Have you ever had one of those days when God makes it loud and clear everything is going to be okay? When you gain a sense ‘He is thinking of you’, with you and sending people to stand in the gap to pray for and encourage you.
Paul & I had one such day on the 9th of May. As we continue to push forward with setting up the Business as Mission company, we have many days when we feel like things are making sense, then either in a heartbeat or the next day, it then starts to feel like the plan is crumbling and we are back at square one. We are truly being humbled by the process, being taught great patience and stepping into this unknown is make us trust God with every breath and step we take. We have have had days when we feel that the task is too big for us, days when we feel overwhelmed by what God is calling us to do, days when we ask God “Why is it all moving so slowly?”
Spending time in God’s Word as individuals and as a couple, God keeps bringing us to the same lesson “Trust Me, that’s all you need to do Just Trust Me“, “I have called you into this, I will equip and provide… Just Trust me!” It is a daily reminder for us.
So… on the day in question, we were feeling discouraged thinking about the day head, praying about the financial budget for the BAM company that seems to be increasing, Paul feeling frustrated working on the budget and Sarah feeling overwhelmed working on the draft business plan. As we prayed through the requests, it felt like a mountain and we were at the bottom of it looking up wondering how we were going to climb it or if we would we ever be able to climb it?
During our time of prayer, both our phones pinged just after 7.30am alerting us to a message that had come through. 1-2 hours after we had finished praying we decided to look at the message. It was a message from a couple in Bangkok, that used to be in our Life Group and also given us advice on the BAM company, letting us know that they were thinking of us and praying for us. It lifted our spirits to know that we had friends standing in the gap interceeding for us.
After 1pm Sarah heard her phone ping again, but not wanting to stop straight away as she ploughed on with the business plan, she looked at her phone about 30 minutes later. We received a surprise message from our friend Na, whom we had taught in the bakery at NightLight. She was visiting family in a neighbouring province to Chiang Mai and wanted to come and see us on Monday 13th of May. With excitement, Sarah immediately called Na and said “Yes, please come. We are really missing you”. It again lifted our spirits to know that our Thai friend from Bangkok was also thinking of and reaching out to us.
Yet again another ping from Sarah’s phone just before 3pm. This time Sarah opened it at once to see who and what it was. Some more Thai friends and a foreign friend we had volunteered with at NightLight, that are now working together at another NGO. The message via Facebook messenger yet again explained how missed we are in Bangkok, and that our Thai friends have been thinking of us and wanted to see us when they come to Chaing Mai for a training course mid-June.
As I (Sarah) shared the last message with Paul we looked at each other and said in stereo “What’s happening?” There was now a clear pattern forming. It just seemed to be too much of a coincidence to be contacted by so many people in one day with similar messages for us. Paul let out an exhale and said, “Okay God, you’ve got our attention!”.
Just when we thought all the messages for the day had finished, Sarah checked her phone at about 5.30pm and saw an email in her inbox. Again another surprise message from someone that used to be in our Bangkok Life Group, but moved back to the USA last year. We hadn’t heard from her in a number of months, so it was very out of the blue. Her message aptly titled ‘Thinking of you’, once again explain that we had popped into her thoughts that morning while she was praying and she had prayed 2 scriptures for us – Psalm 90: 17 & Psalm 20:4.
May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.- Psalm 90:17
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. – Psalm 20:4
God definitely had our full attention by the last message. We felt a sense of peace of how much He was ‘Thinking of us’, walking alongside us even in what we initially thought was a discouraging day. The Lord had used our friends to remind us that He is in full control of what He is calling us to do and we just need to ‘Trust Him’.
The events of the day also led us to think of Zephaniah 3:17. A wonderful reminder that not only is God with us, thinking of us, but He also rejoices over us with singing. Amazing!
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
The time of our visit to the UK came and went so quickly! We arrived safely back home in Thailand on Wednesday 29 July and now settling back into a routine. We are taking some time off before going back to work at NightLight.
It was good to visit Churches we knew already and see some familiar faces, however it was also wonderful to link with some new churches and build new friendships; and spend time in worship with you all.
We hope that what we shared was encouraging, it is always a blessing for us to share how God is working in people lives, the transformation taking place, the hope and Good News being spread.
We are grateful for your role in bringing freedom to these women as well as the prayers and support which enable them to stay and thrive in freedom.
This is an update of some of the work that was continuing whilst we were in the UK. It is amazing how much happens in your absence.
NightLight’s work with trafficked women continues to bring us face to face with amazing women with horrific stories who are overcoming and walking into freedom. Since April we have assisted 2 Ugandan, 1 Liberian, 1 Uzbek, and 2 Columbians in returning home. These women and their families have been greatly impacted by your prayers and support. We are presently assisting three others from Uganda and Colombia as well.
A young trafficked woman from Morocco is presently in our care. Please pray for her as she suffers from post traumatic stress and tries to walk through a difficult process to return to her country.
A Central Asian woman, in our care who was seriously ill. We were able to get her home safely where she could reunite with her family and receive medical treatment.
One of our women who has struggled to get off the streets and free of addictions for over 10 years agreed to enter a rehab centre in July. NightLight will be visiting with her family in the northeast and then taking her to the centre up north. Please pray for her to have courage for this difficult journey.
The bakery completed their 12 week training course and in June had a graduation ceremony and celebration. They often doubted themselves and their abilities, but persevered and made some incredibly beautiful cakes. In the Autumn they will open for sales locally.
The outreach centre has been very busy with beauty salons twice a week, English class once a week, outreach parties, and a medical clinic. Women from the red light area come for care, conversations, and hope. As the women share their stories with our staff, they ask about Jesus. Four women have come to Christ through these visits.
On the June, 25 women and their children were treated to an outing at Safari World by the Evangelical Church of Bangkok. For their missions service weekend they also partnered with us by playing live music in our coffee shop at night, and joining us on outreach. It was wonderful to have their support and presence.
There is a lot of discouraging news around the world and we face challenges, which often seem impossible. We are so grateful for your prayers and support and we celebrate the goodness of God in bringing freedom and hope to so many.
The Spirt of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
God called Moses to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. But Moses felt his lack of speaking skills disqualified him from pursuing God’s plan.
God saw it another way.
Called to Rescue
There have been many times, during our time serving in Thailand when we have questioned God, about if we are qualified to do what He is calling us to do? We often see many of the NightLight ladies who often feel that they are incapable of completing or doing tasks for the same reason.
God has been faithful in His reminders, that He has shown us. He generally choses people who have nothing to bring to the table. He doesn’t need perfect vessels to carry out His will, He uses broken ones!
God does not hire based on qualifications, He doesn’t care what credentials you hold, how many times you have failed, how little you have to offer or how much you make. What He cares about is your willingness to do what He asks. He chooses people based on their inabilities. If we could do everything He asked on our own, where would faith come in? If we were confident enough to say what He tells us to say, we would think we were doing it in our own strength. If we had the credentials and expertise, pride would swell up in us. Instead, He finds broken and chipped vessels to put together to do His will so He can get the glory.
Let us tell you about one of the beautiful ladies at NightLight, who was once broken; but she allowed God to work in and through her life –
*Yim – Is still very young in age (24), however she has been through a battlefield, suffering what many may not experience in a lifetime. Armed with little education, a child to support at 16 years old, a mother to look after and no money. Yim’s prospects seemed bleak. Leaving her son with her Mother, she arrived in Bangkok, with the hope of earning enough money to support her family, she took a job in a massage parlour in Bangkok. It was a massage parlour with a difference and unfortunately she found herself working in the sex industry. Very quickly it stripped away at her dignity, self worth and confidence. Leaving her with shame, anguish and pain, she began to self-harm to cope with her situation. Feeling there was no way out, she accepted what she though was her portion. One day she met a lady, that told her about God. She had heard about Him, but coming from a Buddhist background, what could God do for her?
On a particularly low day Yim decided to call out to God and asked Him to take her out of that massage parlour. She wasn’t even sure if God had heard her desperate cries for help. A few day later invited by the same lady, she found herself in Church, a new experience that made her feel loved and over whelming joy. It was made even better by the fact that, someone asked her if she wanted a way out of the massage parlour; an opportunity to do an alternative job that she could do with dignity. Yim accepted the job at NightLight and has never looked back!
Almost 4 years on and even though she was diagnosed with HIV, Yim is walking in hope, confidence, growing in Christ, has her son living with her, leading Praise & Worship, has learned to play the guitar, is currently learning to play the bass guitar, has a heart for serving in Africa! She now regularly goes on outreach nights to the bars; building friendships, offering hope, a hug and a smile of love to women who are still on the path she once trod.
What the enemy meant for bad, God has turned around for good. Yim once believed that she had nothing to offer was unqualified, poor, weak, lacked courage, and was afraid. With God’s help Yim is now pouring love, forgiveness, grace and mercy into other’s just as Christ has shown her. Joining Him in rescuing those, who are unable to speak up for themselves.
Just as God equip Moses; even today God provides us with exactly what we need to accomplish great things.
If you don’t feel qualified, remember: When God calls, you can because it’s not about you. It’s about what He can do through you. All you need to do is make yourself available.
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
* Yim’s name has been changed to protect her identity. The word ‘Yim’ is Thai for ‘smile’.
Please click on the ‘dignity’ image below to find out more information from the BMS website about the new Dignity initiative.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
The time has gone so quickly since we wrote our last blog, thank you for your patience. Our first Home Assignment in the UK, has also gone by in such a flash.
It was great to see our family and friends and also visit so many churches. We did about 19 speaking engagements, clocked up over 3,ooo miles visiting churches mostly in the South of England from Bristol – Norfolk and stayed in numerous houses.
We were blessed & greatly overwhelmed by the wonderful hospitality we received. It was great to see and meet up again with some churches we got to visit before we first came to Thailand, but also extra special connecting with some new churches and building some lovely friendships. We would like to say a big thank you to you all, you made us feel so loved & welcome.
It was strange coming back to the UK after being away for almost 2 years, it did take us a number of weeks to re-adjust to the British temperature, which was much cooler when we arrived in the early part of May and we had a few alien moments adjusting to the British culture again! Somehow, we both struggled to eat with a knife & fork, preferring the Thai way of using a spoon & fork! Some of you noticed this and was very accommodating to our needs.
We got to celebrate Sarah’s Mum’s 70th Birthday a few days after we arrived. We were kindly given national heritage member cards, so we managed to take the timeout on a few days, to visit the beautiful and breath taking surrounding of quite a few British national heritage manor houses. Including for our wedding anniversary visiting the Thai restaurant in Windsor where we had our first date! Topped off with seeing War Horse at the New London Theatre for Sarah’s birthday. England has some spectacular locations, scenery, theatre, manor houses and it was all made even better with the lovely weather that kicked in while we there. We really did enjoy our time in the UK.
We left the sunny isles of the UK (leaving you all basking in glorious sunshine) on Tuesday 15 July. Even though we enjoyed our time in the UK, coming back to Thailand, felt so much like home. As we stepped into our apartment the feeling of home just engulfed us, it was quite emotional.
We have come back to Thailand’s humid torrential rainy season, the large group of frogs that bellow joyfully after a heavy rainfall, Bangkok’s gridlock traffic, the howling serenade from the stray dogs at night, loud Thai voices and the consistent all day into the wee hours of the night, banging of drums from the students over at the university behind us – it is a large cacophony of sounds… but we would not have it any other way!
We have been spending the last few weeks getting back into a routine and took a much needed break before going back to work at NightLight. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit Hong Kong for 1 week; a great lively city with lots to do. With accommodation being expensive in HK, according to our budget we stayed in what can only be described as the smallest room for 2 people ever! It didn’t spoil our time though. We managed to pack lots in, even with time out at 2 beaches.
The highlight was visiting ‘Kowloon Walled City Park’ – ‘Kowloon Walled City’, where some of you might know that British born Jackie Pullinger (author of Chasing the Dragon) began her ministry, ministering to the many drug addicts, Triad gangs, homeless & prostitutes via her charity the St Stephen’s Society for many years. Many of these people & Triad gang members are now believers or Pastor’s. It was a great reminder of the work we do with NightLight and continued insight into God’s great grace and redemption for all.
On our return to work, we were warmly greeted and welcomed back with open arms. We missed the women at NightLight so much and we spent much of our first day back, catching up with many of them. Sarah also went straight back into teaching baking on her first day and was super proud to hear about the continued achievements that the baking team have been doing in her absence. It is great to be home and we are ready for the next chapter in our journey.
Next week Tuesday 12 August is Mother’s Day in Thailand, it is a day that is highly revered as it also falls on the same day as the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday. It is celebrated with a 2 day public holiday on Monday 11 August & Tuesday 12 August, giving many Thais the opportunity to go home to visit their Mother’s for an extended weekend. On Friday 8 August NightLight will be giving out gifts to the many Mother’s that work in Nana’s red light district. Please pray that the gifts will be well received and for the conversations that take place.
Please join us in:
Thanking God for –
– Our time in the UK on Home Assignment. The precious time we spent with our family & friends and the many churches we visited.
– Our safe arrival back in Thailand.
– The holiday that we had before going back to work
Please pray for –
– This next stage of our journey, as we undertake various projects & continued outreach. Paul will be starting to teach Bass lessons to the ladies in Thai, pray that he will be confident to use the language and for the women that will attend the lessons. Pray as Paul continues to do the financial reports for NightLight. Sarah will be continuing to teach baking, write grant proposals for the project and begin the process of looking for possible locations for the baking project to operate from, please pray for the baking team that their motivation to move forward with the project continues.
– For an increase in jewellery, t-shirt & flower sales, so the process of paying the women’s salaries and benefits continue.
– For Sarah’s Mum’s health – Her Mum has Parkinson’s, pray for her mobility and for the care she receives. She has recently been in hospital for physio rehabilitation and other health issues.
– For our health, strength & emotional well being.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
Please click here and on the ‘dignity’ image below to find out more information from the BMS website about the new Dignity initiative.
We have had various events that have happened over the last month. In mid- January, we had the wonderful privilege of welcoming 2 new BMS mission workers to Bangkok from the UK. They are living in the same apartment building as us and will be staying in Bangkok until about mid-May to study Thai. They will then move onto to Mae Sot to work with an organisation called Compasio. It has been great having them around and has enabled us to see Bangkok again through fresh eyes.
On Sunday 2nd February Peter Dunn BMS Director for Missions visited and stayed with us for a few days; we greeted him at the airport and with no time to spare whisked him straight off to a wedding! The wedding was for one of our NightLight ladies who got married at NightLight’s church plant ‘Song Sawng’. It was a lovely wedding and we were very happy to have been invited to be part of her special day. As a gift Sarah made and decorated the wedding cake, the day before, it was a full weekend! Sarah is very hopeful that by the next NightLight wedding coming up on 3 May 2014, the wedding cake will be completed by the baking team. Teaching the ladies cake baking/decorating is going well, please continue to watch this space.
On that same Sunday the long awaited General Election in Thailand took place. The run up to the Thai election has been surround by lots of activity; on the 13 January, Bangkok was shutdown! 7 major intersections in Bangkok were closed off and are still to date closed. At this stage both sides seem to be at stalemate and unfortunately since the election took place there is still no resolution. We are near one of the closed down intersections, however we are safe, we do have to do detours on a daily basis to get around. This is an area where your prayers are still greatly appreciated.
At NightLight we have had much to thank God for. We welcome you to join us in praising God and ask for your continued prayers for the work, women and staff at NightLight:
- Praise God that we have been able to hire back 2 women to work at NightLight.
- Praise God that one of our Thai staff got married at Song Sawang Church on 2 February. Both of them are believers, please pray the Lord keeps them committed to Him and one another in their future together.
- Praise God that the coffee shop is nearing completion. There have been many challenges in getting this project operational, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
- Praise God for on going partnerships with other organisations here in Bangkok. We are grateful that MST (Men and the Sex Trade) has begun their outreaches again to the men, based out of our outreach centre in the red light area.
- Praise God for skill-specific volunteers who have come to regularly offer and be part of the cake baking/decorating classes, sessions to equip NightLight women to be good mothers, prayer ministry, and English classes.
- Praise God for a great team of volunteers ready to serve at NightLight’s transition house for trafficked women.
- Praise God that we are currently assisting 2 trafficked women from Eastern Europe and 2 from Africa back to their home countries.
- Praise God for how He has been taking care of a total of 87 employees, staff & volunteers lives at NightLight.
- One of our full-time volunteers at NightLight has recently had major surgery. Please pray for a speedy recovery and healing to her body.
- Please continue to pray for the political situation in Thailand. Since November, there has been lots of political division, which has led to city-wide protests in Bangkok and some violence. Pray for resolution to this tense situation, the protection of lives, and for God’s Kingdom purposes to be fulfilled in Thailand.
- Many of the single mothers at NightLight have been tired and discouraged lately. In Thailand, it is not uncommon for mothers to leave their children with relatives in the village while they work in the city, but this trend has led to family breakdown over generations in Thailand. Pray that these women at NightLight will be encouraged as they care for their children. Pray that they understand the importance of their role in their children’s lives, and that God will give them perseverance to mother their children.
- Pray for the ministry of CityLight Coffee – construction is just about complete, and we are praying to be able to have our grand opening at the beginning of March. Please pray for the construction to be fully finalised soon and for responsible Thai staff to come alongside this shop and ministry.
- Pray for orders for the various business projects at NightLight (jewellery, screen printing t-shirts, and paper flowers). Since the New Year, 7 women have requested to return to work at NightLight, but we could only afford to take 2 back. Pray for orders to come in so we can provide work for these women.
- Sarah along with another volunteer has begun the process of writing grants and doing general fund raising for the baking project. Pray that God will provide them with the wisdom to know which grants to apply for and what to write.
- Pray for Paul as he takes on a new financial project at NightLight. Pray that God will provide him with knowledge and guidance.
- From 19 February – 21 February all NightLight’s employees & volunteers will go on a spiritual retreat. Pray for God to do a lasting work in each of our hearts.
We thank you greatly for your continued support, encouragement and prayers. We appreciate all your emails and love hearing from you.
It is hard to know what to do in a seemly helpless or hopeless situation. We have been reminded of this recently due to a tragic situation that NightLight faced. An African trafficked women called *Harriet died 2 weeks on the streets of Bangkok, the reasons why are unknown. Other women who have been trafficked and forced to work the streets; are frightened by the news and unnerved. The unknown is as frightening as the known because it can leave the door open for it to happen again. It has created desperation; however when they find out there are options it gives them hope. NightLight is currently helping 13 women all from Africa and this number is increasing weekly.
It has been a challenge as I learn more of the facts and meet the women who are victimised by the plight of human trafficking. They are no longer numbers or statistics, but women whom we meet on outreach and they become our friends. I have cried out to God “Where are you Lord? Can you see all the pain they endure? In the midst of all this suffering and injustice, is there any hope?”
As we get to know these women and find out what they enjoy doing, what their dreams are, about their families and their children. They are brave, beautiful, strong and courageous women. As the friendships form, we begin to see the hope. It’s there. Not in the way we would like it to be; it’s hard, chaotic and complex, but there is hope!
It not about denying the horrible truths of suffering in the abyss of human trafficking; the injustice is painful and death hard to comprehend. But there is hope in sight and it is not the end. Restoration, healing and transformation is happening. I guess the hope comes in the guise of those we can still help.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9
“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”― William Wilberforce
*Harriet’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
We thank you for your continued support, prayers and encouragement.
- Please pray as we both become more involved with the outreach.
- Pray for the men and women we reach out to. For restoration, healing, transformation and a sense of hope.
- Paul has been part of the men’s ministry organising the men’s retreat. He will be on a men’s retreat from 17 May – 19 May. Pray that it will be a time of infilling, sharing, bonding, learning and rest.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International