Final Reflections from Thailand: Broadening our Scope

Philippians 4:19; “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

We started this journey asking that God would broaden our scope to see His victory over the tyranny of sin. Indeed, during the week, we witnessed in so many amazing ways that God is indeed claiming the nation of Thailand back for His kingdom. We witnessed how He uses His saints to reach into the darkness to pull souls out for Himself. Through the amazing work of ZOE, He is restoring the lost back into relationship, wiping the tears from their eyes and giving them new identity, much in the way He longs to do for us and through us for others--all according to the riches of His glory.

I have had the blessing and privilege of chronicling this journey as the team historian/blogger/chronicler. I pray that I have been able to portray an effective account of how our Loving Father offers provision in need, rescue in loss, and redemption in failure. For this final post, the other members of the team you sent will share how God touched them during our time at ZOE, this amazing city of God that serves as an advance signpost of our true hope: His ultimate, future victory over brokenness and darkness. We hope you are encouraged as you read! God loves you!

One day all things will be made new,
I’ll see the hope You call me to,
And in Your kingdom paved with gold,
I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old!  ~Keith and Kristyn Getty, When Trials Come

For our victorious God,
Jason (on behalf of your Evergreen ZOE team)

Carol Nakatsui

Sawasdee ka!

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” 2 Cor 2:15

People who follow God have a “pleasing aroma of Christ.” I had the privilege of witnessing this while at ZOE. They “smelled” like Christ: the testimony of Michael and Carol Hart, founders of ZOE International who depend on God for their every need; the weekly ZOE family prayer time of repentance and praise; the sweet faces of children being redeemed and restored by Christ; the joy of the Lord on the faces of the ZOE ministry students who wake up early and study hard because they run with perseverance to please their God, so they can tell others about eternal life in Him; the “house parents” who have a calm and a peace found only in Christ as they go about the difficult task of parenting their charges who have been rescued from unimaginable situations; the missionaries and staff who work tirelessly to organize gospel outreach events and raise awareness about human trafficking. My prayer is that I too, will take up the cross and spread the gospel, leaving a sweet fragrance of Christ.

Denna Jung

First, I give thanks to God for the honor and privilege to go on this trip to Thailand. It was challenging to see so many patients in a small amount of time while dealing with my own unexplained, worsening headaches, vomiting, and nausea, along with severe motion sickness, allergies and sleep deprivation. Yet in the midst of this, God demonstrated His faithfulness in answering prayers for strength to fulfill His calling.

My favorite part of the trip was providing individual care for the ZOE female ministry students, house parents and children. Each person that I had the privilege to meet and care for truly reflected God’s love, joy and hope. The ZOE house parents are such special women of great faith and quiet strength--each on the front line, actively fighting for the restoration of children who have dealt with the trauma of human trafficking and serious distress. They have taken up God’s calling to be parents who love these children as Christ does.

One ZOE house parent has nine teenage girls under her care, two of whom suffer from night terrors. Imagine what it would be like, helplessly watching your daughters go through this every night as a result of trauma done to them? These parents are truly the hands and feet of Jesus. At the end of each visit, I had the privilege and opportunity to pray for each house parent. I was able to bless them and convey that they are important, that their health is important in order to be at their best to care for their girls.

Regarding the ZOE children, a great spiritual battle is raging for the souls of these precious little ones. This battle is made evident in the difference I saw between children who had been with ZOE long enough for God’s restoration and healing to take hold, versus those who had arrived more recently. Those who had been there longer had light and life about them; those who had arrived only recently displayed an overall sadness and guardedness, lacking light in their eyes. Indeed, it was heartbreaking to see that while I examined their bodies, they would cope by gazing up and out to the side, mentally “leaving”.

One young teen reported pain in her lower spine area near her buttocks. Knowing the possibility of her having been a victim of trafficking, I cautiously asked if I could perhaps examine the area. She immediately let out a hysterical cry, shaking her head no. The interpreter and I immediately reassured her and calmed her down, but my heart wept upon witnessing her reaction. I can’t imagine how our Heavenly Father’s heart breaks for this child and others like her, subjected to the depravity of sin and robbed of their innocence and childhood. Moreover, though my heart could only imagine the depth of their trauma, I took comfort in knowing these children were in a place of hope. There is hope of God’s healing and restoration for them.

Again, there is an immense spiritual battle raging for these children. I was given an image of God and His armies coming from heaven to battle for these children. Despite the intensity of the battle, the awesome truth is our God is a God of Victory. This was clearly evident in an undeniable miracle we were eyewitnesses to:

Our second to last day, Jason and I were scheduled to see 55 ZOE children in 4.5 hrs.

4.5 hours for 55 children with two providers works out to approximately 5 minutes per child.

Comprehensive exams for new children in the US typically take 30 minutes, which meant that realistically, we would need almost four full, 8 hour days to see all the ZOE children. Upon making this realization, Jason and I were discouraged, realizing it would not be humanly possible to see every child before leaving ZOE. Then God answered our prayers by miraculously multiplying our time.  We were able to see all of the children in 5.5 hours before we left!

PRAISE GOD! He indeed is a God of Victory over the enemy. The Lord will accomplish His will.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support of our Thailand team. I personally give thanks for my faithful prayer partner people (P3) who covered me with their constant prayers. Most importantly, I thank God for the privilege and honor to go on this Thailand Medical Mission Trip.

To God Be the Glory!!

“Declare His glory among the Nations. His marvelous works and wonderful deeds among all the people.” Psalm 96:30

Fred Kawashima

Two things were notable to me:

1. The story of the boy with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish in John 6. The boy was present, he was there, he was willing to give all he had, and God multiplied what we consider scraps into food that fed over 5,000! That was me! What did I bring? Not a whole lot, but the Lord multiplied what I and everyone else brought: our lives, our hearts to serve, and some skills, for His glory! All the Lord asked us to do was to give what we had (to sow), and leave the rest to him (to grow).

2. Involved vs. Committed - the difference is glaring once you understand it. It's like the difference between the chicken and the pig relative to eggs and ham. The chicken is involved (gives what it produces) but the pig is committed (gives its life). In short-term missions, you are involved, but long-term, you are committed. The Holy Spirit brought this home in a very clear fashion. There is great cost and sacrifice in becoming a long-term missionary. For me it would be not seeing my family, my grandson, my friends and the way of life as I know it. Is this what I am to do? I believe the Lord may be leading us toward that; only time will tell as He prepares us for our next journey.

Irene Kawashima

When I first visited ZOE back in 2011, I was moved by the ZOE ministry students. These young adults from surrounding villages all exhibited a true joy for life that came from their deep relationship with God. Now seven years later, although the faces are different, I encountered that same joy and spirit once again! I asked a ministry student what he enjoyed most about his time at ZOE and his response was "going out and evangelizing about Jesus". This is a true testament of ZOE's ministry.

Pam Fong

The ZOE children are raising money for the children of another orphanage. They heard that these kids had never been to a zoo, so they put together a fundraiser to send them. These are children who don't have much, but what they do have is a huge and generous heart. These wonderful children are truly living out Philemon 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others." Precious!

Zohreh Wong

I loved the testimonies during Sunday worship service, when a 9 year old shared about his faith in Jesus: although he lost his parents (they were taken away in front of him) and bad things happened to him, he believes that Jesus is taking care of him and has wonderful plans for him. This really encouraged me! What faith this young boy has!

The weekly prayer meeting was wonderful. The children and the Zoe Ministry students have SO much freedom. It was as if all they could see was Jesus--no concern for anyone else in the room or what others might be thinking. They showered us with their prayers and they prayed for those toward whom God directed them.

Karen Tom

This was my first time serving on a short term missions team. The experience of serving alongside 7 brothers and sisters in Christ from my own church and partnering with brothers and sisters in another country was a humbling, heart moving, powerful experience. Even though I went with the thought of being a blessing to those in Thailand, I have come but came away from our time there receiving much more blessing in return.

A special experience for me was being able to be a part of the ZOE weekly prayer meeting. As I sat in worship, children would come up to me by themselves, in pairs, or in threes, lay their hands on me, and pray aloud for me in Thai. How sweet to receive prayer from little voices lifted to the throne of grace. How sweet to freely return the blessing by praying for the Lord to fill their treasure chests to overflowing. It was 3 days later that we were told that each child is given an actual treasure chest at the foot of their bed to place things of precious significance!

I am in awe of the vision and outpouring of God's LOVE and HOPE upon the lives of the precious children rescued from trafficking through the ZOE ministry. I am in awe of the Bible Ministry students who live out authentic, passionate lives for the gospel and are training to return to their villages to bring the light of Christ to the darkness of Thailand. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see and experience first hand, the wonder of the Lord's reach, rescue, and restoration of those who are in need. God opened my eyes to the wonderful work He is doing in the world and placed on my heart the compassion of His Heart.