It has been a long time since we wrote an entry to our blog. We do have good reasons and we will be sharing them with you over the coming months. Since there has been a time lapse, we feel we need to go back before coming forward.
“And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20: 37 – 38
When God says it time to move… You’ve got to move! We shared with the churches we visited during our Home Assignment in the UK between June – July, that we have now left NightLight. It was a decision that was very hard for us to make, we prayed, we shared with our Life Group (Small Group), we listened for God and His perfect timing. When God’s clear answer came, it was a bitter pill for us to swallow…
The ladies at NightLight have become our family, and God was telling us it was time to leave them. Over the 5-6 years we were there, we witnessed God’s transformation in many of the women lives, seeing them step into freedom, accepting Jesus, getting baptised, moving forward with confidence, self worth and stepping into leadership roles.
Just like a family we had many joyous occasions, where we would laugh together to the point of happy tears, barely able to catch our breath. When the times of sorrow came, we cried together baring each others pain.
Whilst we were there, God taught us so much about ourselves. We had the great honour of pouring into the women, however without realising it, many of the ladies also poured into us. God has an amazing way of surrounding you with people, when you need it most. We counselled and prayed for each other, sharing deep and personal areas of our lives that could only be shared when an amazing family bond had been formed.
A few days before our last day at NightLight, they prepared a leaving gathering for us. It was the day we had been dreading, the day when the reality that we were actually leaving kicked in. Nothing could have prepared us for wave of emotions that we felt. Many of the ladies shared how we had impacted their lives, what we meant to them and how much they were going to miss us.
There was not a dry eye to be seen; another but final moment when we would all weep together. I (Sarah) was a blubbering mess with tears and snot everywhere (sorry, it was not a pretty sight!). I don’t think I have ever cried so much when leaving a place of work…even Paul shed a tear! The women have left a huge stamp on our hearts, which we will never forget. We will miss them dearly.
Since leaving we have been able to keep in contact with some of the ladies and those we know really well, have invited us to their homes.
So, God says it time for us to move on… So in obedience to Him, move on we will do. We do not know all the plans for our next stage, but God is revealing the puzzle to us a little at a time. We sense that God is calling us to start up a Business as Mission company, of which we are completely looking to God for guidance. We will still be with BMS, and they are supporting us through this next stage. We are not sure if we will remain in Bangkok or if it will be another location in Thailand. As we step into this unknown and a new journey, we do know that it is all in God’s hands and by His grace, he will reveal all to us in His perfect timing.
We will be sharing with you how God’s plans have been unfolding over the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime can you please pray for us, as we seek His will with all the preparation, business planning, the location in Thailand, finances, our visas, our Thai business partner and finding a retail space.
Thank you for all of the cards and emails we receive from so many of you. They always arrive, when we need a boost of encouragement.
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.
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.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International
For those of you that receive the BMS prayer guide this week 3 – 9 March is taking the time to pray for those, who remain vulnerable to abuse, sexual violence and exploitation.
If you don’t receive the prayer guide please click on the below link to take you to the BMS website:
Please know that your prayers do make a difference. Please read this account witnessed from one of the women currently working at NightLight:
How do we cope with the sad stories we hear so often? This is question that is repeatedly asked. We do encounter tragic stories, but we are also receiving the privilege of hearing and seeing lives transformed by God’s persistent love. This is what compels us to reach out into the darkness over and over.
On Valentines Day we had a party in the NightLight outreach centre in the heart of the red light area (similar to the party held at Christmas time). Eleven Nightlight women joined to help with the party. Some painted nails, some taught women how to make jewellery, some did artwork with children, others played the guitar and sang, one gave facials, and others served food and greeted people as they entered.
We was sitting near to where *Minni (a NightLight worker) was doing the nails of a young streetwalker. We noticed the woman wiping tears so leaned closer to hear what Minnie was telling her. “Most people don’t care about women like us. How many do you know who love streetwalkers?” *Minni began to share – “But God loves us. God doesn’t care about what we have done. My life has totally been changed by God’s love.” *Minnie was sharing her story of transformation from the streets into God’s family. She paused her nail painting to give the woman a hug and told her, “I didn’t used to care about other people. I was selfish, but now I find I really care about other people and when I see them hurting, I just want to hug them.”
*Minnie told the woman that if she needed prayer for anything we would be happy to pray for her. The woman said she had never felt this kind of love and when *Minnie spoke about Jesus she felt something warm that spoke to her heart. We prayed for her and she cried. She said she felt lighter and more at peace.
*Minnie’s testimony comes from her life experience. She was orphaned at a young age. She ended up on the streets when she had no way to provide for her child and grandmother. As a streetwalker, *Minnie sought pleasure and significance through the men and the pleasures that their money can buy. As she became addicted to a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and sex, *Minnie began to feel desperate. Someone told her about Jesus. She prayed to Jesus asking him to get her out of this lifestyle and soon after she was directed to ‘NightLight’. Now *Minnie is passionate about Jesus and longs to share Him with the women who are still on the street. Watching *Minnie’s face light up as she shared about Jesus brought joy to our hearts. Hearing her passion and vulnerability in sharing her life transformation spoke deeply to our hearts.
It’s women like *Minnie that make it all worth it. *Minnie was once one of these young girls at risk on the street but now she is a powerful witness for Christ. Eleven women whose lives have been transformed came to the outreach party to serve and be a light to the very darkness that once exploited them. The love they now know compels them. The same love compels us and not only helps us cope but fills us with joy in the journey.
*Minnie – Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
Please remember that your prayers into these situations makes a difference.
“By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice and received what God has promised them” – Hebrews 11:33 (NLT)
BMS partnered with NightLight International / NightLight Design
“It doesn’t take much to make someone feel good about themselves!”
11 December 2012
It is another night in the week for most people; It is Tuesday night in Bangkok, the night air is hot & humid, people are rushing to get home from daytime jobs and the roads are blocked with traffic. The streets of Sukhumvit are transforming from the bustle of the daytime to nightclubs & bars switching on their array of neon coloured lights, women, children and men position themselves on the streets to beg for the night; the scent of Thai food permeates the air, foreign, Thai & Asian men mingle together exploring which bars take their fancy.
For NightLight this is not just another night; Tuesday night is one of the nights (including Friday’s), we take to the bars in the red light district to be bring light, love and hope to the women who work in the bars and on the streets in the sex industry.
We gather in the prayer room before heading out, calling upon the Lord for His protection, guidance, praying for the women who work in the bars, the men who come to the bars, for God’s light & love to push through the darkness, for God to fill us with great love & compassion, thanking God for the opportunity to go into the bars, for friendships already built – for friendships to come, for God to set divine appointments and most of all remembering God’s grace and love for each person in this world no matter who they are or where they come from. This night is even more special as it is ‘Christmas – International Women’s Day – well for NightLight it is! We split into 4 teams of 4 people, hoping to reach as many bars and ladies as possible.
In the walk to the bars all of us are mindful of our surroundings, stilling praying as we walk. A hunched elderly lady sat on an old flattened cardboard box on the floor, with sunglasses, say’s “Sawadee kh (hello)”. We take the time to stop and speak with her, she then explains she is having eye problems; she agrees to allow us to pray for her, she firmly clasps her hands as we touch each eye as we pray for her.
Our team approaches the first bar with, lady’s dressed in small bikinis, lounged either side of the doorway, luring people to enter. A heavy thick black curtain covers the doorway, the Mamasan (the person who manages the female workers in the bar), opens the curtain for us and greets us warmly. It is strange what you can end up thanking God for; NightLight are ‘Thanking God’ for the good friendship that has grown with this Mamasan, which has opened the opportunity to come to this bar and spend time speaking with the women.
We enter into the darkly lit bar, the heavy beat of loud western music fills the air, a podium to the left and a central podium with dancing poles fills most of the room. We are armed with bags filled with red pouches containing earrings made by the ladies at NightLight, Christian tracks and Christmas cards written in Thai. As we began to hand out the gifts the atmosphere changes – giggling, laughing, joy, disbelief – “Is this for me…?” “How do I look?” I hear some ladies ask. “Khun suay (you are beautiful)”, I state clearly.
We visit about 3-5 bars and received the same response in all, including giving the these gifts out to the club owners as well – God’s love is for everyone.
In a red light district in Bangkok on Tuesday 11 December women and men alike were sat in bars quietly reading Christian tracks and discovering God’s truth. I must admit it brought tears to my eyes to watch them!
We headed onto the streets to spend some time with the street walkers, again giving gifts to each one we met. We spoke to and handed gifts out to ladies from Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa and also providing them with Christmas cards written in their own language.
Seeing their smiles, thankfulness and eagerness to wear their new earrings, looking in mirrors is etched in my mind. Some of the best quotes from the ladies:
“For me…but why?”, “This card is written in my own language” (staring at the card and then speechlessness),”I don’t have to give anything?…”
We judged no-one, but accepted everyone; I remembered 3 bible verses Romans 15:7, Genesis 1:27 and I Corinthians 8:13
- Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” – Romans 15:7
- “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Gensis 1:27
- An accepting Christian values the other person so highly that he would rather sacrifice a personal preference, even a right, than risk losing a relationship or being a stumbling block to that person. – 1 Corinthians 8:13
We cannot forget that Jesus died for us even when we were still sinners, he accepted us with all our faults. It is therefore important for us to have acceptance towards others, making them feel valued, respected and loved. Learning to accept others just as Jesus did, it brings glory to God and display’s the unity and power of God’s love. Every person bears Christ image, since we bear God’s image no-one is insignificant, no-one is worthless, seeing others as God sees them and treating them as He would. It is just not possible to honour God, and at the same time treat another person in a dehumanising, disrespectful way.
Each lady I met, I stared into their faces and said “Lord if you are using me to make her feel valued, respected and loved, then let your will be done, I have faith in you that you will do the rest”. I accepted each one as God’s children and saw His face in them all. See it doesn’t take much to make someone feel good about themselves!
“It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.” ― Corrie Ten Boom
If you want to support the work of NightLight, please click on the link to take you to: www.nightlightinternational.com
You can support by purchasing either the jewellery made by the ladies we help at NightLight or by giving a donation. Your prayers are also greatly appreciated.
We continue to thank you for your support, encouragement and prayers.