In many of our blogs over the last year, we have mentioned about the many baptisms we have seen and the many lives we have seen transformed. God has been at work in the lives of those that were at the brink of despair, those that felt helpless, bound, not able to walk in freedom, where the enemies lies had blurred the truth, those that felt all hope was gone, those that didn’t feel they had any ability or worth.
NightLight is known as NightLight ‘International’. This years retreat, definitely lived up to the ‘International’ status . A total of about 90 – 100 staff, volunteers, employees, survivours of trafficking from all corners of the world – USA, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Brazil, Thailand and the United Kingdom came together, to fellowship, worship, rejoice together at the baptisms and unite.
We have now lost count of the number of baptisms we have seen, whilst in Thailand. They have been a true testimony to God’s power and all that He is doing. Every baptism we have seen has been as beautiful and as precious as the first.
The most recent baptism at the retreat were made even more special, with 11 women from different countries in Africa attending from NightLight’s International Anti-trafficking programme.
Over the months the Thai women of NightLight have welcomed and embraced these African women with such great unconditional love, compassion, acceptance and understanding. We have watched as the Thai women took care of the babies of the African women, allowing them to enjoy and have time for themselves during the retreat. There was definitely no shortage of babysitters! As the babies were passed around and lovingly cared for.
Number of women baptised 6 African women & 1 Thai woman. We rejoiced with the angels as each life was set free in Christ.
All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. Psalm 86:9 (NLT)
It is an amazing moment when you watch those you have been teaching and working with over the years, rise like phoenix’s from the ashes. When God uses people and situations that were broken and brings them to restoration, fullness, hope that brings Glory to His name.
We have shared in several of our last blogs, about some of the bakery women who had become confident enough to enter into business training. It was a breakthrough, because they requested they were ready for this type of training. I (Sarah), didn’t feel I had the Thai business language skills to train the bakery women to the standard they deserved. So after months of praying (over 1 year to be exact!), and searching for a professional Thai company that could run the business skills course, I almost gave up since we didn’t have a large budget to pay for the training either. Thank God, He never gives up on us, just when I thought all was lost, Paul & I were introduced to a Thai Christian Business Coach, that completely ticked all our boxes.
The Thai business teacher was fantastic and was able to teach the women with such grace, patience and understanding. The women had nothing but praise for the teacher and the information they were learning.
2 of the women after completing the first 2 modules of the business training, decided to take it to the next level and wanted to be enrolled on the individual business mentoring programme.
I was over joyed, especially since 1 of the women in 2016 was adamant, she never wanted to do any form of business skills training EVER! I am not sure what changed her mind, but I watched her flourish with each session as she come up with the most original ideas… I could see that she was even shocked at some of the ideas she was coming out with. They learnt all aspects that will enable them, to start up their own business in the future, should they wish to do so – business planning, financial planning, designing their own logo/brand, marketing and presenting their businesses on video.
The bakery has been a foundation for these women to step out, grow and realise their own potential, to let them know that God has a plan and purpose for their lives and that they have great ability to put their minds to anything not just baking/sugar crafting but anything.
Paul & I was proud to witness these women, who once didn’t think they could achieve much. Successfully complete the Individual Business Mentoring Programme .
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)
We truly thank God for these many precious moments.
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
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.
With all that we had done the week before it was time for us to head off to another retreat. We took a ‘rot tua’ (bus), from Bangkok to
Chiang Mai, which was about a 9 hour drive, but actually quite a comfortable experience (compared to the 14-16 hour sleeper train we took to Laos a few weeks before). It was wonderful to have 2 days to spend with Pete & Lizz Maycock and their lovely children – BMS workers, in Chiang Mai, working with the Kar’ren Christian hill tribe before heading another 3 hours further up north by mini bus to Mai Sai, Chiang Rai.
TBMF – Thailand Baptist Missionary Fellowship.It was really wonderful to meet with all the mission workers in Thailand linked to TBMF. An opportunity to listen to the work they have been doing in Thailand and also gain words of encouragement from those who have served in Thailand for many years. There was a very international mix: England, Sweden, America, Australia, Philippines, India and Thai, which made up about a total number of about 70 people including the youth and children.
We received a reminding message that, “That as we work with others, we must remember the unity in the body of Christ, building each other and growing in spiritual maturity. We all have different roles to play but we are one in Christ”.In the beautiful surroundings of Mae Sai, Chiang Rai the retreat had a slightly slower pace which we were grateful for. Providing us with time to spend in devotion and worship in the mornings. We were also given the opportunity to share a bit about ourselves in one of the morning sessions.
With some free time in the afternoon, there were fantastic trips organised to explore Mae Sai that was pulled together by Pete Maycock. On one day, we visited the ‘Golden Triangle’, giving us the opportunity to look out onto Burma and Laos at the same time, while standing in Thailand. We then took a 20 minute boat ride to Donesao Island, north Laos. It was interesting being in Laos again, albeit a different area and for different reasons and only a short time of 1 hour to brows the array of markets stalls. On another day we visited the monkey caves, where the cheeky monkeys roam free, added with the further adventure of trekking around in 2 caves! The evenings were filled with time to learn more about each other, pray together, a games night and also a talent night – with the BMS crew singing a medley of Beatles songs… we think we preformed the best!!! However no favouritism or 1st prizes at this conference, everyone gave it their best shot.
When we arrived back in Bangkok, we reflected on how great it was to know, that we are supported by and are part of a wider family in Thailand. We felt refreshed, relaxed and ready to ease back into the continued process of learning our roles with NightLight & language lessons, which we re-started on Monday 29 October. We are now on module 3 and continuing to push through the many barriers of learning a new language.
Please visit our photo page to view more photo’s of our time in Thailand so far. You can click here to take you to the photo page.