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Seeking to see families, local churches and communities respond to HIV
and the issues surrounding HIV in a holistic way.
A heart for the young people
“I felt very lonely. I felt like a soccer ball – kicked around, back and forth between my family.”
You wouldn’t be able to guess Min’s family history by looking at her. She has an open face – gentle eyes, easy smile – and seems unhardened by the world.
Her mother left her father when Min was young, and he remarried, but Min’s stepmother left them as well, taking Min’s half-sister with her. Min’s father didn’t know what to do with Min; he brought her to the clubs and bars he frequented or simply left her at home by herself. When he was jailed for a few years, Min was sent to live with her mother. All of the women relatives on her mother’s side worked in clubs and bars – by this time, Min was used to being around alcohol.
After several years, she ran away from her mother’s after an argument, going back to her father, who had been released from prison by this point. But she didn’t get along with her new stepmother, so she left again, this time going to her grandfather’s. There, she began to attend activities put on by a local Christian organization.
“I felt accepted by Christians, I felt warmth,” she said. Min accepted Jesus as her Savior. “I loved being a Christian.”
Her grandfather didn’t – he criticized her for her faith. Min, who had a strained relationship with her aunt who lived nearby as well, left again. This aunt was physically abusive at times – and this was not Min’s first relative who had been so.
“I felt alone, like there was no one to take my side or take care of me,” Min said. “I was very closed off from people but always pretended I was okay.
“I worked very hard to be popular, to be liked, and to have a lot of friends,” she said. “I was always joking and acting very happy around others, but I felt really sad inside.”
She went to live with her great uncle, and began dating a young man who was a Christian and attending church with him and his family. When his parents found out the two were dating, they were displeased with the relationship and withdrew from Min. 
“I was really brokenhearted at being pushed away,” Min said.  
Shortly after that time, Min was introduced to Radical Grace's Pi Ann and Pi Daeng by one of her relatives. They got to know her better, eventually inviting her to come to church with them. They counseled and mentored Min’s growing relationship with God, and she became involved in worship and children’s ministry at the church. Min had a heart to care for her friends as well; many of her friends came to her for advice with their problems, and so Pi Ann and Pi Daeng helped her figure out how to best respond to her friends and their needs for help by speaking into issues such as sex and drug use. 

That was three years ago. Now, Min has joined the Radical Grace team as an intern. 
“We know she has a good heart and good dreams, but we also know it might not be easy for her to do it on her own,” said Pi Ann, explaining how Min joined the Radical Grace team. “We wanted to help her and give her this opportunity and let her decide for herself if she likes it.”
“I like it,” Min said, smiling. “What I love the most is the time I get with Pi Ann and Pi Daeng, and their mentorship everyday. I’m learning how to think critically, to process my feelings and thoughts, and grow as a person.”

After years of going from place to place, hoping to find somewhere she could feel she was safe and accepted, Min knows now that she is loved and accepted, not only by her church family and the Radical Grace team, but most of all – God. 
Min's story is one among many of the vulnerable young people that Radical Grace seeks to build relationships with. Min would have been characterised as an "at risk" or "vulnerable" young person – being from a broken home, with limited education, and in relationship and friendship circles that were involved in risk-taking behaviors. For young people in such situations, the path is potentially to drugs, sex work, and crime. We praise God that we have had the opportunity to invest time and energy into Min, helping to divert her from a potentially harmful life path to one that is seeing her grow from strength to strength.

Prevention and awareness with young people is a key focus for Radical Grace. In 2015 there were 6,900 new HIV infections in Thailand, with the highest sexual transmission infection rates among those aged 15-24 years. Our team engages with young people through outreach in the juvenile girls' prison and a number of dormitories, as well as through local churches, in order to build relationships that foster open conversation and trust.
A few snaps from our visit last month to the juvenile girls' prison
to talk about reproductive health

Please pray!
  • Pray for our engagement with young people; that through our ministry we can continue to build relationships and foster open conversations and trust in order to see lives transformed.
  • Members of our team will travel to an area along the Thai/Burma border this week (Oct 25-29) to conduct HIV training with a group of young medic students. Pray for safety as we travel and that the training will provide new knowledge and insight for students on the broader issues associated with HIV, particularly those of stigma and discrimination.
  • Pray as we continue to disciple and pastorally care for new believers. Pray that each would grow and be encouraged in their faith and that they would be able to stand firm in physical, emotional and spiritual battles.

Some things we're thankful for:
  • Praise God for a fantastic Family Camp held over the weekend of 14-16 October. We are thankful for the ways that our families came together as one big Radical Grace family and for evidence of God at work.
  • Praise also for a very successful youth camp (18-19 Oct) during which we piloted the "Looking for Love" curriculum. It was a great time spent with an amazing group of young people from two local churches as they explored God's design for relationships, identity and sexuality. We are excited to see this group determining to continue to journey with each other around these critical issues! Pray for them as they do this.

Radical Grace is a project of Siam Impact Foundation, which partners with SIM and HOPE for AIDS

If you'd like to partner with us and support the work of Radical Grace, you can make a general donation through your country SIM office. 
Copyright © 2016, Radical Grace. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Project Radical Grace
PO Box 69
Maehea Post Office
Chiang Mai 50100

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Hope for Life Thailand · PO Box 69 · Meahea Post Office · Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50100 · Thailand

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