Little Kids Go to the ZOO

February 24, 2020

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

Newly Rescued Teen Girls Cry Being Able to Make Their Own Choices

February 20, 2020

By Ben Wood, Field Worker, Thailand

One day I was at the Child Rescue Center (CRC) for a meeting. Two girls had just arrived. They had only been at ZOE for about 30 minutes when they were taken to the ZOE “store” by one of our mothers. I was sitting at a distance and watched as both girls proceeded to sit down on the ground and cry. I didn’t know what was happening.

After about a minute of being comforted, they stood up and went into the store. I was curious why they were crying and walked over and asked the mother what was happening.

She told me that it was okay. That their tears were happy tears. They were moved by our love for them and allowing them to take whatever they needed from our store. They also told her that they felt honored that they weren’t being told what to do but instead they were given the power to make choices. 

At that moment, I was also moved to tears. I realized that our little store was more than just a room full of stuff but instead it was an opportunity for us to empower the children we rescue and to show them love as they start their restoration process.

Empowering Youth Who Can’t Read

February 14, 2020

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. 

Would you help us by becoming a monthly donor for ZOE? Click here to become a monthly supporter in USA, Australia, Thailand or Japan.

Everlasting Love

February 11, 2020

By Oratai Saisingtong, ZOE Thailand Director

It’s a ZOE tradition now that every New Year’s eve, each person picks out a Bible verse to meditate on for the entire year. Some people might think, “It’s just one verse, it doesn’t mean much!” But, just as in past years, we know that God uses many opportunities to speak, and get the attention of our children. 

This year one of our children picked out this Bible verse: 
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” 

During our meeting, the boy told with excitement that he received this Bible verse. And, he was excited to realize that God spoke to him. He went on to explain that he had constantly said that no one loved him or cared for him. But, now he is confident that God loves him! 

It touched our hearts to see that God spoke right to his heart. God has entrusted these children to us but it is so encouraging when we see that they recognize His voice speaking to them!  
At times when children struggle, it is such a comfort to see God reassuring us that His covering is over these children. His love iseverlasting. He is faithful, and we are not doing this work alone!

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.

Theory to Practice

January 21, 2020

By Brandon Kim, Vocational Training Manager

As the goal of our vocational training program, we often talk about moving from “trit-sa-dii” (Thai word for “theory”) to “bpa-dti-bat” (Thai word for “practice”). To this end we have always looked for opportunities to gain experience in authentic settings outside the four walls of the classroom and extend learning to new arenas. So, we were overjoyed that three amazing organizations came alongside ZOE to support our students in this endeavor.

A popular coffee house near the center of town agreed to train two youth in the areas of food preparation and service, and has continued to allow them to intern there three times a week through January. A beauty shop owner has opened her doors to teach one student hairdressing and manicure techniques, and a well-known language school has accepted three of our students into an intensive 10-week English course. 

In addition, we believe that quality time spent together with successful Thai Christian business owners will be invaluable in widening and extending their view of “work.” One student already asked after the first day if she can continue training after she leaves ZOE! Well one thing we know for sure is that God has a great plan and purpose for them that they are only just beginning to discover!

Human Trafficking Myths

January 8, 2020

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)

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

December 29, 2019

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!

Rescue to Healing

December 29, 2019

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!

A World Without Orphans

November 26, 2019

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! 

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!

One Child Reflects on Being Raised At ZOE

November 22, 2019

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.