Becoming the Moms We’re Called to Be

We believe in whole families here at The Well. Over the last six months, we’ve been doing some serious work on parenting education and support. We have classes for groups of mothers and one-on-one coaching. I’ve heard wonderful stories, but even with this focused approach, I still hear discouraging reports. A staff member pulled me aside to tell me of a mom hitting her 4-year-old. Another woman told me she hits her child with a hanger because he will only obey if he is afraid.

Improper parenting does not seem natural to me. None of us are born perfect parents, of course, but I believe people learn neglect and abuse from the generations before them. In parent education, we contend with automatic responses that come from memories of abuse and neglect. We invite women to end generational patterns, which isn’t something they can do quickly or easily. Our goal is to help them do very difficult work.

At the end of our recent module, I asked my class how they’ve practiced what they’ve learned. They shared how they’ve praised their children and hugged them. They’ve redirected and predicted behaviors. They’ve set up new rules and family structures. They’ve taught their children to talk about their feelings, even their trauma stories.

Next, I asked them where they still struggle. Many shared about poor self-control. They try so hard to do the right stuff and end up sorry for what they do—or don’t do. They talked about how hard it is to stay “on” at the end of the day, when they’re tired and slip into old habits.

I have compassion for that feeling. Just this week I said some things I shouldn’t have to my family. It’s hard for me sometimes, even with all my resources and experience, and I know they are in much more desperate situations. But I had to push them, because we are all called to the same high standard of being the parents our children need. Any child, regardless of where they come from, needs to be safe, connected and cared for in order to be a healthy person.

Breaks from parenting are few and far between, especially for a single mom in a one-room apartment. God knows, though. He knows where we come from and He knows what we need. I told them the story of Susanna Wesley, who had 19 children and put her apron over her head to pray. We talked about ways to find space and call out to God for strength to keep on working on these parenting skills—to be the moms we are called to be.

The module just ended, but we are far from finished. This week, another ministry is coming to teach our staff Thai laws and procedure for child safety. We will keep our standards high and keep children safe. We will continue with our holistic approach so moms can be healthy enough to do this difficult work and be the parents God calls them to be. We’re confident that breaking cycles of abuse will help their families be safe, connected, and cared-for—which is good for children, and good for their parents, too.

A New Stage at The Well

We hope you are enjoying a marvelous season celebrating Jesus. That God not only came to walk alongside broken people but became weak and broken Himself will amaze us for eternity. May we all move closer to that example in 2018.

We are having an exciting time at The Well. Since 2004, our mission has been to send out transformational leaders, and that vision is finally coming closer to fruition. A few key developments:

  • Faang, 27, who used to handle Narimon stock and shipping, is praying hard with her husband Dton about moving to her home town to start ministry.
  • Gik and Sorn, former addicts but now seminary grads, are part of a project team with the Thailand Bible Society, working on an easy-to-read study Bible. 
  • If you have been following us over the years you know about Dao and Bpop and their faithful, loving outreach to hurting people. Their neighbor became so impressed by their example that she recently opened her heart to trust Jesus.
  • Two men who have struggled with addiction for years are changing dramatically, as part of Faithful Men, our new men’s program, led by Bpop.
  • One couple, separated by alcoholism, has reunited and opened a small restaurant with the help of a businessman in their church.
  • Tanya, 19 and in university, spent three weeks interning at a new partner ministry in a town along the Malaysian border notorious for forced sex trafficking. Among many successful efforts during that time was a Christmas party for trafficked Lao girls.

It has been a long haul. We began 13 years ago without fully understanding the extent and depth of the obstacles that people were facing. We naively thought that the “reach-teach-send” cycle would happen more quickly than it has. Not only was it slow going, but significant setbacks in our first few years had us wondering if our mission was even possible. Thanks be to God, it was.

How We Got Here

Looking back, The Well has gone through three distinct stages in development:

Even though the ministry grew quickly in its first stage from 2005-2009, we learned many lessons about the ways “hurt people hurt people.” A large number of traumatized women and teen girls, along with under-trained workers, caused stress and conflict.

Thankfully, God provided grace for us to hang on. The second stage in 2010-2015 was a time of slowing things down to allow time for people to heal and develop. We focused on building better structure for The Well’s programs. We also grew in understanding of many issues, from complex trauma disorder to Thai family culture.

During our third stage in 2016-2017, non-Thai missionaries began moving into support roles, with Thai leaders fully in charge at The Well. Every Thai leader on our current team comes out of a difficult background.

The Next Stage

In 2018, we look forward to a fourth stage: “Out” – out to the local community, out to other organizations, and out to “alumni” of The Well.

Out to the Local Community

We intentionally based The Well in a local community rather than in a downtown bar area, knowing that we needed to reach families and communities. Now that our structure and understanding are better developed, we can put more effort into encouraging and helping people to reach out to neighbors and friends.

Another key strategy we have been building towards for some time is Connect Community Center, a place where people come for classes, food and activities, all geared towards sharing Jesus and making disciples. Renovations have been in progress for much of 2017, and we hope to officially open our doors in the next few months.

Out to Alumni

Social media enables us to keep contact with dozens of former members of The Well, all scattered around Thailand. Most routinely tell us they miss the love that they experienced at The Well, including worship and learning God’s Word. It is clear that there is still a lot of potential for these “Women of The Well” to introduce Jesus to others. We are hoping to be able to shift more resources toward this need, connecting both online and via home visits.

Out to Other Organizations

Generally we find strong interest in the kind of work we do among Thai leaders and professionals in churches, government, business and other non-profits. But few have even a basic understanding of the complexity and depth of the social and psychological issues related to addictions and the sex industry. (Click here for a mindmap overview.)

We have already begun working to build partnerships with the goal of ultimately being able to impact many more women and families, and will put more effort into those starting right away in 2018. We will also soon begin conducting seminars for equipping people to help those with addictions or other kinds of brokenness. The key presenters will be transformed men and women reached through the ministry of The Well.

We are incredibly grateful for you who have stuck with us, faithfully supporting this work, believing in this mission, and praying for precious ones in the ministry. Thank you again, in Jesus’ Name.

Year-End Matching Donations

We hope you will consider The Well in your end-of-year giving plans. Some of our board of directors have decided to match year-end gifts up to $16,000, doubling the impact of your donation. You can make a secure donation online today right here.


As always, we’re grateful for your partnership. Thank you for your generous support and encouragement.

A Day in the Life of a Mom at The Well

The typical “human trafficking” tale is simple: a villain lures a girl with promises of a good job, but she ends up trapped and sold. We’ve all heard some version of that story – but we’ve never heard it from a woman at The Well.

The real-life stories are never simple. Instead of being tricked by a trafficker, girls meet tricksters like peer pressure, teenage romance, or illicit drugs. They’re often trapped by abuse, economic hardship, or a mental illness.

Most women at The Well are young single moms who ended up working “at night” to support their kids. These women are a key reason we focus on holistic family recovery, from keeping nursing babies next to mom to offering parenting classes and support.

We want you to understand what we do and why, so we’re dedicating our next few articles to our single moms. This first essay is a fictionalized day in the life of a young mother who is new to The Well.

Kay wakes with her daughter Noy asleep next to her, tangled hair all over her face.

“Baby, wake up!” She nudges Noy half-heartedly, then considers rolling over for more sleep. Then she remembers her attendance contract.

“I can’t be late.” she thinks. She’s tired of failing. This time, she’s going to make it – she will get up early and she will not party on weeknights.

“You can do this,” she whispers.

“Wake up.” Now her voice is stern, with an edge that Noy knows well. The little girl drags her feet to the shower. Her school uniform, ironed and ready, waits on a chair.

They arrive at school and Noy realizes she was supposed to wear her scouting uniform today. She begins to cry, and they run the half-block home for the right uniform. Noy makes it back on time, but Kay is late to work.

She signs in with a tight feeling in her shoulders and goes to Bible study. Someone reads the verses as little breezes move the curtains. A sparrow walks across the tile, and her spirit begins to settle. She looks up shyly at the other women.

Her second hour is a mom’s class. Ann, a volunteer at The Well, talks about teaching manners to your children. Kay already teaches Noy to be polite, just as her grandma taught her, so it’s easy to let her mind wander. She worries over money problems.

At lunch time, her grandma calls. She takes care of Kay’s 9-year-old son back home, and Kay is due to send money. Grandma knows she won’t get paid until Friday, but she still yells about the delay. She tells Kay she is no good, and that she needs to get a job like her cousin has. Her family is building a new house with all the money she sends.

“Grandma, I will send you money on Friday, I promise,” Kay says. Her grandma ends the call without a goodbye.

“I’m trying so hard and she doesn’t believe me. Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I should just go get drunk with the money,” Kay thinks. She pushes the rice across her plate.

The afternoon is slow. Women upstairs are making peanut butter to sell, and the smell makes her hungry. She wishes she’d eaten her lunch. Downstairs, The Well is rebuilding a cafe. She sees the construction workers in their long-sleeved T-shirts and it reminds her of husband. His eyes used to light up when he saw her.

She wishes she could go back to life before he left her. She sighs and remembers how it was – just show up at job sites for work and party any night; no need to keep a schedule or plan the right school uniform. She could run away and do that again.

But she sighs again. She doesn’t want to run. She wants to take care of her daughter and send money home for her son. She wants things to be better for herself and for them. That’s why she is here.

“Kay, focus!” Pi Bee’s voice brings her back. The earrings she is making are complicated and she doesn’t quite have it right.

“You can do this,” she whispers. She writes her name carefully on the tag as she finishes the set: “Kay, 25 years old.”

At the end of the day, she picks Noy up at the Center’s aftercare program, and they stop for noodle soup on the way home. Noy’s eyes droop as she does her homework, and Kay double-checks that the right school uniform for tomorrow is ironed.

“You can do this,” she says to herself as flicks off the light and lies down next to Noy. “You can.”

Would you like to hear more?

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore the social and economic realities women like Kay deal with every day, and how we believe we can bring about real transformation for these women and their families. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we post the next one.

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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