ZOE recently sent a team to the southeast region of Thailand. The purpose was two-fold. We were there to bring food boxes to communities and to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Our ZOE buildings are meant to be white, which is challenging because the soil on the land where our ZOE buildings are is a deep, rich orange color. Often times it gets onto our clothes, cars, and shoes and it’s really hard to keep things clean.
As I arrived at work this past week, I noticed that there have been a couple of guys painting around the front entrance to the building.
Sometimes as I go to my office, I’ve needed to go a different way, or walk around their tools but mostly, while the work is being done, I’ve been thinking that it all just looks like a bit of a mess.
It’s not only the buildings at ZOE that need maintenance though; my life, those I work with, the parents, and of course the children themselves – are all a work-in-progress and sometimes, everywhere I look there is much work to be done. It all just seems like a bit of a mess.
I don’t often feel like I do a very good job at seeing a mess and just heading straight into it. I am continually amazed at the ZOE staff and parents though, who commit wholeheartedly to seeing lives transformed and throwing themselves in 100% to see the hard work being done.
I’m so thankful that God gives us discernment and sensitivity to the needs around us so that at those times when we just want to walk around, go a different way, or avoid the chaos, He helps us to enter in and “be” with others in the same way that He is with us.
We are loved and accepted, yes, but loved way too much for Him to just let us remain in our pain, shame, guilt, and in our past. He takes those deep, rich orange stains and paints them as white as snow. And every time we find another stain, He does it again – a beautiful reminder of our God who forgives us and gives us a new life and a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!
It’s harvest time!
Today was a great day! Why? Because the self-sustaining agricultural team spent the entire morning along with some of our child care staff picking a bunch of different produce items. Needless to say, our kitchen was excited, because you can’t get any fresher produce than the organic vegetables we grow!
We harvested just under 40 pounds of chili! (It’s a good thing our family LOVES SPICY FOOD!) Then we picked about 198 pounds of cucumbers! We cut down about 40 pounds of morning glory (a leafy green vegetable). Finally, we got over 187 pounds of corn.
To top it off, some generous neighbors gave ZOE 112 pounds of peanuts just harvested right out of the ground! Our kids LOVE peanuts and now we have fresh peanuts for snacking!
That was the harvest for this week. Last week, we only harvested corn. But there was so much corn, that the ZOE family actually started getting tired of eating corn almost every day! Fortunately, we have a pig farm and any corn we don’t eat, our pigs will!
When we look back on our relationship of knowing and being known by God, there are milestones and breakthrough moments.
Helping with camps at ZOE means that our team gets to be a part of those breakthrough moments for the children and youth ZOE rescues. We have the privilege of helping children and youth experience and understand God on a deeper level than they have before. We help peel back the curtain a little bit more and watch as God reveals His heart and love for each and every one of them.
This October’s camp theme was Transforming Faith, based on the Transformers movies that so many of our kids have seen! We talked about the transformation from sinner to saved, sadness to joy, and the foundational truth that faith has a way of transforming everything.
Camp this year was a small piece of that transformation process for our kids and youth! Whether it was in moments of fellowship and fun, or teachings and object lessons, or powerful moments of worship (some of our youth led worship this year!), or the giant transformer we made from cardboard boxes, each piece was prayerfully planned out to help facilitate healing and transformation.
Children rededicated their lives to Jesus, some accepted Him for the first time, others were overwhelmed by the love of God as their eyes were opened to what Jesus did on the cross, some were even asking how to share the gospel in the red light district where they were once exploited. Praise God for more breakthrough moments.
Thailand is recognized as a key destination for human trafficking, in addition to being a source and transit country for forced labor and sex trafficking. Thailand has been identified as one of the most popular destinations for child sex abusers since 1980s. (UNODC)
The majority of trafficking victims identified in Thailand are Thai nationals, trafficked for sexual exploitation domestically and to a number of countries internationally. The majority of victims identified within Thailand have been forced, coerced, or deceived into labor or sexual exploitation. (United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons)
ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration in Thailand. From conducting regular child trafficking awareness campaigns, to receiving calls on our hotline, ZOE’s team is ready to conduct assessments, investigations, or assist with rescue whenever necessary.
ZOE parents lovingly provide and protect trafficking survivors. They are trained in trauma informed care so that they understand the complex emotional needs as well the the safety implications around caring for rescued children. ZOE also seeks to bring human traffickers to justice. We collaborate with Thai law enforcement and other government agencies when intervening on behalf of children.
You can keep updated about Thailand here.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but I say one word is worth far more than a thousand pictures to convey the work that God is accomplishing through ZOE International in Chiang Mai, Thailand. That one word is GO!
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