Day at the office

A former member of The Well messaged me today. Here is the translation:

“Hey Dad, I need your advice on something. Can you help me?

“Hello my daughter. What can I help you with?”

“I’m going to mortgage some land, Dad. But they’re giving me a really low price.”

“Why do you have to mortgage?”

“I had it appraised at the land office. They assessed it at ฿196,000. I need it for my younger sibling’s wedding. My parents are old. They don’t have the means. So I have to take the deed and mortgage it. I’m really stressed, Dad. Tell me something.”

Thai pronouns are not always gender specific. My first assumption was that she was talking about a younger sister.

“How much do you have to pay?”

“130000. I have to take care of my younger sib’s. The girl’s parents are asking for a lot. If not he has to go to jail.”

Ah, it’s a younger brother, so obviously either a date rape situation or a minor.

“That’s a lot.”

“I took it to finance, but they gave me very little.”

“Why do you owe this?”

“Give it to their daughter, Dad. Dad, what should I do? Maybe I’ll have to sell the land. It’s so much money.”

“Speaking directly, I am not 100% Thai. By my culture I’d let him go to jail.”

“It’s not like that here. Mom and Dad don’t abandon their children.”

“I understand that well. But it makes it difficult for me to give you advice.”

“Yes Dad. I think I will sell [the land]. It will be very good.”

“It looks like your brother did something not good at all, right?”

“Oh no. It’s tradition. He had sex with the woman. We have to set the wedding date.”

“How old is the woman?”

“12.”

“And how old is your brother?”

“21.”

Thai culture/law lets families handle things like this between themselves, and it is often solved with a direct payment, family to family. 

“Ow. Is she pregnant?”

“No.”

“Normally I wouldn’t trust a man who had sex with a kid. If my own son did like that I would have him go to prison, really. Sorry for speaking straight. I love you, daughter.”

New Faces at Servantworks and Narimon

There are some new faces at Servantworks and Narimon these days!After their early partnering with Jim and Judy Larson in the formation of Servantworks and Narimon, Matt and Heather Hook served on the leadership team of both entities for many years. Now they have taken a step back for a time to re-stoke the family and career fires. Mere words are inadequate to express the gratitude that is appropriately extended to the Hooks for their zeal and dedication over the past eight years.

I am pleased to announce that Cathy Dean has joined the Servantworks family as General Manager! Cathy comes to us from a back ground in automotive finance where she served as the Business Development Manager for Ford Motor Credit. Following her work with FMCC, Cathy served as Single Family Programs Manager for a non-profit known as the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.

Cathy makes her home in Yorkville, IL with husband, Leon. She and Leon have one son, Adam and two grandchildren, Kaylee 7 and Logan 4. Originally hailing from the Pittsburgh area, she and Leon have lived in the Yorkville area for over seven years and attend the First Presbyterian Church in Aurora.

Speaking of new faces, Tom Voigt and I joined the Servantworks board back in January of 2012 at the invitation of Matt Hook. We have learned a great deal during the intervening months and we both appreciate your patience and continued support extended during a time of transition. Tom is an assistant professor at Judson University in Elgin, IL and the head of the Marketing program. He and his wife Susan reside in Aurora, IL. They have been blessed with four grown children and four grandchildren.

I have served Cup of Cold Water Ministries, Jim and Judy Larson’s first mission sending group, for the past twenty-three years and am currently the president of that board. I recently retired from State Farm Insurance after a twenty-four year career. My wife, Joanne and I live in Morris, IL and we have two grown children and two grandchildren. The Servantworks board recently elected me as their president.

Tom, Cathy and I join current board members, Anna Hammond (Larson), Aurora, IL, Michaela Tomsen, Wichita, KS, and Kevin Kane, St. Petersburg, FL. As we work to rekindle and enhance relationships with you all, I pray you will join us in expanding the support role that we all play in serving the workers who have sacrificed much to represent us on the front lines in Thailand. The work to free those enslaved by the sex trade of Thailand must go on; impacting one precious soul at a time….to His glory!

Thank you for your support of Servantworks, Narimon and The Well. Your continued support is vital!

In His service,

Glenn Harms

The God of the City

Do you ever have moments where you are overwhelmed with a deep love and appriciation for life? Where it feels like you are so alive and full and free? I think God is bursting with excitement to share those kind of moments-those kind of lives- with us. But the problem often is we are scared to surrender to him and trust him with our lives. We feel like we know best for ourselves and worry our lives will end if we give him too much control our lives will be ruined and miserable. As I have been adjusting to life here I have been so blessed and God has been reminding me that this is one reason he brought me here. He wants my life to be lived to the full. Which sometimes requires me stepping outside my comfort zone or doing things that seem in my small human mind to be formulas for disater not abundance!

One of those moments came last week I had the priveledge of being able to travel with two women from The Well-one staff and one student- to Pattaya City on the gulf of Thailand. Pattaya is known for boast of being the “sex toursit capital of the world”. The roads are filled with bars full of prostitutes, strip clubs, and go-go bars. But each year, in the midst of the craziness, there is an event called Pattaya Praise that is thrown by many different organizations and churches from Pattaya. Basically for 4 days they hold praise and worship in different locations in the city all day. The even relocated to different parts of the city throughout those four days. One day we would be in the middle of a big town square with a big stage and the next day we could would find ourselves praising God in the middle of a slum.

It was an awesome sight to be in the middle of a city singing praises to God and be joined by Muslims, tourists, prostitutes, and Christians from all over the world. I was reminded of the ministry of Jesus how he invited everyone to come to him and here truth no matter the background- he loved and desired all of their hearts. As we sang and worshipped God “Apun” the student from The Well would grab my hand and pull me up to the stage to laugh, sing, and dance with joy before the Lord (no shame right? ;).  When just a block away I walked down streets filled with men and women with what seems to be such an overwhelming emptiness. So many faces that seem weary and hard. I want to see them come join the “dance”. To be free from their present and their past.

Back in Bangkok as I see women who are taking that step to enter that dance, I know it is scary and frightening to imaginine and hope that life can be different. Some of them immediately join excited and exuberant. Others hesitate and others even give up. Those are the hardest to watch. But I pray and hope they can learn just like I am learning, that God has the very best in mind for them. He is bursting with excitement to share his joy with them like he is with me and you, if only we will trust him.

This is the story of a song  that was inspired a few years ago by this event I went to… enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXh_tgjnYJw

and the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=HgQccYki-9Y&NR=1

Also I have been asked for an address while I am here in Thailand. On the right hand side of this page click “prayer and financial” support. On that page you can find my address! Thank you!

House Parents – Thailand

Train as house parents at a group home and ministry center for young women, ranging in age from mid teens to mid twenties.  Work as part of care team

  • Long-term position (at least 4 years)
  • Older applicants preferred, experienced in parenting and/or work with troubled youth.

Men’s Program Coordinator

Help develop an outreach and discipleship program for young Thai men with a similar purpose and vision as The Well, our women’s ministry: train leaders, reach families and change society.  The men’s program would emphasize outreach to young men from poor, working-class backgrounds, particularly from northeast Thailand, and would include strong educational and job-training components.  This job requires a long-term commitment.