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January 1, 2019 - No Comments!

New Hope, New Life, New Year

As we look towards 2019, ZOE is a place where beautiful stories of rescue, hope, life, and love can easily be found.

With permission to share, we think this powerful testimony of one girl’s journey from rescue to healing, will bring renewed hope for the future and great expectations, to all who read it. Please continue to uphold all ZOE’s rescued children in your prayers as they embrace new seasons, new beginnings, and the New Year.

~

It’s hard for me to tell my story. Before I came to live at ZOE my life was not good. Many times I felt like I wanted to get out, but I never could. I felt trapped. I knew that children shouldn’t be doing what I was doing but whenever I got a small amount of money, it gave me what I needed to survive. For a while, that little bit of money numbed my pain.
To survive, I tried to block out anyone who would show me real love. I no longer cared how anyone else felt. I just focused on the money, but deep down I was not happy. I felt like my life had no value, so I would just keep doing the same things. I was ashamed, broken and lonely.

Coming to ZOE really changed my life. I learned that I am VALUABLE in God's sight. It was strange at first because I wasn’t used to people being kind and caring. I was welcomed into a warm and loving family and the longer I stayed, the more I grew to love the ZOE staff and the mothers so much. They helped me learn many new things. For the first time I saw and understood what real love looks like. I learned about forgiving and sharing. I learned that my life is important… that I am important.

It is hard to explain how different I feel and how much I love God. I understand how much He loves me and I am trying to change the way I had thought about myself and now I have new thoughts about the future.

There are many things that I want to thank God for. God does more than I ever think He can. Even just the other day, I was worried because I thought I would need to leave ZOE and go somewhere else, but I wasn’t ready to leave and I was scared. I kept praying to God. I did not want to go but I knew I would be ok because I knew that God would be with me. When one of the ZOE staff came and reassured me that I could continue to live at ZOE, I knew God had answered my prayers.

I will now be able to finish my grade level at the ZOE Learning Center and then in the future I want to study Business Administration. I would like to become an expert in English. These are the new thoughts I have about my future.

I know that sometimes I still make mistakes. I know it will take time to change, but I want to try. Thank you God for rescuing me!

December 27, 2018 - No Comments!

What’s in a Name?

By Andrea Cross

Many children who come to ZOE’s Child Rescue Center do not have the correct documentation or citizenship papers to attend some educational institutions or, later in life, apply for certain jobs. Without the right documents, children and young adults can feel restricted in terms of their future job and study prospects.    

Part of what our ZOE Child Rescue team (ZCR) does is to travel, sometimes for many hours, to search for any helpful leads or useful information for children in this situation.

One of our ZCR team members recently came back very excited after finding an ID card and a school to access important documentation for one of our newly rescued girls. Now she can obtain the certificate she needs to apply for a non-formal education program she wants to attend, and she was also able to get her first bank book!

While this type of work may be tedious, tiring, and non glamorous, it can be some of the most life changing for the children we help. This girl now has the opportunity to continue her education, and as she moves forward in life, her vulnerability and the likelihood of her being revictimized is reduced.

December 24, 2018 - No Comments!

Better to Give than to Receive

By Abigail Jennerson

You may be wondering what handmade Christmas cards, fried banana chips, crafted jewelry, car washing, and a garage sale all have in common...

These were all the ways our NextGen team and ZOE kids worked hard to raise money since JULY of this year!

Six months ago, our NextGen team sat down with the ZOE kids and cast vision for how we could be a blessing this Christmas. Let’s be honest, we LOVE blessing our ZOE kids during the Christmas season each year! And NextGen usually does outreaches to other children’s homes each Christmas! But this year we wanted to reach higher and do bigger when it came to blessing others.

The plan was to invite another children’s home to Chiang Mai for a BIG Christmas celebration! 45 kids and their caregivers staying at ZOE for two nights and three days! We would get their Christmas wish lists and bless their socks off!

We were hard at work to reach our goal; our kids filled with such determination and excitement to give the gift of Christmas to other children! After almost 6 months of fundraising, we raised enough money to DOUBLE the amount for each child’s Christmas gift! Our ZOE kids made sure they purchased everything on their buddy’s list, and if the money we raised wasn’t enough, our ZOE kids even used some of their own! Watching our kids work so hard and give so generously and try to wrap the presents was precious–especially our teenage boys!

NextGen Team

And then the children arrived! We worshipped together, ate together, played games together! It was the first time we’ve ever had guests spend the night in our home! The next day we sent them off to the Chiang Mai Zoo. But when they returned Friday night, the main event really began! We started off the night talking about how Jesus is the greatest gift we will ever receive! That no matter what Christmas looks like, we know that HE is the reason for the celebration. After taking a quick snack break, we opened gifts and had the messiest Christmas party ever!  

Everyone was wearing smiles, especially our ZOE kids. It really is better to give than to receive. We hope our ZOE kids were able to experience that truth.

December 13, 2018 - No Comments!

From Short Term Missions to ZOE Walk

By Lori-Ann Tsang

In August and January of each year, ZOE Thailand has the privilege of hosting our joint short-term teams. Each team arrives after months of training and planning for their 10-day short-term trip.

They spend time alongside our staff, ministry school students, and missionaries in different settings.  They are given opportunities to serve and get a glimpse of what we do at ZOE.

It is a trip unlike any other they have experienced.  Many of them are forever impacted and changed by their time with us.

This summer one team was so impacted and inspired that they went back home with such a fire and passion to see human trafficking stopped.  They worked with our team in Los Angeles and ran the first ever ZOE Rescue Walk in Hawaii. They were one of three other satellite walks around the country all spearheaded by previous short-term team members. In Hawaii alone, there were 200 walkers and over $3,700 raised.

Gail Nitta, short-term teamer and our on-the-ground coordinator for Hawaii’s ZOE Rescue Walk says,  “This mission trip opened my eyes about child trafficking. I was infected with the amazing work the long term missionaries are doing in Thailand. I believe God told me take it back to Hawaii and help spread the awareness of child trafficking. But most importantly spread His gospel to the people.”

Check out the link to a video created recapping that day.
https://youtu.be/Wg9O8DfksU4

Isn’t it amazing what listening to God and being obedient can do?  

Together you helped us raise over $67,000 with funds still coming in. Thank you for partnering with us.  

December 10, 2018 - No Comments!

I Can Wash These Clothes

by Andrea Cross

As my family and I left Thailand to travel to Australia this past July, I realized that it was not just people in Thailand but all over the world, who sat clinging to news reports of the ongoing rescue of 12 young boys who were lost and stuck in a flooded cave in Chiang Rai.

Even in Australia, the story was being followed on every radio and television station and it felt like, across the globe, everyone’s thoughts and prayers were focused on bringing those boys out to safety.

During the cave rescue mission, sadness and shock set in when the news came that Petty Officer Saman Gunan, former Thai navy diver, lost consciousness on his way out of the Tham Luang cave and died. He will be forever remembered and honored for his heroic efforts in the rescue mission.

There were many other heroes too, who the world may not remember or even know their names but who, behind the scenes, did their “one thing” to help.

Rawinmart Luelert is a name you might not recognize. I stumbled upon her story quite by chance. Rawinmart has a factory with 14 washing machines and 15 dryers, and a business, which provides laundry services for hotels in her area. When her friend showed her photos of the rescue workers wearing dirty uniforms, she knew there was a way that she could help. Collecting the uniforms of rescue workers every night at 9pm, she gathered a team and worked for 10 straight days, returning the uniforms at 4am after cleaning them at her laundry.

She shared her appreciation for her employees, volunteers, and friends who helped her work through the night to get the job done. One man, Suwan Kankeaw, who helped to wash the uniforms of the US Navy divers said,

“I don’t have the ability to get the kids out
directly, but what I can do is wash these clothes.”

As I read about Rawinmart and Suwan’s stories along with other volunteers who for 12 days prepared 400 boxes of food for lunch and dinner each day… Or who provided foot massages or haircuts for the rescue team… the stories of these people stuck in my mind.

Recently at ZOE, the Next Gen team, who lead our children and youth, carefully planned their camp theme “Out of the Darkness”. It paralleled the events surrounding the flooded cave rescue with the message of God’s love and how He comes after us and rescue us from darkness and brings us into His marvelous light.

There were some powerful testimonies of children who chose to follow Jesus for the first time and others who recommitted to live out their faith boldly.  

At ZOE, not all of us directly rescue children from slavery. There are so many people working in many different teams with a range of tasks, but each of us has an area that we use our skills in to support the work of rescue and make a difference.

Just like Suwan, who knew he wasn’t the one to get the boys out directly, we can take encouragement from him and so many of the other lesser-known heroes, by discovering what we CAN do – and then start making a difference!

November 28, 2018 - No Comments!

Popular Video Game Used To Lure Child Victims

by Abigail Carcich

Fortnite, a wildly popular online video game about survival, was first released in early 2017 by Epic Games. Its second mode, Fortnite Battle Royale, released only a couple of months later, surged in popularity nearly overnight to over 10 million users. Currently, the free-to-play game has an estimated player base of over 100 million.

Players can play solo, or in a groups with friends. The game drops you into an environment where you and your team fight others (up to 100 people total) to be the last man standing, Hunger Games style.

Parents report enjoying the game for the camaraderie it gives them with their children. Kids report loving the game for the epic tales of adventure, survival, and demise.

However, predators are also using Fortnite to gain access to potential victims of sexual crimes. 

Many video games include a chat function, in which you can chat with other members of your team, or with other players in your same game. Some video games have built-in functions for live streaming of your game, allowing the general public to view your game on the internet as you play it, and comment or send you private messages.

Predators will chat with their potential victims, and look for vulnerable young people with whom to connect. After a series of messages, predators may request sexual/nude photographs, or send graphic images of their own. They also may request to meet their victims in person, with the intent of engaging in a sexual encounter.

Fortnite is one of the most popular online platforms currently, but it is by no means the only one that contains opportunities for predators. Recently, a sting operation in New Jersey resulted in the arrest of 24 men, all of whom used various online platforms to connect with their victims. These other platforms included chatting app Kik and social media apps Scout and Whisper.

Parents should be aware of which games and apps their children interact with, and should frequently discuss with their children the dangers of talking with strangers online. Good internet practices and rules should be established, such as do not share personal information with someone you meet online, never send personal images, and never agree to meet someone that you do not already know.

Parents should also familiarize themselves with the different apps and games that their children interact with, as well as their security settings, and should ask their children questions about their online or gaming friends, investigating any odd or secretive behavior.

Fortnite -- and video games in general -- is likely to continue being popular with young and old alike. Staying connected to your child and educating them is the best way to guard against online predators.

For more tips about internet safety, view ZOE's Parent Guide to Internet Safety http://gozoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-parent-guide-to-internet-safety.pdf).

November 26, 2018 - No Comments!

So, Come

by Andrea Cross

After a hard day at school or work, the location where we are free to be ourselves: to laugh, to cry, to reflect, to process and acknowledge our emotions and thoughts, is our home.

Usually we can try to ‘hold it together’ when people are relying on us, when we need to get our job done, finish a test, complete an assignment or manage our everyday tasks.  But for most of us, ‘home’, is a place of safe refuge, unconditional love and limitless acceptance – well it should be, right?

I was reminded recently about the children who ZOE has helped to rescue. When they arrive, they’ve generally had little-to-no control over their environment and circumstances so, understandably, they experience varying emotions from distrust, fear, shame and grief. They may also have injuries, be unwell or arrive addicted to substances.  

For them to understand that they have reached a place where they are free to be who they were created to be, where they are loved and accepted for who they are, where wounds can heal and joy be restored…it’s an overwhelming experience and one that is often hard to believe.

As I stood in the Child Rescue Center recently, a place where the journey begins, I felt so tremendously grateful – not just for the beautiful buildings, gardens and facilities but for the amazing people who stand ready to embrace these precious children.

This poem is about them.

SO, COME

Come with your tear streaked eyes,
Come with your loneliness,
Come with your abandonment,
Bring it.
You are no longer alone.

Come with your hidden pain,
Come with your rejection,
Come with your silent anger,
Bring it.
You are no longer invisible.

Come with your shattered trust,
Come with your fears,
Come with your broken dreams,
Bring them.
You are no longer unheard.

Come with your scars,
Come with your shame,
Come with your unworthiness,
Bring them.
You will no longer be blamed.

Come with your silenced voice,
Come with your wounded heart,
Come with your numbing pain,
Bring them.
You are no longer imprisoned.

Come with your chaos,
Come with your loss,
Come with your rejection,
Bring them.
You are welcome here.

And the longer you stay,
The more you’ll begin to understand,
You are brave.
You are worthy.
You are incredible.
You are truly one of kind.
So, come.

By Andrea Cross

*This poem speaks of the love and kindness that the ZOE staff display day-in and day-out to the ones who have never known and experienced ‘home’ before and the beautiful freedom that comes from being accepted and embraced ‘just as they are’.

October 1, 2018 - No Comments!

Barista Training in Full Effect

by Andrea Cross

I admit it; I’m probably a little bit of a fussy coffee drinker. I’m not knowledgeable enough about all-things-coffee to be called a coffee-snob but high maintenance enough to not just drink anything.  

I know people who can drink any type of coffee: filtered, drip, percolated, cold brew, and they’re not picky about how strong it is, or whether it has a burnt, bitter or smooth taste – they just need coffee! But not me… I would rather go without coffee altogether and suffer the consequences of a caffeine-withdrawal-headache than drink coffee that I don’t like.

So aside from all the obvious benefits of ZOE’s vocational training program, like equipping students with marketable educational and vocational skills, I get so excited when I see the commitment from our Vocational School teachers who are helping to prepare children to enter adulthood with the skills necessary to provide a decent and honorable living.

can testify to the fact that the barista training, which takes students on a journey of learning all about different types of coffee beans, the machines involved (grinder and roaster), milk frothing techniques and money handling skills, is successfully helping to provide a marketable job skill in a hands-on way.

Unfortunately, over the years, I have tasted a lot of not-so-good coffees as I have been out and about, but not at ZOE! The training is spot on and the coffees they are producing are delicious.

What’s also good about the barista training, as well as most of the other vocational training courses, is that they can take place on the ZOE campus. This ensures that all of the children in ZOE’s care – including those with higher levels of safety risk – have the opportunity to learn. This also enables ZOE to provide the training in a cost-effective manner. Each 20-week training unit has been designed to serve as either a stand-alone vocational training resource or as a component of a broader vocational education.

What’s not to love about that?

But back to drinking coffee… there are actually many health benefits, which I’m sure you know, but even if there wasn’t, I’d be happy to sample the ZOE Vocational School’s coffee-making efforts any day!

October 1, 2018 - No Comments!

Freedom Frees Others

by Abigail Jennerson

Sometimes people ask me what compelled us to move to Thailand to work with ZOE… They ask how we gained this passion to see an end to human trafficking…

After meeting with a woman named Rosi Orozco, I finally have my answer.

I wanted to share about the unique experience my husband and I had with Rosi Orozco. We had the privilege of meeting with Rosi to interview her about trafficking in Mexico. She is a human rights activist in Latin America, with her main focus being human trafficking.

This woman is friends with top political leaders, making amazing strides in policy and restoration. She had just gotten back from a trip to meet with the pope. She is no joke. And so inspiring!

Rosi inspired me to continue fighting for the victims of human trafficking, and to continue fighting in humility.  She brought everyone in our meeting to tears with her powerful words.

When the interview came to a quiet moment, the pastor asking the interview questions tried to thank and compliment Rosi for everything she does for human trafficking victims in Latin America, to which she quickly interrupted him with, “No! We are just blessed. It is just justice.”

Which then led into the greatest monologue I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. And my answer to anyone who wonders why we decided to move across the world to fight human trafficking:
“The people around us, the victims of human trafficking, have experienced injustice, on top of injustice, on top of injustice. It’s so terrible what they have lived. When we give, we are just doing an act of justice. We are not good people, we are not generous...We are just...just…

From a home where my parents are now 60 years married, a lot of love, I lived in the United States, I lived in Europe, I have everything a person could dream. So when I stand beside [a trafficking victim], I realize that not one of us chose where to be born. So why do I believe I am better or being “generous” to her? It is only justice!

If you were a bank, receiving the deposits of love, of generosity, of blessing, and you feel you are good because you give a check with money? No. They were an empty bank that received zero, and after that they took away their dignity. So, it’s not an act of goodness...no we are not special. We are just conscious of how responsible we are living in this world with so much.”

She said it all! Everything I feel, everything I have wanted to say but never knew how to say!

I grew up in a wonderfully loving family, parents 30+ years married, a loving church community, an amazing husband. So when I stood next to victims of such abuse, neglect and injustice, I knew that all the blessings, all the protection of God on my life, were for the very purpose of helping others experience freedom and blessing!

Friends, we––me, you, ZOE––give because it is our responsibility.
We give because we were given SO much.
We give because we are blessed.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” ––Nelson Mandela

September 4, 2018 - No Comments!

Understanding Your Child’s Apps

by ZOE Intern, Elizabeth Leathers

How Well Do You Understand the Apps on your Child’s Phone?

The popular app, LiveMe, is proving to be a breeding ground for the distribution of child pornography and grooming for future sexual exploitation. While LiveMe is marketed for ages thirteen and up, there are thousands of users who are younger than 13 using the app. A live-streaming platform, LiveMe allows users to broadcast and document their everyday lives and watch others nearby. Users can send gifts and virtual currency to other users. This article - https://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/07/03/thornton-live-me-app highlights the unforeseen dangers associated with this app by sharing chilling stories of children being exploited in the perceived safety of their rooms without their parents’ knowledge. Using every tool in their arsenal, exploiters utilize threats of violence, peer pressure, and deception to achieve their desired results. Exploiters post and profit from these videos on websites promoting commercial child exploitation.

The article highlights the importance of parents knowing and understanding the apps on their children’s phones in order to prevent child exploitation. Children are made more vulnerable by nature due to their desire to seek approval from others. When parents are vigilant and proactive in this area, they can help to keep their children safe. This could mean downloading the app and figuring out what safeguards are necessary to protect children or it could mean doing thorough research. If you are interested in more tips about internet safety, ZOE has an excellent resource for parents linked below.

http://gozoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-parent-guide-to-internet-safety.pdf

ZOE is addressing this crucial issue through our MyGenMyFight program by going into middle schools, high schools, universities, and churches to discuss internet safety. This includes conversations about strangers online, what not to post, and what respecting others online entails.