We don’t try to make headlines about fighting sex trafficking, but in reality, we do so on a daily basis. In 2019, we saw Thai leaders growing and reaching others more than ever. Women who used to be bargirls, drug dealers, and pimps are now reaching others, counseling them, and sharing their stories with more and more people — thanks to God, and thanks to you.
If you supported us with your prayers, encouragement, or financial gifts, here are a few things you helped to make possible with Servantworks Thailand in 2019.
January: You Helped Provide Healthcare
The public health system in Thailand is free, but does not provide good medical assessments and tests. Extensive trauma can cause significant physical and mental health issues, so we help women navigate this system. In January, The Well provided funds for a thorough medical evaluation for a 38-year-old woman who lived through years of prostitution and drugs. She suffered with severe headaches and chronic pain. You were able to help her have a clear picture of her health so that she could move forward with peace and grow.
February: You Helped Restore a Child to his Mom
Many Thai women do not know their parental rights, and sometimes this results in relatives forcibly separating them from their children. At the end of February, after much prayer and planning, our social service director and recovery program director took a mother on a five-hour trip to a province where her son was being held by his father. We found the little boy dirty, bruised, and confused, but very happy to see his mom. With assistance from the Thai social services office and police, we were able to bring him home. Upon his return, we were able to provide him and his mom much needed support services to process and move forward after this major trauma.
March: You Helped Enrich Children’s Lives
In March, Thailand schools take a break during the hottest part of the year. We host an annual children’s program to keep children safe and enrich their time off, and this year’s program was a happy, positive experience for about 25 children. Highlights included a field trip to the Bangkok Children’s Discovery Museum, an ice cream outing, and an art therapist who was able to work with several children.
April: You Helped Our Neighbors Hear Jesus’ Story
The young church that meets in our Connect Center has been reaching into our local community and started holding weekly services in 2019, lead by Sorn, Gik, Tracy, and Shonna.
Songkran is the biggest holiday season in Thailand, famous for its 3-day national water fight. Thanks to a team from Crossgate Church in Hot Springs, AK, we were able to host events and bless a group of older adults. A few weeks later on Easter, about 30 members of the community came to the young church. Many heard the story of Jesus for the first time in their lives.
May: You Helped Reach High-Risk Teens
Our neighborhood outreach lead us to meet a group of teenage girls who had dropped out of school and were largely unsupervised; their plans for life mostly revolve around drugs and sex, including pimping one another for quick cash. We were able to do field visits to meet their families, assist with some health issues, and provide them with a picture of a different future. We accepted five of them into our program.
Doors are continuing to open as we learn more about this huge high school drop-out population and the particular needs of these teenagers. Several former bar girls who are part of The Well are continuing to meet others, passionate to reach them.
June: You Helped Grow a Social Enterprise
In 2019, our Connect Kitchen team grew and took ownership of this social enterprise, tackling food delivery and catering orders. Bpam, Cream and Mook, the three young women leading this effort, are growing and shining in their roles. The business provides opportunities for women to learn and practice valuable career skills, including business planning, customer service, supply management, marketing, and much more.
They also make some of the best all-natural peanut butter in Thailand!
July: You Helped Future Leaders Work Toward Degrees
In 2019, you helped six young Thais continue high school or university, ranging from a high school senior to a university senior. All are women who are part of The Well or their children.
We’re especially excited because Ramkamhaeng University, a large public institution not too far from The Well, has a “pre-degree” program that allows students with a 9th grade diploma or higher to take classes towards a bachelor degree while also finishing high-school equivalency. One woman was able to begin that program this year. Since hardly any of the women we meet have a high school diploma, this dual-credit program seems like a promising path.
August: You Helped Create Safety
Before a woman can begin to heal and grow, she needs to be safe. Our Recovery Center is a relaxed homeroom environment with opportunity to connect in a safe place with other people and to practice community life. We have had about six at a time year round. We carefully create an individualized plan for each woman, including connecting her to services she needs, like taking her to the doctor or finding a safe school for her children. At the center, we provide art therapy, art classes, aerobics, yoga, and counseling.
September: You Helped Homeless Find Homes
An outreach team of Thai and foreign leaders visits in an area with extensive homelessness and prostitution every week, and this year were able to help 5 people find safe housing. Dao and Bpop met an older couple as part of their outreach; The woman was selling herself on the streets, in spite of being in her 60s. The man was handicapped from a previous motorbike accident.
They have completely responded to God’s love, and are completely transformed. Both were baptized in September and are now part of The Well. The woman has turned out to be a dedicated, hard worker, painting and gardening. The man has abandoned the walker he needed to use, and is getting stronger by the day.
October: You Helped Hire a Counselor
With a background of heavy addictions, prostitution and trafficking in her younger days, Sirisuk brings badly needed experience and know-how to our team, not to mention a gentle, kind and giving spirit. She joined our staff at The Well in October. Besides direct counseling, she oversees treatment planning, sets up support groups, partners with other agencies, including government schools and hospitals.
November: You Helped Create Community
We began opening our Connect Center coffee shop evenings, offering free English and other activities. Older kids and adults are coming, seeing Jesus’ love in action, and showing growing interest. Our strategy is simple: We love them.
December: You Helped Share the Light of Jesus
Christmas is well-known in Thailand, mostly for its commercialism. But it also presents an opportunity to explain who Jesus is. This year, our teams participated in four events touching several hundred people. One for homeless, street workers and prostitutes, another for our neighborhood, a third lead by Sorn and Gik with the new church, and a fourth family-oriented outreach for a recycling slum, which we co-hosted with other churches and ministries.
As we reflect on these stories and all the things God has done in 2019, our hearts are filled with gratitude. These women are God’s masterpieces, and we know God is on the move, not only in these precious women, but also in their families and communities.
We are also grateful for YOU. This year, you have entrusted funds to us, supported us in prayer, welcomed us, introduced us to friends, and otherwise encouraged us. We look forward to 2020 with hopeful excitement.
Happy New Year, dear friends! We’re glad you’re part of our community.