We had a wonderful and fruitful visit from Westside Christian High School (WCHS) in Portland, Oregon. The highlight of this unforgettable time together was the way the Holy Spirit moved in our hearts during a Sunday morning worship service, giving many an encounter with the love of the Father in a life-changing way.
I asked a few of the members of the team to write this month’s newsletter:
Eight years ago a partnership between Grace Ministries and Westside Outside (Westside Christian High School) was born. At the time no one could have predicted the lasting impact on both organizations and the children each serves, and no one can take credit for what has become a phenomenal relationship of mutual respect and admiration. The journey has changed individuals on both sides of the world—altering lives vocationally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Gratitude to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the only reasonable response. Over the years teams from Westside have stretched beyond their borders geographically and opened their hearts wide to the children of Grace Ministries—and more importantly, to the love of God. Young people have left the comforts of home and the safety of the normal to courageously embrace pain, suffering and brokenness—witnessing to the "amazing grace" of God and His restoration power found in the ministry of Jesus' presence. This journey is primarily about building relationships: within our team, with our Thai sisters and brothers at GM, and most importantly—to encounter Jesus and draw deeper into relationship with Him. Laughter, love and trust have been hallmarks of this relationship, reflecting the unity and communion among the Godhead. Westside is overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to come each year and looks forward to years and years ahead.
Steve Pringle, former Principal of WCHS
So much around me...life, love and singing. Yes singing! How do you know when a heart is beginning to heal? When singing is happening again. It is one of the first things I noticed during my trip to Grace Ministries. This oasis of life is putting the song of hope back into young people ripped off by hundreds of years of poverty and exploitation. This small square of love in Krasang, Thailand, helps these children see a new normal, a kingdom normal of peace and joy and love and hope. It has been my honor to watch the team at Grace Ministries exhibit this hope with words, with actions, and with their lives. Day in and day out they live among these little lives and sing the song of hope to them until they find the song in their own hearts and begin to sing it. If you listen you can hear it as they smile and laugh, as they greet you with head held high and a gleaming smile. All of this points to a healing of soul, a healing of self. Then the still, small, sweet voice of the Father rushes in and completes the work only He can confirm: "I Love You" with a love that restores the heart, bringing vision and future and hope.
Marshall Snider, CEO of Bridge Town, Inc.
I came to Thailand on this trip to Grace Ministries wearing many hats—alumni parent, chaperone, sponsor. It has been a wonderful experience. As a sponsor, I have seen first-hand what sponsorship means. These students have a safe place to live where all their basic needs plus much more are provided. Because of the integrity of the mission here, they promise safety and are careful to insure it on all fronts. The compound feels like a piece of paradise—physically, emotionally, morally safe. Sponsorship gives the GM students the opportunity to attend school with uniforms, school supplies, and everything else they need. On the Saturday we went to the elephant farm, it was a blessing to see so many children wearing their new gift outfits with confidence. The notes sponsors sent with the gift were read and appreciated. But the most important thing children receive at Grace Ministries is the love of a family because so few receive that at home. When I told people I was going on a mission trip, many asked what we would be building. I tried to explain that we would be spending time with Thai children who were at risk of being exploited or sold by their parents, but now I know that we have been building relationships, and it has been precious and priceless.
As my fifth trip as a Westside team leader comes to a close, it's natural for me to reflect on the seven times the Westside student team has made the long journey to Krasang; outwardly, much has changed. For the Westside kids and leaders, faces and fashions have changed, and we've revised the teaching and schedule over the years. On the GM campus, where there was only one building, we now have four beautiful homes. When the partnership began, our own farm was only a dream; at Eden we're now growing our own rice, fish, eggs, chicken, pork, and fruit. A staff of six welcomed the team on the first trip; today eleven courageous Christians feed, teach, supervise, love, and nurture 72 children. Then, Grace served students in grades 6-12. Now it is￼home to kids in grade 2 through the fifth year of college. But in the essentials Grace and the partnership with Westside has remained the same. Relationship will always be our priority: intimacy with Christ, humility and mutual support toward each other, and love, love, love poured out on the Thai and US kids. It is impossible to know how many American students' and leaders' lives have been changed by their time at Grace, but everyone who has come has been impacted significantly—many in life-altering ways.
Becky Gaslin, Chairperson of the GMFT International Board of Advisors
...the good work you are doing is impacting for eternity the lives of precious young ones. You are the defenders of the defenseless, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Dr. Debi Miller, WCHS Head of School
Heart-felt gratitude to each of you who pray for and support Grace Ministries in life-changing ways,
Yao, Witoon & Ewe, Noot, P Jim, Doi, P Baa, David, Charles & Yoke Fong