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
Aria Studios: Christine and Kash
While wedding cinematography and still photography are their “bread and butter,” Aria Studios owners Kolby and Jay have a passion to use their gifts and talents to help children who are at risk or in abject poverty. They know that digital media is a powerful storytelling medium; one that can give a voice to those who have none. Exceptional skills in all areas of digital media combined with a heart to help those hurting – we think it’s a marriage made in heaven!
When asked to describe themselves, they are in turn serious and silly:
filmmakers. photographers. writers. artists. dreamers. dancers. risk-takers. ridiculous. curious. cool. sappy. happy. stylish. hungry. addicted to dessert
Thankfully, the recent flooding in Thailand did not affect the mango supply so we were able to fuel Aria’s dynamic duo Christine and Kash with their favorite Thai sweet treat: Mango & Sticky Rice!
The entire ZOE family was excited at the arrival of Aria Studios to film our new ZOE Children’s Home, but no one was more thrilled than the kids! It seems every boy and girl was dreaming of a chance to be a movie star!
We couldn’t wait to see the finished products of Aria’s hard work so we took a sneak peak at the footage and – wow! It is simply beautiful! We can hardly wait to share the final result with everyone.
Team Aria also left us with some breathtaking still photos of the ZOE children. You can bet our Guardian Alliance child sponsors (ZOE’s child sponsorship program) will be surprised and delighted when we send them pictures of “their child.”
Check out the Aria Studios blog for more information and examples of their recent projects.
On behalf of everyone at ZOE, we want to say a huge “THANK YOU Aria Studios!” In our opinion, your focus is just right!
Well, Grace Baptist, you certainly were fun to hang out with!
As a long-term missionary at ZOE, I just love having people come and help us as we care for orphans and rescue children from human trafficking.
When teams come, it injects life into all of us. I liken it to being able to plug into your batteries for ten days or so, and we get re-energized and motivated to push on!
I love to see how we share a passion to make a difference in our world!
All of us at ZOE want to see the ZOE staff, students and children discover their individual talents and by coming over here you make that possible.
Phew … It sure was an action-packed 10 days!
You cooked our traditional celebratory BBQ, (something that everyone at ZOE LOVES!) taught classes, put on a couple of carnivals, worked tirelessly … the list goes on and on.
But from touchdown to takeoff you were good fun to hang out with!
Here is a link to some photos of the fun at the ZOE Children’s Homes.
Well you know those months when there are a thousand things that have happened and you sit back and think….my goodness there has been a lot going on! That sums up many of the months at the ZOE Children’s Homes!
New rescued children, new ZOE parents been hired, the reservoir has been lined, we began stage 2 of our pig farm (and have eaten a few of them –yum!), plus hosting visitors at the home, conducting training for the staff…the list goes on!
We have recently began a child sponsorship program to allow people to partner with ZOE and assist us as we care for the orphans and those rescued from or at risk of human trafficking. I have the privilege of getting together with each of the kids and asking them how they are feeling, what special moments they have enjoyed over the past month or so, and find out any special highlights or achievement that they have achieved.
For me this process has become such a wonderful time of encouragement. The overwhelming thing that stood out to me, as I sat and listened to the children talk and reflect on how they felt about the last few months, was how happy they are! For many of the kids the thing they said they were proud of was being able to hand wash their own clothes, or being good at helping clean their room or family area. They take such pride in their home, they take such joy in completing tasks that benefit those around them and they celebrate each other’s achievements along the way.
It’s a funny thing coming from Australia after being bombarded over the years with advertising to make us all think we need to spend money on a gismo to make us feel better, to the stark contrast of being in Northern Thailand and not seeing any television or reading any advertisements!
What has happened for me is that I have begun to take more pleasure in the “simple” things in life. Not as much worried about getting the next thing, but learning (very slowly) to be content with what I have and looking for someone else to help, who really could just use a bit of a hand.
As I look over my notes from the interviews, most of the kids are not happy because of what they have, but they are excited about what they can do.
We are blessed to be able to be over here volunteering at the home.
I just want to say a BIG thank you to those that have become sponsors of the ZOE Children through the new Guardian Alliance Child Sponsorship Program.
The ZOE kids are now getting to experience the joy of living in a home that is safe.
So I hope you are also having fun and can find the time to take pleasure in some of the “simple” joys of life.
Human traffickers prey on those who are most vulnerable in our society. Education and awareness training are keys to protecting communities and individuals from human trafficking
Greg – ZOE Director of Child Rescue
After rescuing a child from slavery, a significant challenge is equipping that child with not only a quality education but knowledge that will protect them. One of many consequences of child exploitation and trafficking is that rescued children have had little or no formal schooling. At ZOE, whether these rescued children are sheltered temporarily or long term (depending on what is best for the child), we are committed to ensure that these children are better educated and informed about human trafficking.
Further, part of ZOE’s holistic strategy in combating human trafficking is not only to rescue children, but also to work with families and communities to increase their resilience to the ploys of trafficking agents.
Here are some examples ZOE’s critical success factors:
- ZOE Human Trafficking Awareness Program
- Prevention and Intervention Hotline
- Community Watch
- Child Sexual Abuse Training
- Vocational and Language School Training
- Economic Alternatives: Business Training
- Relief and Aid (Food and Medical Programs)
The video link shows a ZOE language camp. Most of our rescued children are from ethnic minorities within Thailand and from neighboring countries. Therefore, Thai is their second language. Our Thai language program is taught by Thai staff including university trained language teachers. Our English language program is taught by American and Australian personnel trained in education, language, communications and Early Childhood Development.