Category "Events"

ZOE Partners with Santa Clarita, CA Churches for Anti-Trafficking Sundays

February 15, 2024

At ZOE International, our commitment to combating human trafficking begins with prevention and awareness efforts in the local community. We believe that education is the first crucial step in eliminating human trafficking.

Recently, ZOE partnered with local churches in the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV), CA for a significant initiative: SCV Anti-Trafficking Sundays. These events held the last two Sundays of January were aimed to raise awareness and mobilize communities to combat human trafficking. These Anti-Trafficking Sunday events served as a focal point for local churches and community members to come together, learn, and take action against the grave issue of child trafficking.

Pastor Cavin, from Northpark Community Church in Valencia, CA, shared, “ZOE International is one of the mission organizations that we’ve supported for many years. We are very familiar with ZOE’s work internationally and domestically including their rescue and restoration work with the victims of sex trafficking in LA County and Santa Clarita. 

I’m thankful for Ester, a representative from ZOE, who joined me last Sunday to discuss the reality of sex trafficking in SCV educating our congregation on prevention as well as ways our people could support ZOE International with their time, talents, and resources.” 

ZOE’s Assistant Western Regional Director, Ester Yu, shared about an impactful conversation she had after the event. “One church member shared that the exact warning I gave to the church about how boys are being targeted by predators happened to their family friend…a boy thought he was communicating with a female peer and sent compromising images to her, but instead it was a male predator who was blackmailing him. Thankfully he told his family and they were able to intervene. And that’s what’s important, that our children know, no matter what they have done or think they have done, they have a safe adult they can tell to help them. There is always a way out.”

The ZOE team would like to acknowledge the support of various churches in Santa Clarita, CA for their collaboration and community support along with ZOE staff representatives who shared their expertise and experiences in the ZOE’s prevention, rescue, and restoration programs below: 

  • Crossroads Community Church 
  • Valencia Hills Community Church
  • The Sanctuary
  • Northpark Community Church
  • Heart of the Canyons
  • High Vision Church 

A key ZOE community partner and SCV Human Trafficking Task Force Leader, Pastor Dan Broyles from Valencia Hills Community Church added, We are excited that about 10 churches in Santa Clarita agreed to bring greater awareness about human trafficking throughout our community and across the world. Churches agreed to spend time praying for, supporting and educating their respective congregations regarding an issue that is not just in other countries, but that is occurring in Santa Clarita and throughout Southern California. 

ZOE was able to speak at many of these churches, and ZOE continues to be a leader in both prevention and restoration regarding those impacted by trafficking. January is anti-trafficking month and the churches believe that they are called by God to care for people in need and this was one small step to care for those who do not have a voice.”

Pastor Jim from Heart of the Canyons shared, “Matthew 25 tells us that the greatest ministry we can give to Jesus is our ministry to the “least of these” (the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned — those who are in need). It’s time for the voices of those impacted by and trapped in human trafficking to be heard, supported, and protected and we are proud to partner with ZOE in their mission to reach every person and rescue every child.”

Another church partner from The Sanctuary, Pastor Marty Walker, shared, “It is our pleasure to continue our partnership with ZOE International. Having them (and their table) present at our Sunday morning services VERY IMPACTFUL. Their presence and availability to engage in conversations with information so vital in our world today was invaluable. Thank you, ZOE!”

Thanks to you, our faithful partners and supporters, together, we’re making strides towards a future where innocence is protected, and lives are transformed through Jesus. 

We believe that the Body of Christ carries the answer inside us for every crisis on earth.

If you are interested in having ZOE speak about human trafficking at your church, or bible study or have an information table, please email Ester Yu at ester@goZOE.org.

 

*Photo credit: Lucas Nava/The Signal

 

Parents and Caregivers Learn from Human Trafficking Experts About the Tactics Exploiters Use to Lure Children

May 2, 2023

View the informative event here.

In April, ZOE held its first Protecting Kids Online (Navigating Digital Dangers) Educational event at Crossroads Community Church in Valencia, CA. This event was free for parents and caregivers working with children/youth. 

A group of human trafficking experts from the Los Angeles Police Department, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), Los Angeles School Police Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and ZOE International shared current trends that they see in their perspective field of work and how to protect kids from cyberbullying, sextortion, and exploitation. 

One parent shared, “It was great to hear such high-caliber people in their field speak about online safety. I have to say I was terrified, encouraged, and infuriated. There was so much important information given, and I learned so much. I hope to see ZOE lead many more events like this in the future. Thank you for what you do to serve children and our community.”

ZOE works to prevent children from being trafficked by offering educational awareness programs to the communities where we operate. If you weren’t able to attend this informative event, you can view the resources by clicking the link below.

View the event resources here.

View the article printed in The Santa Clarita Valley Signal Newspaper.

A Rider’s Perspective

September 18, 2020

– Written by Betsy Meenk Alviani –

I just participated in and completed one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever encountered. ZOE’s Road of Justice was an 8-day 630+ mile cycling ride from Brunswick, Maine to New Holland, Pennsylvania. It was filled with beautiful views of the eastern United States countryside, fellowship with passionate people, and some of the toughest climbs I have encountered to date on my bicycle.

Brad Ortenzi and other bike race ridersOne of the things that kept me going was focusing on the purpose for why we were riding. Each morning before we set out on our ride for the day, our leader Brad Ortenzi, would give us something to focus on. Sometimes it was a specific child at ZOE and the challenges they were facing. Other days it was the Child Rescue team or the children who have not yet been rescued. Instead of crying about a hill we had to climb, we were encouraged to pray for our daily focus. That really put everything into perspective for me!

road race bicycle roadClose to the end of a tough Day 7 I was thinking that I only had to survive one more day and then I would be done. It gave me hope! This immediately made me think of the children who are trying to survive one more day in the dark and brutal world of child trafficking. They don’t know when or IF their pain will ever end. They have no hope! And this is why we ride; to bring rescue, hope, healing, and restoration to these children. If our riding can bring awareness and get more people involved in the fight or raise the much needed funds to rescue one more child then this 8-day challenge was well worth the effort!

road race bike riders standing for a photo by the beachFighting child trafficking is hard, sometimes messy, and often feels like an uphill battle. But with all of us pulling together we CAN end child trafficking for one more child, and then another, and then another!

Get involved through prayer, education, volunteering, or financial support.

 

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.

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!

Walk For Freedom: Chiang Mai

November 14, 2019

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!  

Pen for the Prime Minister

September 16, 2019

This summer, ZOE Thailand was presented an award by Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha for being an Outstanding Organization in the Prevention and Combating of Human Trafficking.  

When we found out that we would be having the momentous opportunity to receive an award directly from the Prime Minister, we thought “what could we give him to show our gratitude?”

Something handmade, something crafted with care and attention to detail with a personalized touch…

Over the years, many students have received instruction in the basics of woodworking and out of that group some have shown innate inclination and rare talent. In particular, one boy heard about this opportunity to build something for the Prime Minister and enthusiastically volunteered. After two evenings of crafting, experimenting, and perfecting, he assembled a beautiful piece of art that we could proudly hand to the man who leads this country.

We are so very proud of this young man who used his talent and skills to create this special gift.  

By Brandon Kim