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All Posts in stories

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.

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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 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 10, 2018 - 1 comment.

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!

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

August 13, 2018 - No Comments!

What’s your role?

by Abigail Jennerson

“I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”

This is a quote from a British cave diver who, last month, found the 11 boys who were trapped in a cave in Thailand. If you didn’t see it all over the media, just type “Thailand”, “cave”, “boys”, and “trapped” into Google, in no specific order, and you’ll find countless blogs, videos, and news articles covering the story.

This international mission broke out to find a group of boys who needed rescue. People offered their expertise. They gave up their fields. Their lives. All of these people playing a unique role, yet each with the same purpose of seeing these 11 boys rescued.

It filled me with such hope! The world came together with such passion and selflessness to ensure FREEDOM for these 11 boys.

Did you know that there are 20 million people still awaiting their rescue?

JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL MISSION. What’s your role?