This morning, I hand washed a little bit of laundry in the bath tub. Aside from how amazing it is I actually did laundry (this is a form of public confession and a shout out to my wife!), I was taken aback by how dirty the water got while I was scrubbing the clothing. What occurred to me was that the water probably gets this dirty in a washing machine. But the benefit we enjoy from modern technology is that we don't have to see the dirt and grime we pick up as it gets washed away and dumped down the drain. In what ways do we conveniently shield ourselves in blissful ignorance from the spiritual grime in our world? What evils lie within our hearts and within the world around us that we simply aren't aware of?
Take human trafficking. I don't think about this dark, horrific, unspeakable crime on a daily or even weekly basis.
But I learned today that a child slave is violated between 5-30 times in a single day.
ZOE's mission is to "reach every person, rescue every child". The ZOE staff is comprised of roughly 80 Thai people and 20-25 long term missionaries. They are involved in the rescue of roughly 30 children a year. Today we had the privilege of visiting ZOE's child rescue center as well as their Bible school. If the mission of ZOE were to be split into prevention, rescue, and restoration, then the rescue center is the main arm finding child victims and prosecuting their aggressors, while the Bible school is where ZOE trains up people to educate others about the perils of trafficking. It was amazing to hear the stories and then see the evidence of God's work being done here. If the human condition is that we are longing for the earth to be filled with God's glory, to see the city not made by human hands descending down from heaven (and I might risk being a little sacrilegious with this thought), then ZOE is a glimpse of that. God's provision has been upon them every step of the way; indeed it was not built by human hands. Their facility is so state of the art, in fact, that Thai government officials who have visited have observed that there are no places like this in all of Asia! This is a place where the broken are brought into relationship, tears are wiped away from their eyes, and they are given a new identity. This isn't due to any human effort. These are humble warriors refusing to run away from evil, but instead carrying God's victory into the darkness and planting signposts that point to His ultimate victory. And the greater the darkness, the brighter the light shines.
Indeed, one story we heard today was about the specific favor ZOE has found among non-Christian police officials, who said, “I've never seen a child where your God couldn't help." God will be glorified. "Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father who is in heaven."
Tomorrow we will travel with ZOE on an outreach trip and see what the prevention mission looks like up close. Later this week we will meet the children at ZOE and see how restoration works. I'm looking forward to updating you and filling in the picture just a bit more. This has been an incredibly humbling experience for me. I'm still working through everything I'm seeing, but one thing is certain. My faith and my fears are very human-scaled.
Lord, widen my scope and allow me a large, living faith that can carry Your light into the world. Show me the dirt and grime I conveniently mask so You can claim victory over it!
By His grace,
Jason (on behalf of the ZOE team)
PS, I am not sure what our internet access will look like while we are on outreach, but I will update again as soon as I can. Please be praying for health. The enemy has taken notice of us. We've had some "intestinal fortitude" issues and a member of our sister team has befallen the flu.