“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head”
“Sarah”* came from a troubled background. Both of her parents suffered from substance abuse disorder and they often displayed erratic and abusive behavior. Sarah and her siblings suffered from domestic violence and neglect. One day, they witnessed their mother, while under the influence of drugs, murder their youngest sister. Another day they came home from school to find that their father had burned the house down in a drunken rage. In search of safety, Sarah took her younger sister and they walked 28 kilometers to a Christian hostel and asked for refuge. The girls were referred to the New Life Center Foundation (NLCF).
Fourteen-year old Sarah arrived at the NLCF in 2007 and was enrolled in the 7th grade. In the 8th grade, she began experiencing a calling to pastoral ministry. When she graduated from high school, she was not accepted at the Bible School in Bangkok where she had applied and hoped to attend. Devastated, she prayed to the Lord for guidance. One of our New Life Center staff contacted McGilvary College of Divinity at Payap University in Chiang Mai and they agreed to accept her. She attended McGilvary on a New Life Center scholarship and successfully graduated this year! Upon graduation, Sarah received a call to serve as pastor of a growing church about an hour and a half from Chiang Mai.
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending her installation service and I have every confidence that she will be an outstanding pastor and community leader. The ripples of Sarah’s life will have influence for generations to come as this young Karen tribal woman lives out her calling.
Sarah gives me hope. On days when the stories of trauma seem too heavy to bear, I remember that the Lord can take what the adversary meant for destruction and turn it around for his glory. Sarah’s success is a tribute to her courage and resilience and the healing power of the Spirit of God.
Her story is also a success story of “us” – the hundreds of people who invested in Sarah. That “us” includes the Christian hostel staff that referred her; NLCF staff who took care of her; counselors who provided therapeutic support; donors that support the NLCF, Jeni and me, and the scholarship program; teachers who educated her; and pastors who saw her leadership potential and developed it. Change can happen, but these days, it takes more than a village. It takes a global community! Thanks for being a part of Sarah’s success. Your support makes a difference!
* “Sarah” has given permission to share her story. A pseudonym is used to protect her confidentiality.