is challenging because the soil on the land where our ZOE buildings are is a deep, rich orange color. Often times it gets onto our clothes, cars, and shoes and it’s really hard to keep things clean.

As I arrived at work this past week, I noticed that there have been a couple of guys painting around the front entrance to the building.

Sometimes as I go to my office, I’ve needed to go a different way, or walk around their tools but mostly, while the work is being done, I’ve been thinking that it all just looks like a bit of a mess.

It’s not only the buildings at ZOE that need maintenance though; my life, those I work with, the parents, and of course the children themselves – are all a work-in-progress and sometimes, everywhere I look there is much work to be done. It all just seems like a bit of a mess.

I don’t often feel like I do a very good job at seeing a mess and just heading straight into it. I am continually amazed at the ZOE staff and parents though, who commit wholeheartedly to seeing lives transformed and throwing themselves in 100% to see the hard work being done.

I’m so thankful that God gives us discernment and sensitivity to the needs around us so that at those times when we just want to walk around, go a different way, or avoid the chaos, He helps us to enter in and “be” with others in the same way that He is with us.

We are loved and accepted, yes, but loved way too much for Him to just let us remain in our pain, shame, guilt, and in our past. He takes those deep, rich orange stains and paints them as white as snow. And every time we find another stain, He does it again – a beautiful reminder of our God who forgives us and gives us a new life and a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!

November 8, 2019 - No Comments!

Great Day!

It’s harvest time!

Today was a great day!  Why? Because the self-sustaining agricultural team spent the entire morning along with some of our child care staff picking a bunch of different produce items. Needless to say, our kitchen was excited, because you can’t get any fresher produce than the organic vegetables we grow!

We harvested just under 40 pounds of chili! (It’s a good thing our family LOVES SPICY FOOD!) Then we picked about 198 pounds of cucumbers! We cut down about 40 pounds of morning glory (a leafy green vegetable). Finally, we got over 187 pounds of corn.

40 pounds of chili
187 pounds of corn
198 pounds of cucumbers

To top it off, some generous neighbors gave ZOE 112 pounds of peanuts just harvested right out of the ground! Our kids LOVE peanuts and now we have fresh peanuts for snacking!

That was the harvest for this week. Last week, we only harvested corn. But there was so much corn, that the ZOE family actually started getting tired of eating corn almost every day! Fortunately, we have a pig farm and any corn we don’t eat, our pigs will! 

November 5, 2019 - No Comments!

October Camp 2019

When we look back on our relationship of knowing and being known by God, there are milestones and breakthrough moments. 

Helping with camps at ZOE means that our team gets to be a part of those breakthrough moments for the children and youth ZOE rescues. We have the privilege of helping children and youth experience and understand God on a deeper level than they have before. We help peel back the curtain a little bit more and watch as God reveals His heart and love for each and every one of them.

This October’s camp theme was Transforming Faith, based on the Transformers movies that so many of our kids have seen! We talked about the transformation from sinner to saved, sadness to joy, and the foundational truth that faith has a way of transforming everything

Camp this year was a small piece of that transformation process for our kids and youth! Whether it was in moments of fellowship and fun, or teachings and object lessons, or powerful moments of worship (some of our youth led worship this year!), or the giant transformer we made from cardboard boxes, each piece was prayerfully planned out to help facilitate healing and transformation. 

Children rededicated their lives to Jesus, some accepted Him for the first time, others were overwhelmed by the love of God as their eyes were opened to what Jesus did on the cross, some were even asking how to share the gospel in the red light district where they were once exploited. Praise God for more breakthrough moments.

November 5, 2019 - No Comments!

Where Are They Now?

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit ZOE in Thailand, you most likely still have a memory or two of some of the children’s faces that made an impression on you. Maybe they shared a testimony during a Friday night service, sat on your mat at a family BBQ dinner, or even prayed for you. Moments like those seem to stay etched in our memories for a long time. But perhaps, as the years have passed by, and your trip to Thailand became more distant, you have had the thought, “I wonder where they are now.”

As you’re probably aware, the children who grew up in ZOE families did not “age out.” When they reached adulthood, we ensured that they transitioned from their family into the next stage of life with lots of support. We structure the transition to independent living to accommodate each individual’s needs whether that be student accommodation at university, helping them to find employment, or just staying in contact and supporting them in a multitude of small ways.

ZOE’s transitional program includes a drop-in center in the city, where young adults can find mature grownups whom they know and trust, to help them when they need it - with anything from wise council, a meal, or a shoulder to cry on after a hard day.

Once a week, at the city center, life group meetings are held. This past month, on any given Saturday there have been between 20 to 40 young adults in attendance. Many former ZOE children come and bring their friends. Each week, more of them are coming to know Jesus.  There were 21 young people who became Christians this past month. 

It’s hard to believe, but some of the children who grew up at ZOE are actually married now, and have children of their own. It is always beautiful to see these new mothers and fathers, passing their babies to the parents from ZOE who cared for them growing up. Often times at church, and other events, it feels like a giant family reunion as the ZOE moms and dads experience both the joys of “grand parenting,” and staying connected with the children whom they have helped to raise. Our ZOE parents and staff do such an amazing job supporting, advocating, and being available for these young people when they need it.

Where are they now? Each of the children who have grown up and left ZOE has been supported into their season of adulthood. They are working, studying, parenting, and seeking to understand themselves better. They are connecting with others on a deeper level and continually discovering who they are.