It has been a while since we have written a blog, so we will be spoiling you all with 2 blogs in a very short time frame. Please keep posted!
It has been nearly 3 months since we returned back from the UK on our 3rd Home Assignment! We also marked and celebrated several dates in June – Sarah’s Birthday, our 5th wedding anniversary and at the end of June, noted that it has now been over 4 years since we have been serving and living in Thailand! Where has the time gone!
For us coming back to the UK for Home Assignment is always bittersweet, since we really miss the ladies we work with, friends and family we have formed in Thailand and now regard Thailand as home. However it is always a joy to see family, friends and visit the Churches in the UK.
For Sarah, it was good to see her Mum, since whilst in Thailand she has been very concerned about her health. Unfortunately last year November her Mum fell and broke her hip and coupled with late stage Parkinson’s her mobility has suffered. Thank God, she looked much healthier than when we saw her last year. Her mobility is still not great, but she still has all her faculties, she loves to sing even though her voice is sometimes affected by the Parkinson’s and is still a strong prayer warrior.
We would like to say thank you to all of the Churches for your amazing hospitality, support, encouragement and prayers. It always overwhelms us to know how much support and generosity we receive.
We were warmly welcomed back to NightLight with gifts and hand written notes on our desks. It was wonderful to see all the women. While we were away 4 more women joined NightLight. However 1 of the women unfortunately left and went back to work in the sex industry, we are hoping she will return. The rise in the number of women coming forward so far this year, is amazing, since this means more women are feeling encouraged to leave the sex industry and walk in freedom. Please keep these women in your prayers, we will explain more about these women in a future blog. In the meantime please keep them in your prayers.
A wonderful miracle has happened in the bakery! Sarah and Julie (who assists in the bakery) had been praying since the end of the last year for extra help. It was very specific as to who the person needed to be, with Sarah being the only Thai speaking person in the bakery, so she had to do all of the translation. We didn’t even get round to advertising for the post, we just kept praying!
Here is what we were praying for – Job Spec:- Someone who is a Christian, a Thai national that speaks English well, someone that comes with all the skills and elements of baking and sugar crafting (since there is no time to teach a new teacher, with time taken up teaching the women and completing customer orders), someone who would be able to help Sarah with the admin and marketing, with management abilities and someone willing to accept a very low salary!
At the time our prayer request seemed like a tall order, since there are not many Thai Christians in Bangkok, many of the Thais that speak English well, generally choose to work with bigger companies that pay generous salaries. Baking and sugar crafting is still fairly new to Thailand, so to find someone with these skills was going to be hard and if they did have these skills they would probably either go to work for a top hotel or open their own business!
Well… Our God is the God of impossibilities! During July whilst we were still in the UK. A young Thai lady in her early 30’s, walked into the bakery to say that she had been living in the US for the last 15 years; she explained in excellent English that someone at her Church had told her about the work we were doing in the Freedom Bakery at NightLight. She explained that she is the only Christian in her family and has been a Christian for 6 years. She then went onto explain, she has just in the last 1-2 years made the transition from being an Accountant to training in bakery (patisserie) and sugar crafting skills and only just arrived back from the US in June to relocate to Thailand. Would we be able to use her in the bakery?…
Sarah received the information about her whilst in the the UK. Paul & Sarah begun praying about it and felt a sense of peace about it. We arranged to meet her when we got back to Thailand. After 2 lengthy interviews and happy to accept the very low salary that we could offer! The Freedom Bakery is please to introduce a new member of the team called Panita. She started on the 1st September and is already becoming a great asset in the bakery and administration. Having another Thai speaker especially a Thai national is a huge weight off Sarah’s shoulders and a great help. The women are also warming to her well.
In September the bakery successfully showcased their cakes at an an expat event. It was wonderful to see the women at the
event, interacting with the Thai visitors that were taking an interest in their spectacular cakes; with the women confidently answering their questions. This year has seen the women skills and abilities climb to a new level and as teachers we are having to assist much less. They are even now telling us how to do many of the techniques! Which is a great testimony to how God is working in the bakery.
On the 21st November, the bakery will welcome a new trainee, she will join the bakery as an apprentice. She has just recently left the sex industry and is determined to move forward with a new start. Please keep this in your prayers as we prepare to teach her, walk alongside and help her step into a transformed life
The Freedom Bakery has again this year, been nominated by Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category. We have been invited to attend the award night which is due to take place on the 23rd November. Even if we don’t win an award, we know that the ladies have achieved so much and beyond.
NightLight Ladies Growing in Confidence
We had the wonderful privilege to witness recently one of the NightLight women *Niim play with the band at in the International Church we attend. The International Church has a congregation of more than 1000 people with about 50+ different nationalities (over 2 morning services). *Niim plays and leads worship at NightLight’s Church plant, which normally has a congregation of about 30! So a much lower numbers than she is used to. This was a first time experience for her playing in front of such a large number of people, but she approached it with such confidence and grace. God really used her. It made our hearts smile!
Give Thanks For:
Our time spent in the UK. It was a blessing to be with family, visit Churches we already knew and make links with new Churches.
The bakery women that coped so well on their own, whilst myself and Julie were away over the summer period.
- The women that have made the decision to leave the sex industry and come to work at NightLight.
The new Thai member of staff that God has provided for the bakery.
The Freedom Bakery successfully exhibited their work/cakes at a expat event.
The Freedom Bakery being nominated again this year, for the Entrepreneur Now Asia in the Social Enterprise category.
God giving *Niim the confidence to play in the International Church.
God’s continued guidance in the bakery. None of what has been achieved has been in our own strength. The honour and glory goes to God alone for what has been achieved so far.
Please Pray For:
The new women that have started at NightLight in the last few months. Pray that God will provide them with the strength and encouragement to move forward to step into freedom and transformation. For God to give us the abilities to walk alongside them and support them. For God to help us love them unconditionally especially when things get challenging or difficult.
The new trainee due to start in the bakery on the 21st November, pray against fear or doubt that may creep in for her and that we will be able to support and teach her to the best of our abilities.
Sarah, who has been having problems with her left foot and needs to have surgery. If all goes according to plan the surgery is due to happen on the 19th October. She will be away from work/bakery for 1 month to rest her foot. Pray for speedy healing and recovery.
Sarah’s Mum – please continue to keep her health in your prayers.
Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. – Zechariah 4:6
*Niim’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
The year is 2559! The Temperature is 40+ degrees Celsius and on the 13th – 15th April, was the start of Thai New Year! So Happy New Year 2559!
13th – 15th April is when Thai New Year is celebrated, it is called Songkran, also known as the Water Festival. When the temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius and above, it is the perfect time for Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival, to cool down! The festival starts off on a serious note, importantly by honouring the elders, pouring fragrant water & flowers in their hands…and then… It’s time for the largest water fight across the whole of Thailand for 3 days!
There are are 543 years difference between the Buddhist calendar and the Gregorian calendar. With Songkran being the start of the New Year. So 2016 in Thailand the year is 2559!
There have been many highs and some lows along the way, but through it all, we are still Thanking God for His continued guidance.
At the beginning of February, the Freedom Bakery, welcomed on board a new trainee. The new trainee wanted to have a trial period in the bakery to find out if, it was an area that she would like to work in. It was great for the ladies that graduated last year, to have the opportunity of helping to teach the new trainee.
It made the graduates realise how much they had learned since joining the bakery last year and how much they were capable of doing and teaching. At the beginning of April, the trainee took the decision to not continue in the bakery. This is sad, however it was wonderful to see the graduates from last year step up and see how much they have grown in confidence, ability and skills. Orders for this year are gradually coming in. Since the start of the year the bakery team have completed, over 400 cupcakes, a 2 tier character birthday cake, royal iced fruit cakes, a gravity defying noodle cake, cookies, cakes done as presents, amazing realistic sugar flowers, several wedding cakes and a jewellery box cake with edible jewellery to name a few!
In March, NightLight had its annual retreat. 62 adults and 17 children travelled to a beach location about 3 hours outside of Bangkok. It was a time for the women to escape from the busy bustle of Bangkok, spending quality time with their children, work colleagues, to worship, team build and have fun! The women use much of their finances to support their families, therefore many of them don’t get the opportunity to travel out of Bangkok apart from returning home over the holiday periods, such as Songkran. So the NightLight retreat is really important to them.
The theme for this years retreat was ‘Breakthrough’; this is the same subject that we have been following in NightLight’s morning devotions for the last 5 months. The guest speaker was from Scotland, she was not initially in Thailand for our retreat but God orchestrated for her plans to be changed, an answer to prayer since up until about 1-2 weeks before the retreat we had no speaker!
The speaker had no planned message, but God impressed it on her heart to speak to the women about
‘Breakthrough in Forgiveness’. The message touched many of the women and on the last day of the retreat many of them share the impact the message had on them. *Yim shared about her years of unresolved forgiveness with her Dad, she thought she had forgiven him, but on hearing the message realised she hadn’t. She felt encouraged to make the move to contact him.
A lesson for us all to remember: When you reach forgiveness, you break through. The order is forgive, then break through, because the forgiveness itself is the breakthrough.
Another wonderful breakthrough that happened during the retreat – 2 women gave their lives to Christ on the second day of the retreat! We rejoiced so much!
There has also been breakthrough in other areas at NighLight:
2 more women (sisters) accepted Christ in mid-April. One of the women shared that a man dressed in white came to her twice in her dreams!
NightLight has assisted with repatriating trafficked women back home. One woman, who was from Liberia was repatriated after a long journey of loss including losing family to Ebola. Returning home for her was bittersweet, but the reunion with her children brought her much joy.
The outreach centre with the weekly beauty shop, has had a real impact and breakthrough, with women making the decision to leave the sex industry. Some of the women have come to work at NightLight – since January this year, 6 new women have joined NightLight. The outreach centre has also helped other women to get job roles with dignity outside of NightLight.
The Freedom bakery team, have been given the opportunity to attend 2 day training programme at the beginning of May. The training programme is geared towards reaching emerging entrepreneurs from vulnerable backgrounds. Enabling them to become trainers and leaders of others. When I (Sarah) shared the information with them, they jumped at the opportunity and were really excited! This for me (Sarah) is an amazing breakthrough as they are beginning to take initiative and steps towards self development. Please keep this in your prayers.
* Yim (not her real name) Name has been changed to protect identity.
Please continue to keep the many ministry areas of NightLight in your prayers – Jewellery, t-shirts, sewing, bakery, coffee shop, outreach centre and the transition home assisting trafficked women.
We will be in the UK from mid-June – end July 2016. We will be visiting Churches from the end of June – end July 2016, our schedule is as follows:
27th June – Our Home Church – Aylesbury
29th June – Chipping Sodbury BC
3rd July – Epsom BC & West Watford BC
10th July – Kensal Rise BC
17th July – Cheltenham, Gas Green & Swindon, Gorse Hill
24th July – Hainault, Franklyn Gardens & Bromley Park Road
For the Churches we will be visiting we will be aiming to contact you all, nearer to our time of visit to the UK.
Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.