missionaries have returned to Chiang Rai, Thailand, where they previously built an orphanage to accommodate nearly 50 Akha children who may otherwise have been sold into sex slavery. Akha, according to Woodside's Pastor Brad Hulcy, is a hill tribe that spans the international borders of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, northern Vietnam and southern China.
“Most of the children were abused prior to going to the orphanage,” said Steve Miller, missionary. “Predators come into villages and tell people they will take care of the kids. They take the kids to Bangkok and indoctrinate them into the sex industry. Thailand is incredibly lenient towards sex trafficking.”
The 25 missionaries, consisting of 17 Woodside members and several missionaries from other Michigan churches, will offer medical assistance to villagers and build a new structure at the orphanage.
“This is an orphanage that Woodside actually started. We broke ground back in 2007 and the kids moved in in May 2008. Now, we’re working on a dorm building,” Miller said. “It will be 1,400 square feet with a large bathroom facility and sleeping quarters.”
The group will also have a team that will put on a “fun day” with the kids in the orphanage.
“We wanted to spend some quality time with them,” Miller said. “We’ll be putting on fun activities, enjoying the kids and getting to know them and they will get to know us. They already know some of our faces and names. They know we are there because we are Christian people who love and support them.”
Members of Woodside help to aid the orphanage and some financially support individual Akha children.
“It’s $32 a month to sponsor a child," he said. "We send them to school, feed them and provide transportation. The kids pray for the sponsors who support them.”
Missionaries will be visiting remote villages in the area and they will start their dental and medical program.
“We’re taking two dentists with us and five nurses,” Miller said. “We’ll help them with the dental and medical needs that we can accommodate there. It’s one of the most exciting parts of this trip.” By bringing medical care to these villages, Miller said it will give missionaries the opportunity to preach and worship with the villagers. “While we’re curing their ails, we will be able to cure their hearts.”
Although a mission trip always presents safety concerns for missionaries, Miller said Chiang Rai is a safe area and the mission is worthwhile.
“Children as young as five and six-years-old are being trafficked,” he said. “We just can’t sit by.”
If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact Woodside Bible Church at 248-698-1300.