Category "Special Projects"

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.

 

Acts of Grace

August 23, 2020

ZOE has been blessed with many generous donors over the years. Whether through individuals, churches, businesses, or foundations, we have seen God’s hand of grace moving in our work.  One of our greatest joys is to share God’s abundant overflow with others who are doing His work to feed the hungry and care for the poor. 

ZOE has been working with two of our most generous donors – the Children’s Hunger Fund and USANA – to ensure that much-needed help gets delivered directly to those who need it most.

Hut in the slum village of Chiang Mai, ThailandThanks to Children’s Hunger Fund, ZOE has established the Mercy Network, 73 local churches that have been providing food and other necessities to families in their neighborhoods for years throughout Thailand. Recipients don’t have to be church members or even Christians: God is not a respecter of persons and neither is hunger!

One of the Mercy Network churches is Acts of Grace Church in the heart of Chiang Mai’s slum area. When USANA leaders visited ZOE, we took them to see the work that Acts of Grace was doing with the children who lived in the slum area. They were so moved that they wanted to get involved in that work. USANA committed to feeding 100 kids and to rent a soccer field every Saturday so that the children could have a safe place to play and nutritious meals. In addition, the program has been effective as an outreach to the families of the kids who come.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the church wasn’t able to rent the field but they continued to cook and deliver meals door-to-door in the slums every Saturday. Now, both the meal and soccer field programs are back in full swing!

We are so thankful for partners like USANA and Children’s Hunger Fund. They are true examples of acts of grace!

– Written by Ron Boyer

rice fields and hills in ThailandMercy Network is a regional network of like-minded churches committed to gospel-centered mercy ministry. ZOE partners with local churches who have a passion to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ. ZOE provides food boxes to the local churches for them to use as a means of building relationships within their respective communities.

Something to Smile About

July 29, 2020

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? James 2:15

Thanks to quick action by the Thai government, imposing a travel lockdown and other measures in the early days that continues until now, Thailand has had low numbers of COVID infections and deaths. But the Land of Smiles has been hard hit economically during the pandemic. Prior to COVID, 20% of the Thai economy was dependent upon tourism. With hotels, restaurants, tour buses, and tourist attractions empty, the impact has been magnified, rippling across all sectors of society from farmers to furniture makers, truck drivers to tour guides.

For the past decade, ZOE has partnered with the Children’s Hunger Fund and Life Impact International to get food, shoes, and other necessities into the hands and onto the feet of thousands of the most needy families in Thailand. Over time we’ve developed a widespread network of more than 70 local churches in some of the poorest communities here. Thus, when COVID collided with the economy, we were ready to pick up our pace and roll! Our partners stepped up with extra resources and ZOE’s team loaded up our 4-wheel drive trucks with food and supplies and hit the roads and the mountain trails.

ZOE Thailand man and woman team proving food to a villager

In just two months, July and August, we delivered 4,635 mercy boxes to many of the churches in our network where pastors and congregants distributed them to hungry neighbors, providing much-needed food and supplies to over 800 families. Now that’s something to smile about!

ZOE Thailand men team proving food to a villagers
Mercy Network is a regional network of like-minded churches committed to gospel-centered mercy ministry. ZOE partners with local churches who have a passion to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ. ZOE provides food boxes to the local churches for them to use as a means of building relationships within their respective communities.

-Written by Ron Boyer

 

Nobody Cares

May 21, 2020

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

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

Supporting Local Pastors

March 13, 2020

Through our partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund, we partner with Thai pastors to help them to reach their communities with the gospel.

One of our partners is Pastor Songkran. Songkran moved to a small village many years ago that did not have a church. He has been slowly reaching this community and the church has grown. During this time he also felt that he and his family were called to help children who didn’t have the opportunity to attend school. These are children from villages that don’t have schools and the families don’t have the money to put them into school.

Songkran and his family take in kids each year to allow them to go to school. They take on the responsibility of feeding the children and paying their school bills. This year, they have 19 children living with them. They have done all of this through faith and trusting that God will provide. This year through the donations from Usana and Children’s Hunger Fund, we were able to help Songkran.

We helped him by building and stocking two fish ponds, a frog pond, and a mushroom hut, and we planted mango trees. Songkran’s plan for the fish, frogs, mushrooms, and mangoes is well thought out. He will use a third of the produce to help feed the children living with his family. He will sell a third of the produce to help pay for the school fees for the children. He will give away the last third of the produce to those in need in his community. This is a great project to help a hardworking pastor who partners with ZOE.  

Food and Football

May 29, 2019

ZOE Thailand
CHF – Mercy Network

ZOE Thailand continues to partner with Children’s Hunger Fund to bring food and support to communities in different parts of Thailand.  Recently on a trip to Isaan, Thailand, which sits southeast of Chiang Mai, our team was able to distribute 800 boxes of food and met with and encouraged the pastors in this area.

One of our team shares that the most meaningful part of the trip is being able to listen to the testimonies of the pastors who are using these food boxes.  

We hear story after story of how the boxes are not only providing food for families but that through this they are able to build relationships of trust.  This then leads to many conversations about faith and God. People are becoming believers because of the gospel and because they see God’s love and mercy in action through receiving these food boxes.

In Ubon, one pastor had the idea to do a community outreach football (soccer) event.  Many people were able to hear about Jesus and one family came to faith and is now attending his church.

Please pray for our team as they continue traveling to different parts of Thailand to continue the important work of REACHING EVERY PERSON.  Please pray for the pastors and community leaders we work with as they continue to love and care for those around them.

From the Road

June 25, 2018

From the Road After 64 days and 3700 miles on the road, 20 Road of Justice cyclists crossed the finish line in Santa Monica Beach on JUNE 23rd, Saturday.  This cycling challenge was started by two of our ZOE missionaries, Brad and Lori Ortenzi. The ride officially kicked off on April 21st in Virginia.  Along […]

Not So Flashy

May 4, 2018

Not So Flashy by Marji Iacovetti Obtaining accreditation for a nonprofit organization is a daunting task. The process can take 80 personnel hours each week for 18 months. It is also a new legal requirement for organizations that provide residential care for youth in California…so ZOE is beginning theaccreditation journey. We purchased manuals that describe […]

Take a Tag!

December 21, 2017

Take a Tag! by Karen Miyamoto This year, ZOE decided to launch our very own Giving Tree!  15 churches, schools and businesses are currently taking part in this project.  To date, we have raised over $1500 through this project.  Just like other Giving Tree projects, participants are given tags to hang on their tree of […]