We are so excited to have finally received our license to open the ZOE Home for Youth (ZHY). “From 2016, when we closed escrow and submitted our plans to receiving our license to open, God has been guiding us, answering prayers and performing miracles along the way,” said Vickie McCoy, ZHY Residential Manager.
In early July, Thailand placed 10 million people in the capital under new coronavirus restrictions. “With COVID, the whole country shut down,” said Les Ginoza, ZOE Thailand Director. “We had to change the way we have done our awareness programs quickly.”
The ZOE Thailand team focused on creating media and educating underage kids to prevent them from being exploited.
“We developed a lot of videos because we could no longer go village to village or go into schools,” said Les. “When we did that, our reach increased. We were able to touch a lot more people with our awareness program. Although Covid is a terrible issue, God always shows us the silver lining.”
Child Rescue Team
Recently, ZOE Thailand welcomed 16 members of the Foreign Anti-Narcotic and Crime Community of Thailand (FANC) who represent law enforcement from ten different countries.
“This was the very first time we had an international community of law enforcement come together to discuss human trafficking,” said Les. “The group began to work on a plan to better track down perpetrators who have left Thailand and have gone back to their native countries. This is a big issue that we are trying to resolve, and it takes coordination from the entire international community.”
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?
It 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.
It 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.
Fun 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
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!
Recently 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.
There 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.
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!
By Andrea Cross
Did you know that the Greek word for ‘life’ is ZOE? It’s no coincidence that founders Michael and Carol Hart chose the name with this in mind when they began fighting child trafficking back in 2002.
Most people who know about ZOE are aware of the trafficking side of our work.
But have you ever wondered why a name that means ‘life’ was selected?
In the Bible, the word zoe ζωή refers to eternal life with God but in fact, it changes our earthly lives in every good way too, and is offered free for all who believe and accept Jesus.
As a Christian organization, we want the whole world to have the opportunity to have this kind of abundant LIFE with God. It’s why ZOE exists!
So how do we actually bring this ‘zoe-life’ to the world?
We reach people who do not yet know about God’s love, or the gift of eternal LIFE.
Oftentimes this looks like bringing practical help, meeting physical needs and sharing God’s plan with people in remote, small, vulnerable and unreached places.
But we also rescue children who are orphaned, trafficked, or abandoned.
We fight child trafficking through prevention, rescue and restoration.
When we see freedom and healing, it brings us so much joy of course, but when we see people choose to receive God’s ‘zoe-life’, we know that they will experience freedom and life forever!
At ZOE, we are on a mission to show people God’s love, and have them experience His LIFE, for themselves.
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
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.
While the world is confronting crisis, God’s blessing is still present. His helping hands are with His children as He promises.
When we were first told that we would need to work from home, I began brainstorming… How could we work efficiently and how could we plan, manage, and assign a tasks to each other? God has shown me new ideas and helped me realize that my work should be run well everywhere! If we still need to work from home, our work performance should still be professional. My home can become a home office.
During a quarantine time, I’ve had the chance to think on God’s mercy and blessing in my life. Many times God shows me the face of our ZOE leaders and I am thankful for them. They are great blessings, good role models, and have servants hearts like Jesus.
I feel grateful to be able to serve Him together with ZOE. Thankful for God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Many people are crying for help during this time, and God allows us to be the answer. The coronavirus may lock us at home, but it cannot stop us from serving our almighty God!
Thankful for all ZOE leaders and our supporters so we can continue serving children and others in many areas.
– ZOE Social Worker
“Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life” (WHO definition).
Helping children develop essential life skills is a big part of the restoration process at ZOE. It takes us being very intentional! Swimming, doing chores, managing money, and using a computer are just some of the useful life skills we teach. But we also value teaching emotional skills such as problem solving, perseverance, managing feelings, and making connections.
Recently some of our girls shared testimonies about how they had noticed within themselves that their emotional skills were increasing.
We wanted to share a few of their testimonies with you.
“From being aggressive and having a hot temper, I can now calm down faster and can control my emotions better.”
“I was lacking discipline in many areas but now I can take care of the duties assigned to me.”
“Before I had no target now I have started setting goals, writing them down, and trying to hit them.”
“I did not care about my outlook before. Now I have learned to dress properly. I do not want to go back to my old life and I now understand my value.”
ZOE helps children develop interpersonal skills by providing healthy and safe environments to interact with other people. Listening and speaking, as well as the ability to control and manage emotions, are essential parts of being in a family, and necessary for life. We are so encouraged when we see and hear the positive developments that are occurring in their lives through the process of restoration.
If you’re old like me, you might remember that Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Going to the Zoo.”
Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow,
Zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow
Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow
And we can stay all day!
It was sung on school excursions, lengthy road trips, or during Music class. Looking back, it was one of those songs that seemed like it would never end! There was always another verse to sing and when you’d exhausted every animal, you could go right back to the start and sing, “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow…” and it would all start again!
For most people, going to the zoo is a magical experience. Seeing magnificent creatures up close that you don’t normally see, experiencing the thrill of feeding them, hearing their unique sounds and of course appreciating God’s creativity in all the distinctive features of the animals.
Recently the younger children from our ZOE families had the privilege of visiting the zoo. They were able to read the descriptions about each animal, and observe each creature great and small in various environments. Our children smiled at the unusual, laughed at the playful, and stared in awe at the mighty elephants, hippos, and giraffes.
What an amazing opportunity to teach them more about God the Creator, and marvel at His works! The spots, the stripes, the patterns – every design is a reflection of His creativity. He made each creature from the smallest to the largest.
There is so much to be learned from visiting the zoo, but one important lesson we want our children to take away is that God made something even more spectacular than the animals when He made them! Out of all the creatures, He made man “in the image of God.” Our hope is that through this experience, yes, they will see how amazing each animal is, but that they would also have a fresh revelation of how special they are!
By Andrea Cross
By Ben Wood, Field Worker, Thailand
One day I was at the Child Rescue Center (CRC) for a meeting. Two girls had just arrived. They had only been at ZOE for about 30 minutes when they were taken to the ZOE “store” by one of our mothers. I was sitting at a distance and watched as both girls proceeded to sit down on the ground and cry. I didn’t know what was happening.
After about a minute of being comforted, they stood up and went into the store. I was curious why they were crying and walked over and asked the mother what was happening.
She told me that it was okay. That their tears were happy tears. They were moved by our love for them and allowing them to take whatever they needed from our store. They also told her that they felt honored that they weren’t being told what to do but instead they were given the power to make choices.
At that moment, I was also moved to tears. I realized that our little store was more than just a room full of stuff but instead it was an opportunity for us to empower the children we rescue and to show them love as they start their restoration process.
By Oratai Saisingtong, ZOE Thailand Director
It’s a ZOE tradition now that every New Year’s eve, each person picks out a Bible verse to meditate on for the entire year. Some people might think, “It’s just one verse, it doesn’t mean much!” But, just as in past years, we know that God uses many opportunities to speak, and get the attention of our children.
This year one of our children picked out this Bible verse:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
During our meeting, the boy told with excitement that he received this Bible verse. And, he was excited to realize that God spoke to him. He went on to explain that he had constantly said that no one loved him or cared for him. But, now he is confident that God loves him!
It touched our hearts to see that God spoke right to his heart. God has entrusted these children to us but it is so encouraging when we see that they recognize His voice speaking to them!
At times when children struggle, it is such a comfort to see God reassuring us that His covering is over these children. His love iseverlasting. He is faithful, and we are not doing this work alone!