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Category "Thailand"

A New Aquarium: Delivering Health and Wellbeing Benefits

October 1, 2020

I remember that my grandmother used to love to sit and stare at the aquarium my older brother kept at home. As a teenager, I never really understood how she could just sit there and watch the fish swim for hours. Have you ever done this? Just sit and watch fish swim? Or have you ever been to a large public aquarium and spent way too long in the darkened room with that huge tank holding all the different species of fish and other sea creatures?

Aquarium of gold fishIt is captivating and actually very relaxing and calming.

Recently, we installed a fish tank at our Child Rescue Center in Thailand. When the girls heard about it they were so excited. In fact, one of them asked if she could purchase her own pet fish to raise in the aquarium. With much joy and anticipation she and one of our ZOE moms bought a fish each to raise in the tank together.

close up view of aquarium of fishIt is a simple aquarium with a good number of fish but it has been so LIFE-giving and restorative for our youth. Not only are they able to sit and enjoy watching the fish, they are also taking ownership and caring for the fish and working together to clean the tank regularly. It’s become a fun family activity that they do together.

child looking at an aquarium of fishFun fact: Did you know that there are studies that show how watching fish swim in an aquarium can actually help reduce stress and anxiety and help with relaxation?

– Written by Lori-Ann Tsang

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Frog Blog: A Ribbeting Story of Self-Sustainability

September 29, 2020

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, Say to Aaron, Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:5

Frogs, frogs, frogs! The folks in Egypt were fed up with frogs so Pharaoh entreated Moses to get rid of them. It might have been a different story had it been set in Thailand. Thai people love to be fed up with frogs. In fact, fat frogs are a delicacy to Thai taste buds!

As part of ZOE’s food self-sustainability program, we have recently started growing frogs. Our staff, students, and children love frogs and we can expand our menu without increasing our overall costs.

The frogs are raised in a concrete basin measuring 3×3 meters and 2 meters deep. A portion of the basin is covered with shallow water while the top is covered with a protective mesh to keep birds and other predators out. ZOE also raises catfish and tilapia on our fish farm, but whereas the fish take up to a year or more from fry to frying pan, frogs leap from tadpole to table in 3-4 months. Thus, we can harvest at least 3 crops of frogs every year.

Toads basking in the sun next to a tree trunkEach army of frogs comprises several hundred animals. We buy them when they are just past the tadpole stage for about six cents apiece and feed them with pelletized frog food. When fully grown, the frogs are the length of a smartphone and as thick as a man’s fist.

The chefs in ZOE’s kitchen love frogs, too, because they are easy to cook and can be prepared in a variety of tantalizing and tasty ways. Some like them best boiled, braised, baked, or barbecued. They are great grilled or roasted. Fried, fricasseed, or flamed frogs are flavorful favorites. And any spread will surely be more scrumptious with steamed, sautéed, seared, smoked, simmered, stewed, or stir-fried frog! Serve with rice or noodles and oil! “a feast fit for a king (if not for a Pharaoh)!

Today sitting on a blockWith our first frog yield due in a hop, skip, and a jump, we expect our ZOE family will soon be jumping for joy themselves!

– Written by Ron Boyer

 

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

Dance Performance, Note to God 

September 7, 2020

For some of the children at ZOE, dancing is one of their favorite ways to pass the time.  And dance has many proven benefits: It can help you to express your emotions, relieve stress, increase physical fitness, improve confidence and self-esteem, and encourage creativity and imagination. 

One of the positive outcomes of the recent COVID lockdown was a newfound collaboration with Prisma Dance.  This dance studio in Hawaii has a mission statement that shares ZOE’s heart: To fulfill the Great Commandment – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) (Matt 22:37) and to fulfill the Great Commission – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you(Matthew 28:19-20a).  Their vision is Christ-centered dance training focused on glorifying and worshiping God, and sharing Christ with the world through dance.

What a perfect partnership for ZOE!

Nicole Lam, Prisma’s founder and director, volunteered to create a special dance just for our ZOE girls.  She made detailed videos to teach the girls and the girls practiced diligently on Saturday mornings to perfect their art.  The dance was choreographed to a song called, Note to God.  This song is an emotional prayer, a letter to God to mend the world of all the bitterness and hate.  It talks about finding love, granting faith and giving hope, even when it seems like all hope is gone.

Our 7-member dance team shared their powerful performance with the whole ZOE family at a recent worship night.  It was not only a chance to express their emotions but the girls also received encouragement from their family as they worshiped God in a unique way.  Thank you Jesus for our new friendship with Nicole and Prisma Dance.  May God bless their ministry abundantly!

Author – Cissy Boyer

 

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

 

Letter From A Child Trafficking Survivor

June 18, 2020

First, I thank God for bringing me to ZOE. My life and heart have been changed by Him. Second, I am so thankful for each of you. I am thankful for all ZOE leaders and staff. I feel grateful that I was rescued and brought to ZOE. 

Thank you for creating a new world with great love for me and all kids here. Thank you so much for loving me and many other kids. It has helped me understand the value of my life. It helps me to be bold and not give up no matter what comes into my life. I have gained understanding and wisdom. 

Thank you for introducing me to new things and for taking care of me to the best of your ability. Thank you for assisting me in every area of my life. I feel warm because of you and this is a feeling I never had in my life. 

It’s been just a short time that I got to know everyone at ZOE but you all became my family as we spent time together as a family. I can now say that I have a warm and loving family! I am so happy to have met and to know you all. Thank you for loving, caring, listening to what I say, and understanding me. You are my family. 

Before, I never knew what true and beautiful love was, but now I realize how beautiful it is. You have shown me through your love, care, and doing what’s best for me. You are my brothers and sisters, my mom and my dad who love me sincerely. Your love is a great inspiration. 

You give me confidence to overcome this hard life with God and your love. You all are my heroes and I know there are many children out there who need your help. Without you all, I may not have today. I might not know how precious my life is. I might not be able to move forward. Without you, my face would not be filled with such a big smile. 

You have shown me and other kids how to exit from darkness. We used to live in the darkness and you all have rescued us and given us wings to fly away. Now we can fly in the sky with your love. 

I cannot stop saying “THANK YOU” to you all. I have realized and seen how hard you work for all kids. You all are merciful. Thank you so much for loving me. I may leave ZOE soon, but I am not alone. Now I have God and ZOE who will walk alongside me. 

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

Still Fighting

April 3, 2020

Despite the fact that many of our team are working remotely, we are still able to advocate for children, raise public awareness, and support trafficking survivors in both Thailand and America. 

We remain committed to our goals of reach and rescue. We do not see the current limitations, problems, or obstacles as constraints, but rather as pathways – to form new ways of doing things. Maybe even better ways.

According to psychologists, when you have less to work with, 
you actually begin to see the world differently.

At ZOE we choose to see the current constraints as advantages in disguise. We are asking ourselves, how can we use constraints to be creative and innovative in each of our jobs? How can these obstacles inspire better thinking? 

Through this indefinite time, we will find ways to use our resources differently because we have to. This situation is causing us to creatively plan, dream, and orchestrate ideas that would otherwise have remained untapped.

We remain steadfast in our determination to ensure that child trafficking is ended, justice brought, and lives rebuilt. While we are shifting the way we work and live worldwide, child trafficking has not gone away. In the face of the Covid19 virus, we will continue to fight!