For The Love of Siam

Posts tagged “value

Pass It On…

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!

The Freedom Bakery ladies wearing the white hats; teaching others from difficult situations, bringing hope & joy.

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.

Bakery team wearing white hats. Giving a guiding hand, practicing how to pipe buttercream. *Face has been blurred to project her identity.

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. 

Pray for:

  • 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 

Advertisements

5 years!!!

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.

Pray for:

  • 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 – 

‘My Precious Daughter (A love letter from God to His Daughters)’

*Names have been changed to protect their identity

Lots of love

Paul & Sarah

 

BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International

  


Waiting on God Purposefully

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.

Slide1The 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

Dignity image - BMS

CMYK logo (2)

Nightlight logo


Celebrating Freedom

freedom image 1The 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 free-birdsof 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)

Dignity image - BMS

 CAKES_web_header

BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International

Nightlight logoCMYK logo (2)


Graduation Celebration

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.

Designing their finale cake for their graduation ceremony.Designing their finale cake for their graduation ceremony.

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.

Graduated bakery team and finished cake.Graduated bakery team and finished cake.

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.

 

Graduated bakery team cutting their final project cake. Graduated bakery team cutting their final project cake. 

Dignity image - BMS

CMYK logo (2)

 BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International Nightlight logo


When You Don’t Feel Qualified

Exodus 4:10-13

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!

*Yim having a bass guitar lesson with Paul.  Her son is in the background  (faces have been blurred to protect their identity).

*Yim having a bass guitar lesson with Paul. Her son is in the background (faces have been blurred to protect their identity).

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

Dignity image - BMS

Nightlight logoCMYK logo (2)


Transformation

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:

Praying against sexual violence – 3 – 9 March 2013 – BMS Prayer Guide

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 Slide1way 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

CMYK logo (2)  Prayer Guide Jan_Mar 2013 cover for webhttp://www.bmsworldmission.org