A Faa-bulous meeting in Thailand

Yesterday you read about how I stood with a friend a top of mound of dirt in Cambodia. During that same trip I also stood on a courtyard with someone in Thailand whom I had never met before. This young lady, whose name is Faa, through limited English, shared her story with me for about thirty minutes. We were standing there like old friends and time seemed to stand still. The emotion in her voice, the sincerity of her heart, the pattern of abuse and redemption, everything gripped my heart in a way I cannot explain to this day.

The details of the story weren’t as clear, but there was no mistake about one thing: this woman’s faith in God was unprecedented and her courage seemed to know no limits. As I said good-bye to Faa that day, not knowing whether I would ever see her again, I told myself that if I ever had a chance to help her fulfill her dream of rescuing at-risk children, I would.

That was June of 2008. Exactly one year later, unbeknownst to me, Faa was in the U.S. She had been promised some opportunities to improve her English and learn some leadership skills. Instead, she was placed at a Christian camp doing housekeeping. And she was supposed to spend the whole summer there! After one month, she had enough. Being as resourceful as she is, she reached out to our church, and soon she was in Wooster, immersed in our ministry and forging friendships which would change her life forever.

Faa’s story was so compelling and her personality so bubbly, people simply fell in love with her. Soon, there was a core group of people who began to identify with her vision of rescuing children from the sex trade industry in Thailand. I spent an entire afternoon with her one day, asking questions, praying together, probing deeper, and brainstorming ways we might be able to partner. At the end of that time, we had outlined the principal elements of what would eventually become a rescue ministry in Thailand. But we still didn’t have a name.

The next day we toiled more in search of a name. We drew pictures on the board (I mean Faa did) and kept talking until we came to an agreement. I knew that Faa wanted to have the words “Grace” and “Refuge,” and I wanted the ministry to have an international appeal. In the end, the name came to us — G.R.O.W. (Grace Refuge Outreach Worldwide) and with that nine years of toil, tears, prayers and hope against hope had finally ended for Faa. She finally found a group of people who trusted her enough to commit to stand side by side with her in pursuing her dream.

There was, however, a small problem — we had zero money and zero clout. No one was knocking on our door and I had found from personal experience that churches were not too eager to support a ministry that was so cutting edge, so risky, as one to children abused by the evils of the sex-trade industry in SE Asia.

We needed a miracle and miracle is what we got. Tomorrow I will tell you the tale of three bikes. You will be amazed at what God does when a group of people decide they will defend those who have no voice.

Ivanildo C. Trindade