What do you see when you walk outside your front door? I mostly see rice fields and cows. But I also see children riding their bikes and playing in any open space they can find. These kids are the reason we opened the creative learning center here in Ubon Ratchathani.
I live and work in a rural community in Northeast Thailand. Many of the kids in my village are from homes where one or both parents work outside the province, so the children’s care is left to relatives. Because of this, the children often suffer abuse and, in turn, abuse each other. Punching, hitting, slapping, calling bad names—this is often how they communicate with each other. We spend a lot of time telling and showing the kids that nice words and actions are how we should treat each other.
In my own life, I’ve come to realize how important it is to have a place where I am safe to be who I am without fear of being rejected. Everyone needs a place like that. We are striving to make the creative learning center a safe place for the kids in the village, a place where they can see love in action. Yes, we teach English, help the children with their homework and teach them life skills, but more importantly we try to teach them to be kind and understanding. This is one way we can show them God’s love.
One recent Sabbath at Children’s Church, one of our older students, Boonsri, was watching a video about the crucifixion of Jesus. As she was watching, Boonsri leaned up against Teacher Ming and said, “I love Jesus.” When she saw Jesus being crucified, she nearly cried as she realized His love for her.
Lawan is one of our youngest students. She is often very shy and quiet during class, but her mom told us that she always asks her to pray before every meal.
Achara is another student of ours. She is only four years old. She lives with her grandmother and tries to teach her to pray and sing the songs she learns every Sabbath at Children’s Church. Every Wednesday, we have a Bible study and pass out a Bible verse printed on a piece of paper for everyone to take home. Achara comes every week and always asks for an extra Bible verse for her grandmother.
Kwang is seven years old. For the Children’s Day program at her school, she asked her teacher if she and her classmates could perform one of the songs they had learned at Children’s Church. It is the children’s favorite song, and we taught them motions to go with it. The entire class performed that Christian song in front of the whole school. Kwang was very happy that she got to sing her favorite song at school and share it with all of her friends.
At the creative learning center, we want to help the kids build a biblical worldview and a foundation of love and care for themselves and others. We see it as the beginning of a multi-generational movement. These children are not only learning how much God loves them and how He cares for them in every detail of their lives, they are also becoming disciples and missionaries, sharing what they learn with their families and others.
The other day, I was talking with Teacher Ming. We were reflecting on our work when she said, “These kids are the future of Thailand. How amazing and important our work here is!”
Please continue to pray for our ministry as we seek to share God’s love with these children and help them build a strong foundation for the future.