This is the time of year that the ZOE kids have been waiting for. The kids get to enjoy games, snacks, and water fights! Just like any other Christian camp, they also have worship services, Bible studies, and an opportunity to grow closer to their ZOE brothers and sisters.
Sharing in the festivities, ZOE had the privilege of working alongside a team from Evergreen Baptist Church SGV who had come for the sole purpose of leading the first week of camp. They had their work cut out for them. Facilitating more than 65 students ages 3 to 18 can be a handful, but they rose to the challenge and created an awesome week for not only the kids, but the staff as well.
There were many memorable moments for the students, but one in particular came through the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph faced unbelievable trials including being the first trafficked person in the Bible. After being sold as a slave by his brothers, he was framed and then imprisoned. Through all of this Joseph remained faithful to the Lord, and through that faithfulness, God was able to bless Joseph with great wealth and responsibility.
This story led one brave girl to share part of her own story of pain, struggle, and redemption. From there numerous others opened up and told some of their stories as well. What began as a simple devotion changed into a powerful time with the Thai staff and ZOE parents that helped the children to see that even though their pasts have been full of challenges, now, their futures are full of hope.
Thank you so much to the Evergreen team, and also to the ZOE staff and volunteers for organizing an amazing kick-off to a great month.
While many people hear of something wrong in the world and merely think, “Wow, that’s too bad,” 12-year old Rachel is taking a stand against it. In response to hearing about modern-day child slavery on the radio, Rachel, a 6th-grader from Washington, D.C. created “Pens of Love.”
Pens of Love is a unique business combining art with duct tape. Yes, that’s right, duct tape. For those of you who have used duct tape to mend the binding of a book or tow a car from a ditch, have you ever thought about fighting human trafficking with the adhesive fix-all? Rachel has taken what she learned from art class to make duct tape roses that she then attaches to the ends of pens. She then sells the flower pens so the profits can go directly to ZOE.
The result is amazing and people are lining up to get one! Rachel has not only sold her pens to friends and family, but more than 80 have been purchased through local businesses and non-profit agencies. Rachel has also started a Facebook page to market the product and receive orders. Rachel says “Every time someone buys a pen, they are showing love to help a child gain her/his freedom.” This is a real commitment to see the end of child slavery in the world, and we at ZOE are so very proud of her. In fact, we totally agree with her when Rachel says: “My hope for the world is that one day, child slavery will end and that kids all over the world will feel the love that they deserve.”
Rachel’s story is the perfect example of I Timothy 4:12 taken to heart: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (NIV). This young lady is showing everyone through her love, faith, purity, and life that she can change the world around her.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States of America. This document was a statement made by Commander-in-Chief and President Abraham Lincoln that effectively freed slaves in states that were in rebellion to the United States (U.S. National Archives & Records Administration).
To many people this is simply history; it was a great point in the building process of modern America. But if this history can teach us anything, it’s that there is still a need for people like Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who are willing to put it all on the line for the liberty of others.
By issuing a proclamation, we need to declare the end of modern-day slavery not by sitting back and waiting, but by standing up in courage and authority. We need to tell the world that this evil is no longer acceptable. Right now the world is falling behind a veil of ignorance, and it is our job to pull back the curtains to expose the truth of more than 20,900,000 enslaved people in the world (International Labor Organization).
Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the United States, would be filled to the capacity more than 200 times! Those seats would be filled with men, women, and children as young as one year, and there are people in the world who have absolutely no idea. It is our job to tell them and light the fire in their hearts to take action, and this action is crucial.
In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation changed the tide of the Civil War. Just as we seek to change the tide of the war against modern-day slavery, let’s proclaim to the world that we are standing against this evil, and we will not back down until the day it is eradicated from the face of the earth.
Join ZOE in our efforts to “Fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
One of the first things you learn as a newcomer to Thailand is the countrywide water fight known as Songkran. For a few days in the middle of April, the streets of Thailand are full of kids and adults with water guns and buckets.
Rather than going into town, ZOE brought the party home. While the kids were participating in summer camp, ZOE camp leaders incorporated all kinds of water games and activities. These included relay races, water balloons, and even a huge downhill water slide.
The kids had a blast, and it was also a wonderful break from the heat. Check out the pictures to see more!
There is a scripture that says “A bruised reed, I will not despise.” I always thought that was beautiful, poetic and truly expressed the compassion of God. It felt very personal to me, because I came to the Lord many years ago with damaged emotions and a wounded heart. Now I know that all of us are bruised reeds in one way or another. It is impossible to navigate this world without battle scars. Fortunately He is Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals.
For some of us, our wounds are more apparent than others. Children are vulnerable and deserve protection from a world that is often full of peril and danger. Unfortunately that shield of protection is sometimes lacking, and the results can be unspeakable horror for the innocent, who are so very precious in the sight of God. Such is the case with the children at ZOE. I don’t know the personal history of each one of them, but I know they would not be in the ZOE home if they had not been in imminent danger. As a mother of four grown children and grandmother of three, how could I turn away from the cries of children who are in both emotional and physical pain? Oh, I know…we would lose our minds if we lingered on these thoughts constantly. The bible tells us to fix our mind on things that are pure and lovely, and yet to deny the existence of dark forces is to live outside the realm of reality and worse convince ourselves that we have no obligation to alleviate suffering.
I always wanted to be a part of healing a suffering world. I’ve known about sex trafficking for years, but I never quite knew what to do about it. It seemed so huge, so daunting, and it is, but our God is larger still. We may not be able to fix everything that ails the world, but we can all do something as God directs our paths. One little fire fly might not make much of a difference, but a multitude can light up the sky.
I learned about ZOE when I was attending the Sanctuary Church in Santa Clarita. It sounded like an amazing organization. I contacted them and learned about child sponsorship. It seemed like an ideal situation for me. I live in Los Angeles now and no longer attend the Sanctuary. In fact, I recently purchased a home out here. This house took a lot of renovation, and I had always wanted hardwood floors. I don’t think God has anything against us living in a pleasant environment, but as I was spending money on various upgrades, I thought “If I can spend money on renovations purely for aesthetic purposes, surely I can do something for a child who might otherwise be locked into a hopeless situation.” I thought of my own children, three of them girls, and imagined them as children in that type of situation.” Sponsoring a child was a no-brainer. I am grateful to be part of the ZOE family!
Written by ZOE Supporter Barbara Byrd