Meet Karen Harvey coming to ISM in January 2014 – Internship at NightLight

Hi my name is Karen Harvey and I’ll be serving in Thailand with NightLight beginning in January 2015, seeking to shine God’s light in the darkness and bring hope and dignity to His daughters!  I’m a 2014 graduate of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Ministry.  Washington State is my native land, and mountains are my favorite kind of landscape!

 

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I grew up in the church and though there wasn’t a specific moment that I recall, I made the choice to follow Jesus around age nine.  I knew that this meant that I was loved and that God would not leave me.  Around this time, I began developing a passion for the oppressed and undignified of the world.  In high school, I went on mission trips to Mexico and Honduras that were profoundly impacting to me.  I realized my love of other cultures, serving those in need, and the ways that God can work outside of my own personal context.  I also met a wonderful missionary family doing their furlough in my hometown, which put the idea of being a missionary into my mind.  My faith grew a lot at the end of high school as I joined youth group and a small group Bible study and found Christian community for the first time.  I knew that I wanted a Christian college, and I chose to move across the country to attend Hope College- a small school with deep traditions, community, and faith.

 

I’m in my last weeks at Hope now and it has been so incredibly sweet.  I’ve learned what it means to give every part of my life to Jesus- to seek His glory in whatever it is that I’m doing.  I’m privileged to have witnessed God at work on my campus and in the lives of my friends.  I’ve learned so much about who I am in Christ and who God made me specifically to be.  I watched the sun rise over the Great Wall, adventured in Tibet, and learned more about myself than I thought possible during my semester abroad in China.  I got to live in God’s creation in Colorado and live life with the coolest teenagers I’ve ever met last summer.  I’ve been most blessed by a wide variety of friends and mentors who have taught me more about who God is and shown me love and grace when I don’t deserve it.  Even in the challenging times, God has taught me about perseverance and that He will ultimately use my struggles to reflect His glory.

 

One time of my college career that has been especially impactful is the summer between my sophomore and junior years that I spent serving at a children’s home in Kenya.  I saw God’s heartbreak for the orphaned and forgotten of the world, and how deeply He cares for His children.  I love to be His hands and feet, and He is good enough to let us do that!  After this experience, I sensed that the next phase of my journey would take me to women in sex-trafficking and that is what my experience in Thailand will be.  My journey to Thailand officially began at the Urbana conference at the end of 2012.  The speaker said something to the effect of “light isn’t needed where it’s already light- we’re called to shine light in the darkest places.”  I saw in my mind a red light shining in the darkness, and a pair of eyes, broken and without hope.  On my Urbana commitment card I committed to serving in missions and I wrote, “to bring hope and dignity to His daughters.”

This is my call for the year 2015.  I heard about NightLight through a friend, and remembered the name when I started research post-grad plans.  From there I got connected with ISM.  God opened and closed doors until I knew that Thailand was where I was going to be.  He has been so faithful, even in the smallest ways and I know that He will be with me just as He always has been.  I’m excited to join up with what He’s already doing in Thailand through NightLight!

 

Moments of Impact – Monique Beuglet

Monique’s reflections about  training at ISM and internship at NightLight. Re-blogged with permission

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MOMENTS OF IMPACT
March 25, 2014 
“The moment of impact provides potential for change. It has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict.” – The Vow

A single moment has the power to change your life. It can change your future, your present, and even your outlook on the past. I have been so blessed to have had many moments like these over the past seven months. I thank God for opening the doors for these moments, moments that I will cherish in my heart for years to come. As my time in South East Asia is coming to an end, I thought I would share a few of my most cherished moments.

Prison Ministry, September (ISM)
Doing prison ministry at Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Centre was one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life. It was humbling, challenging, eye opening, and made me question my faith. I walked towards the fence lined with refugees, the fence separating freedom from captivity, with an attitude of superiority. Superiority in the sense that I was expecting these refugees to be hopeless and alone, in need of my help and encouragement. I was going to walk up to that fence and share the love of Jesus with people who needed it the most. God had other plans. As I walked away from the fence an hour later, my attitude of superiority had been replaced with humility, respect, and amazement. I was left speechless. For the duration of the entire visiting hour I did not serve, but was being served and ministered to by the prisoners. From spontaneous worship to prophetic words and prayer, it was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. All of the refugees were full of such joy and happiness. They had an unwavering faith that I was envious of. They had nothing. They were separated from family, persecuted for their faith, indefinitely imprisoned in a foreign country, yet were more trusting in God than most people in North America, including myself. I will never forget the faith of the IDC refugees.

Christmas at NightLight, December
Christmas. It was a time of sadness, but also a time of joy. I was missing my family, our traditions, the snow, singing Christmas carols in church, and the holiday spirit at home. There was Christmas music playing in the malls downtown Bangkok, some Christmas trees and lights hung around the parts of the city where most Westerners and tourists flock to, but other than that it was as if it was mid August, 30 degrees and all. However, being away from the consumer centred holiday in North America allowed me to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Instead of shopping for gifts for my friends and family, I helped put together hundreds of gift bags which we later handed out to the women working in the go-go bars of the red light district. Instead of singing Christmas carols in church, we sang Christmas carols inside of a brothel, and then walked across the street and sang on the steps of another. Instead of giving gifts to my family, we went into slums throughout Bangkok and handed out gifts with the Thai women employed by NightLight. Instead of celebrating Christmas with family and friends, I celebrated Christmas Thai style with the NightLight family. December was a month of many blessings and joy.

The Critical Shift, January 2014
7 months living in South East Asia seems like a long time. That turned into what I thought was an eternity during my first 3 months in Bangkok. I went through my daily routine dragging my heals, being irritated by cultural differences, and complaining about the heat. But then there was a shift. I didn’t realize it for a while, but when I did it was one of the most important moments of my time here. I had stopped checking the weather in Ontario, I had stopped looking at the weekly worship schedule at my home church, I had stopped wishing I could eat Western food. Instead of counting down the days until I was home, I was counting the days before I had to leave, not wanting my internship to be over and shocked at how fast the time was flying by. This shift in thinking changed everything. The things I had done before with a poor attitude now gave me joy, new doors began to open with new opportunities, I began building deeper relationships. I stopped mentally living at home, and instead I began to feel at home here. And what a difference that made. I am so thankful that I was able to discover the joy that God had for me here.

Outreach
I will never forget my first night on outreach. My past experience walking through the red light district was full of anger and a feeling of defeat, but walking into the bar and coming face to face with Bangkok’s notorious sex industry for the first time on outreach I was surprisingly filled with joy and hope. Joy and hope that could only come from God. I have seen and experienced so many things on outreach that I will never forget. Every week I have the privilege of going into the go-go bars and talking with women, women who wear numbers and are chosen by men as an item for sale. We have handed out invitations to medical clinics, given roses to women on Valentine’s Day, and given gifts to women on Christmas. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of NightLight’s outreach team for the past seven months.

Art & Worship
I brought my violin with me to SEA thinking that I would need it for my first month of school, and then it would collect dust under my bed for the remaining six months. I am so happy to say that that has not been the case. Twice a week I have the privilege of being a part of “The NightLight Band” in morning chapel. I watch women worshipping God, women whose lives have been completely transformed, rescued and set free by Jesus. For the past six months I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve NightLight through art as well. From painting a wall mural to designing an eight panel chalk board menu, and all kinds of small projects in between, it has given me so much joy to be able to use the gifts God has given me for His Kingdom. What has given me the most joy though, has been teaching an art class to a handful of the NightLight women. Our Friday afternoon class is the perfect end to the week. Being able to share art with them, paint together, and see their creativity flourish is such a beautiful thing.

 

Creative Life Foundation is now in partnership with ISM! Interns wanted!

Creative Life Foundation is looking for ISM interns.

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Purpose: Creative Life’s mission is to respond to the poor, marginalized and displaced people of Thailand with holistic educational, therapeutic and creative projects to address their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They do this through the creation and management of: Creative Life Education projects, Soul, MINAS, Palanjia and Re- store.

Internship Details

Creative Life Foundation is located in the heart of Bangkok.  There are many options in this ministry for intern to use their education and skill sets.  Possible Activities: (please note that the details of your daily schedule may vary depend- ing on current ministry needs): Depending on your skills and talents, you may help with teaching refugee children, Minas (pesto and peanut butter making and sales), Soul art therapy and counselling (if qualified), urban gardening, and a variety of other activities

Hours (please note this may vary depending on ministry needs): Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00, possible evening and night teaching to children in a red light area, possible evening and weekend activities.

Street Outreach establishes and deepens relationships with families who beg on the street mainly in the notorious red-light district, putting children and women at great risk for sexual exploitation. In valuing relationships we consistently visit our friends on the streets where they beg to offer encouragement, prayer and service.

To apply please go to www.ismsea.com

“I’m passionate about missions” – do I really need on the ground training?

onthegroundBefore opening ISM in 2012, I personally had 16 interns come and intern with me through NightLight International.  I began working with NightLight in 2006 and I had the privilege of being the volunteer co-ordinator there for 5 plus years along with coordinating interns, volunteers and short term teams.  The  interns often lived with me and I spent quite a bit of time helping them understand working in Thailand, discussing do’s and don’ts, walking them through culture shock,  role loss, homesickness and understanding missions life.  I knew that if I didn’t handle these questions, the ministry would have to.  I also showed them how to navigate the city of Bangkok.  Some of the interns prepared by reading books, talking to other short termers but books and chats cannot replace on the ground training by long term missionaries.  Short termers have some experience in missions but without living on the ground your understanding of missions life is limited.  In 2012 I opened ISM so I could send interns all over South East Asia to intern.  So many ministries (25 working with ISM) are looking for trained interns.  During the training phase of ISM students are taught by a variety of missionaries and ministry leaders with missions experience from a few years to 30 years.   So why do you need on the ground training?

  1. You will learn from people who are fighting issues like poverty and slavery that tackling these problems have little to do with Facebook likes, tweets, and instagram photos.   Most of us come from a western understanding of these huge and famous problems in our world. These issues involve corruption at every level in countless nations around the world, organized crime and many cultural push factors.  Awareness and fighting slavery must be a priority and it’s a God given mandate, but jumping on a band wagon without realizing the complexities surrounding the problem it isn’t the way to combat such massive issues.  Training on the ground will give you insight and an educated understanding of how to move forward with intelligence.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity - When you come to another nation to serve you have to learn the basic do’s and don’ts in order to open people’s hearts.  As an intern its really important that you come as a learner and not as a tourist. It is crucial to get training from people who live on the field.  Years of experience working, loving and serving as a missionary is invaluable.    Reading stories, getting a degree, while important cannot begin prepare you for this.  Hands on training does.
  3. To learn that missionaries are just imperfect people.
  4. To learn how to deal with culture shock and culture stress.  Serving short term is an amazing and often a life changing opportunity but it isn’t easy. To uproot your life, be away from friends and family and learn to live another way with different cultural rules and norms is  challenging. Training helps you notice the signs of culture shock and stress and gives you helpful tools to cope and thrive.
  5. To learn that they way we do things in our home nations isn’t always the best way, its just different.
  6. To learn how to depend on the Holy Spirit.  The spiritual world is as real as the physical world. Without the Holy Spirit you are helpless.  “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12
  7. To learn how to die to self and kill your inner diva by actually having to give up some things.  Things other than chocolate and social media.
  8. To learn that loving people into the kingdom is really hard work.   Mission trips look nothing like living on the mission field. Internships are not missions’ trips.  A mission trip schedule is what missionaries do when teams come.
  9. To meet a variety of missionaries who have been living on the field for years.  You get to learn from experts who have made mistakes, and also have some great stories that will inspire you.
  10. So you are a blessing to the ministry hosting you.  After being on the ground for a month your eyes are starting to open to how things work in another culture.   You also have learned how to serve with excellence and what ministries need and want from interns.  You have learned to cope with living with other people that you don’t know, what the language barrier really means,  that your internship is not about you and that your primary role is to hold up hands of the warriors while they do battle.

We are honoured to have some of our  hosts  telling us that ISM interns are some of the best they’ve ever had.   Why?   On the ground training.

To apply go to http://www.ismsea.com

Sandra McIntosh
Director, ISM

Our new partner Global Connections Centre in Korat Thailand is looking for interns!

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Global Connections Centre

Global Connections Centre is a business as mission project that runs a cafe and teaches English. Their goal is to facilitate church planting in communities where there are none through making natural connections with the community and creating financial sustainability. They’d prefer to have interns for 6 months or more, but will consider a 3 month commitment.

Kevin and Jeh Sie Chan are the Directors of the Centre.  They come from Singapore and Malaysia respectively, but lived in New Zealand for over 10 years before moving to Thailand.

Internship Details

Possible Activities (please note that the details of your daily schedule may vary depending on current ministry needs): You may be involved in teaching English and building relationships with local people, playing board games with students, working in the coffee shop and taking Thai language classes if you are coming for more than 6 months.  

Hours (please note this may vary depending on ministry needs): mostly evenings, all day Saturday, possibly other times as needed.

Korat Thailand is a very safe city located about 3.5 hours from Bangkok.  

If you’d love to serve this growing ministry please apply for your internship at www.ismsea.com

 

 

BIG NEWS – one of our ISMers Class of 09.12 – Maria is now the Director of Marketing and Relationships at NightLight

BIG NEWS!

It’s Official!!!

You are looking at NightLight Design’s new “Director of Business and Relationships” for their North American region! … almost.

What does that mean? It means that if we raise full funding for this brand new position by July 1st, I will be responsible for directing the business strategy and managing key stakeholder partnerships for NightLight’s social enterprise, NightLight Design, throughout their North American region. We believe the creation of this position will greatly enhance the long-term sustainability of this business, and therefore increase NightLight’s ability to impact the sex trade community in Bangkok.

In March’s newsletter, I will include the complete breakdown on this new position and the business plan we have been working hard to develop! 

In April, I will let you in on the biggest lessons I’ve learned since returning from Thailand… deep stuff. 

Thank you so much for your compassionate hearts towards the women in Bangkok and for partnering with me to impact this community.

Meet Amanda Riebersal coming to ISM in Sept 2014!

imageHello my name is Amanda and my journey to Thailand begins in Sept 2014. Why Thailand?  Great question and simply put, the Lord said go. In September/October 2012, the Lord told me two years Thailand.  To be honest, I was surprised and totally shocked because Thailand was not even on my radar or even close for that matter. Plus, I knew very little about Thailand and I had no idea if the Lord wanted me togo for two years or to leave in two years. However, I slowly started to research many different options to goThailand and allowed the Lord to lead the way. Even though I looked into many possibilities, the Lord kept bringing me back to one which I finally pursued because I knew it was the door He wanted me to go through. Oh and by the way if you have not noticed I start ISM in September and begin my internship in October 2014.  This will be exactly 2 years just like the Lord said. Trust me, I did not plan it out that way it is just how it all unfolded because I was uncertain for the longest time about what He meant by 2 years Thailand. Praise Jesus for His provision, love,patience, and faithfulness.

So, here is a brief background of my life. I am from the United States and currently living in Florida. Igraduated from the University of Toledo in May 2013 with my Bachelor’s in Adolescent and Young Adult Education and my Bachelor’s in Arts with my major in History. I have a passionate for teaching but I did not start teaching right away because I felt like the Lord wanted me to pursue other options such as going to Thailand.However, the more I grown in Him I realize that my greatest passionate is seeing people encounter His love and helping them get closer to Jesus.

I grew up in a Christian home but I never realized that I could have a deep personal relationship with the Lord. I had no idea what loving God looked like or what living by faith truly meant until I went to Haiti. The pastor that we worked with completely trusted in the Lord to provide for their needs which He did daily. This pastor had so much joy and faith in the Lord and it was contagious. Also, the Lord was using this pastor in tremendous ways and I realized that I wanted to know the Father on this level. Therefore, I started to seek Him more and I realized that everything that is promised in the Bible we as believers have access to. The Lord has totally transformed the way I think and how I want to live my life because of His great love. Even though I have been to Haiti, Mexico, and Kenya, it is nothing compared to what I am about to embark upon but I am walking out in faith.

I start ISM in September and my internship with The Centre begins in October 2014 for 6 months. I know the Lord will lead the way and for that reason, because He is calling me, I am following Him to Thailand. I want to be a light wherever I am at for the Lord because I want people to encounter the love of the Lord. I desire for people to realize that they have access to Him daily and are capable of walking out in His promises and gifts that He has lavished upon us. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of the type of life-style that He is calling me to live.

The Lord is good,

Amanda Riebersal

Today I got engaged.

With permission, M’s diary entry January 15, 2014.

Today, I got engaged.

When I woke up, I knew that this was going to happen. I was prepared.

So I kneeled. He proposed, but I was on my knees. I am the bride, but He’s the one that accepted me.
Of all the places in the world, I would’ve never imagined Thailand. He prepared a good surprise.

Today, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Today, for the first time, I praised the Lord in his own language.
Today, for the first time, I understood why people are not afraid when they get engaged. Today, I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t look back. I was 100% sure of what I was getting myself into, and I really wanted it.

Jesus – today, I know who you are. And you are the one I want.

Emily says thanks.

Re-blogged – from Emily Snow

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December 21: Thank you.

I’m on my way home. My first flight landed an hour early, which meant less time on the plane but a longer layover. So, I’m currently sitting in the Istanbul airport where I have been for around 5 hours now. For whatever reason after I make one transaction in this airport my debit and credit cards suddenly have a block on them- even though I have a flag on my account that I’m traveling through this exact city. It happened the last time I was here also. So that’s frustrating but I will survive. International travels…

ANYWAY. I want to write a bit more about my time in Thailand-specifically  all of the things I am most thankful for. So, in no particular order…

Impact School of Missions

This four weeks of training and fun could not have been any more perfect for my start to this adventure. I actually wish that I could sit in on the classes for another (or maybe 2 or 3 more…) terms just so that I can soak in more of the information that we were given. For those of you who don’t know, the school is split up into four broad topics: Culture, Holy Spirit, Personal, and Missions. During culture week we learned all about the dos and don’ts of Thailand (and India for those who were traveling there for their internships), the Thai culture itself, and what it looks like to be a foreigner living/ministering in another culture. The second week we learned about partnering with the Holy Spirit throughout our internships and lives. The third week we did personality and gifts testing to learn more about ourselves and why we interact with others the way we do and how God can use those traits. And finally the fourth week we heard from 7 different missionaries in Thailand about their specific ministries and God’s heart for His very diverse world of people. Throughout the first month we also had multiple opportunities to work alongside some of the ministries in Bangkok and we visited a few of the tourist hotspots.

One of the greatest parts about ISM is that it brought 10 very different, unique, beautiful women into my life (+Sandra, Jessica, and Peter). Although we were together for a brief time, it was truly a blessing to get a glimpse at their hearts and the beautiful ways God could, would, and will use them in this world. So, to Impact School of Missions- thank you.

Servantworks- The Well

When God first put Thailand on my heart, I never could have imagined the experience I would be blessed with when I got there. I am so thankful to say that I had the most incredible 2.5 months interning with The Well in Bangkok. I was and will continue to be so blessed by the people there. They taught me about acceptance, love, forgiveness, redemption and so much more.

Every morning I started my day with 3-4 Thai women in the “Baan Dek” (children’s center). It was here that I picked up the majority of my Thai, got to play and do crafts with the kids, and got to spend quality time really getting to know the other women I worked with. They practiced their English with me, and I (tried to) practice some Thai with them. In the afternoons I did a few different things. The first being spending a significant amount of time with my fellow intern, Kylie. She is one of the greatest blessings of my internship experience.  We went on a trip to a NE province together where we got to see another one of Servantworks’ ministries (Breakthrough-Thailand) and even got to help with the rice harvest! We also went with 1 or 2 Thai women every week to China Town, where we had the opportunity to build relationships with women working on the streets. We got to spend the first month playing games/getting to know the older kids who were off of school, spent a lot of time bothering Judy in her office, ate quite a few cupcakes and HiChews, and could almost always be found bent over laughing together. You would never be able to tell by our friendship that there is a 17-year age gap- and to be honest I could never really tell either. I also had the unique opportunity to teach a worship dance class 2 afternoons per week. Even after 13.5 years of dance, I never would have thought that my dancing could be used for ministry…let alone ministry in Thailand. God gave me a passion for dance as a child, but that passion was ultimately going to be used for His glory. So cool, right? My dance class also provided me with time to get to know a lot of the women at The Well, and to see their funny, beautiful personalities. My final day at The Well they gifted me with a time of thanksgiving and prayer. The women and staff shared their thanks with me for specific things, and then everyone (including the children) prayed over me. The tears were inevitable at that point, and behind them were the pains of grief which I am especially thankful for. To grieve is to have loved- and the love I experienced and shared at The Well is irreplaceable in my heart. So, to Servantworks and specifically The Well- thank you.

Monique

When I got off the plane in Thailand and had gathered my bags, I walked out of the airport and found Sandra with the “Impact School of Missions” sign and with a 6-foot tall Canadian girl. Little did I know that the first person I met would soon become one of my closest, dearest friends. We spent an awkward first couple of hours sweating at the dining room table and making small talk- and from then on we were pretty much inseparable. I knew that I would make friends while I was there, but I never expected to have any of them become one of my best friends. Our list of adventures together is LONG but usually included a mall/bookstore, a motorcycle, a TV series, an adventurous/surreal trip around Thailand, or just talking at a coffee shop. Also, laughter. ALWAYS laughter. This girl prayed with me, encouraged me, opened up her heart to me, and loved me. What more could I ask for, honestly? It was such a divinely orchestrated friendship, and I have been so blessed by it. So, to Monique- thank you.

Support System

When I got on the plane to come here, I left behind my incredible friends and family. Throughout my time in Thailand I received so much encouragement and prayers from home. I received Facebook messages, emails, letters, a package, and had countless Skype dates. One thing that I was told on my last day at The Well came to one of the staff members during the time of prayer- it was two words: rootless, and rooted. He told me he was thankful that I was willing to be rootless in leaving behind the people and places I loved to follow the Lord’s call, and saw that in that I was still rooted in Christ. So, I need to say thank you to all of the people who supported me in coming here-financially, in prayer, and in encouragement. Without you guys I would not have experienced the Lord in the unique ways I have, I would not have met all of the people and organizations listed above, and I would not have gained the knowledge I have from my time overseas. So, to all of you at home- thank you.

Zachary

My guy gets his own thank you, even though he was a major part of the support system I talked about already. It is with so much joy that I get to call him my boyfriend and that I get to be reunited with him in 15 short hours. My sweet Zack has (aside from God) been my biggest encourager in my time away. He committed to dating me long distance for 3.5 months, which in and of itself was a big step of faith- but in that time he also committed his life to whatever the Lord had for him. Therefore, our time spent apart has become a huge blessing. The Lord has so evidently grown each of us individually, which has made our relationship even more of a joy to pursue. While I was in Thailand Zachary prayed for me, and constantly told me he was doing it. He played worship music for me when I was having melt downs, and he was a voice of reason and reassurance when the heaviness of my internship seemed as if it were too much to handle. So, to Zachary- thank you.

(First and last Skypes in Thailand!)

God

To the Lord of the universe from whom all blessings flow- I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice made on the cross that has saved me from my sins. He has so evidently (as you’ve read) worked in every situation for my good and I’m so excited to give all glory to Him. So, to God- thank you (infinity times over).

So so so thankful for this exciting journey of life that I’m on, and so so so excited to see everyone in the coming weeks.

-E