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Nobody Cares

May 21, 2020

Nobody Cares

Nobody cares about me,” one lady sobbed outside a government building before swallowing pills of poison, falling to the ground and needing to be taken to hospital. This is just one of the many tragic stories circulating through news channels in Thailand – telling of individuals who feel the only answer to their hopelessness and desperation is to take their life. 

The growing number of people who have been desperately crying out for relief, has contributed to the number of suicide attempts drastically increasing in what is being reported as “a worrying trend.” The ongoing suffering, caused by this year’s job losses and inability to work, has led to millions of people living in a critical state of anguish and despair. 

With 54.3 percent of Thailand’s workforce being classed as “informal workers,” meaning they have irregular income, low wages, and are unprotected by the social security system, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying economic devastation, have felt like the final blow for this group, who were already facing hardships.

Aside from the fact that each of these stories – each life alone – represents a heart-breaking scenario; what is it that makes all of us at ZOE feel so compelled to step in and help these people – the most desperate and needy?

For 17 years now, knowing that traffickers exploit the vulnerable, ZOE has worked to provide necessary food, education, resources, and training to families who are the most likely targets for traffickers, in both city and rural communities. These most “at risk” groups are often where children are taken from through the process of using violence, deception, or coercion, and exploiting them for financial or personal gain.

So it’s what ZOE has always done! It’s what ZOE will continue to do…

But now, throughout these especially desperate times, we’re increasing our support. Because of generous donations from ZOE staff, volunteers, and supporters, we are currently able to make over 1,000 food packages. Hundreds of these have already been handed out, and hundreds more are on their way! Being delivered right now

Please be praying that we can continue to reach these precious families who are feeling left alone, helpless, and desperate. If you feel able to help us supply more food packs to these vulnerable people, please contribute. *In the box that says how did you hear about ZOE? Type “Thailand Hunger Relief Assistance.” Donations are tax deductible. 

Author – Andrea Cross

Feeding the Hungry During Covid-19 Crisis

May 19, 2020

Feeding the Hungry During Covid-19 Crisis

You don’t have to go far in Thailand to come face-to-face with the devastating reality that the Covid-19 virus has inflicted on people. And I’m not even referring to the disease itself.

The aftermath of the pandemic – the loss of jobs, zero income and dwindling resources, have left countless families and communities hungry, hopeless and desperate.

Trucks in Thailand full of boxes of foodStories of people having only the remainder of the fruit left on their tree to eat, families sharing one egg, many without anything left to eat, and no idea how they will provide for themselves and their children. Food lines stretching for kilometers down city streets.

While making sure our former ZOE young adults are being taken care of, we’ve also been scrambling to raise more funds, buy supplies and make food packs fast enough to reach those who are hurting the most.

Our network of pastors is directing us to the most needy. The ones tucked away in small villages, and tiny huts. The ones who can’t access the government handouts or food lines. The elderly, the disabled, the poorest of the poor.

One family that our ZOE team came into contact with, as they went door-to-door reaching the families who needed food packages the most, moved them to tears.

A fourteen-year-old girl caring for her father who had been left paralyzed after an accident, and her mother who struggles with mental health issues. No money for school, let alone food. This young girl, with the weight of responsibility on her small shoulders, was overwhelmed, welcoming the supply of rice, oil, noodles and canned fish with deep gratitude.

ZOE Thailand team of men dropping off bags of food

Our staff feels so happy to be a part of this project and serve others and God. To be able to see others who need help, those having to fight for food and struggle to make ends meet, has been very eye opening.

So far ZOE has prepared 560 relief bags and we are about to purchase the supplies to double that!

Please be praying that we can continue to reach these precious families who are feeling left alone, helpless and desperate. If you feel able to help us supply more food packs to these vulnerable people, please contribute. *In the box that says how did you hear about ZOE? Type “Thailand Hunger Relief Assistance†Donations are tax deductible.

Author – Andrea Cross

 

Providing Crisis Response to Former ZOE Children

May 11, 2020

Providing Crisis Response to Former ZOE Children

Payton Foundation, which is already committed to supporting ZOE’s Vocational Training Program and Learning Centre, reached out to us recently to see if we had ‘more immediate’ needs, given the Covid-19 pandemic. ​

Our City Centre coordinators were so relieved to get word that extra funding would be sent. They had already started to help our former ZOE kids (now adults) during this time by buying rice, oil, noodles, milk, etc. with some provisions from a local church but knew that they had stretched that money as far as it could go. With approximately 30 young adults contacting ZOE desperate for assistance, our City Centre team wasn’t sure what it was going to do.

Here’s just a few of the wonderful testimonies that are emerging as ZOE has been able to reach out and help.

One former ZOE youth who is currently attending college in Bangkok lost her part-time job because of the COVID lockdown and was trying to make ends meet by selling her clothes. Because of Payton’s generous donation, we were able to make sure her rent for the month was covered and that she has funds for food. When she found out about the help she would be receiving, she broke down in tears and is so very thankful.

Another adult (former ZOE youth), who is just starting his adult independent journey also lost his job because of the lockdown. He has no parents and therefore no one to help him. ZOE is his family. We were able to make sure he has food and is safe and doing well.

Two of our former ZOE children are now married and have 2 young children of their own, one just a newborn. They too have been affected and not able to work as many businesses have closed during quarantine. Through this funding we have been able to help this family care for and feed their two young children. They are extremely grateful for the food and supplies.

We were also able to purchase lots of food to help many other former ZOE children. They come to our City Center to pick up supplies as they have no other source of help. Some of them have driven 2 hours to come and get essentials (rice, canned fished, oil for cooking). They are also caring for those around them as their neighbors and friends are in need. What they receive they share with others.

We will continue to help, following up with all our former youth and checking what they need assistance with. We will make sure they have the food and supplies they need to make it through this difficult time.

Author – Andrea Cross

The Fight In Australia

April 29, 2020

The Fight In Australia

ZOE’s work in Australia to â€prevent,†â€educate,†and â€bring awareness to†trafficking continues. Although the corona virus has affected the movement of our team, and restricted school, church, and small group visits, each staff member is working from home, staying in contact with each other via video calls, and collaborating on projects in preparation for the future.  

ZOE Australia team of men and women on ZoomBrett Gottle, our Development and Advocacy Coordinator, has been finding ways to connect with small groups online to pray, or bring awareness about, issues related to child exploitation both in Australia and overseas.

One of his highlights from last week was a ZOOM meeting with one of Petersham AOG’s connect groups. Let’s hear why!

“There were a number of reasons why. First, I was able to share ZOE and my personal experiences of rescue, restoration, and prevention. There was a deeply moving moment when I shared the time when a little bunch of rescued children gathered around me to pray at one of our regular ZOE Prayer nights. I mentioned how for the first time I’d experienced the wholeness, the courage, and the trust of children who had been rescued and restored from serious abuse – this experience changed my life forever. Second, I talk

ed about how I joined in with an American Police team to gain intel on a trafficker and how that information was then passed onto the Thai Police. Significantly, I was able to share how the relationship between ZOE, the Thai Police, and Thai Government is deeply respected and crucial for the process of rescue and restoration of children in Thailand. Not only that, this deeply trusted relationship resulted in the recent arrest of an identified trafficker and the rescue of a number of children.  We praised God for this wonderful relationship. And last, a significant highlight was being able to reveal that the exploitation of children is a very real Australian problem to solve and prevent.  With the self-isolating effects of the Covid-19, many Australians are being encouraged into pornography. Australians are currently spending 1.3 million dollars a year live-streaming children being raped and sexually exploited. Likewise, I shared how I am gaining an unquenchable sense that bringing awareness to Australains, stimulating prevention here in Australia, and activating rescue of Australians from pornography is a vision that’s being powerfully awakened within me. As it was with the group I met with from Petersham AOG, Australians are significantly unaware of our problems to solve and prevent. Through our ZOE family, I want to change this! Jesus is on the move and wants us to ‘set my people free’ both ‘here’ and ‘there’.â€

Brett is regularly meeting up with Australians to pray for ZOE’s work (as shown in the picture). We believe that God is breaking into dark places with a rescue plan – a plan to bring light, exposure, restoration, protection, and to release victory over darkness!

If you would like to join in and pray, please email Brett at brett@gozoe.org.au

#STOP247

April 29, 2020

#STOP247

“It was so intriguing and such a life lesson, I could not turn away from my screen.” 

– Carol Hart, ZOE cofounder

I don’t know about you, but watching the #STOP247 – Because Child Traffickers Don’t Do Social Distancing live feed over the past weekend was quite the experience. If you missed it, don’t worry, you can still catch parts of it on ZOE International’s Youtube channel

Afterwards, I was trying to put into words what this bike challenge reminded me of. It was like a cross between Big Brother and the Tour de France! Watching seven riders all stationed in their homes, battling to ride for 24.7 hours to raise awareness about child trafficking… there just doesn’t seem to be the words to describe just how fascinating and inspirational it was. But not only that, throughout the 24+ hours, so many guests came on to encourage, share their expertise, tell inspirational stories, sing, rap, and spur the riders on. After falling asleep at nearly 4am (my time), I missed the last 2 hours or so which I then caught up on once I woke up. And what could be better to bring the riders home than the words of ZOE’s amazing founders, Michael and Carol Hart. (1 hour 51 minutes)

If you didn’t get to hear them, this is part of what Carol shared and, I think, beautifully sums up what all those who had been viewing were all feeling. 

“I stayed awake all 24.7 hours staring at you… I watched you in pain, I watched you frustrated, I watched you fighting to finish and it was so beautifully brave.

We just witnessed you guys going to war. You fought for children who cannot fight for themselves. You just showed us how to fight for freedom. 

During this bike ride you screamed to us, this is how we fight our battles – we never quit! Your fierce sacrifice over the past 24 hours impacted our lives more than you know. 

You have been so amazing to watch. At about 4:30 a.m in the morning I was in tears on the floor as I was praying for you and for the kids that we’re waiting to rescue, and that are waiting for rescue.

Listen, what you just accomplished physically, we promise to focus our resolve the same way at ZOE. We believe the impossible, with God’s leadership, will end child trafficking.

You reminded us by example to never be afraid to try. Try for what’s worth fighting for – for the weak, for the vulnerable, to do the right thing, even if you’re not sure you can do it.

The most amazing relief we have as a group is that we don’t have to just talk about helping to end child trafficking, or just wish we could do something, or just hope that child trafficking will end. No, every day we get to wrap our hands around the throat of the problem, and actually do something.

We promise we will not let the bad guys win. Thank you for giving us a fresh fire. I promise… it was so shocking, you know, we’re working on our 18th year of fighting for children, and rescuing them out of danger and trafficking, and I have never needed encouragement to stay passionate, I’ve never needed it, but watching you – it was a whole other level of fire I have in my heart.

What it was… as I stared at you for 24.7 hours, it was a physical representation of what we have felt all these years and what we will continue to do all these years and when it’s hard, when you feel like you can’t make it, when you’re scared of failing a child, all the reasons you didn’t quit, and even those who had to get off because you would fall off if you didn’t get off for 5 minutes, or whatever it was, you got back on and you finished – you went to the finish line with your team.

So I just want to encourage you and tell you that for people that have never felt like we’ve never needed fresh passion or somebody to keep us encouraged because we do that in the heart of God every day, we crawl up in God’s heart and He gives us fresh passion but you took us to a whole other level of fire and a whole other commitment level to fight for children who you may never meet and so we just want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done.”

Transport

March 25, 2020

Transport

When you think about ‘transport’ in Thailand, you possibly picture chaotic cities, thousands of motorbikes, tuk-tuks, songthaews, and traffic pollution. You might also imagine four-wheel drive trucks navigating red, dusty tracks, or unmade roads leading to hidden rice fields and villages.

Our ZOE staff and families experience the extremes of both these types of transportation conditions regularly. From school drop offs, fact finding, meetings with the Police, shopping trips, village outreaches, hospital check-ups, awareness campaigns, visits to relatives, school trips, court appearances, church on Sunday, property maintenance (the list goes on)…ZOE’s fleet of cars and trucks get a lot of use!

In fact, it takes a small team of people to oversee the vehicles and make sure they continue to be in good working order. This team manages the vehicle registrations, insurance, and service appointments. They also coordinate what vehicle will go where, according to the day of the week, destination, number of people travelling, etc. It takes a lot of organization. 

This month in Australia, our focus is not only on vehicle transport, but also on just how far your generous donations travel. Our monthly impact giving, helps ZOE to fund all the areas of greatest need. Transport is just one of those areas!

Instead of spending the month highlighting our fleet of cars and trucks (although some people might enjoy this) our social media channels in Australia will cover a broad range of trafficking related content that links in with the both theme of transport, and being transported – ‘moving from one place to another’.

Think beyond just getting from A to B because we want to cover: how transport is used in trafficking, how to spot trafficking in our travels, how trafficking continues to travel during covid-19, just how far ZOE will go to reach and rescue, and the emotional journey from victim to survivor – the restoration process – the child trafficking survivor stories that happen every day. Plus more! 

Join us on Australia’s Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with this month’s theme Transport-ed and please leave us a comment on social media so we know who’s ‘travelling’ along with us! 

ZOE Australia Facebook  Instagram

Seeing Changes of Character

March 20, 2020

Seeing Changes of Character

“Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life” (WHO definition). 

Helping children develop essential life skills is a big part of the restoration process at ZOE. It takes us being very intentional! Swimming, doing chores, managing money, and using a computer are just some of the useful life skills we teach. But we also value teaching emotional skills such as problem solving, perseverance, managing feelings, and making connections. 

Recently some of our girls shared testimonies about how they had noticed within themselves that their emotional skills were increasing. 

We wanted to share a few of their testimonies with you. 

“From being aggressive and having a hot temper, I can now calm down faster and can control my emotions better.”  

I was lacking discipline in many areas but now I can take care of the duties assigned to me.”

Before I had no target now I have started setting goals, writing them down, and trying to hit them.” 

“I did not care about my outlook before. Now I have learned to dress properly. I do not want to go back to my old life and I now understand my value.”

ZOE helps children develop interpersonal skills by providing healthy and safe environments to interact with other people. Listening and speaking, as well as the ability to control and manage emotions, are essential parts of being in a family, and necessary for life. We are so encouraged when we see and hear the positive developments that are occurring in their lives through the process of restoration. 

Good Drivers

March 20, 2020

Good Drivers

Shortly after I was married, I was tidying up the study one day when I came across a checklist that my husband had filled out about me, during a marriage course. It was a list of different personal skills and attributes wives have so, of course, it instantly caught my eye!

Being young and still in the honeymoon-stage of marriage, I was keen to know what my husband thought about me. Poor guy, he had filled it in with no intention that I would ever actually read it! 

I scanned the list and felt pretty good about what he had checked off about me…until my eyes fell upon the words “good driver” and there was no tick beside it! The discovery that day led to a follow up discussion…and many jokes over the years.

But strangely enough, that checklist (missing the good driver tick) has stuck with me for some twenty something years now. I always drive as carefully as I can in the hope that one day I might hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful driver” from my husband!

Well, funny driving stories aside, since our ZOE staff need to drive thousands of hours a year, we need them to be good drivers. They drive to school drop offs, meetings with the Police, shopping trips, village outreaches, hospital check-ups, awareness campaigns, visits to relatives, school trips, court appearances, church on Sunday, and many more destinations.

What you might not know is that ZOE has a driving program for staff to utilize on a needs basis. If a department requires another driver, they come and talk to Transportation. Depending on what level the person is at, they begin training. Some drivers have never driven a car before, and others have their driver’s license, but need more training or practice. Parallel parking is just one of the skills they practice to help prepare to be licensed and certified to drive for ZOE. 

We want all our staff drivers to get a big tick for being “good drivers” next to their name! 

Little Kids Go to the ZOO

February 24, 2020

Little Kids Go to the ZOO

If you’re old like me, you might remember that Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Going to the Zoo.”

Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow,
Zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow
Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow
And we can stay all day!

It was sung on school excursions, lengthy road trips, or during Music class. Looking back, it was one of those songs that seemed like it would never end! There was always another verse to sing and when you’d exhausted every animal, you could go right back to the start and sing, “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow…” and it would all start again!

For most people, going to the zoo is a magical experience. Seeing magnificent creatures up close that you don’t normally see, experiencing the thrill of feeding them, hearing their unique sounds and of course appreciating God’s creativity in all the distinctive features of the animals.

Recently the younger children from our ZOE families had the privilege of visiting the zoo. They were able to read the descriptions about each animal, and observe each creature great and small in various environments. Our children smiled at the unusual, laughed at the playful, and stared in awe at the mighty elephants, hippos, and giraffes.

What an amazing opportunity to teach them more about God the Creator, and marvel at His works! The spots, the stripes, the patterns – every design is a reflection of His creativity. He made each creature from the smallest to the largest.

There is so much to be learned from visiting the zoo, but one important lesson we want our children to take away is that God made something even more spectacular than the animals when He made them! Out of all the creatures, He made man “in the image of God.”  Our hope is that through this experience, yes, they will see how amazing each animal is, but that they would also have a fresh revelation of how special they are!

By Andrea Cross

Australia – Awareness

January 31, 2020

As we share about human trafficking awareness this month, we realise that many people may have false ideas or misconceptions about what human trafficking looks like. Are you aware? Do you have knowledge and understanding that human trafficking is a global epidemic? That it involves Australians? That it is happening, and exists in Australia?

Melbourne man admits sexually exploiting 47 boys in south-east Asia and Australia.

Newspaper headings like this one are alarming. In the past, slavery and trafficking offenses occurring in Australia were under-reported, but the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has recently seen a rise in referrals. According to the AFP, Australia is primarily a destination country for people trafficked from Asia, particularly Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, and Malaysia. 

While the exact figures vary, research has shown Australian men to be among the largest contributors to sex tourism in southeast Asia, with cities such as Pattaya becoming a “home away from home” for an increasing number of Australian retirees. 

More recently, reports show that Australian perpetrators have been involved in grooming children online, usually in developing countries. The Australian Federal Police is concerned that the demand for child abuse material is increasing across the country. 

“Of particular concern is the rise in instances and rates of child exploitation overseas with Australians involved(spokesman for the AFP).

“In 2014 we received about 4,500 referrals of child exploitation material and in 2015 it was 11,000.” (Justine Saunders AFP Assistant Commissioner)

And even more recently it was reported that, “The United States, Britain and Australia are the main consumers of child sex abuse streamed over webcam” (spokesperson from the AFP).  

ZOE raises awareness in Australia through the media, influential voices, speaking engagements, internet communities, and encouraging student involvement. 

Our education in schools is reaching more and more young people. We are in the process of writing another trafficking curriculum unit for Australian schools this year. In September 2019, ZOE Australia released their updated version of the Year 10 Geographies of Human Wellbeing curriculum. This is a free unit of work that examines the different concepts and measures of human wellbeing, and the causes of global differences in these measures between countries. 

Please email Sharon at info@goZOE.org.au if your school would like a copy. 

Do you know what to do?

If you do suspect a case of trafficking or you see someone in danger please use the following country numbers to notify authorities:

Australian Federal Police on 131AFP (131237) or email AOCC-Client-Liaison@afp.gov.au

ZOE International, has been combating human trafficking since 2002. ZOE is active in Thailand, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.

If you are visiting this page from outside the USA, click on your country to return to the website in AustraliaThailand or Japan.

Rescue to Healing

December 29, 2019

Rescue to Healing

ZOE is a place where beautiful stories of rescue, hope, life, and love can easily be found.

With permission to share, we think this powerful testimony of one girl’s journey from rescue to healing, will bring renewed hope for the future and great expectations, to all who read it. Please continue to uphold all ZOE’s rescued children in your prayers as they embrace new seasons, new beginnings, and the New Year.

~

It’s hard for me to tell my story. Before I came to live at ZOE my life was not good. Many times I felt like I wanted to get out, but I never could. I felt trapped. I knew that children shouldn’t be doing what I was doing but whenever I got a small amount of money, it gave me what I needed to survive. For a while, that little bit of money numbed my pain.

To survive, I tried to block out anyone who would show me real love. I no longer cared how anyone else felt. I just focused on the money, but deep down I was not happy. I felt like my life had no value, so I would just keep doing the same things. I was ashamed, broken and lonely.

Coming to ZOE really changed my life. I learned that I am VALUABLE in God’s sight. It was strange at first because I wasn’t used to people being kind and caring. I was welcomed into a warm and loving family and the longer I stayed, the more I grew to love the ZOE staff and the mothers so much. They helped me learn many new things. For the first time I saw and understood what real love looks like. I learned about forgiving and sharing. I learned that my life is important… that I am important.

It is hard to explain how different I feel and how much I love God. I understand how much He loves me and I am trying to change the way I had thought about myself and now I have new thoughts about the future.

There are many things that I want to thank God for. God does more than I ever think He can. Even just the other day, I was worried because I thought I would need to leave ZOE and go somewhere else, but I wasn’t ready to leave and I was scared. I kept praying to God. I did not want to go but I knew I would be ok because I knew that God would be with me. When one of the ZOE staff came and reassured me that I could continue to live at ZOE, I knew God had answered my prayers.

I will now be able to finish my grade level at the ZOE Learning Center and then in the future I want to study Business Administration. I would like to become an expert in English. These are the new thoughts I have about my future.

I know that sometimes I still make mistakes. I know it will take time to change, but I want to try. Thank you God for rescuing me!

On the Field: Self-Care

November 26, 2019

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!