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.
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!
As an international organization working in multiple countries around the globe, ZOE needs your help to confront the evil of human trafficking. Because human trafficking and slavery happen every day and in every country, we need as many people as possible working together to see it end!
- The power of your prayers is an amazing thing. Please consider praying for our ZOE Child Rescue Team, our ZOE parents, the rescued children, missionaries, and staff in every country.
- Please share what ZOE is doing with people that we cannot reach – your friends, family, work colleagues, sports team, mothers’ group, church, school, and neighborhood.
- ZOE also needs people to fundraise, sponsor a child, and provide the finances for “special projects” in each country.
- Consider giving a donation to a ZOE volunteer missionary whose “salary” is primarily based on the donations of those who feel led to support ZOE.
ZOE International has now launched in Mexico. Mexico is both a source country for other nations like the USA, and a destination country. In Mexico, victims are trafficked through force, fraud, and coercion. Many Central and South Americans are trafficked into Mexico or trafficked through Mexico to the USA, making it a transit country as well.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children within the tourism industry is a growing problem in areas around northern border cities. Many exploited children are from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Labor trafficking for men, women, and children is another problem. Trafficking children and adults are held in “debt bondage” that they cannot pay back.
ZOE is located in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is considered to be a “crossroads” for human trafficking as a source, destination, and transit state for this crime. We are beginning our work with child trafficking prevention. Our goal is to spread awareness about child trafficking to begin with as most Mexican citizens are largely unaware of the child slavery around them. ZOE plans to be involved in assisting with rescue, and restoration of children in future. Follow ZOE’s work in Mexico here.
Japan, like many countries worldwide, has a human trafficking problem. “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, and for children subjected to sex trafficking” (Trafficking In Person Report 2017).
One part of the problem is Enjo Kosai – also known as “compensated dating” which often leads towards the sex trafficking of Japanese children. Enjo Kosai is child sexual exploitation in exchange for money and/or luxury gifts by older men.
There are also sophisticated and organized prostitution networks that target vulnerable Japanese women and girls in public areas such as subways, popular youth hangouts, schools, and online. Japanese citizens, particularly runaway teenage girls, children of foreign and Japanese citizens who have acquired citizenship, and their foreign mothers, are also subjected to sex trafficking.
In the last decade the government has recognized the problem of human trafficking. In Japan, ZOE is a member of JNATIP (Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons). This network includes NGOs, lawyers, and academics who are looking to formulate effective laws concerning the prevention of trafficking in persons, victim relief, and the punishment of perpetrators.
ZOE is also currently working in the area of prevention. ZOE’s goal in Japan is to prevent trafficking by providing education in churches, schools, and communities. ZOE plans to build a shelter in Japan for children who are at risk of or survivors of trafficking. Stay connected with the work in Japan here.
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.
Between 1995 and 2006, the majority of child sexual abusers and exploiters who traveled to Thailand, to commit sex offenses against children were Australians.
“Australians were the biggest exploiters of Thailand’s child sex tourism” (Johns Hopkins University)
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.
“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 Australian Federal Police)
ZOE raises awareness in Australia through the media, entertainment industry, influential voices, speaking engagements, internet communities, and encouraging university and high school involvement.
Our education in schools is reaching more and more students. We are looking to expand our curriculum and write another trafficking curriculum unit for Australian schools next 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 email@example.com if you want a copy.
ZOE also raises funds to support programs in Thailand in the areas of prevention, rescue, and restoration. Stay up-to-date with news from Australia here.
Thailand is recognized as a key destination for human trafficking, in addition to being a source and transit country for forced labor and sex trafficking. Thailand has been identified as one of the most popular destinations for child sex abusers since 1980s. (UNODC)
The majority of trafficking victims identified in Thailand are Thai nationals, trafficked for sexual exploitation domestically and to a number of countries internationally. The majority of victims identified within Thailand have been forced, coerced, or deceived into labor or sexual exploitation. (United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons)
ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration in Thailand. From conducting regular child trafficking awareness campaigns, to receiving calls on our hotline, ZOE’s team is ready to conduct assessments, investigations, or assist with rescue whenever necessary.
ZOE parents lovingly provide and protect trafficking survivors. They are trained in trauma informed care so that they understand the complex emotional needs as well the the safety implications around caring for rescued children. ZOE also seeks to bring human traffickers to justice. We collaborate with Thai law enforcement and other government agencies when intervening on behalf of children.
You can keep updated about Thailand here.
In 2016, it was estimated that there were about 403,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States. (International Labour Organization)
The United States is both a source and a transit country for trafficking. It is considered one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. states.
In America, ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration. ZOE raises awareness and funds to prevent trafficking through their annual Rescue Walk, student and community programs (like My Gen My Fight) and by providing trafficking awareness training and presentations to schools, churches, social workers, mental health workers, businesses, hotels, and community groups.
ZOE is contracted with Los Angeles County’s Department of Child and Family Services and Department of Probations to provide 24-7 crisis response and victim advocacy services when first responders recover a child from sex trafficking or when children are identified as victims of sex trafficking in Los Angeles County.
ZOE has purchased 50 acres of land in North Los Angeles County and is building a short-term residential therapeutic program (STRTP) for female youth who have been trafficked in Los Angeles. This home will provide holistic care to bring restoration and meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, vocational, and spiritual needs of these survivors.
Confiscated passport…withheld food…no communication…physical abuse…isolation…threats of having to repay travel costs…
These are just some of the challenges facing victims of trafficking.
Just imagine a person living next door to you is a slave, has been trafficked, or is being exploited… It’s hard to conceive, right? And yet we know that human trafficking and slavery happens in every country, every day.
Anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises. (UNICEF USA)
ZOE International is currently working in 5 countries in different ways, and to varying degrees. They are: USA, Thailand, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
Over the next week, we want to explore both what trafficking looks like, and what ZOE is currently doing in each of these five countries.
If you’ve had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know any one of the Tani sisters, then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say, I can only imagine what outstanding and amazing people their parents must’ve been.
Their daughters: Carol – ZOE’s beloved Founder (since 2002) and missionary in Thailand for 14 years, Joy – who has been serving as a missionary in Japan for 26 years, Nora – an incredible supporter of ZOE’s work since the very beginning, and Lynne – also a missionary in Thailand for the past 14 years, are some of the most selfless and loving women on this earth! The caliber and love that these four ladies show in the way they live their lives, and how they put other people’s needs ahead of their own, is an inspiration to so many.
The following memoir, written by Lynne Ginoza, highlights the very place where these sisters were impacted and shaped into who they are today – their family. It highlights the love they each share for God, and expresses the great honor and respect they hold for the exceptional parents who raised them.
Our parents, Howard and Aiko Tani, were our living examples of Jesus when all 4 of us were growing up. They were our heroes in our eyes – a big reason of who we are and why we do what we do. They lived their lives by intentionally loving and caring for people around them…taking in a pregnant unwed girl; taking in 4 little Vietnamese sisters for a year during the Vietnam refugee crisis; being youth group advisors; speaking endless words of encouragement, hope, and wisdom into a countless number of lives who needed to hear those words; becoming missionaries to Japan in their retirement years; and seeing them stand up for those who feel they didn’t have a voice. And even after their passing away, it’s amazing that we seem to continue to meet people who have a story to tell of how God used our parents to change and influence their lives. Our one regret is that they never got to see ZOE or hear about the amazing miracles that God has done for ZOE throughout these years. But even though they are in heaven now, we just know, they know.
The Word of God says to honor your father and mother. So we decided as a family to honor our parents by buying and dedicating two banyan trees to plant at ZOE. When fully grown, these trees will be massive. It took awhile, but we finally found a perfect place for the trees. There is a little grassy knoll that overlooks our sports area at the ZOE campus, where a lonely playground set stands – it has never been really used by the ZOE kids because it stands directly in the sun with no shade – so it has always been too hot to play there. But now, with these massive trees planted nearby, we know that this will give the needed relief from the heat. They were strategically planted so that one tree would provide shade from the morning sun and the other one will provide shade from the afternoon sun. If ever you come to visit ZOE, you will see two magnificent trees that will stand in honor of the two amazing people who taught us how to love.