In January I will be travelling to Bangkok, Thailand to spend six months learning about the human trafficking industry and volunteering with its victims. The first month of my trip will be spent with Impact School of Missions (ISM), a missions training school located in Bangkok. They will equip me spiritually and culturally, preparing me for what I will face. The duration of my trip I will be volunteering in a transition house for women rescued from the sex-trade and human trafficking, a house run by the non-profit organization Night Light.
As I have been preparing for my trip, I have realized that God has been guiding me towards and preparing me for this trip since long before I was aware of what was happening in Thailand.
Just over four years ago I was a fresh-faced, somewhat naïve, freshman, ready for my independence. But by the end of my first year I had made two important discoveries: the first was that I absolutely needed God to be my Saviour, as I wasn’t able to function without Him. The second was that I loved psychology and wanted to be a counsellor for women with eating disorders.
In one of my courses a guest speaker, Sandra McIntosh, shared about the school she ran in Asia and suggested interning there as one of our practicums. I remember leaving class excited as I thought about the possibility of doing a practicum abroad, but quickly forgot about the opportunity. However, a few weeks later I signed up for a month-long Global Projects trip to Haiti. It was my first cross-cultural experience and my eyes were opened to new perspectives, worldviews and global issues. A month wasn’t enough as I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of who the Haitian people are. I decided that the next time I went on a mission’s trip it would be for longer than a month because I wanted to become completely immersed in the culture, learning and helping more than I had been able to in Haiti.
As my time at TWU continued, I had two conversations that later proved to be incredibly significant. One was with a girl who had just been hired at Mercy Ministries, a recovery home for women with life-controlling issues. Hearing about what she was doing later inspired me to want to work at Mercy Ministries in the future. The second was with a girl who told me that she had an amazing experience interning through ISM. In addition to these conversations, I felt called to continue seeking out experiences that educated me on gender inequality issues, prostitution, human trafficking and gendercide. My heart ached specifically for the women who were affected by these global issues. Soon I began looking up volunteer opportunities abroad for someone with my skill set. When ISM’s website came up, I felt God pulling me in that direction and began to research the program more seriously.
During my senior year at TWU I wrote my thesis on “Canadian Attitudes Towards Prostitutes.” As I immersed myself in research in this area, I learned more about the desperation of women who work in the sex-industry and the difficulty they have getting out of it. From my research I found that many women feel they have no hope that their lives could be “normal” if they left the industry, and so they stay, afraid of the unknown and left without hope. I believe that there is hope for these women to have a better life after their experiences. My heart continued to stir for them and I felt even more confident in my decision to go to Thailand.
In my final semester I got the incredible opportunity to do a practicum at Mercy Ministries, which eventually turned into a full time job in May! I am still completely in awe of how God has provided such an amazing work place for me, which lines up with the passions he has grown in my heart. Did I mention my job is only a three minute drive from my house?
When I applied to Night Light I was told they had special interest in my application because of my experience already working in a recovery home! God continues to open doors and give me opportunities to develop my counselling skills, while preparing me for the mission he has placed in my heart. I am so excited to learn as much as I can in my six months in Bangkok, knowing that God has prepared this opportunity for me, long before I was even aware of it.
If you would like to hear more about my trip and follow my journey, you can follow my blog.
I am also still raising funds for my trip! If you would like to donate, go to https://paoc.org/donate/ISM and click “Donate” and put “Amy Kobelt” in the donation instructions. In addition, I am also hosting a silent auction dessert night on Saturday December 5th from 7:30-10:00 in Surrey, BC. Everyone is welcome! For more information about the event or to make a donation to the silent auction, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.