I watched as the bakery ladies buzzed around the bakery, with *P Mon giving gentle directions “…*Noon have you checked that the following items are packed in the case, from the check list – weighing scales, mixing bowl, recipes, cupcake tin, cupcake cases, buttercream, palette knife, piping nozzles, piping bags… We don’t want to forget anything for the workshop!…”
I (Sarah) could hear the excitement in their voices, and sense the tension and nervousness in their body language as 3 ladies of the bakery team, prepared all the equipment needed to take with them to teach their first ever external bakery workshop!
I took a moment to remember how far they have all come from, not just learning in the Freedom Bakery, but the total transformation that has and is continuing to happen in their lives – they are definitely not being defined by their past. God is an amazing miracle worker!
I was further reminded about the gifts & talents that God has given to all of us. When God blesses us with gifts and talents they are never just for our own benefit. He doesn’t bless us with talents and skills so we can look brilliant or be selfish with it! God wants us to steward those gifts for Him! To bless others and build His kingdom.
When we unwrap what God has given us, use it well and remember that even though the gift has our name on it, it doesn’t mean it is all for us. God uses our obedience and stewardship in wonderful and spectacular ways to bless others, with hope and joy in a way that we just can not do in our own strength.
As I watched the beautiful bakery ladies that 2 years ago had no bakery skills (many Thai homes still do not have an oven), that were fearful of the oven, frightened of the mixers and insisted the microwave was going to blow up… move so confidently around the kitchen. I thanked God for providing me with the privilege of using me to be part of their lives; yes teaching them baking and cake decorating has been part of it, but most of all God has given me the opportunity to pray into their lives, for trust to be built so they are able to share some of their most deepest life experiences, to pray with them when they feel all hope is lost, to laugh and cry with them and tell they can, when their confidence takes a knock.
On many occasions I questioned God, what am I doing this for? I can’t do this, my brain is exploding from trying to teach in Thai, can I give up now Lord? How am I supposed to win souls with baking & cake decorating? When my own confidence took a blow, life and spiritual struggles caused me to be discouraged or forgetting that I don’t need to do this all in my own strength.
To hold onto God, and remain obedient with the gifts and talents He has given me has been well worth it! On Friday 6th October, I witness 3 ladies of the bakery team confidently lead and teach their first external workshop (outside of NightLight at another organisation), teaching ladies making the decision to leave the sex industry.
When we got to the workshop, I had a brief wobbly moment, that they couldn’t do it and would need my help, so I proceeded to put on my hat and apron ready to help! I immediately heard *Noon say to me in a firm voice… “What are you doing? Take it off! We can do this!” That’s when the tears of joy began to sting my eyes, when I gained further understanding of how God is using me and the gifts His has given me to fulfil His purpose in their lives.
I am soooooooo proud of the bakery ladies, on their first workshop I cried with joy and smiled so hard (my cheeks hurt!), I even jumped up and down praising God! I watched them teach with such professionalism, giving advice and answering all the questions. They taught all of it by themselves with very, very, very very… did I say ‘very’ minimal assistance! I just stood in the background and took pictures, feeling like a spare part… Which was fantastic!!! They are all teachers in their own right!
God receives the praise and the glory since none of this has been done in my own strength… Trust me, I would have given up ages ago if it was left down to me!
Jesus gives us two commandments: to love the Lord and to love others as we love ourselves. – Matthew 22:37–40. So when we steward our talents to honour Him and to bless others, we are doing just that.
Pass it on… God wants to use your unique role in the body of Christ. So, if like me it is baking, then bake, singing, then sing. If your talent is a little less conventional—maybe you’re good with numbers, computers or play the bass like Paul (who teaches bass lessons, advises on computers and computer skills) — then find a way to translate that into a job to glorify God. Use your God-given abilities to reach those who don’t know Him—and give God the praise for all He has given. Pass it on…
* Names have been changed to protect their identities
Thank God for:
The bakery ladies confidence and courage to lead independently a bakery workshop to reach out to others.
The bakery team taking ownership of the Freedom Bakery.
There are 5 extra external workshops lined up for the month of October, that the team will be running.
For conditioned confidence, growth and development of the bakery ladies.
For the extra 5 external workshops being held in October at 2 different organisations.
Pray for the women that will attend these workshops, that they will be impacted by them and good conversations and relationships can be made.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
Time has flown past so quickly, that we can’t even believe it! It has crept up on us, without us even realising! On the 29th June we noted that we have been living and serving in Bangkok, Thailand for 5 years!
We have been looking back and recapping the last 5 years. It has been a time that has been filled with crazy moments, challenges, confusion, spirit filled, hot, humid, rainy, flooding, stormy, emotionally driven – fun, happy, sad, tearful and fearful journey that God has led us on!….but we wouldn’t change it for the world! We have had the honour of working with many amazing people of God, who are serving, loving, learning and teaching others outside of their comfort zone.
In 5 years we have walked alongside and worked with woman coming out of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, it has been super hard, but in this time we have been so blessed and privileged to have met, some of the most strongest and courageous women in the world! Women that have stood tall and taken brave steps into freedom and transformation.
In the areas of the sex industry and trafficking that are dark and spiritually heavy. In 5 years, we have had the joy of seeing God’s light and hope break through the darkness and seen God’s hand at work – as women have gained their self-worth, value, dignity, a new life, and their God given purposes unfold, breakthrough’s of women delivered from evil spirits, brothel owners asking for prayer, listened to men confess that were about to use the sex industry for the night – but felt compelled to come into the coffee shop and share their heart, watched some of these same men give their lives to Christ, witnessed some of the most amazing baptism’s ever, watched God’s power of love and grace help trafficked & exploited women overcome extreme trauma and God’s justice break down walls of corruption!…. Phew!!!… this is the short list! There is so much more we could add!
In 5 years, we have embraced Thailand – the people, rich culture, food, heritage, language and seen God’s face in every single Thai person or other nationalities we have met. We have built strong relationships with many Thais that speak little to no English, a true testimony to how God has enabled us to embrace and learn the Thai language. We have been welcomed by Thai families that shows a bond of trust including Buddhist families allowing us to pray for them.
Most importantly, even before arriving to Thailand, during our time in Thailand and now, God has been with us ALWAYS, providing us with the strength, encouragement, giving us nudges to take steps into the unknown, providing us with the words to support others, providing us with the wisdom to make the right decisions. God’s hand has been unchanging, we have relied on His guidance throughout this whole journey and this will not stop. We are reassured that He will be with us always.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8
We want to say a ‘big thank you’ for all your support, prayers and encouragement you have given us over the last 5 years. A ‘huge thank you’ for all your letters, cards and presents that have surprised us for New Year’s, Easter’s, Birthday’s & Christmas’. Thank you to our Church Partners for the great relationships and friendships that we have formed with you, your warm welcomes, kind hospitality, food and cakes whenever we come to visit your Churches. Some of you have been with us, before we left the UK 5 years ago and that support from you has been greatly appreciated.
We don’t always get the time to answer every single email or letter, but please know that each one has been up lifting. Many have come right on time, when we have needed a boost of encouragement.
Thank God for:
The number of transformed lives that have happened during this time – those that have made the decision to leave the sex industry, trafficked woman that have been reunited with families in their home countries and men that have had their hearts transformed and touched by God.
For our 5 years in Thailand, the people we have encountered, the lives that God has allowed us to make an impact on.
The growth in our journey and walk with God.
Please continue to pray for the all those, that recently got baptised. As new believers, the enemy uses many situations to pull them back. Pray that they will stay strong and remain close to God.
Us, as we continue to live and serve in Thailand – God’s guidance, direction and wisdom for serving others and our personal lives.
*Noon & *Ma – 2 Ladies that were working at NightLight but left recently. Ma has sadly gone back to work in the sex industry and Noon has got caught up in a bad situation and has been contemplating suicide. Please pray that God’s truth will break through the lies they are been fed. That with God’s help they will have enough courage to come back to NightLight. That they will understand that they are beautiful, precious daughter’s and princess’.
To help you understand how much God loves and cares for us, here is a poem that some of you may know or have read already. Please click on the poem title to take you to the poem link –
*Names have been changed to protect their identity
Lots of love
Paul & Sarah
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
We always feel like we are saying Happy New Year, but when you live in a country that actively celebrates 3 new years per year it is hard not to get involved. So again… Happy New Year 2560! You can visit our blog from April 2016 for an explanation about why it is New Year in April & the year is 2560! – click here
NightLight Retreat 2017 & Baptisms
The NightLight Annual retreat took place in Rachaburi, Thailand on 30th March – 1st April. There was a total of 95 people, with 14 nationalities represented across women, children, staff and volunteers. It was a great time for everyone to be together in worship, being encouraged and renewed in God’s word, there was a guest speaker sharing on our continued theme of ‘Breakthrough’. Everyone wore t-shirts with the Thai words ‘Step Into Victory’ printed across the front
In our December 2016 blog & March 2017 prayer letter we shared about an amazing baptism that took place at NightLight.
God is continually at work and the ‘Breakthrough’s & ‘Steps Into Victory’, keep coming. At the retreat we witnessed another 7 women get baptised! The candidates consisted of Thais, and one woman from our International anti-trafficking program from the Ukraine!
We all rose early for the 7am baptismal service, to beat the heat of the blazing sun.
7 beautiful women, stood in the early morning sunlight looking nervous, but joyful wearing satin burgundy robes. We all congregated around the resort swimming pool, to rejoice with the angels. Each candidate stepped forward to give their testimony, then stepped into the pool; each baptismal was just as amazing! Each receiving a crown of flowers after they stepped out of the pool.
One of the candidates called Grace*, stood in the pool her palms clasped together; after she confessed her belief in Christ, her commitment to follow Christ and that she had made the decision on her own.
She then let out a loud cry of joy, that came from deep within, that echo’d around the resort. Even one of the hotel Thai staff could no longer hold back the tears!
Her loud cry of joy held so much – it was her release from time held bound by idols and idol worship, the release from time held in bondage working in the sex industry just to make enough money to make ends meet, the release from the feelings of worthless with no purpose and the release from feeling ashamed.
Her loud cry of joy – was her entering into God’s freedom and truth, it was God’s grace, mercy and transformation in her life, it was God restoring her worth, purpose, her identity, her dignity taking away her shame and most of all her allowing God to be master and ruler over her life.
Like God has done many times over, He has handed these 7 beautiful women, the gift of ‘Grace’ that is undeserved and unmerited, it is the gift of salvation that is available for all people through faith. God has taken all their good and bad – the sad and glad and woven it into a ‘Tapestry of Grace & Praise’. Giving them Grace upon grace
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – John 1: 16
*Grace’s name has been changed
* One of the women’s faces has been blurred to protect her identity
The 7 women that have been recently been baptised. That we will be able to support them as they grow in their faith.
For strength and wisdom whenever they go home to visit their families. Sometimes when visiting families they are asked to participate in Buddhist ceremonies and rituals.
That more women will experience God’s love, grace, mercy and choose to except and walk in His freedom and truth.
Thank God for:
The NightLight retreat, the fellowship time and renewal in God’s word.
The lives of the 7 women that have made the decision to walk in freedom and truth.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
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 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
Unfortunately we haven’t managed to update our blog as often as we would have liked. However both of us have been extremely busy setting up the Freedom Bakery, the budget, business plan & business strategy. Setting up and overseeing a new project takes up a lot of time, coupled with setting it up in another language and cultural differences that adds to the many challenges. Sarah also had to come to terms with seeing 2 women leave about half way through the training, however it is hoped they will take the opportunity to come back.
Paul has been busy beavering away on the budget for the bakery and over seeing the financial aspects of the project on a daily basis. He is also still budget monitoring for the jewellery & t-shirt area and doing statistical monthly reports for outreach, childcare, transition home/trafficking in persons, song sawing church, the coffee shop, playing in morning worship and still teaching some of the women how to play bass guitar every week.
Sarah has also been wearing many hats; Handling marketing, material & ingredients sourcing, teaching the 12-week intensive bakery course that she also had to prepare as well, including a Food & Hygiene and Health & Safety course that all had to be delivered in Thai. She has been teaching the course every day (Mon -Fri) from 10.30 – 17.00. It would be tiring teaching it in English, so teaching it Thai has been very tiring indeed. At the end of the working day, her brain is frazzled! Quite amazingly during the training we were also taking in customer orders as well; for the month of May we had 2 orders every week! The word about the bakery is starting to spread. The last day of the bakery training course was on the 29 May.
Sarah organised their final training project and all of the elements for their graduation ceremony and celebration. On 5 June we saw the ladies graduate in a full graduation ceremony in gowns & hats with their final training project cake the centrepiece of the ceremony. All of them accomplished so much whilst training. When they first started in February this year, they were so scared. They were unsure of the techniques, not confident, even the oven produced fear and fear sometimes pushed them to complain about the new techniques they were going to learn for the week or the crazy cake design/flavour order we had undertaken for a customer. However they always managed to learn what was being taught and far exceeded their own expectations. They are all so proud of their work and overjoyed with their new skills and abilities, which has opened new opportunities for them.
It was a wonderful, precious and proud moment seeing them graduate. There were tears of joy all round!
They worked hard during the 12-weeks and achieved standards of excellence which we are confident will continue. Sarah has been privileged to watch their confidence, courage and skills grow. She has enjoyed every moment of teaching and working with them.
The bakery team and the ladies at NightLight have so much potential to achieve so much. The graduation gowns and sashes were made by the NightLight sewing department and the flowers arrangements and bouquets by a very talented lady that works in the jewellery department. Amazing abilities from the ladies at NightLight!
During our time in the UK the bakery team will be taking the time to improve on all the skills & techniques they have learnt on their own and then go onto work into the feeder/partner bakery linked with the project in August/September.
Thank you so much to everyone that has sent us emails of support and has supported this project financially through BMS & NightLight. Your support is making a tremendous difference of transformation in in the lives of these women.
We are really excited how God will use and move this project forward.