Exciting new developments! New Program! New Opportunities
Updated: Mar 14
Ashley and I have many exciting updates of things in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is a complete description of our focus, activities, volunteer help, location and goals. First, we are SO proud to announce we have completed the process with Family Connection Foundation (FCF) to deploy a new project called illumin8. Big YEAH!!! Hug Project will continue using all Thai staff assisting in helping anyone caught in internet or domestic violence.
We have been working on this since January 2021. A big thank you to Ashley who is the project director and creator of the project's mission statement, desired outcomes, oversight board and core activities. If you know us both you'll know I'm the boring math-loving rational guy and Ashley is the living calendar and licensed Project Management Professional (PMP).
FOCUS: These 8 levels are:
The focus of our efforts will be the women in and around the Loi Kroh (pronounced "Loi Kraw") area of Chiang Mai where, when everything is opened, there are more than 500 bar girls "for hire" plus many more working in the massage parlors. Not all of these women work directly in the sex industry, but ALL will be the focus of our efforts. Just as no one is unworthy of redemption, we want these women to know we don't stand on a platform making us more worthy. We are ALL those who seek Him bridged only by grace. We will not ever exclude anyone because of past choices they have made or where they are now. Whether they choose to follow Jesus or not, our aim is to love them without condition or coercion. ACTIVITIES: Our core activities will be:
Operating and staffing a community center which will be a safe space providing food and hygiene items
Offer training, counseling and coaching in the areas of personal finance, healthy living, good relationships and life skills (i.e. baking). I, Ryan, am really excited about this one as teaching financial life skills such as savings, emergency fund, budgeting, and spending wisely are things I am very passionate about whereas Ashley is passionate and talented with baking.
Refer beneficiaries to organizations that offer health and addiction support services
Partner with other FCF programs (Education Matters and Bread for Life) to provide education for children of beneficiaries and food for relief in times of crisis
Connect beneficiaries to other FCF projects and organizations that provide job skills training
Lead Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) and disciple those who express interest in following Jesus
Organize prayer walks in red light districts
Meet with bar workers in their place of employment to inform them about illumin8's services and inspire them to pursue a different path for life
Meet regularly with other people who minister to red light district workers to collaborate efforts and encourage and pray for one another
Volunteer activity at the bars handing out food provided by Bread for Life.
We are delighted to welcome Reagan King, who will be our first intern joining us this summer from Aggies for Christ (AFC) via A&M Church of Christ in College Station, Texas. She started quarantine on June 1st in Bangkok and should be with us here in Chiang Mai from mid June to mid August. Please pray blessings over her and her time with us as she experiences serving to many women of varying circumstances throughout Chiang Mai, Thailand. We also have been looking for and speaking with a few people who are interested in teaching English at the community center.
If you have a desire to serve as an individual or with a group in any capacity, please contact us. We would love to have others walk with us that have the heart to serve and share the love of Christ.
OFFICE LOCATION Wednesday June 2nd we secured an office that is about 5 -10 minutes walk from Loi Kroh. It's a small space that is priced conservatively due to the business decline in the area. 2 floors and maybe 700 sqft of space will be used for a meeting space, some food storage, and a safe place where the women can come from 10:30 AM - 3:00 PM.
New office space near Loi Kroh at hotel Maninakokorn GOALS We're looking for a few good men and women. Not Marines this time, but we are looking to make a major impact on the spiritual battlefield. We already have some seed money provided from a few pioneers who knew of this ministry before we launched. We would like to ensure we are fully funded for the ministry which would be about $2,500 per month. This budget includes:
Housing (rent, water, electric, security) for the new location
Staff (Hopefully 1-2 great Thai Christian women with a heart for service). ALL foreign staff are unpaid volunteers
Life skills (printing and teaching of materials for fundamentals of finance and baking classes. Additional money for counseling, addiction services, and educational support of women's children)
Ad-hoc needs to empower women as they transition from one job to another. This is especially important if any new job gives them respect but pays less. Hard choices for sure.
For those that have prayed for us, sent us letters, supported us financially or donated items, we thank you so much! We feel so very blessed for the General Fund support that allows us to serve here and is now almost 90% of the monthly budget. As we launch this ministry, we are praying/seeking $2,500 per month of support specific to the illumin8 ministry. Thus far, we have already secured $650 per month allocated specifically for this project. Our ask is that 10-20 individuals would be able to join us in the endeavor. We are asking our supporters and prayer warriors to help connect us to those who have a heart for this ministry as well. I know I've said this before, but despite us being here and most supporters being in America, we are ALL SERVING TOGETHER in this ministry. The easiest way to give is via Planning Center https://discipleasia.churchcenter.com/giving or by following links through our website at www.discipleasia.com. Please make sure to designate where you would like the funds directed: General support fund, illumin8, or the Bread for Life food program.
Planning Center Giving portal
We thank God for all of you who bless us and these women. We will eagerly send updates as we start this project and learn how best to serve in these capacities. Ashley and Ryan Lee
Chiang Mai, Thailand