While the world is confronting crisis, God’s blessing is still present. His helping hands are with His children as He promises.
When we were first told that we would need to work from home, I began brainstorming… How could we work efficiently and how could we plan, manage, and assign a tasks to each other? God has shown me new ideas and helped me realize that my work should be run well everywhere! If we still need to work from home, our work performance should still be professional. My home can become a home office.
During a quarantine time, I’ve had the chance to think on God’s mercy and blessing in my life. Many times God shows me the face of our ZOE leaders and I am thankful for them. They are great blessings, good role models, and have servants hearts like Jesus.
I feel grateful to be able to serve Him together with ZOE. Thankful for God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Many people are crying for help during this time, and God allows us to be the answer. The coronavirus may lock us at home, but it cannot stop us from serving our almighty God!
Thankful for all ZOE leaders and our supporters so we can continue serving children and others in many areas.
– ZOE Social Worker
Evangelism Through English Ministry in Japan
Schools are still closed down in Japan. At the J.O.Y. Club staff meeting, it was decided that J.O.Y. Club would be closed until public schools are reopened.
Joy Tani, the ZOE missionary who oversees the J.O.Y. Club English teaching ministry reports that one fifth grade boy, “Taku,” who has been in J.O.Y. Club for only one year had some amazing questions about Jesus. As he was leaving J.O.Y. Club this year, we really felt he was ready to receive Christ and gave him the opportunity at his last class. What a joy to see him raise his hand and pray together with the Bible time teacher to ask Jesus into his heart.
We had 6 students leaving J.O.Y. Club this year and with every child, Joy was able to tell each one individually before leaving, “Remember, your teacher Joy loves, but Jesus loves you more!”
J.O.Y. Club was started over 20 plus years ago. Each year we have seen children and even parents accept Christ in J.O.Y. Club classes and at our family outreaches. But in the past 2 years, we have never seen so many children so willing and eager to accept Christ in such a short amount of time.
At our last J.O.Y. Club family outreach, we had a J.O.Y. Club father accept Christ. He is now doing English classes with Joy and Bible time with Hiromi, a ZOE national missionary. It’s wonderful to see how open he is during the Bible time.
As April is the start of the school year here in Japan, we have not been able to advertise about J.O.Y. Club as much as we normally do because of the Corona Virus.
Please join us in prayer that we would have more children and families to minister to this year once the pandemic is over.
We so desire more opportunities to share about Jesus in this beautiful nation of Japan.
*header image taken before Covid lockdown
Despite the fact that many of our team are working remotely, we are still able to advocate for children, raise public awareness, and support trafficking survivors in both Thailand and America.
We remain committed to our goals of reach and rescue. We do not see the current limitations, problems, or obstacles as constraints, but rather as pathways – to form new ways of doing things. Maybe even better ways.
According to psychologists, when you have less to work with,
you actually begin to see the world differently.
At ZOE we choose to see the current constraints as advantages in disguise. We are asking ourselves, how can we use constraints to be creative and innovative in each of our jobs? How can these obstacles inspire better thinking?
Through this indefinite time, we will find ways to use our resources differently because we have to. This situation is causing us to creatively plan, dream, and orchestrate ideas that would otherwise have remained untapped.
We remain steadfast in our determination to ensure that child trafficking is ended, justice brought, and lives rebuilt. While we are shifting the way we work and live worldwide, child trafficking has not gone away. In the face of the Covid19 virus, we will continue to fight!
With even more time at home and the increase in use of internet devices, it’s important that we help keep our children safe. If your child is using devices for online school, has a mobile device, or uses gaming systems, it’s time to have a conversation with your family about internet safety.
Here are six practical steps you can take as a parent to help protect your child!
- Keep connected. It’s so important your child feels safe and connected to family members. The more connected and safe they feel with family, the more comfortable they will be to discuss issues, including issues they encounter online. In contrast, the more disconnected they feel from parents/family, things have potential to start becoming secretive, and they may seek affirmation, connection, and relationships outside of the home for that connection.
- Have open conversations with your child about the dangers of the internet and how to practice online safety.
SMART acronym is a great place to start!
S – Safe – Stay safe by keeping personal information private! Location, contact info, passwords etc.
M – Meeting – Don’t meet in person with someone you met online! Tell your parents if you would like to meet with someone you met online.
A – Accepting – Do not accept friend requests or follows from people you don’t know! Don’t accept files, images, or texts from unknown senders! These could be viruses or contain inappropriate content.
R – Reliable – People online are not reliable, and can easily lie about who they are. It’s best to reserve your trust for people you know. If you are messaging with someone online, make sure it is someone you know!
T – Tell – If something makes you feel uncomfortable, be sure to tell a parent or trusted adult. Parents, it’s important that if your child chooses to share something with you, that you remain a safe place, without judgement or punishment. Then together, you can report any illegal or inappropriate activity.
- Work together with your child to establish internet guidelines. Don’t just give a list of “don’t do this or that,” have a conversation with your child, teaching them why. You may consider signing a contract with your child about the agreed upon rules for online use. We suggest covering these topics:
- What apps/sites can be visited? What apps and/or sites are off limits?
- Where can they use their devices? Should they limit their internet use to general spaces?
- Who needs to be present when they use the internet? Do they need parental supervision?
- When and for how long can they be on their device? Do they need to limit screen time to certain hours/times of day
- Utilize parental controls to help monitor and protect online activity. Regularly check posts, messages, texts, etc. This part takes a bit of research in the beginning and continued upkeep, but it is important to help our children navigate internet usage.
To help you in the start of your search, one field staff shared, “Even though I have been working in this area for years, I recall that when we started this process, it was quite overwhelming. It takes time for you to establish guidelines, time to find software that helps show their activity, and time for you to monitor and check-in with your child… No matter what software you use, it is not set and forget! Initially we used the free version of Qustodio to help us set up simple daily time time limits. Apple also has great parental control software.”
- If you notice behavior changes in your child, such as isolating themselves, becoming secretive about their phone, or wanting to spend more time in their room with a device, ask your child what’s going on, without judgement or punishment.
- If you discover your child has been interacting with a potentially dangerous person or content, don’t panic! Be a safe place for your child. Break off contact — stop talking and stop replying. Criminal activity, including explicit photos or text messages, should be saved and taken to the police for investigation. Report any illegal activity to law enforcement.
Empowering Youth Who Can’t Read
Can you imagine working in a coffee shop or restaurant and relying purely on your memory for every order?
What if you were unable to decipher the menu board, or even recognize the buttons on the Point of Sale cash register?
Can you picture not being capable of decoding the labels on the different bags of coffee, or the name for each type of milk? Or not being able to read this blog post? I can’t.
Having literacy skills is something that we often take for granted. We don’t usually remember the exact moment we learned to read, it seemed to just happen.
My only connection to try to understand what it might be like to not be able to read, is from the experience of moving to a foreign country. The first time I recognized a word on the menu, understood a sign that read, “no parking” and wrote my name in Thai – I remember! I was so proud… so excited!
For many of our rescued children, reading is not something they take for granted. It’s a real-life skill that is the difference between having a dream fulfilled and continuing to feel ashamed, useless, or unworthy.
Recently our barista trainer, found herself reflecting more deeply on the words, “We offer vocational training since many of the children we rescue are behind in or struggle in school, so this gives them practical education to open doors for the future.” Words she had said many times before, but this day she had a greater understanding. And the reality of her words hit her like a ton of bricks.
Here she was working with precious teenagers that actually couldn’t read. But through vocational training and education, ZOE was helping by opening up new possibilities, instilling new dreams, and equipping them to accomplish the goals they carried in their hearts.
It is the reason why we’re not just about “rescue.” What chance would these teenagers have if we only rescued and didn’t equip?
Did you know that last year we were unable to provide aftercare services for 30 girls whose rescues we had assisted in? Due to lack of resources, we simply couldn’t take them into our rescue center.
We need your help. Not just to rescue, but to give these children a chance to read, learn, and grow.
Human Trafficking Myths
As we share about human trafficking this month, we realize that many people may have false ideas or misconceptions about what human trafficking looks like. Which is why we are going to talk about five common myths related to human trafficking.
Myth #1: Human trafficking only occurs in developing countries, not the United States.
Truth: Human trafficking is a global epidemic. It occurs in cities and suburbs all across America. It has been reported in all 50 states. In a study published in 2017, it was estimated that there were about 403,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States. (International Labour Organization, 2017)
Myth #2: Victims are always kidnapped.
Truth: Though some victims may be kidnapped, it is not the only way people are trafficked. Many traffickers use online grooming to build trust with victims. Many are trafficked by close family friends, relatives, or boyfriends. In 2017, 14.4% of active criminal labor and sex trafficking cases involved defendants who trafficked their children, spouses, intimate partners, siblings, and other family members. (Federal Human Trafficking Report, 2018)
Myth #3: Human trafficking involves people being physically trapped or chained.
Truth: While some victims are physically and violently held against their will, many are psychologically manipulated, threatened, and trapped in commercial exploitation. A victim’s inability to get away could also be due to lack of resources or a safe place to live.
Myth #4: Only women are trafficked.
Truth: Though women are disproportionately affected by forced labor, men are also victims of human trafficking. According to a 2017 study, women account for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors. (International Labour Organization, 2017)
Myth #5: All commercial sex is human trafficking.
Truth: Commercial sex involving an adult is legally human trafficking if the person is doing so against their own will, as a result of force, fraud, or coercion. Under U.S. law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking — regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion. (Polaris Project, 2020)
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month!
Our team has been preparing months in advance to empower and equip you to reach your community and sphere of influence with human trafficking education. We believe more people are going to be reached with human trafficking awareness than ever before.
There are currently 40.3 million people enslaved today…1 in 4 are children. These statistics may leave you with a bit of a pit in your stomach. They aren’t fun or easy to talk about. But they are necessary conversations. Because nothing will change if people don’t even know of the problem.
But the best part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month is that we aren’t stuck living with the stomach ache that children are being bought and sold in the commercial sex industry… No, it doesn’t end there! We can also raise awareness that there is hope!
We can raise awareness that children are being rescued and restored.
We can raise awareness that there are solutions being implemented all around the world.
We can raise awareness about the transformations taking place.
Whether you have been on a short term trip to Thailand and seen first hand, or heard the stories from friends or pastors, or generously volunteered and participated in our offices around the world, share your story. Why is your heart moved to do something about human trafficking?
Human trafficking awareness month can be more than sharing the heart breaking, gut wrenching statistics… You can share your experience of hope and action in this fight to end child trafficking!
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.
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.
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!
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.