I'm writing this from my desk at the New Life Center Foundation, late 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!
Activities this week included a two-day team unity building workshop for the adminstrative staff (it was excellent); additionally, I just completed a short proposal to UNICEF, and on Wednesday submitted 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 the New Life Center Foundation's anti-trafficking campaigns throughout the region.
Economic development in Thailand has continued unabated and therefore, so has the flow of migrants across the borders. Wherever there is an increased 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 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.
Our NLCF anti-trafficking, safe migration campaigns provide ethnic minorities 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.
Another wonderfully exciting development is the NLCF's upcoming training on Christian Micro-Enterprise Development scheduled for January, 2010. (This training, and the subsequent launch of the 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 (www.chalmers.org) at Covenant College, TN.
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 services. 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!
Tomorrow (Saturday, December 5th) all of Thailand 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 to his country over the past 62 years that he's been on the throne. Believe me when I tell you that the whole country celebrates! Chiang Mai is awash in Thai flags, huge yellow banners that line and decorate every highway, manicured, blooming flowers, and special, made-for-the-weekend 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.
As a follower of Jesus, this 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. 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.
Please let me know, as always, how I can pray for you.
with love and thanks, especially during Advent,