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On the Road with Joe

My first memory of Joe is seeing her lock her four-year-old daughter out of the house. I remember thinking, “This is not okay! What kind of parent does that?”

I left my laundry and ran over to the crying little girl. I sat with her until she calmed down, sharing some water and snacks on that hot day. Later, I went and talked to the other moms at the Abundant Life Home, and the director of the orphanage promised to look into the situation. I left feeling that I had rescued a child from a dangerous, abusive mother. I knew nothing of the real story.

It was later that the director explained. “Most of us had at least one good, loving parent in our lives. That is how we learn to be good parents ourselves. Joe had no one.” 

Growing up in a government orphanage in Bangkok had exposed Joe to terrible abuse. As a teenager, she ran away and entered the sex trade. Joe worked the streets for twenty-two years, and addictions were inevitable. She moved to Pattaya, a hot spot for prostitution, and learned English from the foreigners that paid to abuse her. Joe suffered multiple health issues, and fell pregnant and gave birth to four children, three of whom she was unable to keep. Then Joe met Jesus through some believers in Pattaya who took her in and cared for her, helping her to get on her feet and be able to keep her youngest child. After four years of this rehabilitation, Joe joined us at ALH to learn life skills and grow stronger in her faith, and she brought that child with her.

This was the little girl I had seen thrust out of the house that day. I had no idea that the child had severe behavioural issues and was violent with her mother. I had no idea, that day, just how hard Joe was working to be a good mom. I did not know the effort it cost her to be gentler, to yell less and smile more. I did not know how hard she was working to keep this child, cleaning the ALH house and doing other jobs. 

I did not know how far  Joe had already travelled on the road to learning patience and grace through Jesus. I am humbled and thankful to be on the road with her.

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