All Posts in Thailand

March 20, 2019 - No Comments!

3 Reasons to Celebrate

ZOE Thailand
By Michael Hart

This month, ZOE’s founder Michael Hart shares 3 stories which show why the recent school graduations are cause for such celebration in Thailand.  

It was an extra hot day of 95 F (35 C) when 8 of our ZOE 6th graders graduated on March 12th. In addition to the heat, the air quality was at extremely dangerous levels over 300 AQI. Many of the locals stayed indoors that day or wore filtering masks in order to be protected from the hazy pollution created by the burning fields and forest fires. Yet this outside graduation would not be stopped. It was a time of celebration despite the foreboding elements. These 8 children have had previously experienced atrocities in their young lives that none of us can imagine. Yet, here they stood for over 3 hours in the sun and smoke, without protection, smiling away and enjoying their day of victory. We cheered them on and hugged them, telling them how much we loved them and were so proud of them for their achievements. It was not the weather we remember, but it was looking at them and beholding what God has done in their lives that captured our attention. God is truly “The Father to the fatherless.”

On March 15th, four of our sweet ZOE girls graduated from 6th grade at a different school. We thank God for their school because it is one of the few Christian schools in Thailand, where less than 1% of the nation are followers of Christ. Their school understands the backgrounds of many of ZOE’s children and for years have worked with us in helping to restore them. Education is an important part of preventing and ending child trafficking. These 4 girls were taught all the regular school subjects but in a Christian context. In addition, their school taught them many Thai historical and cultural skills. We think this is great for children to learn more about their own culture and to celebrate their national identity. It was a joy to see their proud smiles and to congratulate them for their achievements.

Also on March 15th, we arrived at 3pm in the hot sun and smoky air to celebrate the 12th graduation of one of our ZOE teenage girls. We were told that we would be able to meet the students for a photo at 3:30 pm. Instead the 300 graduates were escorted straight to their seats while the parents, friends, and families waited until the ceremony was over. Finally, after 6pm the festivities took a pause, so we could see our girl and congratulate her. She was so excited that we were present for her, because she did not have parents to greet her peers. Her ZOE mom lavished her with praise, while the rest of us hugged her and gave her gifts. After that, it was photo time. We stood by her and surrounded her for pictures, helping her experience that she was the most important person on earth in that moment. She graduated with a degree in Tourism, which will empower her to be able to take care of herself in a sustainable career. We are so proud of all our kids and thank God for His loving grace that He showers upon them. All great reasons to celebrate!

March 19, 2019 - No Comments!

Can we build it? Yes, we can!

ZOE Thailand

By Brandon Kim

A few months ago it was brought to our vocational teacher’s attention that when working on computers, the students’ posture could be improved with the correct ergonomics. This led to a search for the right monitor stand but ended with the conclusion, “We could make one just like that for 1/6 of the price,” and, “DIY projects are way more fun!”

Since that time, students have been building their confidence using the power tools necessary for any basic woodworking job and, more recently, have learned the technical skills of mechanical drafting and computer-based 3D modeling.

At the beginning of this month, with instructional support from trainers, the students drafted a design for a monitor stand by hand, created it using SketchUp, and then crafted it to specification. Though fairly simple, the construction process also allowed them to experiment with various jointing and finishing techniques. All in all, the students built eight matching stands and were thus inspired to create their own custom designs for larger full-sized tables.

March 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Longing for Home

ZOE International
By Lori-Ann Tsang

I’ve been contemplating the concept of “home” lately. What are ways we try to make a place feel more like home? In thinking about the structure and physical building itself, unless you are an architect or a builder, your first chance at this happens after the structure has been built and is completed. We bring in furniture, plants, rugs, shelves, and other personal belongings to help us feel at home.  

Long before any plans were drawn up or the first brick was laid for our ZOE home in Thailand, our leaders, planning team, and architects began thinking about this concept of “home.” They knew the building itself would need to be unique and special because of its purpose. It would be place where children rescued from human trafficking could feel safe, secure, and loved…a place they could call home.

The inside is beautiful and very livable!! I love the layout and the building very much. I want a house like this of my own, someday!"

~ Recently rescued youth about ZOE Thailand’s Child Rescue Center

So much planning, prayer, and preparation goes into the building of every structure on each ZOE campus. It is done with love and care, knowing that it will have a far-reaching impact on the precious children who come through the doors.

This reminds me that we have a perfect home being prepared for us. One that is beyond our wildest dreams. “... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NIV).

Find out more about our newest HOME being built in LA: https://gozoe.org/our-work/los-angeles/

March 5, 2019 - 1 comment.

Corn, Glorious Corn!

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

With so many different departments and areas within ZOE Thailand, it could be easy to overlook this one because it predominantly happens “behind the scenes.” It is definitely not unimportant though because so much time, effort, and research is spent making sure the most effective processes are in place. This week we wanted to take the time to highlight just one example of the many situations our Agricultural Team need to work through on a regular basis.  Recently they reached a decision regarding - CORN!

Every year, ZOE needs to acquire a significant amount of corn to help offset the cost of food for the pig farm.  In the past, corn has been grown and harvested at ZOE, however, after doing some in-depth cost analysis, it was discovered that corn could be bought at a lower overall cost than producing it ourselves.  

The Agricultural Team wanted to find out the reason for this and it came down to these main factors. The first one was that the land that had been used to grow the corn wasn’t big enough to produce all the corn ZOE needed. There was a shortfall in corn produced, which meant buying extra pig food commercially, which added a large cost. The other factor was that by buying it in bulk, a lot of man-hours were saved, meaning the Agricultural Team could accomplish more in other areas, using the same amount of time.

So, how much corn are we talking about here? This year, ZOE ordered 15,000 kilograms of corn directly from corn farmers (or 33,000 pounds). The cost was about 4,700 USD. And this corn is used purely to supplement the pig’s meals and ensure they have a well balanced diet. They also get significant amounts of bananas and papayas (grown at ZOE) in addition to commercial pig food, rice, and of course scraps from the kitchen!  

February 27, 2019 - No Comments!

Lessons from Thailand

ZOE Thailand

By Gaye Obenchain, January 2019 USA Joint Short Term Team Member

Every year, two short term teams come to ZOE Thailand from the United States. We are privileged to have so many wonderful people over the years from all over the U.S. come to see first hand what God is doing through ZOE.

Gaye Obenchain, came to Thailand for the second time this past January.  

“On my first trip, I was so impressed by ZOE’s heart and intentional mission to spread the good news of Jesus. When I returned this year, I was even more impressed. Their focus has not changed...it still is all about Jesus. Yes, they rescue. Yes, they restore.  Yes, they educate. But all for the purpose of making sure that everyone has a chance to hear the Gospel. Their servant hearts, their humility, their joy, their hope is all about Jesus and it is evident in the faces and the worship of the kids, the missionaries, and the entire staff that sacrifice to make this place a reality.

As our team came alongside to serve, there were so many opportunities to see Christ at work. The outreach to the village had its moments of discomfort but it only served to remind us that it is all about Him. The work day gave us the advantage of getting dirty and realizing that by allowing Christ to plant good things in us, it will keep the good soil from eroding away, that sometimes we need to be power-washed to get rid of the mold that can grow in the rainy season, that ditches need to be dug to drain off the excess and dead branches need to be pruned to make way for new growth.

Teaching English lessons, participating in the cultural exchange, even our day off put us in places of seeing the beauty of Jesus at work as we experienced new people, places, and ways of living.

Upon returning to the U.S., I am praying that what I have seen and experienced on this wonderful trip will help me to remember that it truly is about Jesus and that in any, and every circumstance, someone is waiting to hear about Him.”

February 22, 2019 - No Comments!

Trauma-Informed Care Conference

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

“Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.” -Trauma Informed Care Project

Trauma informed care basically means that the care provided is an informed understanding of what trauma does to a person’s brain and body - and knowing what this looks like emotionally and socially. It no longer asks, “What’s wrong with this person?” but “What happened to this person?” It is the foundation of both healing and recovery.

Keeping abreast in our work, ZOE sent our psychologist and childcare staff to Nakonayok Province to attend a Trauma Informed Care conference, organized by the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, Ministry of Social Welfare, and International Justice Mission (IJM). It was so wonderful to see that not only did they attend the conference, they had the opportunity to contribute their experience and knowledge as well.

Soon after the conference, the attendees returned to conduct a training here for all our ZOE childcare staff.  

February 18, 2019 - No Comments!

The Greatest Love

ZOE Thailand

Brightly colored Valentine’s Day cards, carved fruit, roses and flowers; these were just some of the items for sale at a small “pop up” shop that our vocational students organized as a part of their business management class last week.

“Hearts” are a common symbol of Valentine’s Day but often we don’t stop to think about what the true significance of this well-recognized image is.

My church pastor recently sent out a short history on the “heart” based upon a post from the Archbishop of Canterbury. It read:

Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest ministering to Christians living under persecution. The help he gave, made him deeply unpopular with the Roman authorities, and put his life in danger.

On top of this, Valentine defied the Emperor by secretly marrying Christian couples, which meant the husbands didn’t have to go to war.  To remind those soldiers, and persecuted Christians, of their vows – and of God’s unfailing love – Valentine is said to have given them hearts cut from parchment.  

For these acts among others, Valentine was martyred on February 14th, so Valentine stands as an icon of love not just for those in romantic relationships – but for those who suffer, those who are alone, those who are afraid, those who are in danger.

Many of us enjoy Valentine’s Day as a reason to celebrate the lives of those we love by making cards and gifting chocolates and flowers.

As we see the symbols of love all around this February, may we appreciate the beautiful reminder that God’s “heart,” represents a love for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the poor.

We live in a lost and broken world, but His “heart” is for all.

God used a song to speak to us during our journey to come to work at ZOE. It was Hosanna (Hillsong), and in particular the lyrics,

“...Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours.

Everything I am for your kingdom's cause...

Will you let your heart be broken by the things that break God's?

February 15, 2019 - No Comments!

Wai Kru Day

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

Teacher’s day is celebrated in many countries around the world but Teacher’s Day or ‘Wai Kru Day’, as it’s called in Thailand, is a day when students show respect to their teachers by participating in school ceremonies to honor their teachers.

Many teachers around Thailand are given awards for outstanding service, for their attention to teaching and their love to guide their students. The teachers at the ZOE Learning Center, love teaching and do it wholeheartedly but one teacher reflected, “Though we may not get outstanding awards like other teachers, we have happiness and have peace as we serve God because we know He called us to come and serve here at ZOE. We help and teach students with God’s love, and we don’t do it for ourselves, but for our students and to honour God.”

We are so thankful that the amazing ZOE teachers answered the call to use their skills and talents to guide and educate the students in the Learning Center.

February 12, 2019 - No Comments!

Daring to Teach

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

It has been said that, “Whoever dares to teach must never cease to learn,” so when two educational supervisors from Chiang Mai Educational Service Area were invited to come and do training with our ZOE teachers, the teachers eagerly jumped at the opportunity to learn more. The supervisors helped them learn more about  curriculum, the structure of writing curriculum, and quality educational practices.

Although the ZOE Learning Center has been in operation for almost 2 years, the teachers recognize the need for ongoing development within both the curriculum and the teachers personally.

One of the ZOE teachers commented, “We were impressed by the two educational supervisors. They were kind, friendly, and they sacrificed their time to come to train us, give us knowledge, and explain about curriculum writing until we could understand it more and write it by ourselves.”

February 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Helping to Heal

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

You’ve probably heard it said that “hurt people hurt people,” tending to inflict their hurt and pain on others around them. Past hurts can cause people to become defensive and self-protective; hurting others can become a vicious cycle.

At ZOE, we believe that God can help break that cycle. He offers His healing and hope. In fact, sometimes healing does not occur in the way we’d expect, in the counseling room or in the ‘programs.’ Many times, we see that healing begins in the most unlikely places.  

Every week, the teachers at ZOE Learning Center in Thailand take students off campus to do charity work with the aim of training them to think outside of their pain and commit to helping others. Usually they go somewhere local but recently they took the students to a neighborhood farther away. Their mission, on this particular day, was to help a disabled man who, through his struggles, is trying to care for his teenage son.  

The students cleaned his house, played music, and prayed for him.

Upon their return to ZOE, they were all so happy that they’d been able to help. They excitedly began planning for the next trip. As the ZOE teachers intentionally look for ways to teach the students to focus on others, they planned the following week to go and help an elderly lady in a different village.

One girl, who later could not stop thinking about the man they’d helped, bought something with her own money and asked her teacher to give it to the man to bless him.

People in pain and crisis often find themselves the focus of others’ attention. They can get used to people asking how they’re doing and whether they need anything. Our ZOE parents are so great at loving, hugging, and caring for children in pain and meeting them where they’re at. But somewhere, in the midst of self-focus, it’s also healthy to be able to steer them towards helping others in need because sometimes it is in the ‘helping’ that the ‘healing’ can occur.

One of the teachers shared that, “The opportunity to serve others actually helps all of us.”  At ZOE, we recognize that “hurt people can hurt people” but we also see how sharing in other people’s pain can help some begin to heal. Relief from pain starts to come as they help others who are also struggling, enabling them bit by bit to let go of some of their hurts and begin their healing process.