God Came Near… The Greatest Gift
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son”. John 1:14 (NLT)
Christmas is a special time of year, not because of the sights, smells, and sounds, but because it is at this time that we recognise and celebrate the day that ‘God came near’.
What is it that you place the highest value on at Christmas?
Bangkok Christmas Decorations 2017 – Hot air balloons & Winter Wonderland
Bangkok Christmas Decorations 2017 – Mr Men Christmas & a Christmas theme we are still trying to work out!
There is no official celebration of Christmas in Thailand, with many places open for business as usual on the 25th December. However, the shopping malls of Thailand are all in full swing, selling gifts and adorned with spectacular Christmas decorations, and the twinkle of Christmas lights; with many of the malls trying to out do each other! Large illuminated hot air balls at one mall representing the journey of Christmas, another mall bringing the fantasy of a Winter Wonderland… in the middle of one of the hottest cities in the world – Bangkok! The bizarre, but funny shopping mall with Mr. Men Christmas! Lastly, one mall, we are still trying to work out what their decorations represent!!!
Looking around Paul & I have wondered through each mall – the smiles, laughter, happiness, hundreds of photos /selfies being taken, a medley of Christmas music and gift buying fills the air. It is so easy to get drawn in!…but a strong realisation kicks in, that all of this is nothing compared to the greatest and most amazing gift that came into the world!
“The noise and the bustle began earlier than usual in the village. As night gave way to dawn, people were already on the streets. Vendors were positioning themselves on the corners of the most heavily traveled avenues. Store owners were unlocking the doors to their shops. Children were awakened by the excited barking of the street dogs and the complaints of donkeys pulling carts…
…Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.
Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.
This gift is the largest and most expensive, it has no monetary value, it is a gift that brings much hope, love, peace, grace, mercy, atonement, forgiveness and ever lasting life (to name but a few). We are sure that if many people knew the great significance of this gift, they would reach out to receive it with all their hearts. Pass this wonderful gift on.
“After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child”. Luke 2:17 (NLT)
NightLight has been sharing God’s gift and presence in the red light district and local community. December has been a hive of activity reaching out to Thai women / men and international women.
NightLight successfully run a number of medical clinics throughout this year and ran the last one before Christmas at the beginning of December. The medical clinic, provides much needed medical assistance to Thais and international women from the sex industry or those that have been trafficked. It also provides continued opportunity to pamper the women with nail painting, a listen ear and prayer.
Thank God that 1,900 Christmas gift bags were hand out to women and mamasan’s (mamasan = A women who manages women in bars and brothels). With each woman being told they were remembered, loved and how precious they are.
Christmas caroling in the brothel of International women. Some listened with tears in their eyes. Many are Russian Orthodox and far from home in a foreign country at Christmas. For them to be seen and thought of at Christmas (or at any time) is no small thing for women in prostitution.
On the Anti-trafficking side of things – To date NightLight has sent home 45 International women this year! The anti-trafficking team has worked hard with many women that are now walking in freedom, and have been repatriated back home to be reunited with children and families.
NightLight ladies performing traditional Thai dancing to Christmas Thai music
As part of one of NightLight’s Christmas party morning activity, we were split into about 5 groups, to visit various hospitals around Bangkok. We visited the Veteran’s Hospital, to visit the patients, hand out gifts and pray with them.
The afternoon activities continued with games, Christmas carols in Thai, dance performances and of cause an array of amazing Thai food prepared by each group.
Freedom Bakery Update
Many of you have asked about the ladies from the Freedom Bakery. They did an amazing job during the month of October, confidently leading and teaching baking & decorating workshops at 2 external organisations. They taught and brought hope to vulnerable women making the decision to leave the sex industry and those that have been internationally trafficked to Thailand. They taught a total of 6 workshops.
* Freedom Bakery ladies teaching at the International Programme Centre
It was incredible to see the bakery ladies that over 2 years ago had no bakery skills, were fearful of the oven, frightened of the mixers and insisted the microwave was going to blow up, move so enthusiastically and with purpose. They are all teachers in their own right!
November saw, the same women from the Freedom Bakery begin learning soft business skills. The ladies have expressed a desire to hopefully in the future open their own business. Therefore, Paul and I, felt it was very important to ensure they received the right business training to guide them. They have completed 2 modules in product development, marketing, packaging, how to start a business, finance and funding.
The training has been well received by them. In the new year they will decide, whether they wish to continue with further training to be mentored in exploring setting up their own business in the future. It has been excellent see the ladies’ progress and development reach new levels.
We would like to say a big thank you for all your continued support, prayers, emails, cards and letters and gifts we have received for special occasions. We really appreciate them all.
We will be taking a break for the Christmas period, to recharge our batteries, before heading into the New Year 2018.
We hope you all have a blessed & joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year 2018.
Please note: We will be in the UK on home assignment from May 2018. If you would like us to come and speak, please contact BMS, who will be organising the dates on our behalf.
*Faces have been blurred to protect the identity of the ladies from the International Programme Centre