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Finding Freedom in Chiang Mai

When the brakes gave out, there were thirteen passengers riding in the open truck bed. One of the few to escape unharmed was Siriwan Trakunhan.

“During the accident I remember crying out to God,” said Siriwan. “I can’t die yet! There are too many children who’ve never heard about you!” She clung to the word that God had given her in Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” She begged God to spare her life, so that she might fulfill this calling. 

Although Siriwan was born in a Christian family, opposition from relatives and her desire to be accepted by peers led her to practice Buddhism. At eighteen, she went to a Christian youth camp and found her desires suddenly reordered. 

“I now loved the Bible, and longed to go to Bible school,” said Siriwan. “My family was too poor, but God heard my prayers. I was given a grant from the Mennonite Brethren!” Siriwan loved school and loved sharing the Gospel. She was chosen to join a team that evangelized in local villages. It was as the team was leaving one of those villages that the brakes on their truck failed. That accident fueled her passion to reach children with the Gospel.

After graduation, she worked in an orphanage and eventually opened her own home to care for children at risk. She and her husband raised over seventeen children together, along with their own biological children. “Now those children are all leaders, evangelists and missionaries!” she said happily. Later, God led Siriwan to serve at Multiply’s Chiang Mai office, and to teach the Bible at the Juvenile Detention Center with Carmen Owen. It was the next step in her calling.

“These children are older,” said Siriwan, “but still vulnerable. Once released, many will return to their old lifestyles. But those that follow Jesus have a chance to live different lives.” Wanting to equip them for that life, Siriwan began a discipleship program called Freedom Trades, offering training in sewing, woodworking, baking and hairdressing. 

“They become leaders, witnesses to the transforming love of Jesus,” said Siriwan. “One day these girls will return to their villages, evangelizing the lost and encouraging new believers. Just as I was doing, the day the brakes failed.”

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