“My story not really beautiful like other people,” said Sumitra “Faa” Choemue, co-founder of Grace Refuge Outreach Worldwide (G.R.O.W.) Thailand. “My life was very difficult.”
Faa was the youngest of 12, five of whom passed away before she was born. Her mother died when she was young, and her father was an alcoholic and drug addict who was so abusive that sometimes Faa and her siblings ended up in the hospital.
But the pain of Faa’s childhood only spurred her on to make a difference in the lives of others who had similar experiences. When she graduated from college, she felt God calling her to minister to children with backgrounds of abuse. She struggled with how to make her dreams a reality.
“I’m nobody,” she notes. “Poor family, no mom, no dad, so I didn’t know how to do it. So I prayed.”
And God answered. After starting a small children’s home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Faa met Grace Brethren pastor Ivanildo Trindade (now at Grace Church, Lititz, Pa.), who connected her with Grace Church in Wooster, Ohio (Bob Fetterhoff, pastor). The church partnered with her to start G.R.O.W. in 2009.
G.R.O.W. is a ministry in Thailand that exists to rescue children Southeast Asia from the threat of human trafficking and abuse by placing them in small, safe houses with Christian guardians that guide the children in education and faith.
The ministry is touching entire families. Faa recalls the story of a girl who was adopted into the G.R.O.W. program. “This girl was sexually abused for four years. She didn’t believe in God, she doesn’t know about Jesus, but every day we have a devotion at 5:30 in the morning, Monday through Friday, all the kids with me. And this girl asked me why we read the same book every morning.”
Faa used the opportunity to share the Gospel with her that morning and for the next two years – using their simple morning habit as a vehicle to share the gospel. “After two years, and she received Jesus,” Faa recalls. “After three years, her mother became believer and got baptized. And this year her grandmother received Jesus.
“At our ministry, we believe in the cross,” she says. “We believe that God can use little children to change [whole families]. This is in my heart to share about the Gospel.”
Faa, along with a small staff at G.R.O.W. Thailand, currently cares for 18 children. “We have ten boys and eight girls. But we are just like family.”
G.R.O.W. Thailand was adopted as a cooperating organization of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches last year. Click here to send Faa a note of encouragement.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. The original story indicated that G.R.O.W. provides orphan care. This is incorrect. The G.R.O.W. home takes in children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse. GraceConnect regrets the error.
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