The “Burning Season” has been a rude awakening for those of us who are new to Thailand. Check out this article to learn more about the fires in Chiang Mai.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph 3:20, NIV)
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two months since I last saw the children, staff, missionaries and ZOE Ministry School students at Zoe Children’s Home, and that it’s been a full ten days since I arrived back home. I had been told that the time at Zoe would fly by, but I found that it moved beautifully slowly. Maybe that’s because I had nothing to do all day but marvel at God’s work and pour His love on those amazing kids and their caretakers. Here, my life is filled with work, Facebook, grandkids, volunteering, shopping … way too much stuff, and with few exceptions (n.b.: grandchildren), little of it seems to matter all that much. But on the mission field, everything matters. Because everything is about the mission – in particular, the missio Dei, the mission of God – unfolding in our midst.
For nearly two decades, I had dreamed of going to Thailand, and my dreams had become quite huge, unrealistic and unreasonable. But when by dreams finally came true, I found that they had in fact been pathetically puny. I began to see God’s dream unfold before me, and I watched how He was turning it into reality. His dreams are always “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”
For nearly as long, I had been telling myself that I was “in love with Thailand.” I now know that I was only in love with the idea of Thailand. But now that I have been there and seen the land, the people, the need and the fullness, the mission, the children, the miracles, the joy, the love, I can truly say that God has filled me with a love for Thailand that is, again, “immeasurably more that I ask or imagine.”
I know. You want specifics. You want stories. I understand, but one of the reasons it’s taken me nearly two weeks to write about my time there is that I simply can’t find the words to do justice to the experiences. You just have to, well, experience them.
But there is one thing that comes close to telling the story. ZOE Children’s Home exists to rescue and provide shelter, education, the love of a family, the good news of Jesus, and the joy of His healing to children who are either in grave danger of being trafficked, or who have been trafficked. Now, I don’t care how much of all things a deeply traumatized child receives, there seems to be some residual of that trauma that stays around for a very long time – years, decades, even a lifetime. On my way to ZOE and the months before going, I expected that there would be some of the children who would be battling behavioral and emotional issues stemming from their experiences. I knew it would be a good place, but not necessarily a happy place – not all the time, anyway.
But when I set foot in ZOE Children’s Home and saw the sparkle in those kids’ eyes, the smiles on their faces, the giggles from their mouths, and the unabashed joy pouring from deep within their being, I knew that I had found not just a “happy’ place, but — sorry Disney – the Happiest Place on Earth!
But then, it only gets better. Every Tuesday evening, the entire ZOE family – kids, staff, ministry school students – all gather for prayer meeting. It’s all done quite simply. Shortly before everyone begins to arrive, the lights are dimmed, and praise and worship music is played. There are no announcements; everyone just knows that, as they arrive, it is time to pray. We had been briefed ahead of time, and were told that, if we would find a place on the floor (there are not many places to sit other than the floor) and began to pray, we would receive a blessing. Oh, did I ever! As I sat there quietly, numerous people – staff, ZMS students, older children, little ones – would come up to me, set their hands on me, and pray for me. I had no clue what they were saying, but the honor that I felt was being bestowed on me in those moments, and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in and through these children – keep in mind where they had come from! – was overwhelming. I knew that I was in the presence of spiritual giants, some of whom were under 4 feet tall.
What had made these little ones into such giants was the very thing that would have destroyed so many of us. They had started out with nothing, and then lost everything they had. They could not have been in a worse place. But Jesus came to them, first in the form of a person – or several – who rescued them, took them in, cared for them, and showed them real love for the first time in their lives. Then by His grace they began to see beyond those people to Jesus, Himself. And they saw in Him something far, far greater than all that they had ever lost.
I often speak of the time when his disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, and He grabbed a kid. Or when he pointed to the children who had gathered around Him and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus was telling us that our greatest, best, and most profound teachers are not the people with the seminary degrees, but children.
And here I was, sitting on the floor of the big meeting room at ZOE Children’s Home, being schooled by a bunch of these wise, experienced teachers.
Written by Craig Rasmussen (ZOE Short Term Mission Team Member)
A mighty team from Rockford First Church in IL visited ZOE for a two week short term mission trip recently. They were such a huge blessing to all of us and accomplished so much. Thank you to each and every one of you for spending your precious time with ZOE and the people of Thailand.
On December 4, ZOE was blessed by two groups of beautiful women from Northpark Church in Santa Clarita. The church’s morning and evening women’s Bible study groups created sixty-five school supply kits for the ZOE kids.
The ladies donated all of the supplies then came together to assemble them into individual kits. The kits are just beautiful. There is one version for younger kids and another for older ones. The supplies are not only practical but fun. The children will be very happy to receive these special and thoughtful gifts.
Education is an important part of the restoration process for the kids ZOE is called to serve. These supplies will help to equip the kids for all that God created them to accomplish and experience.
We are grateful to the ladies at Northpark for making a difference in this tangible way.
On occassion, ZOE has interns from the local Masters College in Santa Clarita who assist us with varying projects around the US office. The interships are for class credit. This semester, we happily welcomed on board Lynlee Kumamoto from Masters. Lynlee was able to intern at the ZOE Children’s Home in Thailand this past summer with a group from her school. This group was stellar! They assisted our Thai staff with anything and everything. Many lives were changed. We were so grateful to have them and now Lynlee.
Name: Lynlee Kumamoto
How did you find out about ZOE?
This past summer I was able to go on a missions trip with my school and they actually partnered with ZOE, sending a team of 12 of us over to the ZOE Home in Thailand, so that was how I first heard about the organization.
What made you want to volunteer?
After spending 2 months over in Thailand, I absolutely fell in love with all of the people and with the ministry that they have established. Also, God has just given me such a passion for the fight against human trafficking, so it is my goal to do whatever I can to help out.
How long have you volunteered at ZOE?
It has been about 3 months now.
What type of tasks do you do at ZOE?
Right now I am finishing up a project for the short-term teams that go over to Thailand – compiling a book of ideas for their children’s programs that they put together. In addition to this, I just help out with anything that needs to be completed that day.
Tell us about your overall experience in the office?
I have loved every minute of it. Being able to come into the office and work with these women is always so encouraging and such a reminder of God’s love to me. I have enjoyed participating in each of the projects and being able to help out in this way.
Have you learned anything new while volunteering?
I have really been challenged to look out for the needs of others more. The women that I work with here in the office do an exceptional job at this and I have been learning so much from just watching them. They are all very careful to encourage and build up one another in Christ and that is something that I have been able to grow in more since being here. Also, I have just been so reminded of how important it is to have a global mindset, thinking about things that are going on around the world and praying for the Lord to work in miraculous ways to further the gospel, and doing so myself!
Thank you Lynlee for all your hard work and dedication. It has been simply a pleasure having you in the USA office and will miss you dearly when the semester is over.