“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?
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.
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it? – Max Lucado (click here to read the full sample of God Came Near)
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.
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.
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
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
It has been a while since we published a blog, however our busy work load and schedules mean that writing for a blog has taken a back seat.
The last few months have been difficult, since we have been working through issues in our personal and working lives. Things that have made us totally depend on God and require us to wait on Him. Waiting is an inescapable fact of life. It is not about if we will have to wait for something, it’s about when we will have to wait, and crucially how we wait.
The thing about waiting is that, no matter how tough it can be, it helps us to understand that God is sovereign. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
When the trials come, we often want to step or jump right over them, shut our eyes or pretend they are not there. However through these trials God has been preparing our hearts and giving us the ability to grow in faith. God’s picture for our lives is way bigger than what we can imagine. Obviously when we are in the period of waiting we often forget this, when we are rocked to the core, we know that God can and will come through, but you are left with the wondering of when.
There are two ways you can wait. You can wait actively or passively – active waiting is best. It does not really matter what you’re waiting for; Joyce Meyer says it well, “Enjoy where you are, on the way to where you’re going”. In other words – wait well.
Whenever we are going on a particularly long trip somewhere, we always have something to read or some music to make the journey more enjoyable. It may sound simplistic, but that’s exactly what we need to do while we are waiting on God. Having a parallel project doesn’t make the waiting always enjoyable all the time, but does make it easier. We are trying to have thankful hearts, drawing closer to God while waiting, resisting being passive. It has been wonderful to find ways to add value to someone else’s life, by serving and helping them to reach their goals.
We understand that waiting is a godly act. The enemy would rather we forfeit the wait in favour of a counterfeit lesser option; he doesn’t want us to access the power and strength that are developed within us when we wait. We both love the scripture, ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’’ – Isaiah 40:31
In the waiting, it puts us right into God’s hands and at the centre of His will for our lives.
“God grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in our weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
We would appreciate if you would keep us in your prayers. We have received emails from some of you, and they are greatly appreciated. We don’t always get the opportunity to reply to them all, but please know they are valued.
Thank you for your continued support & prayers.
We would appreciate prayers for:
- Sarah’s Mum health
- Both of us to continue to grow in faith for God’s provision
- God guidance on work & life matters
- Sarah’s health
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
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
A ‘Beacon of Light’ has now appeared in the heart of the red light district of Nana, Bangkok. As you walk along the road this ‘Beacon of Light shines bright, since it is so different from all the other establishments on that road and is sandwiched between 2 beer bars! The long awaited NightLight coffee shop, is completed. It has been a long time coming; the once white walled plain room has been transformed into a relaxing oasis, set over 2 floors, filled with the aroma of fair trade coffee and the sounds of swishing sophisticated coffee machines. The volunteers that will work there have received barista coffee training to learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee! A Thai manager who will oversee the day-to-day running of the shop has now also been hired. Even before the official opening, there were men looking in and stepping through the doors to see what was happening. With open arms they were invited in for free tester coffee and a chat. We have a real sense of hope that the men who frequent the red light area, will come for a coffee, relax with a possibility of opening up for deeper conversations. We are praying that God’s hope & love will plant a seed, that they may reflect on their actions or visiting the red light district. For them to be able to come into a coffee shop, where they will not be condemned or judged. There is also a small section at the front of the coffee shop to host a live band, doing worship music for event nights. The soft opening of the coffee shop started on Wednesday 12 March 2014, with opening times from 10am -4pm and over the next few weeks the times will be extended up to 12am.
The NightLight outreach centre will become a hive of activity: The ground floor & 1st floor – hosts the NightLight Coffee Shop, 3rd floor – the counselling/Prayer room, 4th floor – the conference/meeting room, 5th floor – 2 rooms if someone needs somewhere to stay & finally the 6th floor – the 24/7 Prayer Room. In the outreach centre we will also be teaching English, having worship nights & medical clinics etc.
During the most recent medical clinics set over 2 nights (using the 3rd & 4th floor), the Coffee Shop was a buzz with people, from all walks of life. The volunteers were getting their practice in making coffee and mastering the coffee machines and handing out free coffee. While women, street walkers, children and on this occasion also men – a mix of Thai & Foreign, were receiving free medical checks, from our volunteer medical team. It was a wonderful insight to how God will use the outreach centre and a reminder that it is for His Honour & Glory.
We would like to thank you all for your prayers and emails of encouragement. We have mentioned before we do not always get the opportunity to reply to every single one. However we really appreciated your thoughts and prayers. February was a very difficult month for Sarah & I, emotionally & physically this also included some hospital visits for Sarah. As hard as it has been over the last few weeks, it has given us a new sense of perspective & growth. It has also allowed us to see that we have a good support network of friends & Thai family around us in Bangkok. We are leaning on God and supporting each other to take us through. Please keep us in your prayers.
If you are an individual and would like like to support us financially, you can do so through BMS 24:7 Partners. Clicking on our BMS 24:7 Partner link page.
If you are a church and you would like to support us financially, you can do so through BMS Church Partners. Click this link to take you to the BMS Church Partners page
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.