Home of Grace is a sanctuary for vulnerable, pregnant women, a service offered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT) diakonia department. Since 1986, Home of Grace has offered safe refuge for pregnant women who have been rejected by their community, relatives, and friends. During 2022, 26 women found refuge at Home of Grace. […]
Home of Grace is a sanctuary for vulnerable, pregnant women, a service offered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT) diakonia department. Since 1986, Home of Grace has offered safe refuge for pregnant women who have been rejected by their community, relatives, and friends. During 2022, 26 women found refuge at Home of Grace. The women seeking help came from many situations; they may have been involved in prostitution or have been raped; migrant workers or are still in high school when they become pregnant; some do not know who the father of their unborn child is and are facing motherhood as a single person or without family support.
When schools in Thailand were closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in the rate of pregnancy among schoolgirls. Previously, it had been the law in Thailand that these girls were not able to go back to school after giving birth. Without an education, these young women had a lot more difficulty finding work which would financially support themselves and their child. That law has now changed and, for the first time in 2022, a young girl decided to go back to school after her child was born. This gave Home of Grace the opportunity to support her by caring for her child during the day while she was attending classes.
One of the services provided at Home of Grace is the offer of personal counselling to provide an opportunity for healing. Counselling is also provided over the phone or in homes for those who are unable to visit Home of Grace. When Home of Grace first started, they could accommodate a maximum of 15 women. Since COVID-19, there are now fewer mothers who are wanting to stay at Home of Grace, and the counselling offered over the phone has increased. Other personal support services include art therapy classes, which build the women’s sense of worth and confidence and enable them to make clear-minded decisions about what they will do after their baby is born.
Home of Grace also offers the teaching of practical skills: coffee making, cake baking, cooking, craft, recycled soap making, growing vegetables (including how to grow them hydroponically) for their own meals and to sell. The women can also become involved in organising the second-hand store (folding clothes and selling products) which is an important source of income for Home of Grace. The second-hand store, opened in August 2022, is available to the public during the week, with a big sale being held once a month. Expats leaving Thailand are very generous in donating items they do not wish to take with them. Volunteers support the second-hand store on Tuesdays and Fridays and students from the local schools and universities volunteer on Saturdays. The women also have a field trip to Bang Nam Phueng floating market to gain experience and open possibilities for future work and caring for their children. The women are empowered through learning practical skills, which they can utilise after they have left Home of Grace.
Most importantly, Home of Grace staff remind the women that they and their babies are valuable. They create possibilities for conversations about Jesus’ love with these women, most of whom need the reassurance of God’s strength and mercy. Daily times of devotion and fellowship, as well as weekly Bible study and worship with the local church community, reassure the women again and again of God’s goodness and faithfulness toward them, and of his unconditional love and redeeming grace. For those who have been deeply hurt, they are offered God’s strength to forgive and live again each new day, knowing that they are guarded from the evil one.
Since its reopening (following the decline of COVID-19 cases in Thailand) the ELCT diakonia department have been evaluating if a centre for pregnant women is still a significant need within Thai society. When it first opened, a young woman having a baby out of wedlock was considered highly shameful. Now there are teenage pregnancy clinics within some Thai hospitals. The ELCT diakonia department is also considering the future of Home of Grace in light of their struggle to find qualified personnel to support the very vulnerable women who seek their help.
Thank you for the love you show Home of Grace through your financial support and prayers. Particular at this time, please pray that the Holy Spirit gives the ELCT diakonia department clarity to know how he is calling them to minister to the most vulnerable in Thailand.
If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone LCA International Mission on (08) 8267 7300 or email email@example.com. For more information, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/
Read more stories about volunteering at www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/