“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son”. John 1:14 (NLT)
Christmas is a special time of year, not because of the sights, smells, and sounds, but because it is at this time that we recognise and celebrate the day that ‘God came near’.
What is it that you place the highest value on at Christmas?
There is no official celebration of Christmas in Thailand, with many places open for business as usual on the 25th December. However, the shopping malls of Thailand are all in full swing, selling gifts and adorned with spectacular Christmas decorations, and the twinkle of Christmas lights; with many of the malls trying to out do each other! Large illuminated hot air balls at one mall representing the journey of Christmas, another mall bringing the fantasy of a Winter Wonderland… in the middle of one of the hottest cities in the world – Bangkok! The bizarre, but funny shopping mall with Mr. Men Christmas! Lastly, one mall, we are still trying to work out what their decorations represent!!!
Looking around Paul & I have wondered through each mall – the smiles, laughter, happiness, hundreds of photos /selfies being taken, a medley of Christmas music and gift buying fills the air. It is so easy to get drawn in!…but a strong realisation kicks in, that all of this is nothing compared to the greatest and most amazing gift that came into the world!
“The noise and the bustle began earlier than usual in the village. As night gave way to dawn, people were already on the streets. Vendors were positioning themselves on the corners of the most heavily traveled avenues. Store owners were unlocking the doors to their shops. Children were awakened by the excited barking of the street dogs and the complaints of donkeys pulling carts…
…Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.
Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it? – Max Lucado (click here to read the full sample of God Came Near)
This gift is the largest and most expensive, it has no monetary value, it is a gift that brings much hope, love, peace, grace, mercy, atonement, forgiveness and ever lasting life (to name but a few). We are sure that if many people knew the great significance of this gift, they would reach out to receive it with all their hearts. Pass this wonderful gift on.
“After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child”. Luke 2:17 (NLT)
NightLight has been sharing God’s gift and presence in the red light district and local community. December has been a hive of activity reaching out to Thai women / men and international women.
NightLight successfully run a number of medical clinics throughout this year and ran the last one before Christmas at the beginning of December. The medical clinic, provides much needed medical assistance to Thais and international women from the sex industry or those that have been trafficked. It also provides continued opportunity to pamper the women with nail painting, a listen ear and prayer.
Thank God that 1,900 Christmas gift bags were hand out to women and mamasan’s (mamasan = A women who manages women in bars and brothels). With each woman being told they were remembered, loved and how precious they are.
Christmas caroling in the brothel of International women. Some listened with tears in their eyes. Many are Russian Orthodox and far from home in a foreign country at Christmas. For them to be seen and thought of at Christmas (or at any time) is no small thing for women in prostitution.
On the Anti-trafficking side of things – To date NightLight has sent home 45 International women this year! The anti-trafficking team has worked hard with many women that are now walking in freedom, and have been repatriated back home to be reunited with children and families.
As part of one of NightLight’s Christmas party morning activity, we were split into about 5 groups, to visit various hospitals around Bangkok. We visited the Veteran’s Hospital, to visit the patients, hand out gifts and pray with them.
The afternoon activities continued with games, Christmas carols in Thai, dance performances and of cause an array of amazing Thai food prepared by each group.
Freedom Bakery Update
Many of you have asked about the ladies from the Freedom Bakery. They did an amazing job during the month of October, confidently leading and teaching baking & decorating workshops at 2 external organisations. They taught and brought hope to vulnerable women making the decision to leave the sex industry and those that have been internationally trafficked to Thailand. They taught a total of 6 workshops.
It was incredible to see the bakery ladies that over 2 years ago had no bakery skills, were fearful of the oven, frightened of the mixers and insisted the microwave was going to blow up, move so enthusiastically and with purpose. They are all teachers in their own right!
November saw, the same women from the Freedom Bakery begin learning soft business skills. The ladies have expressed a desire to hopefully in the future open their own business. Therefore, Paul and I, felt it was very important to ensure they received the right business training to guide them. They have completed 2 modules in product development, marketing, packaging, how to start a business, finance and funding.
The training has been well received by them. In the new year they will decide, whether they wish to continue with further training to be mentored in exploring setting up their own business in the future. It has been excellent see the ladies’ progress and development reach new levels.
We would like to say a big thank you for all your continued support, prayers, emails, cards and letters and gifts we have received for special occasions. We really appreciate them all.
We will be taking a break for the Christmas period, to recharge our batteries, before heading into the New Year 2018.
We hope you all have a blessed & joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year 2018.
Please note: We will be in the UK on home assignment from May 2018. If you would like us to come and speak, please contact BMS, who will be organising the dates on our behalf.
*Faces have been blurred to protect the identity of the ladies from the International Programme Centre
Since our last blog Christmas has come and gone so quickly. We hope you all had a very peaceful time and we hope this New Year holds many blessings for you all.
This month is ‘Human Trafficking Awareness/Prevention Month’. In this blog we wanted to remind you of the horrible reality that this modern day form of slavery brings. It is not just a problem that is encountered in certain countries; it is a ‘worldwide issue’ affecting millions of women, children & men everyday. It has become the second largest profitable crime in the world. In the last 10 years, the UK has seen a marked increase in internal/international sex & labour trafficking within the UK. Take a moment to learn what human trafficking looks like and be prepared with information for people at risk. The UK report line is – ‘Crimestoppers: Read The Signs – 0800 555 111’
Please take some time to read about some of the recent cases in the UK and watch the You Tube video on the Metro article and watch the news report on the BBC article. Please click on each heading to take you to the articles:
This is what awareness & prevention can do: This is an account of a conversation on a recent outreach night in Bangkok:
On a recent outreach night we visited a bar in the red light district. The music was loud, blaring as always. The women on the stage were swaying just enough to vie for men’s attention but not enough to wear themselves out. We have many friends in this bar, and it was not long after we arrive several girls come over to us for hugs and a drink. “P” was one of the women who came to sit with us. She was very affectionate and so happy to be with friends who actually care about her life.
“P” chatted away about this and that. We strained to listen but could just about catch it all, against the music blaring loudly in the background, we almost missed her words, “My friend told me I can get a job working in a massage parlour in Korea and make 80,000 baht a month (£1,700).” We were about to do the rhythmic nod of the head (you know the one, where you don’t really know what someone is saying but are trying to look like you do!), when her words set off an alarm. A job offer? In Korea? 80,000 baht? Our passive nods turned into an alarmed reaction. We quickly warned her that these offers are usually just traps leading to slavery or forced prostitution. She was shocked, and of course disappointed. It sounded like such a great opportunity. “P’s” husband left her with over 300,000 baht in debt (£7,000) and because she has been unable to pay, the amount has now grown to 400,000 baht debt. “P” works at an office in the day before coming to work in the bar at night. She sleeps 4 hours a night. At 42, “P” knows she is too old to get many customers and yet the hope of money from a few clients and even from drink tips is enough to reel her in to the scene of sexual exploitation. One job at a massage parlour in Korea, making 4-5 times what she makes through two jobs here sounds like an answer to desperation.
Women in vulnerable situations like “P” are perfect prey. She has enough ambition to work two jobs and to make real attempts at improving her life. She is not sitting around waiting for something to drop from the sky. She has initiative, she is intelligent, and she is desperate – the perfect combination for a trafficking victim. She believes there is an answer out there for her situation and if it is presented just right she will take the bait.
One conversation in a bar may have prevented “P” from being sold into slavery. If the offer is legit, it will prove itself, but one conversation opened “P’s” eyes to the risk and realities. Sometimes, that is all it takes.
Trafficking Prevention Month is almost over, but hopefully trafficking awareness/prevention is not just the “flavour or a gimmick for 1 month” but the beginning of something greater. By making a choice to become aware, you to have the opportunity to prevent trafficking. Someday, you may have a conversation on a bus, at the store, or at the beauty salon. Because you have become aware, an alarm will go off in your head and you will react as we did, informed, and ready to prevent him or her from being trafficked. YOU can prevent trafficking! Choose to know. Listen to the vulnerable. Speak up. You just might save a life!
If you want to support the work of BMS, please click on this link BMS World Mission:
We continue to thank you for all your support, encouragement and prayers.