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.
Here is an account from the Founder & CEO of NightLight – Annie Dieselberg
“Recently, my laptop was stolen at the airport.
I had left it accidentally at the security gate, and someone decided to help themselves to it. Thankfully, airport security personnel immediately checked the cameras and were able to locate the man who stole it. Within a half hour—and with only two minutes to spare—I got my laptop back and caught my plane.
I recently shared this story on Facebook and was struck by how many people “liked” the post. I realized that the fear of having something stolen or lost is a feeling most people can easily relate to. Hearing that my laptop was returned so efficiently gave people just a little bit of hope.
Maybe that’s why Jesus told the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. The theme of losing something valuable and searching to find it resonates with people around the world, in every era. When what was lost is not just a coin but something of our very own, the intensity and emotional connection with this experience grows. It’s a fear every parent understands.
It’s not as easy to relate to victims of human trafficking and exploitation. Yet every night in Bangkok (and around the world), lost daughters walk the streets in hopes of being found. Their parents do not know where they are and sometimes have not yet even realized that they are lost. These daughters cannot find their way home from this foreign land. They stumble around in the dark; their vulnerability being exploited night after night. The immediate terror and panic of being truly lost eventually gets pushed down beneath layers of coping strategies, but it doesn’t take much to trigger the fear, the trauma, and the alienation. Their dignity, their freedom, their lives have been stolen from them.
**Anna was hired to work as a maid for a family in the Middle East. Once there, however, she was enslaved and forced to work for no pay under a cruel boss. Her employer brought her to Bangkok, where she was beaten and thrown out on the streets with no documents and no means of taking care of herself. Suddenly on the streets, alone in a foreign land, Anna realized she was hungry, desperate, and very lost. Anna had to turn to prostitution for survival. Soon after, she was picked up by the police and thrown in the immigration detention center, where she stayed for 4 months and had no way to access help or family. She did not know if she would ever find her way home.
One day, however, our help line number was given to Anna. Calling us from the pay phone inside the detention center, she begged us for help. Recently, Anna was finally delivered from the jail with a ticket to go home. The immigration truck brought her to the airport the night of her departure, and we were waiting there to celebrate with her. Anna could not stop thanking us, though she said she had no words to adequately express what she was feeling. She had been lost and was found. She was now on her way home.
“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way,” wrote St. Francis of Assisi. When a child, mother, sister, or daughter is found and returned, even the angels celebrate. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. We celebrate this love which compels us to join in the search, to set the captives free, and to help those who have lost their way to find their way back home. For these women, this is a demonstration of love they will never forget”.
**Anna’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
Praise God for:
The number of women that NightLight has assisted and repatriated back to their home countries, through the anti-trafficking programme.
The amazing restoration, transformation, confidence building and counselling, to help women walk in freedom, that come into the NightLight International Programme Centre.
The many women that are still lost hoping to be found. Pray that NightLight’s help line number makes it’s way safely to the women who need us to help them.
Pray for NightLight to be in the right places at the right time, to reach out and help those that have been trafficked.
We are looking forward to seeing many of you, when we are in the UK during May – July 2018.
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
2016 for us, has been filled with witnessing lots of great and wonderful things! The one we witnessed recently was no exception, it was an absolute privilege, it was the most humbling baptism we have ever seen!
There were no huge crowds of people, no church building, no projector for worship or songs, no drums, no piano, no microphones. There was no baptism pool, swimming pool or the sea. It was held in a small back room next to a small kitchen and cooking area with a largish black plastic bucket, the kind you use for carting rubble, holding ice for drinks or in our case washing lots of dishes at a time!
A small crowd of us gathered to witness with 1 person playing an acoustic guitar.
The young lady getting baptised *Humble, is a lady we are assisting through our anti-trafficking program along with her children.
Whilst in our care, she had been asking lots of questions about Christ, He became real to her and made Himself known to her in her dreams. We were in the process of assisting to help get her repatriated back to her home country, and she wanted to get baptised before going home (which was due to happen a few days later). With such a short space of time, there was not enough time to arrange a formal baptismal service. The quick preparation and thinking – “What can we use to baptise her in?”turned it into the most humbling baptism ever.
She shared her testimony, made her declaration of faith and expressed her great love for Christ.
As *Humble stepped in to the black bucket, and knelt down. The water was poured over her head…in name of the Father…. in the name of the Son… in the name of the Holy Spirit. Tears of joy rolled down everyones cheeks as we rejoiced with her!
As her children looked on – In the small back room next to a small kitchen and cooking area; in that largish black bucket for carting rumble, holding ice for drinks or in our case washing lots of dishes at a time, an amazing ‘New Life’ was born. Her humble baptism, symbolised her ‘Re-birth’.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7
The way this baptism took place, is a great reminder of how Jesus came into this world. There was no big fanfare, no luxury, no mansion and to parents with very little. We can only but image what the stable was like, there was probably the smell and noise of the animals, the uncomfortableness of the hay and the trough for feeding animals used as His bed. With witnesses that were one of the lowest classes in society – the shepherds. In all the simplicity and humbleness came our wonderful Saviour, Joy & Hope to us and the world. His birth, was the humble beginnings of our new life and re-birth.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ – John 3:5-7
*Humble and her children’s faces have been blurred and her name has been changed to protect their identity.
For *Humble as we continue to help her get back home. Challenges with corruption, injustice, lack of understanding and sympathy within the system, has made the process very difficult and caused many obstacles that have delayed the process of getting her back home. Please pray for officials hearts to be softened and for understanding. Please pray urgently for a breakthrough.
Hopefully if all goes well *Humble and her children are due to go home shortly after Christmas.
Thank God & Thank you:
Christmas is not celebrated in the same way in Thailand and this year is even more different since the passing of the King, with a very sombre mood. The Christmas decorations went up very late this year. People will still give each other presents, however with no real understanding of what they are celebrating.
- Thank God – This a great time for us to share with the Thais. We have had the opportunity to witness to some of the local Thais we know well near our house and have been able to give them a book about the Nativity of Jesus in Thai.
- Thank God – For a trafficked woman from Uganda that NightLight assisted, was able to return home last week after many years absence and many health challenges. It was such a victory and joy to send her off at the airport and know that she was reunited with her child finally.
- Thank you – For all your support and encouragement throughout the year. We have received Christmas cards, gifts and messages from many of you.