Lucky is the first street child that we came in contact with in Pattaya. Pattaya Praise was in full swing and we were down on Soi 6; one of the busiest streets in the bar district. He seemed to come out of nowhere, he was just at our feet all of a sudden. Bending down to talk to him, he gave me a beaming smile and pointed to the candy I held in my hand.
I asked a lady sitting outside a bar if she knew who the little guy was and who he belonged to. Her answer saddened me, but did not shock me. His name was Lucky and he didn't belong to anyone, he simply lived in the bars. The story went that his mom died when he was born so a lady took him home from the hospital and "cared" for him. By "caring" for him, she had him roam the streets begging and selling. This same lady then looked me square in the face and asked me if I wanted him! Finding Dean in the crowd I told him of this little boy. We didn't really know what we could do at this point. We had no way of taking him home with us and no one in the ministry who was able to either. The one thing that we knew we could do for him at this very moment was pray for him, so we did. Before too long he scampered off into a bar, making it very evident that he did in fact live in the area and he was known by many.
Even though we left Soi 6 and Lucky behind, he was never far from our thinking. Two weeks later during prison outreach I met a couple who lived and worked in Pattaya. They have a heart and ministry for street children and on learning this I shared with them all about this little boy. They were very interested in finding him so I described him as best I could and they went down to Soi 6 that day. They went up and down the street but just couldn't find him. Not wanting to give up, they called and asked if I happened to have a photo. Sending them the same one you see now, they headed back out desperate to find this little boy. They went into brothels and bars up and down the street showing people his picture, asking for help, letting people know that they cared and wanted to help. No one would even admit to knowing who or where he was.
When they told us this, our hearts sank. What happened to him? Where did he end up, and who took him? Was he sold? Traded? Or worse? People on that street knew who this boy was and what happened to him; he lived right there with them, how couldn't they have? How could they not want to see him receive an opportunity for a real childhood and a future? How could they not unless they knew it was already too late. Lucky is gone, and no one is talking. How often does this happen? Far too often to not do something about it. We cannot let another child fade into the dark.
We have spent the better part of 2010 praying and seeking God - asking how He was going to set us loose into our calling while under the ministry of Pastors Al and Terry Purvis. It would be a completely new focus for the ministry here and in the end, we felt it wasn't fair to ask them to stretch the already stretched resources even further. With God's peace, we asked for a release from the ministry here, and with their full blessing they gave it to us. During the annual staff orientation Pastor Al asked us to share our heart and vision with everyone who is a part of the ministry in Sriracha. They all gathered around us laying hands upon us and prayed for us and our mission. We are still very much a part of the Victory Church here in Sriracha, we attend services faithfully every Sunday, and Royal Oak Victory in Calgary is still our home and sending church. Our support is still being run through A&D World Missions in Lethbridge. All the release means is that we are free to focus 100% of our energies on why we are here - at risk and enslaved children.
With the release from the ministry in Sriracha came the release from this small city as well. Although we never pictured ourselves living in Pattaya, it became clear rather quickly the benefits of being in the city we would be ministering in. The drive from Sriracha to downtown Pattaya is an hour each way; coupling this with four to five days of ministry each week, not including emergency cases, it seemed prudent to start looking at housing closer to Pattaya. As soon as we started investigating a move we learned just how beneficial being right in Pattaya is going to be. Any ministry having anything to do with at risk and enslaved children is found in Pattaya. These are ministries that we will be working with or alongside of, so to be available to one another is priceless.
We have found a house that we believe the Lord chose for us. It is close enough to everything that it will not be a hassle to get where we are needed but it is also far enough out of the city centre that we won't feel like we are living right in the "thick of things". And as an added bonus, both Baylee and Julia are very excited about the move as it means they are closer to their new friends plus there is a much larger community of families with kids their own age. The one down side to living in Pattaya is that our cost of living goes up a bit. We are saving in fuel costs, but our rent has more than doubled. (Please take note of our address change on the side bar).
We feel like it has been a year of preparation and we are excited and we are ready to move into this ministry. There will be plenty of opportunity to join with us in this work, so if you ever want to jump into a short term mission experience, send us an email. Our initial focus will be to see children trapped in street begging rings rescued; this too is a deep-rooted problem. Often children are kidnapped or sold into these rings where they are forced to work all night long in the bar districts selling cigarettes, candy and even birds, to bar patrons. Often being fed only one meal a day and they keep none of the money that they earn. The girls are taught to be very "touchy feely" with people; even with women, I myself have experienced this and have had men in other ministries describe how very young girls, even four or five years old, will come up to them and try to sit on their laps hugging them and running their hands over them, trying to sell gum! Oh how God weeps when His children's innocence is stolen!
One ministry that we will be partnering efforts with is Extreme Prophetic; we will be part of an outreach team that is focused on identifying and rescuing children enslaved in begging rings. More often than not, these kids are from neighbouring Cambodia, Myanmar, or Laos. Because they are here illegally they can not and will not go to the police for help as they know that they will simply be thrown in jail and the cycle will be repeated. Extreme Prophetic has a brand new safe house in Thailand that is specifically for foreign children. Dean is going back to Poipet, Cambodia in November and will be networking with Victory Missions regarding the Not for Sale safe house there, as well as an organization called CHO - Cambodia Hope Organization and Hope for the Nations. Our hope is to join forces with these very valuable ministries and work together towards the same end - giving children back their childhood.
Above all, we implore you to pray for our family. We quite literally will be working in the devil's house and with that comes an enormous need for a solid covering of prayer. Please pray that our family will be bound together with cords that cannot be broken. Pray that our marriage remains strongly planted on Christ the Rock. Please pray that Baylee and Julia's minds are protected from the horrors of what can be done to a child and please also pray that they continue to discover God's call on their own lives here in Thailand.
We pray that you will stand alongside us with your prayers and finances. Your support means more to us than we could ever describe; it is what keeps us on the front lines of this fight. We have said before, and we stand firmly on the belief that not all are called to go, but all are called to serve and when we partner together for Kingdom advancement we all share the same blessings. Without "senders" there cannot be "goers".
One immediate need that we have right now is support for Fulgence Nsengiyumva. He is the young man that we met in Rwanda. He was a huge asset to the children's home there and was incredibly generous with his time and talents; not only in regards to the needs of the home but to the children as well. Fulgence has always had a real desire to better educate himself and has worked diligently to achieve high grades. When the opportunity arose for him to come to Thailand to study at the Bible college he did all that he could to get here. It has drastically changed his life, and he works very hard, not only for himself, but also his family.
Tuition is very affordable compared to North America but it is still a very large sacrifice for our family as we ourselves are supported. $1160.00 covers his entire year of school, this includes tuition, a shared dorm, and three meals five days a week. If you are able to take this on, or help out in any way, please email us and let us know. Sowing into Fulgence is sowing into Rwanda; his heart for his country is to work with the men and women in prison, serving sentences for crimes committed during the genocide; these would be the same people who killed members of his family and many of his friends. His vision is to see those imprisoned receive the forgiveness that only Christ can offer and for them to have a real understanding of how much they are loved. All giving to Fulgence's education is tax deductible.
Please consider partnering with us in Thailand with your finances. If you have considered helping but never taken that step of faith, commit it to prayer and action and join us in this Great Commission Destiny. All giving is tax deductible. Please email us just to chat or if you have any questions about our ministry here or financial accountability, we always enjoy hearing from you.
With great appreciation for you all; and our prayers for your continued blessing,
Dean, Kathy, Baylee & Julia