International Ministries

Smith, Karen - International Ministries The latest from Karen Smith https://internationalministries.org/teams/96-smith-karen.rss Mia's Story <p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold; mso-bidi-font-style: italic;">Dear Friends,</span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Mia is an ethnic Shan girl, and a survivor of labor trafficking and sexual assault. She was abandoned by her family and grew up with a distant relative on the Thai/Burma border. Forced to work in an orange tree orchard throughout her childhood, Mia never attended school. She was sick very often due to breathing in the pesticides she sprayed on the trees, and her minimal monthly ‘salary’ (about $25 USD) was given to her caretaker. When Mia was 11, she was sexually assaulted by an older male relative.</span></p><p> <span style="color: black; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">According to the website of the U.S. Department of State, Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons…the US government</span></p><p> <span style="color: black; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“considers… trafficking in persons to include all of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">criminal conduct involved in forced labor…</b> essentially the conduct involved in reducing or holding someone in compelled service. Despite a term that seems to connote movement, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">at the heart of the phenomenon of trafficking in persons are the many forms of enslavement</b>, not the activities involved in international transportation." </span><span style="color: black; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">(<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Website of the US Department of State, Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons: What is Modern Slavery?)</i></span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">When Mia first arrived at the NLCF at the age of 13 she demonstrated significant mental delays due to this neglect, exploitation and abuse. The New Life Center Foundation staff arranged for Mia to study in the NLCF’s residential non-formal adult education program, but after several months, Mia showed little progress. She had virtually no attention span. Prior to arriving at the NLCF, Mia had never held a pencil before, and after two months of being in school, still struggled with this task.</span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">According to the RTG guidelines for non-formal education curriculum, teenage or adult students should complete an accelerated elementary school program through the 6<sup>th</sup> grade within two years. Mia was not able to do this and had to repeat the curriculum. Nevertheless, Mia and the NLCF teacher refused to give up. They continued to work together with the hope that Mia would become literate one day. After three years&nbsp;of full time study, Mia passed the 6<sup>th</sup> grade literacy exam.</span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Mia is now studying at the 7<sup>th</sup> grade level. She can read, write, and express her thoughts both verbally and in writing. She is able to pay attention for longer periods of time, talk about what happened to her, and exudes confidence. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">In addition to growing through her highly specialized academic program, Mia showed great progress through participating in the NLCF’s therapeutic art program. This professional, comprehensive program assisted Mia to develop her cognitive, verbal, and motor skills. Individual counseling helped Mia process her assault and years of neglect. During one of the residential Bible studies last year, Mia was able to tell her story in front of her NLCF housemates. She stood up straight, made eye contact, and had the courage to share her story. Mia continues to express joy now that she is literate. She said “I can actually take the bus now, because I can read the signs to know where the bus is going!” Mia continues to grow, develop, and has hope regarding her future.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Thank you for your part in transforming the lives of girls like Mia, one at a time. </span><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">And thank you for giving to the <strong>World Mission Offering this fall!</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">May you also stretch forward into the future with faith, strength, and joy.</span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br></span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">gratefully,</span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br></span></p><p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;"><br></span></p><p> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">Karen</span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p> <br></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:37:04 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/60059-mia-s-story https://internationalministries.org/read/60059-mia-s-story My heart for missions...! <p> <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>My Heart for Missions</span></b></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>A couple of weeks ago, a pastor from one of my supporting churches asked me to write a ‘blog’ on the subject “My heart for missions”. I’ve talked about my heart for missions for decades…but realized I had never written something specifically about this. So here’s what I said.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>“My heart for missions can be traced back to my parents. They were missionaries in Hong Kong for almost 20 years, and I had the privilege of being born and raised in this vibrant city. Seeing my parents’ lives, work and witness for Jesus had a huge impact on me, as did the incredible experience of growing up in such a beautiful part of the world. Although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I believe that God called me to be a missionary when I was about four or five years old, and planted this desire deep within my heart. So when I joined International Ministries in 1999 and moved to Thailand to serve at the New Life Center, it was the culmination of this life-long dream, and I was so grateful that God brought it to fruition.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>In reflecting over the past decade or so, I think one of the biggest surprises – something <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">unexpected</i> that has continued to increase my heart for missions – is what God has taught me through the lives and witness of the girls at the Center (they are survivors of forced labor, trafficking, and sexual abuse). </span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Now, I did expect God to teach me many things in Thailand, and He did. God taught me far more than I anticipated regarding servant leadership, making tough decisions, and&nbsp;humility (best learned, of course, through multiple experiences of&nbsp;humiliation). I’ve learned about living in community, how to adapt, and how to persevere. He’s taught me about sexual abuse and prostitution – subjects that used to make me extremely uncomfortable (but don’t anymore). He brought me through bouts of severe physical illness, seasons of spiritual attack, and a number of other challenges. I am grateful for His faithfulness throughout all these seasons. But something I just <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">wasn’t</i> expecting was the degree to which God taught me things directly from the girls <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">to whom</i> I was ministering. </span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>One NLCF resident, a survivor of forced prostitution and trafficking, remained focused on Jesus in what turned into a three year legal battle. She was forced to testify against her trafficker in court when she was just 13 years old, and was threatened with deportation. In the midst of this turmoil, she would say with confidence, “I know that I am connected to Jesus, and that He will provide for me - no matter what happens.” (Can you say that, about whatever is happening in your life right now?)</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Another NLCF resident – a 14 year old who came to us after 5 years of abuse and exploitation in the commercial sex trade industry – told me she experienced the liberating love of Jesus after she heard the story of the paralytic in the gospel of Mark. She told me she identified with the man on the mat, and heard Jesus say to her “<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">I love you, and I am telling you now to get up</i>.” (What is the mat you’re on right now – those things that keep you spiritually, emotionally ‘down’? Can you hear Jesus saying this same thing to you?) These are just two of the many powerful testimonies of the girls at the New Life Center. I am humbled to know these young women and learn more about God through their lives.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>You see, it really is true that you don’t become fully missional until you realize that <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">both you and the other</i> (the person to whom you are ministering) are the subject and object of God’s mission. So while I was busy doing administrative work and other stuff for the New Life Center and thinking that I was ministering <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">to the girls</i> there, the truth is they were actually ministering <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">to me</i> - teaching me things that God wanted me to learn, and strengthening my faith. </span></p><p><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>As you open your heart to missions – whether it’s local or global missions - God will make you face things that you just don’t want to face. And how’s this for ironic - He will teach you the very things you need to learn through those to whom He has sent you to minister. May God continue to give us hearts for His world and the work to which He has called us!”</span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>&nbsp;gratefully!</span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Karen</span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-align: justify;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>&nbsp;</span></p><p> <br></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 10:19:48 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/58518-my-heart-for-missions- https://internationalministries.org/read/58518-my-heart-for-missions- Privilege <p> <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 14pt;'>Privilege…!</span></i></b></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>March, 2015</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Dear Friends,</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Since joining International Ministries in 1999, I’ve felt especially blessed to work with such a gifted group of people. Over the years, I have continued to look at my colleagues with a sense of awe, and have remained so&nbsp;grateful that I’ve had the chance to get to know folks who are just plain amazing. From the staff who work in Valley Forge to those that do peace and reconciliation work in the most heavily conflict-ridden areas throughout the Middle East, American Baptist International Ministries personnel inspire me on every level.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>I have also been inspired by all the people I’ve had the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">privilege</i> to meet across the United States and around the world in my deputation travels over the years. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating; I am blessed to meet so many followers of Jesus who are living their lives with faith, courage, perseverance, and <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">hope.</i></span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>This sense of extraordinary <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">privilege</i> has continued as I’ve worked this past year on IM’s future planning process, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><u>Responding to the Call. </u></b><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>As I have conducted interviews and gathered data, I’ve had the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">privilege of hearing people’s personal stories</i>.... how God called them, and has been calling them to ministry – wherever He’s placed them. I’ve listened to people’s hopes and dreams for their local church or organization, and their hopes and dreams for International Ministries. And I’ve heard what people think about IM when it’s at its best…what gives it health, strength, and vitality. Some of the interview data includes a lot of beautiful quotes, such as:</span></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>“IM missionaries are effective, enthusiastic, and passionate!”</span></i></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">“IM is flexible, innovative, perseveres, shows up, attends to needs, is servant minded, has integrity and listens to God.” </i></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">"We are so inspired that you are making adjustments to changing times and cultures and delivering the same gospel of Christ”.</i></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">“International Ministries sits at the feet of the poorest and most marginalized to learn how to do ministry”. </i></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">“You don’t really become fully missional until you realize that both you and the other are the subject and object of God’s mission.”</i></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">“When people think of International Ministries, they think of faith, hope, and Jesus.”</i></p><p> A huge part of <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><u>Responding to the Call</u></b> is the work of ‘discernment team’ - a group of 26 people who represent different IM stakeholders domestically and internationally. It has been a <em>privilege </em>to get to&nbsp;know this group of people...pastors,&nbsp;professors, business women and men, lay leaders, representatives of IM's international partners, etc.&nbsp;The discernment team has been reading through the data, praying, and asking: what is God saying to us through these conversations...? The team has met three times and the final meeting is scheduled on April 21 and 22, 2015. The outcome of this process – presented to the board in June, 2015 - will be a fresh new vision for the work of International Ministries, ministry priorities, and measurable goals as we head into our 3<sup>rd</sup> century of mission…!</p><p> <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Would you pray with me that the discernment team is acutely sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we meet together one last time, and that God’s will be made clear for the future of International Ministries?</i></b></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>As we head into Holy Week and prepare for Easter, I am reminded of some of my favorite verses in the Bible, which seem especially applicable at this time of prayerful discernment:</span></p><p> <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Isaiah 43: 18-20</span></i></b></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">See, I am doing a new thing</i>! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">I am making a way</i> in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.</span></p><p> <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>1 Peter 1: 3-5</span></i></b></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,</i> and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Last, I sang a hymn in church a few weeks ago called “We are a new creation” (Jane Parker Huber, 1981). It’s sung to the tune of “Lead on, oh King Eternal” (Lanchashire) and its words also seem especially applicable for IM:</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>“We are a new creation of Christ, the living Word </span></p><p><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'></span><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Our songs of jubilation shall everywhere be heard</span></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>New life</span></i><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'> blooms fresh and glorious for those who <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">heed the call</i></span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Of Christ, who reigns victorious over sin and death and all.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>We are a new creation of God for <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">this new day</i></span></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>As partners</span></i><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'> let us follow the life, the truth, the way</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Christ bids us work together as colleagues, old and young</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>As women, men and nations, God’s folk of every tongue.</span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>We are a new creation by God’s own gracious hand</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Old burdens cast behind us, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">a daring future planned</i>!</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>In ministry and mission, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">united let us live</i></span></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>In Christ</span></i><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>, a shining vision to God’s wide world to give”.</span></p><p> <span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>It is a <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">privilege</i> to partner with you! Thank you for your love, support and prayers. As always, let me know how I may pray for you.</span></p><p><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>May you experience living hope through Jesus this Easter and always,</span></i></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>Karen</span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'>&nbsp;</span></p><p> <br></p><p> <br></p><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"> </p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style='font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"; font-size: 12pt;'><br></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"> </p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><br></p></span><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><br></p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:22:03 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/57688-privilege https://internationalministries.org/read/57688-privilege Transitions <p> I wrote the following letter this past January, and&nbsp;in early February,&nbsp;emailed it to many friends and supporting churches.&nbsp;I thought it would be good to post it as a journal, too, so here it is. (Please note: I am surrounded by beautiful spring weather now...so please&nbsp;overlook the references to a 'snowy' Valley Forge!)</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri"><br></font></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri"><br></font></span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">February, 2014</font></span></p><p> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Ephesians 1: 11-12 "</font></span></i><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,</i> in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory..."</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Dear Friends,</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Warmest greetings to you from a snowy Valley Forge, Pennsylvania! I hope that this letter finds you well in every way.</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">I write to share a few things, and provide you with an update regarding what’s going on in my life right now. Most of all, I wanted to write to say thank you – thank you for your on-going support, prayers, and love for me and the ministry to which God has called me…! Thank you! (This letter is a little longer than I anticipated, so please read it when you have the time.)</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">As many of you know, in October of 2012 I returned to the USA for my regularly scheduled deputation with American Baptist International Ministries. From October through April, 2013 I spoke at a number of churches from Colorado to Massachusetts. During this time God also opened the door for me to begin an MS degree in “Organizational Dynamics” at the University of Pennsylvania. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>After almost 15 years in Thailand, I was really yearning for fresh insights, and eager to develop new skills. This degree combines coursework in organizational psychology and organizational development, and it’s just been perfect in terms of what I’ve been longing to study. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be back in school and feel that it’s already bearing fruit in many ways.</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">I worked in Thailand throughout the summer of 2013 and returned to the USA last September for another period of deputation - in order to continue my studies, and speak on behalf of the New Life Center Foundation. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>It was during this time that I learned about a new ‘discernment process’ taking shape at International Ministries.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Here is a little background related to this process…</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Jesus’ command to make disciples of all peoples kindled a fire in the hearts of Ann and Adoniram Judson 200 years ago. The Judsons, among the first missionaries to be commissioned and sent from the U.S., arrived in Burma (now known as Myanmar) in 1813. This extraordinary, pioneering work led Baptists in the United States to come together as a national movement, and form the mission organization now known as American Baptist International Ministries. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>For two centuries, God has graciously sustained IM and used it as an instrument to advance the mission of Jesus Christ. Today, IM now stands at a pivotal and historic juncture as it enters its third century of mission and we are seeking a fresh vision of how we will serve the mission of Jesus Christ for the future. This is the main goal of the new discernment process which we’ve entitled “<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Responding to the Call”.</i></font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">So at this point you might be thinking: well, this is great, Karen! But what does it have to do with you? </font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Here’s the connection. In part because I am currently based in the United States, I was invited to join the staff of International Ministries and take a leading role in this discernment process. After praying about this opportunity for several months, I felt that God was indeed calling me to do this. The opportunity to participate in this extraordinary process (from global conversations with hundreds of IM stakeholders to the actual articulation of a fresh vision for the work of IM) is profoundly humbling and exciting for me. I am grateful for, and look forward to, what God is and will be doing in our midst. </font></span></p><p> <font face="Calibri">This is fantastic, but it does affect my role at the New Life Center Foundation.</font></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">First, even though I am now officially a staff member of International Ministries, I am still retaining my missionary status. The plan is to spend about 80% of my time in my new role, and dedicate at least 20% of my time towards the continued support of the New Life Center Foundation. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>The latter includes staff support, grant writing, and public relations. I will remain involved in this ministry and continue to provide consultation to the staff there. However, I will no longer be working as the NLCF’s “program director”; my new title is NLCF “program consultant”.&nbsp;<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">In light of these changes, the board of directors of the NLCF is requesting that International Ministries send another missionary who would work there in a senior leadership role. This missionary would provide day to day English language support and assistance, write grants, secure funding for continued programming, and assist the NLCF’s national director in leading the program. (There are <em>several </em>ways that this could all be managed and worked out, and I’d ask for your prayers regarding this sensitive transition.) </font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Second, when this special discernment process is complete and the operational plan rolls out in early 2016, I may return to full-time missionary service. I am fully confident that God will continue to call and guide me into the role He has for me in the future; for now, I am thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary, once in a lifetime, third century of mission discernment process!</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">As I move into this new combination of mission tasks for the next two years, I will continue to need partners in prayer and giving.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>I would love to continue to count on your support!<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>In fact, you do not need to change anything about the way you have been giving to International Ministries for my support in order to walk with me through this change. I will need even more prayer for discernment and wisdom in my new responsibilities, but the larger mission remains the same:<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>to glorify God in all the earth, by crossing cultural boundaries to make disciples of Jesus Christ.</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Please don’t hesitate to call me (610-768-2303) and/or write (</font></span><a href="mailto:Karen.smith@internationalministries.org"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font color="#0000ff" face="Calibri">Karen.smith@internationalministries.org</font></span></a><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">) if you have any questions about any of this. I would be delighted to talk with you.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>As always, please let me know how I can pray for you.&nbsp;<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">And finally, I’d like to close this letter by saying another thank you. Your support has enabled me to respond to God’s call in my life and do ministry in Thailand. The past 15 years have been the most challenging and the most richly satisfying in my life. I love the staff and residents of the New Life Center Foundation more than I can possibly express, and will enjoy continuing to stay involved there. I thank you for your continued support in my new ‘hybrid’ role, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you.</font></span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Gratefully,</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri"><br></font></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Karen </font></span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">&nbsp;</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">International Ministries, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">Telephone #610-768-2303</font></span></p><p> <span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri"><a href="mailto:Karen.smith@internationalministries.org">Karen.smith@internationalministries.org</a></font></span></p><p> <br></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><font face="Calibri">&nbsp;</font></span></p><p> <br></p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 04:32:03 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/53713-transitions https://internationalministries.org/read/53713-transitions May, 2013 <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves>false</w:TrackMoves> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:DrawingGridHorizontalSpacing>18 pt</w:DrawingGridHorizontalSpacing> <w:DrawingGridVerticalSpacing>18 pt</w:DrawingGridVerticalSpacing> <w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery>0</w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery> <w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery>0</w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:DontAutofitConstrainedTables/> <w:DontVertAlignInTxbx/> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="276"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Cordia New"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Cordia New"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> <!--StartFragment--> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">IM Journal May, 2013<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Dear Friends,<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">I recently returned to Thailand after a seven month period of work (“deputation”) in the USA. During this time I was based in Philadelphia, and did some extensive travel (Colorado, West Virginia, New England). I love public speaking, and I love sharing the stories of girls at the NLCF…their transformed lives, their excitement, their hope for their future. So I always enjoy these opportunities to visit so many people in different places across the United States…!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">In addition to speaking at various churches and spending time with my family and friends, I had the opportunity to go back to school in January. I started an MS degree in “Organizational Dynamics” at the University of Pennsylvania. This degree combines organizational development and organizational psychology…and it’s just perfect for me in terms of what I want to study and some skills I need to develop at this stage of my life! Working and going to school was a bit of a challenge, but the experience was just fantastic. It gave me fresh insights and renewed energy. I am hoping to finish this degree during this upcoming school year (September, 2013 – May, 2014). Many details regarding this are still unclear, but I am trusting that the pieces will all fall into place within the next few months…!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Upon returning to Chiang Mai I realized the extent to which I am just completely <b><i>familiar</i></b> with Thailand. That deep sense of familiarity is what makes a place your home, and after 14 years here I am really far more familiar with Thai culture than I am with certain aspects of the culture in the United States. Regardless of how long I’m away, this familiarity feels like stepping back into a pair of one’s favorite, comfortable shoes.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">The Thai language has at least 25 different pronouns for “I”, “you”, “he/she” etc. When referring to someone else, you can communicate respect for them, and/or acknowledge their status, simply by choosing the appropriate pronoun for the word “you”. Simultaneously, you can also lower or raise your own status through your choice of the word “I”. For example…you can refer to yourself as “dichan” (quite formal, communicating a distinct hierarchical distance between you and the other person) “chan” (more informal, relaxed, to use with familiar colleagues or acquaintances) and then there’s my favorite - the word “phi”, meaning “older”. “Phi” is what you use in a casual context, and when you want to be very friendly. I use the word “phi” to refer to myself when I’m buying something at a store, or at the gas station, or in any other very casual situation (e.g., “older would like you to fill up the tank”; “older would like the fried rice with vegetables”). It’s fun to see people smile and relax when I use this word – a sweet indication that my desire to be friendly has been successfully communicated.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">As you know, Thailand has a hierarchical culture; one is placed on a ladder of status according to one’s rank, somewhere between a rice farmer on the bottom rung to the King at the top. (This deeply engrained cultural hierarchy is related to Buddhist philosophy as well, but that’s another conversation.) You have to know where you are placed on this ladder (higher/lower; more/less education; older/younger; etc) in order to know how to truly gauge a social context. When I first came to Thailand I was hopelessly lost trying to track all the different pronouns in conversations. I couldn’t figure who was talking about whom. I was particularly confused when the principal of a prestigious Thai high school called me “phi” because I knew she was at least 15 years older than I! (She explained later that she called me “phi” as a way to be <i>very</i> friendly and respectful, despite the fact that she knew I was younger and had far less status than she does.) It took me several years to learn to navigate my way through these different pronouns and understand the social ramifications of each one, but now it’s easy to jump right back into it. This is another aspect of my familiarity with Thai culture, and it just feels so comfortable. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">There are many other aspects of returning to Thailand that feel so comfortable as well. Working in my office at the New Life Center Foundation, with all my books! Bike riding on the trails through the rice paddies that I’ve discovered over the years.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </span>Reconnecting with friends, and the staff and residents of the New Life Center that I’ve grown to love so much. I am so grateful for all of this.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Many of you have asked how you can pray for me, and the ministry of the NLCF in this period. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">The NLCF is definitely at a place in its organizational life cycle where it needs to transition to full ethnic minority leadership. Another way of putting this is: the NLCF needs an ethnic minority director! I am quite committed to the work of the NLCF and will stay here as a consultant, as a support staff, as a resource; however, it is extremely clear that we need some type of an appropriate leadership succession plan. Given the unique situation of the NLCF (legal Thai NGO, started by American Baptist missionaries and flagship ministry of the ABC) and our current donor relationships and funding requirements, this is proving to be more challenging than I had anticipated. Please pray that the staff, board of directors and I can work together to develop some type of feasible, practical, and appropriate leadership succession plan. Thank you so much!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">How can I pray for you?<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Gratefully,<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Karen<o:p></o:p></span></p> <!--EndFragment--></p> Sun, 26 May 2013 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/48572-may-2013 https://internationalministries.org/read/48572-may-2013 January 11 - Human Trafficking Awareness Day <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> 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style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;font-weight:normal; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"><br><b>Human trafficking</b> involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving individuals for the purpose of exploiting them.&nbsp; This is done through the use of force, coercion or duplicity such as a false promise of a better life in another country. <br><br>The United Nations crime-fighting office announced that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time.&nbsp; While some become domestic laborers, 8o% of trafficked persons are exploited as sexual slaves.&nbsp; They are trapped in lives of misery and cruelty; as those who follow the Prince of Peace, we dare not ignore this horrendous abuse of God's precious children. <br><br>Many of your American Baptist missionaries are working to end human trafficking by proclaiming release to the captives and helping the oppressed go free.&nbsp; <br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/109-bethell">Lauran Bethell</a> – global consultant on Human Trafficking<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/96-smith-karen">Karen Smith</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/71-kelsey">Debbie Kelsey </a>– Italy<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/92-ripley">Kit Ripley</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/62-dieselberg">Annie &amp; Jeff Dieselberg</a> – Thailand<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/82-myers-terry-and-tom">Terry Myers</a> – Bulgaria<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/45-baits">Mylinda Baits</a> – regional missionary for Iberoamerica &amp; Central America<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/107-mann-lori-matt">Lori &amp; Matt Mann</a> – development workers in Laos<br><a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/566-nambu">Jonathan &amp; Thelma Nambu</a> – Philippines<br><br>The Nambus are brand new, having joined International Ministries in December 2012 to work in the Philippines sharing the Gospel among women caught in prostitution.&nbsp; They will work in partnership with others to create&nbsp; prostitution-free societies around the world. <br><br>Please pray for all the missionaries and volunteers.&nbsp; Their ministries can be dangerous as they work to help trafficked women and children, and oppose those who exploit them.&nbsp; Learn more about their ministries by reading their journals posted here on the IM website.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br><b><br>Mission Projects to Fight Human Trafficking</b><br>International Ministries has seven mission projects that help those caught up in human trafficking.&nbsp; There are projects to provide care packages to imprisoned maids in Lebanon, to create an outreach center in the heart of the red light district in Thailand, and to help women in Mexico learn sewing skills so they have an alternative way to support themselves and their families.&nbsp; To see the full list of mission projects related to human trafficking <a href="http://www.internationalministries.org/ministry_focus_areas/human_trafficking">click here</a>, then scroll down and you’ll see them on the right side.<br><br><b>Podcast Series on Human Trafficking</b><br>The American Baptist Women's Ministries of our own denomination also has an excellent online resource called “In Their Shoes: Women Walking with Women Worldwide.”&nbsp; This podcast series highlights through interviews the work of women engaged in addressing the exploitation of women and girls around the world in positive, life-affirming ways.&nbsp; We encourage you to visit <a href="http://www.intheirshoespodcast.org/">www.intheirshoespodcast.org</a> for some of these informative and inspirational stories.<br><br><b>Additional Information</b><br>The Faith Trust institute, dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence, recommends a number of online sites to learn more about human trafficking and how you can make a difference, including: <a href="http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/news/2011/01/11/jan-11-national-human-trafficking-awareness-day/">The Not For Sale Campaign</a>, <a href="http://humantrafficking.org/">Humantrafficking.org</a>, and <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/human_trafficking/human_trafficking">the FBI site on Human Trafficking</a>. <br><br><br><i>“Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed.&nbsp; And like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can’t just pass by, indifferent.&nbsp; We’ve got to be moved by compassion.&nbsp; We’ve got to bind up the wounds.&nbsp; Let’s come together around a simple truth -- that we are our brother’s keepers and we are our sister’s keepers.” </i><br>&nbsp;President Obama in a 2012 speech on ending human trafficking.</span><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;color:black;font-weight:normal; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold"></span> <p></p> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/46295-january-11-human-trafficking-awareness-day https://internationalministries.org/read/46295-january-11-human-trafficking-awareness-day 2012...! <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves>false</w:TrackMoves> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:DrawingGridHorizontalSpacing>18 pt</w:DrawingGridHorizontalSpacing> <w:DrawingGridVerticalSpacing>18 pt</w:DrawingGridVerticalSpacing> 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font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> <!--StartFragment--> </p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;<br></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Dear Friends,</p> <p class="MsoNormal">2012 has been an extraordinary year for the New Life Center Foundation and for me personally. Here are some highlights that I’d like to share…!</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal">February, 2012:<o:p></o:p></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal">For the first time since moving to Thailand in 1999, I had the chance to travel into the Eastern Shan state of Burma (Myanmar). The trip was organized by Ms. Nitaya Boayen (the director of the Mekong Minority Foundation - <a href="http://www.mmf.org">www.mmf.org</a>) and included Scott Coats and other MMF national staff.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The purpose of the trip was to connect with the leaders of the Lahu, Shan, Akha, and Wa Baptist churches, to discuss issues of sex and labor trafficking in the region, and find ways to strengthen our existing cross-border projects and anti-trafficking awareness programs.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I was mesmerized as we crossed the border and drove north towards the city of Kyeing Tung. We passed miles and miles of verdant rice paddies and tribal villages; I saw children playing in the mud, pigs (and all manner of other items and animals) strapped to the back of motorcycles, and school students dressed in the traditional Burmese longyi. The sun was setting as we arrived in Kyeing Tung and it sparkled off the red temple rooftops. Nestled in what may be the base foothills of the Himalayas, Kyeing Tung felt a bit like what I imagine Nepal or Tibet must feel like – and so different than northern Thailand!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The meetings we had with the leaders of these Baptist groups (the spiritual descendants of Adoniram Judson) went well – I was so humbled by their lives, their work, and what they do with such extraordinarily minimal resources. But the highlight of the trip for me was traveling to an area called “Pang Wei”, where (Dr.) Paul and Elaine Lewis - the missionaries who started the ministry of the New Life Center Foundation - had lived for 18 years. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">As many of you know, Paul and Elaine Lewis moved to the Eastern Shan state of Burma in 1947. After learning Burmese, they became fluent in Lahu, then Akha. After this, they worked diligently to “reduce” the Akha language into a written script. Paul and Elaine were forced to leave Burma in the 1960’s, but continued their work in northern Thailand, which ultimately led to the opening of the New Life Center in 1987. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Needless to say, it was such an amazing experience to be at the Lewis’s home in Pang Wei, to see the extremely rural village area where they lived for so many years, and to visit with the students and professors at the small Lahu Theological Seminary which they had helped start back in 1950 or so. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and trust that the NLCF’s cross-border projects (education about trafficking, migration, and HIV/Aids) - in partnership with our <span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span>tribal neighbors in Burma - will continue to bear fruit in many ways.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In June, the NLCF was honored to welcome Under Secretary Maria Otero. The “Under Secretary” works directly under the U.S. Secretary of State and oversees the ‘Bureau of Civilian Affairs, Democracy, and Human Rights’ for the U.S. Department of State. The Under Secretary had heard of the NLCF’s exemplary work with victims of human trafficking, and wanted to visit. We were delighted to host the Under Secretary and her team, and everyone was particularly pleased when the guests joined in a baking activity with the residents! (see pictures, attached).</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In September, the NLCF’s leadership team had planned a board appreciation dinner. We wanted to celebrate what God is doing at the NLCF, and thank the board for engaging with us and providing good governance. Separately, since June, the assistant director of the NLCF (Tiemchan Kamon) had been working hard on an application for the Kenan Institute Asia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Kenan Institute Asia is a major think tank in the region, providing consultation and resources to strengthen NGOs and civil society across a plethora of areas. The “KiA”, as it’s known, invited the NLCF to submit an application for its “Thailand Best NGO Award” program, and Tiemchan worked tirelessly to pull together the information required for the application. She worked with the NLCF’s board of directors, gathered documents, pictures, newspaper articles, etc., and participated in hours of interviews with the KiA staff over several months.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The KiA’s “Thailand Best NGO Award” ceremony was scheduled just two days before our board appreciation dinner. We knew that the NLCF had made it into the group of finalists, but we had no idea whether or not we would win. That night (Thursday, September 13<sup>th</sup>) the KiA announced that we had won the award for the medium-sized NGO category! </p> <p class="MsoNormal">We were all really thrilled about this! The award affirms and recognizes the NLCF’s hard work on so many levels over the past decade – particularly in the areas of capacity building and staff development, clinical care for victims, and good governance. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Two nights later, at our board appreciation dinner, we were able to share the details of this award with the staff, residents, former residents and (current and past) board members and celebrate together. And what a joyful celebration we had!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It is a joy for me to be working at the New Life Center Foundation. This extraordinary ministry, started by Paul and Elaine Lewis (and cultivated by Rev. Lauran Bethell through its first decade) has grown and matured. It is an honor and privelege to address the issues of trafficking, labor exploitation, and migration during this unique juncture in Thailand’s social and economic development history, promoting human rights and dignity for all the ethnic minorities in the region.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Thank you, thank you for your support – particularly to the World Mission Offering – which makes all of this possible!</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Most gratefully,</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><br></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Karen</p> <!--EndFragment--><p></p> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 17:33:14 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/45375-2012- https://internationalministries.org/read/45375-2012- Karen Smith Was Featured at ABCOPAD Biennial Dinner <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Our IM family is just that, a family. And like a family there are welcomed times of reunion. The Biennial meeting of the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware provided such an occasion on October 11-13, in Altoona, PA.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span>It led not only to a celebration of the vital partnership among ABCOPAD’s 322 congregations, but it also featured a gifted IM missionary, Karen Smith who is serving in Thailand.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">Our IM family is vast in one sense, stretching across our nation and around the globe, but it is also close-knit in another sense. For instance, I remember IM missionaries Hugh and Ann Smith, Karen's parents, who served in Hong Kong (1958-75). Hugh became IM’s Director of Public Relations (1975-91) and toward the end of his service in that position he became one of my “encouragers” during my ministry in World Mission Support. Little did I know that many years later I would be working as a consultant for IM and have regular contact with his daughter, Karen.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">I was pleased that Karen was one of those contacts at Thursday’s ABCOPAD Biennial dinner. She has been ministering through the New Life Center Foundation in Thailand since 2000. Using the title, “Peace in the Midst of Turmoil,” Karen eloquently spoke </span><span style="font-size:12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">of her work with young ethnic minority women who are at risk for, or victims of, human trafficking, forced labor and sexual abuse. She referred to </span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">what God is teaching her at the NLCF...through a young woman named Ahbee.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;">I celebrate that Karen is one of my valued “family members.” Her dedicated work in leading the programs of the NLCF makes it possible that physically and emotionally wounded young women can know the power of the Great Physician!</span></p> <p></p> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 10:03:38 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/45135-karen-smith-was-featured-at-abcopad-biennial-dinner https://internationalministries.org/read/45135-karen-smith-was-featured-at-abcopad-biennial-dinner New Life Center Foundation in Thailand Receives Major Award from Kenan Institute Asia <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><span style="font-family:Calibri">Karen Smith, leader of the New Life Center Foundation (NLCF) in Chiang Mai, Thailand and American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionary, announced that the NLCF has been recognized in Thailand with a major award.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp; </span></span> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">The Kenan Institute Asia in collaboration with Resource Alliance and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation organized the 2012 Thailand NGO (non-governmental organization) awards, the second consecutive year to recognize the achievements of Thai NGOs. NLCF received the award in the medium-sized NGO category.</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">“We are absolutely thrilled to receive such a prestigious award, and receive this recognition throughout the region,” Smith commented. “This recognition affirms the NLCF’s exemplary clinical care for victims of trafficking, and our deep commitment to organizational standards of excellence and good governance.”</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Mr. Richard Bernhard, executive director, Kenan Institute Asia, provided this overview, “The NGO Awards aim to encourage NGOs to pursue operational excellence, good governance, transparency, and self-dependency in order to achieve result-oriented sustainable development.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:Calibri">According to the Resource Alliance, “</span><span style="font-family:Calibri;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial">there are 65,457 NGOs in Thailand working to promote education, public health, social welfare and associations’ promotion.” The Alliance, a UK registered charity, “aims to be the global network for fundraising, resource mobilization and philanthropy. The Alliance builds skills, knowledge and promotes excellence within civil society.”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal; mso-bidi-font-style:italic">The Thailand NGO Awards advance the country's non-profit sector by promoting financial sustainability and strengthening community support of civil society. They also seek to:</span></em></p> <ul style="margin-top:0in" type="disc"><li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-list:l1 level1 lfo1;tab-stops:list .5in"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">promote good standards and practices in resource mobilization, accountability and transparency</span></em></li><li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-list:l1 level1 lfo1;tab-stops:list .5in"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">recognize and celebrate excellence in the non-profit sector</span></em></li><li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-list:l1 level1 lfo1;tab-stops:list .5in"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">identify and strengthen successful resource mobilization practices</span></em></li><li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-list:l1 level1 lfo1;tab-stops:list .5in"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">create examples and inspiration for other non-profit organizations and promote cross-regional learning</span></em></li><li class="MsoNormal" style="mso-list:l1 level1 lfo1;tab-stops:list .5in"><em><span style="font-family:Calibri;font-style:normal;mso-bidi-font-style:italic">promote the overall credibility of the non-profit sector for long term sustainability</span></em><em><span style="font-style:normal"></span></em></li></ul> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri">"NLCF is deserving of this award," commented Stan Murray, IM area director for Southeast Asia and Japan.&nbsp;<span style="mso-spacerun:yes"> </span>"As a tribute to the staff of NLCF, neither Karen Smith nor IM missionary Kit Ripley attended the award ceremony. They chose instead for the local tribal staff to travel to Bangkok to receive the award. This resonated well with IM missiology that focuses on training and mentoring local people so that any good work that is done will be sustainable.” <br></span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">About NLCF….</span></i></b></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">The NLCF works exclusively with young ethnic minority women throughout the Mekong sub-region who are at risk for, or victims of, human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual abuse. Since its inception in 1987, the NLCF has partnered with the Royal Thai Government and international NGOs to provide legal, psychological, and repatriation assistance. </span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:6.0pt; margin-left:0in"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:6.0pt; margin-left:0in"><b><i><span style="font-family:Calibri">New Life Center Foundation provides:</span></i></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"> </span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-left:.5in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo2; tab-stops:list .5in"><span style="font-family:Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">·<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Education</span></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"> (promoting literacy and life-skills from elementary to university levels)</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-left:.5in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo2; tab-stops:list .5in"><span style="font-family:Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">·<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Vocational training</span></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"> (providing specialized training which results in viable employment and work skills)</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-left:.5in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo2; tab-stops:list .5in"><span style="font-family:Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">·<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Therapeutic activities</span></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"> (art therapy, music, dance, cooking, martial arts, individual counseling)</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-left:.5in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo2; tab-stops:list .5in"><span style="font-family:Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">·<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Handicrafts &amp; income generation</span></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"> (cultivating traditional tribal embroidery and creative thinking skills through the production of handicrafts, home décor, and jewelry)</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-left:.5in;text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo2; tab-stops:list .5in"><span style="font-family:Symbol; mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-family:Symbol"><span style="mso-list:Ignore">·<span style="font:7.0pt &quot;Times New Roman&quot;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri">Shelter (</span></b><span style="font-family:Calibri">safe shelter and medical care for victims of trafficking)</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;<b><i>Anti-Trafficking Campaigns</i></b></span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText"><span style="font-family:Calibri">NLCF conducts community based anti-trafficking campaigns (in partnership since 1994 with the United Nations agencies UNESCO, UNICEF, and the UN-IAP). NLCF ethnic minority staff and residents create educational campaigns that are implemented in tribal communities throughout Thailand, China, Laos, and Myanmar. Through drama, songs, skits and pictures, these ground-breaking campaigns have disseminated information about trafficking, safe migration, and HIV/AIDS to over 50,000 minority persons. </span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><b><i><span style="font-family:Calibri">Partnership with Upland Holistic Development Program (Fang, Thailand)</span></i></b><span style="font-family:Calibri"></span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">NLCF staff provide business development services in conjunction with the UHDP’s community- based micro-enterprise development program. Services include workshops in accounting, math, basic business principles, and marketing. The NLCF funds a literacy program for adults involved in a range of UNDP programs.</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">NLCF believes in grass-roots activism, empowering people at a community level, and engaging local churches and other organizations to create a world without exploitation.</span></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><br><span style="font-family:Calibri"></span></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri">For more information, contact Catherine Nold: catherine.nold@abc-usa.org<br></span> </p> <p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 09:40:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/45107-new-life-center-foundation-in-thailand-receives-major-award-from-kenan-institute-asia- 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5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:14.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> </p><span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Since 2007, the New Life Center Foundation’s “Specialized Vocational Training” program has assisted over 100 tribal women gain viable work skills and secure employment. As a result, tribal women have on-going security and income for themselves and their families, decreasing their vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking. <span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;</span>This is one program graduate’s story, written in her own words…</span> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height: normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">&nbsp;“…My name is Suwanee. I was 26 years old when I entered the NLCF’s vocational training program. I am an ethnic Lisu woman, born in a rural village in the Phrao region of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have an older brother and sister, and a younger brother and sister; there are 5 of us altogether. Unfortunately, drugs was a theme in my family. My older brother was put in jail for life because he sold drugs. My younger sister acted as a drug mule for our brother-in-law; she got caught, and was also put in jail. My parents died when I was about 18 – my father in some type of drug fight and my mother from general sickness.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt;line-height: normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">&nbsp;I have a 6<sup>th</sup> grade education, and I got married when I was 18 years old to a Hmong man from a neighboring village. We were so happy when our son was born! But I wasn’t happy for very long, because when our son was about one year old, my husband also died as the result of a gunshot wound from a drug fight.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">My older sister is the “minor wife” of a Thai man who owns a karaoke bar and massage parlour. They have two children. My older sister encouraged me, after my husband died, to go to work in this place. At this time, I was supporting my son and also my youngest brother on my own. They needed food and shelter, and I felt that I had no other options. So I did it. It was the first time I had ever lived and worked in the city. I had to perform every type of massage, every type of prostitution in this place. After a year, my brother-in-law decided to transfer&nbsp; me to a prominent brothel in Bangkok, and I continued to do this work for 5 - 6 years. After doing this for so long, there’s just too much pain that builds up in your heart. I knew I was going in circles, and the pain finally became too great to keep up the facade.<br></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">I traveled back to Chiang Mai for a visit, and happened to meet a friend who was a graduate of this NLCF program. She was working in an upscale beauty salon. My friend told me about this opportunity, and gave me the contact information for the NLCF. I called the manager and discussed the details with her. I wanted to enter the program, but I was still too afraid about what would happen to my son and youngest brother (my son was 6 and my brother was 8 at this time). Who would care for them while I studied?</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">The NLCF's ‘vocational training’ case manager helped me understand my choices, and we went together to look at some hostels that might be able to care for my son and brother. We found a good, safe place to care for the boys, and I was able to enter the program. I studied beauty salon, hair cutting and styling for six months at a good school, and was able to go to work immediately after I graduated. I worked hard and saved money which I used to support myself and my relatives. I also wanted to save money in order to open my own beauty salon!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;">On January 18<sup>th</sup>, 2011, my dream came true. I was able to open my own beauty salon in an area close to Chiang Mai University. It’s a tiny little shop, but I earn enough money to pay my bills and support myself, my son and youngest brother. Previously, if anyone asked me what I did for a living, I would never want to answer. I did not know what to say, and felt very embarrassed. But now? My vocation gives me confidence and I am proud of my accomplishments. I want to thank the New Life Center Foundation and its donors who gave me this choice and truly gave me the chance to have a new life.”&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;"><br></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;">Without your support, young women like Suwanee would still be trapped in exploitative labor. Thank you for your role in helping to create a new life for Suwanee and others like her!<br></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><br><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;"></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;">Gratefully,</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: normal;"><br><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;"></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-size:12.0pt; font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;">Karen<br></span></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/42116-suwanee-s-story https://internationalministries.org/read/42116-suwanee-s-story Building Hope, Restoring Hope, Exemplifying Hope! <P>Dear Friends,<BR><BR>The New Life Center Foundation continues to grow, implement its mission, and through God’s grace, is a witness to God’s love to young tribal women who have experienced exploitation. <BR><BR>Years ago, we worked with many women under the age of 18 who were coming out of forced prostitution in traditional brothels. We don’t see this so much anymore, in part due to the Thai government’s intentional and sustained crackdown on “underage” prostitution. However, what we have seen is the continued and unabated flow of migrant workers into Thailand, which results in increased numbers of persons who are trafficked and exploited across all industries. <BR><BR>A significant change in our services over the past few years is that we are now working more and more with the abandoned teenage children of migrant workers. In just the past few months, we’ve worked with several teenagers who were inadvertently abandoned in Thailand. I say “inadvertently” because their fathers and mothers intended to return here – but for various reasons were detained in China or Burma and could not come back.<BR><BR>In the case of Burma (just west of Thailand) people are often fleeing the oppression of the military junta and/or a severe lack of economic opportunities. (Burma has the second worst rate of health care in the world, which is another reason for the unmitigated flow of ethnic Burmese into Thailand.) In the case of Southwestern China and Northwestern Laos, people are leaving a lifetime of backbreaking agricultural work to take a chance at a better paid, less labor-intensive job in some type of factory here.<BR><BR>One result of labor migration is that the children of migrants are also highly vulnerable. They’re growing up in makeshift tents at construction sites, or live in crowded, unsanitary dorms at factories. Increasingly, these children are left to fend for themselves as their parents seek work in other areas, and the result is the children may end up as victims of human trafficking themselves.<BR><BR>One of the most tragic cases of an abandoned daughter of a migrant worker is “AhBee”, whose story I’ve shared in other journals and letters. AhBee was brought into Thailand at the age of 9 and suffered forced labor and sexual abuse for four years. Despite this abuse, she was arrested and charged with the crime(s) of “entering Thailand illegally” and “working illegally” (unbelievably, immigration laws trumped child protection laws in this situation). We have cared for AhBee since late 2009 and we’re working with some lawyers to appeal this verdict. The good news is that it looks like AhBee will be able to stay with us until she is 18. At that point, she might be legally allowed to continue to stay in Thailand. Thank you for your continued prayers for this precious girl.<BR><BR>We started a new project cycle this year, and had the opportunity to assess the cumulative results of our work for the past 3 years. It was exciting to see these final numbers! Through God’s provision we supported:<BR><BR>-167 scholarship students in elementary through university programs<BR>-192 residents (shelter, educational term fees, medical care, life skills training)<BR>-50 tribal women (who) completed vocational training and secured viable, sustainable employment<BR>-45 emergency case residents, victims of forced labor, sexual abuse, domestic violence and trafficking<BR><BR><BR>Additionally, our anti-trafficking campaigns throughout the region reached over 15,000 persons from the Akha, Lahu, and Hmong tribal groups. We hosted over 1,200 special guests, including two US Ambassadors to Thailand (Eric John in 2009, Kristie Kenney in 2011); two US Consul Generals from Chiang Mai (Michael Morrow, Susan Stevenson) and the US Department of State’s “Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues” Melanne Verveer. We just received our second “Best Practice NGO” award from the Royal Thai Government (what an honor!)<BR><BR>During this period, 53 young women decided to become followers of Jesus Christ and received baptism! We praise God for His continued blessing and presence with us as we partner with our Thai and tribal colleagues to confront the severe social problems of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.<BR><BR>Thailand is changing. It is officially an “emerging” 3rd world economy, albeit at the lower rung of the cluster of other economically emerging nations.&nbsp; It is trying to manage the massive flow of migrants across its borders, implement human rights for all its citizens, and tackle significant internal corruption and conflict. Over the past 18 months Thailand has also grappled with its worst political violence in 40 years, devastating natural disasters, and a growing and bitter resentment between the poor and the wealthy - despite the slow and steady growth of a middle class. Ethnic minority women and men still face discrimination and oppression at many levels. Over 50% continue to lack legal Thai citizenship, which contributes to the abuse they face.<BR><BR>It is in this broad social, economic and development context that the New Life Center implements our mission and ministry – and your support enables us to continue!&nbsp; Thank you so much for your interest and on-going faithfulness to us…! <BR><BR>Please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach me directly at newlife@pobox.com and/or 66-53-351-312 (NLCF office phone number). (Please note: there is a 12 hour time difference between northern Thailand and EST). Please also do not hesitate to let me know how I (and the staff here, too) can pray for you. <BR><BR><BR>In addition to our stated vision and mission, our New Life Center organizational theme for 2012 is: “building hope, restoring hope, exemplifying hope” - based on 1 Peter 1: 3-4. I trust that you will personally experience the “living hope” that Christ gives in your own life now and always. On behalf of all the young women we serve throughout the Mekong sub region, thank you so much!<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>Gratefully in Christ,<BR><BR><BR><BR>Karen R. Smith,<BR>American Baptist International Ministries<BR>New Life Center Foundation<BR>www.newlifecenterfoundation.org<BR></P> Tue, 20 Dec 2011 09:25:46 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/40791-building-hope-restoring-hope-exemplifying-hope- https://internationalministries.org/read/40791-building-hope-restoring-hope-exemplifying-hope- US Ambassador to Thailand, Super Junior M and MTV Exit Campaign <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">July, 2011</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Dear Friends, </span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">The past few months have been filled with some extra special activities that have just been exhilarating for me, the staff, and the residents of the New Life Center Foundation.<span>&nbsp; </span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Early this spring, we were asked to participate in the MTV EXIT (“End Exploitation and Trafficking”) campaign here in Thailand. Here’s a description of MTV Exit directly from their website: “…MTV EXIT is a media campaign to raise awareness and increase prevention of human trafficking. Since its launch in 2004, MTV EXIT has reached millions on the ground, on air and online in an effort to spread the word about this important global issue and to inspire young people everywhere to join the fight to end exploitation and trafficking” (</span><a href="http://www.mtvexit.org/"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">www.mtvexit.org</span></a><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">) </span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">In addition to hosting a massive, anti-trafficking concert in Chiang Mai featuring some of the biggest rock stars in Asia&nbsp;(more on this in a minute) the campaign also sponsored a week-long youth forum in which teenagers from all over the country learned how to communicate an anti-trafficking message specific to their local communities. Several NLCF staff who are directly involved in our anti-trafficking campaigns co-led segments of this youth forum, engaging at every level with other NGO youth &amp; leaders and the MTV Exit staff.<span>&nbsp; </span>The opportunity to learn and work together with such a dynamic group of people was a real “shot in the arm” for all of us, and we came away with much&nbsp;renewed energy and new strategies for our work.</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">The weekend of the concert was a big one. The current US Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenny, visited us on Saturday afternoon. Ambassador Kenney is a thoroughly dynamic and gifted person, and the residents, staff and I just loved our visit with her. One of our girls shared her testimony and the Ambassador had a chance to see our baking (therapy program) in action. We are grateful for our continued funding from the US Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) and welcome visitors from the US State Department at all times!</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">But the biggest joy for our residents was the opportunity to host the Korean rock star band “Super Junior M” the day after the concert. </span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Have you ever even heard of ‘Super Junior M’? I confess that I hadn’t. (Much to the chagrin of my nephews, I am quite outside of the American and&nbsp;Southeast Asian pop culture loop!)&nbsp;I learned quickly that&nbsp;Super Junior and its sub-group “Super Junior M” are the absolute rage here. Our NLCF residents (reminder: they are mainly teenagers) are crazy about them, and were thrilled to attend the concert and see them perform.&nbsp;Super&nbsp;Junior M was&nbsp;the featured artist of the evening and their visit to Chiang Mai invoked images of the Beatles on their first tour to the USA - or something on that level! </span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">MTV Exit used the star power of the performers to draw people to the concert, and in-between the sets they broadcast clips about trafficking - videos, testimonies, 24 hour phone numbers to call, etc. etc. I thought it was quite effective.</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">In addition to performing at this concert, Super Junior M had asked to visit a shelter as a part of their own learning related to trafficking in this region;&nbsp;this is what led them to the New Life Center. </span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Their visit was about as crazy as anything I’ve ever experienced. The media machine at that level (personal assistants, managers, video crew, and body guards) is hard to handle, and we had many people going in many different directions. After our residents greeted the band and sang a welcome song for them,&nbsp;4 members of "Su Ju" participated in a baking activity with our girls while two other members interviewed <span>&nbsp;</span>residents who are victims of trafficking. (Important note: MTV blurred and/or hid the faces of all our girls in every video as per our child protection policies and mutual contract.)</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">If you see a video of Super Junior M on youtube, the young men are wearing a lot of makeup and projecting a carefully crafted image.&nbsp;In person, however, the members of Super Junior M were totally down to earth and were so&nbsp;sweet. They were kind to our residents and demonstrated a real gentleness and concern for our girls. I hope that – despite the craziness of the visit - these young men came away having actually learned something about the human face of trafficking in persons, and that they&nbsp;will use their celebrity status to help spread more anti-trafficking messages throughout Asia.</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">What a joy it is to be a part of the broader, global anti-trafficking networks and get the chance to work on this issue at these levels!</span></p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Gratefully,</span></p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';">Karen</span> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"><span></span></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif';"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 115%; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman','serif'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/37732-us-ambassador-to-thailand-super-junior-m-and-mtv-exit-campaign https://internationalministries.org/read/37732-us-ambassador-to-thailand-super-junior-m-and-mtv-exit-campaign <p>Here are some pictures of the Super Junior M and US Ambassador's recent visit...!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karen</p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/37723- https://internationalministries.org/read/37723- Celebrations...! <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">January 27th, 2011</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Dear Friends,</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">I write to share many of the wonderful things happening at the New Life Center Foundation over the past few weeks, and to celebrate these joys with you!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">In December, NLCF staff, residents, former residents, and scholarship students spent four days together at our bi-annual camp. There’s a perfect spot in-between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai – a campground with dorms, a lake, a large hall for meetings, and a lovely field for games and barbecues. Everyone enjoyed being together, eating delicious food, and being challenged through the teaching of Rev. Chairat (“Phi Dong”) who is the director of Youth for Christ in Thailand. Rev. Chairat is uniquely gifted in his ability to connect with teenagers, and his preaching style had all of us alternatively roaring with laughter and soberly considering his more serious points throughout the sessions. The camp ended with a beautiful worship service and baptism ceremony led by Rev. Kit Ripley and&nbsp;residential staff, Khun Panida.&nbsp;The whole experience was a joy – and I remain grateful that we did not meet the scorpion in the bathroom (see picture attached) until the last day!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">In January, we continued celebrating with the news that the Beter-Uit Reizen Company (based in Amsterdam, Holland) had purchased a new house in Chiang Mai for us to use as a “transitional” home. We have long needed such a home&nbsp;for those girls&nbsp;who have completed their education and are receiving vocational training, but have not yet secured employment - and are in that place between school and work. In fact, opening a transitional home has been a recommendation in several of the NLCF’s external program evaluations for many years. Despite the latter, we never really had the resources to pursue this piece of our overall programming.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Beter- Uit Reizen has purchased this house in their company name, but is allowing the NLCF to use it for at least the next decade or so – enabling us to open this needed program. We are all positively thrilled about this, and anticipate opening the house officially as of June, 2011. I attach for your perusal pictures of the house and some of our students, literally jumping with joy!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Finally, I write to share&nbsp;another update regarding “AhBee”, one precious emergency status resident whose case has been hovering precariously between the Thai courts and immigration police. As I shared in previous journals, AhBee (currently 15 years old, a victim of forced labor and forced prostitution from the ages of 11 - 14) was convicted of the crime of “entering Thailand illegally” and “…working illegally”, and sentenced to forced repatriation. However, at a recent meeting held with our social welfare multi-disciplinary team, the representative policeman from immigration informed us that AhBee could possibly&nbsp;stay at the New Life Center Foundation until she is 18 years old, provided that: a, she continues to receive counseling; and b, the NLCF reports her status and whereabouts to the immigration police every 90 days. </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">I am beyond grateful that the RTG immigration police have extended this mercy to her, and ask that all of you continue to pray for the present and future of this precious child. </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Please write and share your joys, and prayer requests with me!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Gratefully,</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Karen</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> Wed, 26 Jan 2011 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/32261-celebrations- https://internationalministries.org/read/32261-celebrations- US Consul General visits New Life Center <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">21 October, 2010</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Dear Friends,</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">First of all, I’d like to thank you for praying for me and the NLCF staff as we went through the process of our strategic planning meetings last month.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>The meetings went as well as could be expected, and we’re about 75% finished in terms of agreeing on our goals and objectives for our new project cycle.</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">We do this type of strategic planning every three years. We look at our resources and activities, and make sure that everything we do is directly related to our mission and vision. For example, we ask: how many emergency cases should we expect to help over the upcoming project cycle? Developing clear outcomes helps us all focus on our essential mission and our priorities. I’ve worked in not-for-profit organizations for the past 22 years, so I do enjoy all of this!</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">There are a few NLCF activities about which there is no still no staff consensus, and decisions need to be made about these things within the next four weeks. Please continue to pray that God gives us His wisdom and guidance, so that everything we do is in alignment with His ideal will for our ministry. Thank you…!</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">In addition to these important meetings last month, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting some VIP guests lately. Mr. Dean Tidwell is the new “Economic Section Chief” for the U.S Consulate here in Chiang Mai; his work relates to Burma border issues and trafficking, and he is very familiar with ABC/IM mission work in this region. We also hosted Ms. Susan Stevenson (the new Consul General) and a group of staff from the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. The New Life Center staff and I were delighted to meet everyone, and get a chance to thank them for the U.S. government’s funding and support of our programs.</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Our regional anti-trafficking work is growing stronger and stronger. Last month, Ms. Anna Pawnjaruenphun led <span style="">&nbsp;</span>an anti-trafficking &amp; safe migration campaign among the Hmong tribal group. This was the first time that we did a campaign among the Hmong; over 1,000 people participated, and (through drama skits, games and songs) learned how to protect themselves from all forms of labor abuse.</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">This past July, 2010, Anna also began a radio program broadcast throughout the Chiang Rai province which provides information about labor laws in Thailand, and what information ethnic minorities need to know before they become employed. The program is garnering great interest and fielding lots of calls from listeners. Continuing our local, regional, and international anti-trafficking work in these creative ways is definitely a priority!</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;"><span style="">&nbsp;</span>I am so blessed by the opportunity to live and serve in Thailand. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been here for almost eleven years already! God has blessed the ministry of the New Life Center Foundation and I am so privileged to see His presence, grace and love manifested here in so many ways. Through your support of the World Mission Offering, each one of you has a part in the phenomenal impact of this ministry. Thank you, thank you for this love and support!</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">With love and appreciation,</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Christ’s servant and yours</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Karen</p> Sun, 31 Oct 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/28566-us-consul-general-visits-new-life-center https://internationalministries.org/read/28566-us-consul-general-visits-new-life-center Blessings...! <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Dear Friends,</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">It’s a beautiful morning here in Chiang Mai. The rains have been heavy but have tapered off in the past few days; the sky is a mottled grey, and birdsong abounds. The last part of my commute into the office includes driving down a dirt path, and this morning I had to stop to make way for some chickens and cows. The latter happens often, and it always makes me laugh! </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">The New Life Center Foundation works with victims of all forms of forced labor and human trafficking. Because we’re focused on caring for emergency cases and staying in touch with what’s going on in the region regarding these issues, things can feel quite discouraging at times. Yet in the midst of tragedy there are also joys - and wonderful progress is being made, slowly but surely.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">This past summer, 4 of our precious residents (two of whom came to us through emergency circumstances) secured employment at the Wacoal garment factory.<span>&nbsp; </span>Temporary or part-time employment can be hard to find in Thailand, as most employers want full time workers. In this instance, this branch of Wacoal was willing to hire our residents just for the summertime. For ten weeks, our girls lived in clean facilities on the extended factory compound, worked from Monday through Saturday, and were paid well! Each girl worked on a different team that was responsible for cutting, sewing, or processing the fabric that results in Wacoal brand underwear. </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">The opportunity to work in a professional environment, implement skills they learned at the New Life Center, and earn money was tremendously important for these&nbsp;young women&nbsp;and for us, too! After hearing about so many factories that exploit their workers, getting to meet the staff of Wacoal - and getting to see the professional way that they run the company - was so encouraging. We hope that this positive experience will result in future summer job placements for more of our residents.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">In other news, the NLCF staff and I are gearing up for meetings when we re-assess and review our NLCF goals and objectives. We track our program outcomes over a three year cycle.<span>&nbsp; </span>We are currently in the third and last year of our current cycle, so we’ll be meeting later this month in order to adjust our objectives for the upcoming period. Now many of you might think that this sounds really boring! But the truth is, it’s great stuff – especially for someone who loves organizational development as much as I do! </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">To prepare ourselves for these meetings, we hosted a “Changing Trends” workshop, attended by NLCF board members, former and current residents &amp; staff, and tribal leaders.<span>&nbsp; </span>We invited four community experts and NGO partners (in the areas of social welfare, migration, trafficking, and human rights) to speak about changing trends in their particular area of expertise.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Duang Wongsa is the senior lawyer and project manager for TRAFCORD (<a href="http://www.trafcord.org/">www.trafcord.org</a>) – an organization that works on trafficking prevention, investigations, and prosecutions. TRAFCORD has been quite successful in its efforts, and Ms. Wongsa’s name is often in the Bangkok Post and other news media related to trafficking cases. Her presentation at our workshop was outstanding, and she closed by commending the work of the NLCF and encouraging our continued partnership.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Working alongside Thai and tribal national organizations is an area in which the New Life Center Foundation really shines, and I can’t speak highly enough of these partnerships. It is a blessing and honor to be a part of these networks, and share burdens and joys with others working on the same social issues. So the “Changing Trends” workshop was a big success, and the right first step as we prepare to adjust our program objectives.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Will you pray with me and the NLCF staff about the next set of meetings, scheduled in just a few weeks? Please pray for staff unity; that we would have a clear sense of how God wants&nbsp;us to use all our resources; that every objective we adjust would be completely in line with God's ideal will for this ministry. Please pray for God's protection over us and His continued guidance and presence as we shape our goals for the upcoming 3 years. Thank you...!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Another blessing is that we are finalizing the details of a new micro-enterprise program.<span>&nbsp; </span>Special funds received to implement micro-enterprise will be allocated in the community by:</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst"><span><span>1.<span style="FONT: 7pt 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>Partnering with a micro-finance provider. The NLCF will provide “business development services” alongside an NGO that provides the loans. Our role will be to create and implement a women’s literacy program, accounting, math, and bookkeeping training, marketing and handicrafts assistance, and discipleship and evangelism programs <i>alongside</i> the micro-finance components of the program.</p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst"><span><span>2.<span style="FONT: 7pt 'Times New Roman';">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span>Promoting the formation of church based, member funded &amp; managed savings and credit associations with the “Micro Enterprise Development Foundation”.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">These new initiatives are so exciting! The staff and I are thrilled to be able to continue to empower tribal women (and men) in these new, creative ways through the provision of micro-enterprise services.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Rev. Lauran Bethell, the NLCF’s first program director, was here for a visit this past week. She joined our meetings and worship services, visited with former residents and staff, and generally just spent time with us, catching up with all that’s gone on since her last visit. Lauran and I had the chance to reflect together on the <b>incredible blessings that God has poured out on this, His ministry</b>. We are both so grateful, honored and blessed to see what God is doing and to personally witness the transformation of so many precious new lives.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Through your support of the American Baptist World Mission Offering, each one of you contributes to this mission and shares in the joy of each new life touched by the Spirit of God. I can’t thank you enough for your generosity, and for your support of me and my colleagues. </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Please let me know how I can pray for you.</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">With love, thanks, and deep appreciation,</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">Karen </p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">PS: Pictures of the "Changing Trends" workshop will be posted shortly!</p> <p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 10pt;">&nbsp;</p> Mon, 13 Sep 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/25691-blessings- https://internationalministries.org/read/25691-blessings- Political conflicts, exploitation, and....hope! <span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Dear Friends,</span> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">First, I write to thank you for your prayers and support over these past few months of political turmoil here in Thailand. Some of you have been keeping track of the daily developments, and others have only recently heard about the extreme violence that broke out on the streets of Bangkok (and, to a lesser extent, throughout the country) during the past few weeks. Regardless of what you've heard or not heard, the good news is that the protests have been dispersed, and it seems that the worst is over for now, at least.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Some of my IM&nbsp;colleagues have described these events and the root of the conflict in detail,&nbsp;and I would refer you to Kit Ripley's and/or Jeff and Annie Dieselberg's recent journals for&nbsp;well-written analysis and specifics. However, there are several things about the conflict I'd like to share as well.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">First, please be&nbsp;aware that many people in Thailand&nbsp;(both Thais and foreigners alike) have been disappointed with the news coverage of this conflict. In particular,&nbsp;CNN, BBC, and even the latest TIME magazine article(s) about it do not present, in my opinion, a fair&nbsp;expression of what's really&nbsp;going on. While the&nbsp;bomb&nbsp;and&nbsp;grenade attacks, and&nbsp;commerce- crippling protests&nbsp;in several areas of&nbsp;Bangkok have ended,&nbsp;there continue to be deep rifts in Thai society across many levels. These rifts are in need&nbsp;of&nbsp;healing; please pray for this healing to come to Thailand. </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Please also pray for current Prime Minister Abphisit. He has&nbsp;demonstrated extreme patience throughout this awful situation. Please pray that he&nbsp;stays safe and that he will continue to guide this country wisely until his term is up in mid- 2011. Please also pray for the whole country; that Thais could find true reconciliation together somehow. Things outwardly have started to return "...to normal" in most places, but the psychological toll on the nation's psyche is raw and palpable. Thank you, very much,&nbsp;for your prayers...!</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">In the midst of these political events and the real stress they've created, the New Life Center Foundation has continued pressing onwards and upwards with its services to ethnic minority women. </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">In February, we celebrated the graduation of 61 residents from the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades. No matter how many graduation ceremonies I attend, I never tire of hearing the girls share their testimonies at these events. One resident, who entered the NLCF at the age of 13 and began studying in the 1st grade, was the only girl from her village to&nbsp;complete the 6th grade.&nbsp;Four other girls from&nbsp;the same village -&nbsp;who had all entered the NLCF at the&nbsp;same time -&nbsp;dropped out along the way. This particular resident said that she did not know why she had been able to finish her studies, but she credited God for helping her, and prayed that she would always stay in His will for her life.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">In terms of our work with emergency case residents, we have been assisting a girl&nbsp;over the past few months&nbsp;who I'll call "AhBee". Her story is quite poignant in that it epitomizes some of the current challenges regarding migrant labor and exploitation in Thailand. As you know, Thailand has very&nbsp;good labor laws;&nbsp;however, these laws are not applicable&nbsp;to certain types of work (such as&nbsp;agriculture and domestic labor). Because of this lack of regulation, the abundant supply of migrant workers, and the fact that social norms regarding employer behavior are highly malleable, young women such as AhBee are easily caught up in the vortex of it all.&nbsp;As AhBee’s case so vividly demonstrates, migrant workers are not only vulnerable to labor exploitation, but also&nbsp;extraordinarily vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. This is a part of her story...</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">AhBee is currently about 14 years old. She is from a Haw Chinese family originally from Kunming, China.&nbsp; She has one younger brother. AhBee’s mother died when she was about 6. At that time, her father decided to leave their village and travel south in order to find work. According to AhBee, the family traveled over a period of several years, stopping in villages so that her father could do temporary work.&nbsp; Eventually, they ended up in Cheng Tung, Burma. They lived in Cheng Tung for about one year.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">When AhBee was about 10, her father decided that life might be better in Thailand. He left his son at a temple in Cheng Tung, and traveled with AhBee across the Burma/Thai border into the Mea Suay district. He left AhBee at the home of his friend (someone he knew from the Tachilek area of Burma). AhBee recalls that her father did this because he said she would get a better education in Thailand. </span></p> <p style="TEXT-ALIGN: justify;"><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">After a few days, AhBee’s father’s “friend” sent AhBee to live with a friend of his, Mr. Lung Dao. AhBee lived with Lung Dao for 3 days; after this, he sent her to live with a friend of his in Chiang Mai. This man’s name was Mr. "M".&nbsp; Mr. M was married with three children. He made and sold Chinese egg noodles. He and his wife allowed AhBee to move in with them and go to a local school.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Although AhBee was allowed to live in this household and&nbsp;go to school, the expectation was that she would work full time for the M. family without pay. Before school, AhBee cared for the children. After school, she helped make egg noodles, cleaned the house, and helped the children with various tasks.&nbsp;<i>&nbsp;</i>After about one year of living with this family,&nbsp;when AhBee was just about 11 years old, Mr. M. started raping her. He raped her continuously, several times a week over a 3 year period.&nbsp; At this point, just as AhBee was about 14 years old, she&nbsp;felt that she could not tolerate this situation anymore.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">She decided to talk about&nbsp;it with a teacher at her school. The teacher listened to AhBee, and reported the case to the Chiang Mai Center for the Protection of Women and Children on 4 September, 2009. The Department of Social Welfare intervened immediately, removing AhBee from the M’s home, arresting Mr. M., and placing AhBee at the government shelter. After about 4 weeks at the government shelter, AhBee was transferred to the New Life Center Foundation for longer term therapeutic care. She entered the programs and activities of the NLCF and currently participates in art,&nbsp;counseling, computers, baking, and education.&nbsp;AhBee speaks Thai well and demonstrates that she is a very bright girl.&nbsp; </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Mr. M., the perpetrator&nbsp;of this forced labor and sexual assault,&nbsp;was arrested on two counts; having sex with a minor, and also employing an “illegal immigrant”. He has not appeared in court because he jumped bail, and disappeared. </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">However, there's an additional, awful piece to this story. AhBee was also arrested on two counts. Even though she was just ten years old when she entered Thailand and had no control over the places to which she was brought by her father and her father's friends - even though she was subjected to forced labor and sexual assault over a 3 year period -&nbsp;she is still charged with “entering Thailand illegally and working illegally”. </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">The prosecutors in this case are particularly adamant, and they are advocating that AhBee is returned to Burma as soon as possible. We&nbsp;think that AhBee's case&nbsp;may be being used as an example to warn other migrants regarding any form of illegal work in Thailand. NLCF staff, along with lawyers from the International Justice Mission/Chiang Mai are providing legal counsel to Ahbee regarding this situation. She has had to&nbsp;go to court&nbsp;1-2 times per week so far, and we're not certain what the outcome will be.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">As for&nbsp;AhBee herself, she&nbsp;has become a follower of Jesus Christ. She gets up early on Sunday mornings in order to attend church and youth group meetings. She&nbsp;is a joyful member of our NLCF community, eagerly participating in activities, helping other residents, and remaining hopeful and optimistic regarding God's plans for her&nbsp;future. <br></span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Can you believe&nbsp;that? In the face of a complete lack of family, abandonment, 3 years of forced labor and sexual assault, and the possibility of being forcefully returned to the country of Myanmar where AhBee knows no-one, she remains faithful and joyful. (Am I like that...?)</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">I try to always remind myself to never confuse optimism with faith. AhBee is optimistic, but more so, she is faithful.&nbsp; </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Please pray with us for AhBee during this time. Please pray that the judge will have compassion and mercy upon this child; that he’d throw out the charges against her, and that she would be able to remain in Thailand and have some true form of a new life. </span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Please pray that the staff and I, along with the IJM and others involved in AhBee's case, would know the right way to counsel and guide her during this time. Please pray that AhBee&nbsp;continues to be healed and&nbsp;released from the shame of what happened to her, and continues to step out into the liberation, light, and love&nbsp;that is our Healer and Savior, Jesus Christ.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Thank you for your prayers, and for reading this journal. Please don't hesitate to let me know how I can pray for you.</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">with gratitude,</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial; FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Karen&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <p></p> Mon, 31 May 2010 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/22666-political-conflicts-exploitation-and-hope- https://internationalministries.org/read/22666-political-conflicts-exploitation-and-hope- December 4th, 2009 <p>Dear Friends,</p> <p>I'm&nbsp;writing this from my desk at the New Life Center Foundation, late&nbsp;on a beautiful December afternoon. At this time of year, the nights are chilly and the days are hot and dry- no humidity. It's a welcome break in the weather and I'm enjoying it! </p> <p>Activities this week included a two-day team unity building workshop for the&nbsp;adminstrative staff (it was excellent);&nbsp;additionally, I just completed a short proposal to UNICEF, and on Wednesday submitted&nbsp;an initial "Statement of Interest" (i.e., another proposal!) to the U.S. Department of State Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. If approved by "G/TIP", these funds would support and expand&nbsp;the New Life Center Foundation's anti-trafficking campaigns throughout the region. </p> <p>Economic development in Thailand has continued unabated and therefore, so has the flow of migrants across the borders.&nbsp;Wherever there is an increased&nbsp;flow of migrant workers, human trafficking also increases. Thailand is literally inundated with migrant workers, many of whom are escaping the situation in Myanmar...but many of whom are simply seeking a better life. Thailand has some really good employment laws which protect&nbsp;people who come into the country legally. However, migrants (due to many variables, but particularly language differences) often get (literally) lost in the shuffle and end up in severely exploitative labor situations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Our NLCF&nbsp;anti-trafficking, safe migration&nbsp;campaigns provide&nbsp;ethnic minorities&nbsp;with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from such exploitation. The staff and I are excited about these additional program initiatives! Will you pray with us, that we'd receive these new funds and be able to launch an expansion of these programs? I continue to feel honored that I am able to work here right now, in this unique time in Thailand's development history.</p> <p>Another wonderfully exciting development is the NLCF's upcoming training on Christian Micro-Enterprise Development scheduled for January, 2010. (This training, and&nbsp;the subsequent launch of the&nbsp;New Life Center's MED activities, is made possible by a generous donor.) The training will be led by certified staff of the Chalmers Center (<a href="http://www.chalmers.org/">www.chalmers.org</a>) at Covenant College, TN. </p> <p>Chalmers is known as the pre-eminent place for micro-enterprise development within a Christian context. I am deeply grateful that the NLCF and other IM missionaries will be able to attend such training, and am so excited about what this means for the future of our&nbsp;services.&nbsp;I will keep everyone posted, but in the meantime, will you also pray with me that the training goes smoothly and our hearts are open to what God would have us learn...? (The specific dates are January 4- 13th, 2010.) Thank you so much!</p> <p>Tomorrow (Saturday, December 5th)&nbsp;all of Thailand&nbsp;will celebrate King Bhumiphol's (King Rama IX's) 82nd birthday. King Bhumiphol is a truly great and beautiful man who has provided the utmost stability, grace and strength&nbsp;to&nbsp;his country&nbsp;over the past 62 years that he's been on the throne.&nbsp;Believe me when I tell you that the whole country celebrates!&nbsp;Chiang Mai is awash in Thai flags, huge yellow banners that line and decorate&nbsp;every highway, manicured, blooming&nbsp;flowers, and&nbsp;special, made-for-the-weekend&nbsp;monuments. There's a growing momentum towards tomorrow and everyone waits with anticipation regarding the parties and the fireworks and simply rejoicing in the fact that Bhumphol was born and has been such a great king.</p> <p>As a follower of Jesus, this&nbsp;moment is not lost on me. As I watch the Thais prepare to celebrate the birth of their current king, I am reminded of our preparation in Advent for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.&nbsp;I pray that you would know the peace of this Lord Jesus this season in every way, and that His grace, power, strength and love would be made known to you in new and deeper ways. </p> <p>Please let me know, as always, how I can pray for you.</p> <p>with love and thanks, especially during Advent,</p> <p>Karen</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 03 Dec 2009 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/16007-december-4th-2009 https://internationalministries.org/read/16007-december-4th-2009 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases...! <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Hi, Everyone!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">I wrote this message two weeks ago, but due to some internet connection problems, have not been able to send it until today. Here it is!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Blessings!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">***************************************************************************</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Dear Friends,</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">It’s October in Chiang Mai, and that means the rainy season is coming to an end. The rice in the paddies surrounding the city is waist high and turning yellow; it’s time for the harvest, and preparation for “winter”. While I welcome the cooler weather, it’s always a little hard for me to say goodbye to the rain, as it won’t come again to clear up the skies until late April…!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">My day to day work at the New Life Center is virtually 100% administrative. Most of the time I am at our office, working on outcome management reports, developing proposals, and/or following up on a program issue or training need. But once in a while, I do get to spend time with the residents, and I just love these opportunities.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Last week I had the chance to take 8 residents out for a short hike up the Doi Suthep mountain. The base of the trail is just five minutes away from our main residential facility, and I thought it would be fun to introduce&nbsp;these new kids&nbsp;to the place and get a chance to talk together outside of the formality of their other activities. This particular trail is short, but it’s full of the lush tropical flora and fauna that is present throughout northern Thailand.&nbsp;On the way up,&nbsp;the kids stopped to pick banana shoots, long pea pods, and other types of grass and leaves that they like to eat (!) At the top of the trail, we sat on some ancient, massive rocks next to a waterfall, ate snacks, and talked together.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">One by one, each resident started to ask me different questions, and they were all fully engaged in the conversation. “Jane”, a 15 year old victim of forced labor and who was almost beaten almost to death by a violent step-father, asked me the following: </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">“Where do languages come from? Why do we have different countries? How did God create the world? Why did God create the world? Why do we use the word “father” and “mother”? Why didn’t we choose some other sounds for this word? Why do foreigners have such funny noses, like yours? Why are there different tribal groups?”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">“Nancy”, a 16 year old victim of forced prostitution and human trafficking, asked me:</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">“Where does the word ‘Christmas’ come from? Why do we give presents at Christmas time? Do you think I’ll be able to do well when I start school again?”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">As we sat and talked together, my heart just delighted in these girls, in their questions, and in their desire for life- even though they’ve come out of such horrifying situations. I prayed that God would help me answer their questions and nourish their hearts. But I just delighted in the opportunity to sit there with them, listen to the sounds of the waterfall, and be present with them at that very special moment.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Just as we started hiking back down the trail, it started to rain- a heavy, unexpected mountain downpour. The girls grabbed banana leaves to cover their heads and we all started hiking/running down the mountain. And as we splashed down the trail, through the mud, listening to the sounds of the waterfall behind us and the rain hitting the trees in front of us, the girls spontaneously started to sing one of the worship songs they’ve learned in Thai since arriving at the New Life Center…</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><i><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases - His mercies never come to an end</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><i><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">They are new every morning, new every morning</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><i><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Great is Your faithfulness, oh God</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><i><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Great is Your faithfulness…”</span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">The sound of their voices was so precious, and I was struck by the absolute joy of that moment- that these beloved girls, who have come out of such horror, could choose to sing praises to God as they laughed and jumped and splashed down the side of the mountain in the rain.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Your faithful giving to the World Mission Offering allows me to be a witness to, and a part of, God’s work here in Thailand at the New Life Center Foundation. I pray that you also may find the joy of the living Christ, our resurrected Lord, despite whatever tragedies you have experienced in your own life. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Thank you so much for your faithful support of me and my colleagues around the world. Your gifts make a difference and result in transformed lives of many persons, including the precious residents of the New Life Center Foundation.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Blessings to you in this season and always.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;">Karen</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"></span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt;"><span style="FONT-SIZE: 11pt;"><span>&nbsp;</span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p> Sun, 01 Nov 2009 19:00:00 -0500 https://internationalministries.org/read/15110-the-steadfast-love-of-the-lord-never-ceases- https://internationalministries.org/read/15110-the-steadfast-love-of-the-lord-never-ceases- Returned to Thailand <p class="MsoNormal">Dear Friends,</p> <p class="MsoNormal">After living and working in the United States for the past 13 months, I recently returned to Thailand and resumed my work at the New Life Center Foundation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This past Saturday I went for a long bike ride through my old neighborhood. This area is close to the sprawling, lush and landscaped gardens of Chiang Mai University, and it’s a mishmash of small, winding lanes, rice paddies, organic farms, a Buddhist temple, street vendors, a big highway, and (last but not least) a Dunkin’ Donuts!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As I bicycled through the area it seemed as if Thailand itself had sprung to life. I was surrounded by thick frangipani trees with their fragrant white blossoms, the sting-your-eyes smell of roasted chili peppers at street side restaurants, barking dogs, fumes from motorcycles, and humidity – <span style="">&nbsp;</span>that lovely Southeast Asian humidity which always clings, always hangs, is always ever-present in the air. I am happy to be back...!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Many of you know that the New Life Center Foundation is an official member of the “Chiang Mai Center for the Protection of Child Rights”. This is a broad term for a committee which is made up of all the organizations (both national and NGO) that work to prevent human trafficking and labor exploitation throughout northern Thailand. Representatives from the Royal Thai Government (“RTG”) immigration and crime suppression police, and various anti-trafficking divisions, are a part of the committee, along with representatives from the many Thai NGO’s with whom the NLCF partners. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I can’t even begin to describe the privilege it is to be in Thailand at this unique time in its history, and to work on these serious social problems alongside such committed and capable Thai and tribal colleagues. As I drove into the parking lot at the Chiang Mai City Hall this morning, and then found my seat in the large conference room on the 5th floor, I had to pinch myself- I could not believe that I was back, and that God has allowed me to join in this work in this way. What a gift! What a privilege! I was able to give a brief report to the committee on the recent anti-trafficking campaigns that the NLCF has completed, and was blessed that my Thai seemed to return without too many problems…(!)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I am currently looking for a house to rent, and would appreciate your prayers in that matter. Please also pray that I can get caught up with the work here, and that it won’t take me too long to re-adjust to everything.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It was wonderful and a real honor for me last year to travel to so many different states and meet so many great people. You are the salt of the earth! I pray God gives you strength, courage, and passion for your journey, now and always. Please let me know how I can pray for you.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Most warmly,</p><p class="MsoNormal">Karen</p> Mon, 10 Aug 2009 20:00:00 -0400 https://internationalministries.org/read/13466-returned-to-thailand https://internationalministries.org/read/13466-returned-to-thailand