Category "Missionaries"

How I See Myself

September 23, 2020

Age-related long sightedness is considered a normal part of getting old. As someone in their 40s, who is realizing that small text is increasingly getting harder to focus on, I am well aware that by the age of 45 many people need reading glasses.

Thankfully though, needing reading glasses does not impact the way that I am learning to see myself. It takes focusing on the truth to see the inner me – the way God sees me – and this type of sight has no age limit or restriction. But it does take some practice!

children looking at a mapRecently I had the opportunity to share about this topic with the teens at the ZOE Learning Center. Through many different activities, from looking through different lenses and objects, to examining different perspectives, we learned that there was often more than just one way to look at something.

Although everyone’s life story is different, there are many things that we all have in common.

  • At different points in our lives, we all face setbacks.
  • When we face setbacks we have choices about how we respond.
  • We all have a choice to see ourselves through our own eyes, or through God’s eyes.
  • We all have a choice about whether we listen to lies or truth about who we are.

By recognizing that there is often a mismatch in the way we see ourselves compared to how God sees us, we can choose which lens to look through. I don’t know about you, but for me, the way He sees me is a much nicer view! When God looks at me He sees a beautiful creation, no mistake, chosen, wanted, loved, forgiven. And I must admit sometimes (more often than I care to admit) that’s not the way I see myself.

Children looking through city imagesThere are many life lessons that I learn through nature. And the aloe vera plant is one example of something that has taught me a lesson this year. Aloe vera is one of those things that I have growing in various parts of my garden. It sprouts up easily and seems to thrive almost anywhere. To be honest, I used to just see it more like a weed than anything special until I learned and understood how amazing it really is  From being good for your skin, your hair, pimples, itchy bites, sunburn, even in smoothies. it’s really quite incredible.

Children listening to a Woman team member teach Sometimes we might feel like a weed, pushed aside, unwanted, useless, out of place in a garden of more beautiful plants, but God doesn’t see us like that. He sees us as amazing. And the aloe vera plant reminds me to see myself, and others, in the same way He does!

child looking at Where's Waldo book

By Andrea Cross

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!

Lead Like Jesus

June 14, 2019

Lead like Jesus! That should be the goal of every Christian because, whether or not we are in an “official” leadership role, we’re all leaders

The Mountain Before Us

May 3, 2019

ZOE International
Brad Ortenzi

I stood in the dark looking for the peak of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain. The 30-mile race to the top was about to start and 7,000 cyclists straddled their bikes, crowded together at the starting line. We all shared the same unspoken knowledge that the next few hours were gonna hurt. “What am I doing here?” I asked myself. I was about to cycle up an 8,000-foot mountain that punishes anyone wanting to reach its heights.  Some cars can’t make this climb.

This predawn experience reminded me of my first few weeks in Thailand when I asked myself that same question, ”What am I doing here?” Almost 5 years ago I had left people I loved and a career that was a great fit for me to come to Thailand to fight child trafficking with ZOE. We knew that God was calling us here, no doubt about it. But upon arrival when it came time to create goals to find children, I had a vision of a huge mountain in front of me. The mountain represented child trafficking and the hold the enemy had on enslaved children. I was daunted and fear began to fill my heart. I was called here to use what I had learned the previous 20 years to lead a team to help rescue enslaved children. Now when it was time to lock and load, I wasn’t sure where to begin. As I studied the mountain, I could hear the enemy laughing at me.

The next few months were the most difficult of my life. Not because that was God’s design but because it took me awhile to learn to be yoked with the Great Rescuer who was leading me in this fight. You see, I thought the abilities that had served me well in the past were the key to fighting child trafficking in Thailand. Nope. Instead, I learned that the key to climbing the mountain of child trafficking was first sitting at the feet of Jesus.  His presence emboldened my identity in Him, filling me with courage, inspiring me to serve, as I claimed the gift of joy of a life in the service of the King. As I learned to sit at His feet, the wisdom He gave began to bridge gaps, build relationships, create structure, and ultimately build teams that rescue children. And without me even realizing it, we began to climb the mountain.

This memory of my first few months in Thailand filled me with courage as the race started. The nervousness turned into determination and I slowly began to cycle up the mountain, one crank at a time. Five hours later I stood at the top of Doi Inthanon looking over Thailand’s beautiful jungles and thanking God for the journey. Not just the journey of the past five hours but the past five years. This journey was rugged, untamed, and difficult but most of all: amazingly beautiful, just like the jungle I was looking over. In this journey, I’ve been privileged to have had a front row seat watching the Great Rescuer fight for His children with a passionate love that is unstoppable. And after the rescue of children, watching the fearless Rescuer become the compassionate loving Redeemer who heals and restores. I wouldn’t trade this climb for anything.

As my time in Thailand comes to an end and I travel home to the East Coast, I’m excited to see what God has planned for ZOE. Most importantly, I am reminded of a lesson learned that all of us in this fight for the freedom of children need to remember: To conquer the mountain of child trafficking, we must start at the feet of Jesus.