Antique Cafe serves up compassion, hope, and honor in their coffee shop located in Bangkok, Thailand. This is a for-profit social business that provides on the job training to prepare vulnerable individuals for their next job in the food and beverage industry. They exist to support and empower their local community. Their heart is for developing and collaborating with others. They do this primarily as a rental space where groups can meet for workshops, small events, community gatherings, and special interest clubs.
This week, I had the opportunity to check out an adorable coffee shop and bakery called, Samaritan Creations. Samaritan Creations was founded by Mike & Kay Killar (who were kind enough to give me a tour) with Kong & Sook Phomphuong in May 2010. Kay, who is Thai, first visited the infamous Patpong red-light district on a ministry trip with a friend. It was during this time that the Lord broke her heart for the two million girls all over Thailand who were trapped in a horrifying situation and in desperate need for the Lord. Together with her husband, Mike, they decided to begin development of a ministry to give these women a way out of the trap that they were in. Now they help operate the Samaritan Creations ministry, helping many women discover an alternative to life in the sex trade and about a loving God that wants them to be healed and free.
It’s getting more and more real that the next time I’ll send a monthly update I’ll be living in Cambodia. While I’m not there just yet. I’d like to share what’s happened since mid-August. Mainly:
Celebrated my birthday and had a prayer send off in Portland. (Thank you to those who came.)
Packed and moved out of my house. (Thanks to everyone who helped!)
Rented my house and ADU out. (Thanks Mom and Dad for wrapping that up for me.)
Flew to the east coast to visit with friends and family.
Arrived safety in Thailand to begin training.For the record, I post the most photos on Instagram. If you have it, please follow me. If you don’t, let me know and I can send photos directly to you.I’ve completed my first week on training here in Thailand and have three more weeks to go. This week was focused on cultural training – language, thought process, history, etc. I’ve done minimal sight seeing, but have been making an effort to eat as much street food as possible. This consist of my morning to-go coffee from down the street and a bubble coconut drink during my lunch break.
Some of the highlights of Thailand so far:
Meeting my awesome classmates and amazing guest speakers. Learning where they come from and where they will be serving or have been serving. I’m hoping a few will come visit me in Cambodia.
Talking about the concept of a Spiritual Bucket List. Similar to a regular Bucket List, only with promises you’d like God to reveal / take place during your lifetime. I’ve started a page in my journal dedicated to making a this list.
Learning (even) more about the Thai Culture.
Attending an English/Thai church, my first full day in Thailand.
Finally, in our studies of culture this week, I’ve really enjoyed gleaning the insights on how/why women end up being trafficked for sex. I feel like I had a basic knowledge of reasons why before I came to Thailand, but this last week has showed me a lot more reasons why.
Thanks again for being part of my amazing team. Please write me back and share what is happening in your life. Particularly with those getting into a new back to school rhythm or maybe have started a spiritual bucket list of their own. I look forward to hearing from you.
After 24 hours of travel, I’ve officially arrived in Thailand. I got in around 10PM local time last night. Was picked up by the Director of ISM and her husband and arrived safe and sound to the bunk house. I start school/training tomorrow. Today, I’m getting settled and heading to church this afternoon.
I’ve got a new phone number. Here are the three ways to get a hold of me:
If you have an iPhone – using my old USA phone number or my new Thai number.
If you don’t have an iPhone – there is a great app called WhatsApp you can download and message me.
I’ll be here until October 6, 2017 and then I’ll be in Cambodia! With a new number 🙂
How are you doing? Let me know what’s going on in your life.
It’s August 5th and I’m FUNDED! I was hoping to send out a mid-July update with that announcement, but I had a few stitches in my hand and was waiting for final confirmation before I made any official announcement.
Words can not express the feeling of love, excitement and support I’ve had the last few days as I’ve worked on finalizing fundraising, updated my donor list to 60+ family and friends, sending out emails and physical cards. My heart is bursting. I feel so honored and blessed to have you along for this crazy ride.
And what a crazy ride this is. Who decides to do a kitchen remodel weeks before leaving the country? This girl. Bullet and I are camped out in my ADU for the next month as I sort through all my worldly possessions to put into storage, donate or gift to friends. Additionally, we’re heading to the East Coast August 29th to see my family before I leave for Asia on September 9th.
Thanks again for being part of my amazing team. Please write me back and share what is happening in your life right now and how I can be praying for you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Those two things have been in my prayers and on my anxious mind for about a month now. After two beautiful conversations with those respective people, I’m ready to “social media” announce I’m moving to Cambodia for (at least) a year to work with Daughters of Cambodia. I’ll be putting my marketing degree and nine years of professional experience to work in supporting the rescue young children who are involved in the sex trafficking industry.
During that my time in Cambodia, I’ll also be Oaks Parish‘s (my home church) first missionary – a title I feel incredibly unworthy of – yet excited for. Both in terms of support, love, prayer, and accountability, but also in terms of a strong connection to Portland. As one of the ladies pointed out on a recent church camping trip, “My baby won’t be a baby next time you see him.” I’m excited to watch the church (and its babies) grow, via email updates, photos, and impact (in Portland and in Cambodia).
That all being said, this position isn’t paid.
I need to raise support to cover my living expenses during my first year in Cambodia. That amount is an even $12,300. This covers airfare, housing, food, language classes, etc. (Almost makes you wonder why every one moves to Portland!) I’ve already started “covertly” fundraising – emailing family and friends, telling them what I’ll be doing and asking for their support. I’ve already raised $6,140.
This means I’ve got $6,160 to raise in 31 days.
Will you help me? Well, not really me…
Will you help me, help over 100 boys and girls, walk free from slavery?
On March 26, 2017, I stood up in front of the Oak Parish congregation as Pastor Bryan shared about my calling to Cambodia. I’m so excited, humbled, thankful to become Oaks Parish’s first overseas missionary and thrilled to have their support – both in prayer and with finances. After the announcement, Bryan and I had a little discussion on God’s calling in my life and how it relates to the Exodus series our church is currently doing. Here is a little recap.
Tell us how you felt called to Cambodia and describe the work you’ll be doing there.
I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel around most of southeast Asia. Cambodia has always been on the wishlist and in 2014, I got the opportunity to go with my folks. While in Cambodia, I was walking around thinking about the next place I wanted to go and God was very clearly saying “Don’t worry, you’ll be back.” And it’s been this open-ended prayer since then. Shortly after returning home, I started following a Christian job board and in July of last year started talking with Daughters, an organization that works with young people getting out of sex trafficking. I’ll be supporting them with marketing and PR, working on grants, fundraising, supporting their sustainable businesses and a legacy plant in the Philippines.
Why is human trafficking ultimately a spiritual issue?
I believe that most things in life are spiritual – but in this case, I know that God isn’t for human trafficking and that Satan is. There is much darkness in this realm, that few people want to step into that space of perversion, sin, and selfishness to speak light, hope and truth into these girls and boys. That they are more than a product of a corrupt system, that they are known and loved and this isn’t what God had in mind for them, that their story isn’t complete and they can have a new, better identity in Christ.
How has Jesus been calling you to things you didn’t necessarily like in this process?
For starters, it’s one big, scary move. Renting out my house, leaving Portland and the USA. My folks just got here a few months ago. Being single and feeling very alone and aware of that. My general anxiety comes to visit every once and awhile and I have to pick myself up. I had to reconsider drinking alcohol and if I should bring my pup, Bullet, a handful of times. I had an unplanned career change earlier this year, that really threw me for a loop – but now at my new job, I sit next to a woman who was sex trafficked when she was 13 and now runs a center for girls here in Portland. God very clearly wants me to be in this place, at this time, for very specific reasons. Also, I have to fundraise, which I was really against at the beginning. I like how independent I am and self-sufficient and God has completely stripped that from me, but He’s also reframed it in a way that I’m not going alone this way. I’m going with an amazing support team, both in prayer and financially.
Like Bryan said, Oaks Parish will be supporting me financially, but if you are interested in learning more and supporting me above and beyond what Oaks Parish is, please let me know.
First of all, let me echo the thanks of Bryan and Amanda Buck and the rest of our church for your generosity and support. We are so blessed to have you in our lives.
My name is Jenna Forstrom and I hold the humble title of being Oaks Parish’s first missionary. I’ll be totally honest with you and if I could turn that title into a WWE-styled belt, I would rock it every Sunday in church! That’s just my personality.
This fall, my pitbull pup, Bullet, and I are moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work for an organization called Daughters of Cambodia. This faith-based organization is focused around rescuing women (and men) from the sex trafficking trade. I grew up having a heart for the unlovable and want to serve the Cambodian people and show them how treasured by God they are. I know in my heart that this is God’s will for my life.
My decision to serve began in 2014 when I was able to fulfill a lifetime dream to visit Cambodia. While walking around the capital talking with God about my next adventure, God spoke to me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be back.”
At the time I didn’t know what this meant. I was flooded with so many questions about what God was telling me. Over the past two and a half years, God and I have been working out the details. Now, I believe I have a clear direction to serve Him abroad.
In Cambodia, I will be serving as a Marketing Coordinator for Daughters of Cambodia. In this capacity, I’ll have the opportunity to draw from and leverage my professional skill set, to use my talents and spiritual gifts to help the most vulnerable people in this world. Most importantly, to partner with Jesus to bring His justice and a little bit of heaven back to earth.
I’ve been a member at the Oaks Parish for more than a year now and can testify to the amazing people and works being done within the community of Southeast Portland. However, I do want to call your attention to another need in our global community of Christ.
Daughters of Cambodia is on a mission to empower 100+ girls each year to walk permanently free of the bondages of the sex trade. These young people break the stigma attached to sex workers to go on to be head chefs, business managers and counselors. They are leaders in their community and their collective story continues to inspire others to seek help.
God has called me to be in Cambodia and to walk with these women, but I can’t do it alone. I’d love for you to join me financially and in prayer as I gear up for this amazing mission. Not everyone can give, but here are a few ways to learn more, connect and get involved:
I understand that this is a big ask, but it’s also a big need. I strongly believe that God has led me to serve Daughters of Cambodia to help people break free of bondage. Moreover, I know that He’s called upon me to ask for your support of His mission to help end the sex trade.
By making a donation, by learning more about Cambodia or by sharing my website, you actively pledge your support to His mission. I know not all can give, but every donation, big or small, helps. If you can’t make a donation, please join me in prayer and share my story, so that I can help serve the Lord in big ways.
If you have questions about the Oaks Parish, Cambodia or myself, please feel free to send me an email or shoot me a call; you may reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, thank you so much for supporting the Oaks Parish and for taking the opportunity to learn more about how God is exercising His influence in Cambodia.