(update from our short-term missions team in Thailand)
Great planning yields great results. It has been an incredible experience so far. It is truly amazing the amount of planning and detail that Zoe has done for the sake and safety of the children that they reach out to as well as their vision for the future.
Some things that really stood out:
In the evening of the second day we were here at Zoe, we took part in their worship service. The enthusiasm was amazing. The children sang with great emotion. That in itself would probably be something that would encourage you if you could have experienced it like we did, but keep in mind that these children all came from very difficult situations. They were orphaned. And Zoe accepts the most destitute of these of these situations. If the children have absolutely no where to go, they come to Zoe. You can probably understand why they sing with such vigor. These children know what they have been saved from and want to express it.
On the weekend, the team, as well as the Thai staff, a bunch of the Bible school students (Zoe runs an intensive Bible school for 2 years and twice a month the students have to go on an outreach) and some of the missionaries went to a nearby village about 3 hours away. We went to a Karen (pronounced KA RIN) tribe.
We met a Canadian missionary and his Thai wife along with their 5 adopted children. The Ladies stayed in their house. The missionary, Kim, was very industrious. He has a Tilapia fish tank, grows mushrooms in bulk, raises chickens, built his own home, and is currently working on a large pond to extend his fishing services. He does all this so that he can be self-sustaining.
On Saturday after we arrived, the team members were grouped with different Bible school students, a Thai staffer, and an interpreter to go sharing in the village homes for a couple of hours. Since none of us spoke KA RIN (different from thai), the sharing itself had to be done by the Bible school students and/or Thai staff. I was amazed by their hospitality. No matter what the villagers were doing, when asked if they had a moment to sit, they always did, pulled out chairs or a place to sit and listened. A good number of the villagers have a Catholic background. And in the time of sharing and dialoging, the villagers were very respectful and kind. One of men we shared with was embarrassed that he didn’t have any food to give us and another home actually gave tea to one of the teams.
In the evening of Saturday, there was an outreach service that all the villagers were invited to. This service is where a more detailed presentation of the gospel was given. All of it was run by the Thai staff and Bible students. The program consisted of playing a few games, (One of them was a Duck Duck Goose game where the loser gets baby powder applied to their face or gets to apply it to anyone they wanted to), singing worship songs, a couple of skits, a gospel presentation, praying for anyone that wanted prayer, and a little video of the Jesus story to the children. The team did our You Are Holy and Thai praise song during this time.
Devotion: The Bible students start their day at 5am for 2 years. They did all the setting up, tearing down and cleaning, cooking, packing, leading the outreach time, and general planning of the weekend. And they did all of this without an ounce of complaint or hint of a tired attitude. They serve with initiative and dedication. I am truly impressed by how these Thai staff and Bible students live out their Christianity.
Zoe: This is an organization that knows what they want to do. They have a great vision. In the Zoe facility, they have a model of what they would like the campus to look like. They work with the local churches and authorities to bring down and put away those captured for running these trafficking schemes. When the children come to Zoe, they are given a family unit with a mom and dad. And it is through this loving environment that they grow up. Zoe’s plan is to always repatriate the children back to their homes if that option is available. But in the time that the children are at Zoe, it is the plan of Zoe to show as much love to them as possible. The decision for or not is up to the children of course, but the missionaries and staff “love on them” until it is time for them to leave.