‘Jesus is my friend, he sees me, he listens, he died for me.’
These are the words of 11-year-old Mae. She lives in a small house in one of Bangkok’s slum communities with her grandad, three siblings and four cousins. Her mum is a street worker and largely absent from Mae’s life. Mae has to fend for herself, sometimes only eating one meal a day.
Thailand is a Buddhist nation and children like Mae are taught that poverty comes from a lack of merit in their previous lives. When we set up the Place of Grace in 2011, our ambition was to provide a safe place for these vulnerable children to play and to tell them about the God who loves and cares for them.
Mae has been attending the Place of Grace since she was three-years-old – first at the afterschool clubs and more recently as part of the Christian school that we’ve started. Mae is flourishing under the practical care and nurturing tuition she receives. But what has made the biggest difference is coming to know Jesus. Having often felt unloved and alone at home, the knowledge that God loves and cares for her has been transformational.
‘God is my father – he takes care of me, he watches me, he is my family. Jesus left heaven for me and he will stay with me.’
For Mae, knowing she is loved by God has given her such a sense of joy and is guarding her from all the influences around her.
Sam is 14 and also attends the afterschool clubs at the Place of Grace. He is used to looking after himself – making his own meals and washing his own clothes. His dad drinks a lot and he has a poor relationship with his stepmother. Before joining the clubs, Sam had no knowledge that there was a God and he felt alone and unloved.
Sam started coming to the Place of Grace at the age of five and from the get-go he loved to hear about the God who loved him. Sam attended our bible study group and quickly understood and accepted the gospel. In Jesus, Sam has found not just a Saviour but someone who values him and a family where he belongs. In a letter Sam wrote about what God means to him: ‘God is with me when I feel lonely, he gives his love to me and he makes me happy when I feel bad.’
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