On June 5, 2009, Ken and Angela Burkholder moved to Thailand with their five children to work with the mission group Global Tribes Outreach (GTO) as house parents for staff members living in Chiang Mai. Since then, they’ve been blessed by the births of two more children into their family. Initially, their job was to supply meals and housing and assist staff as they prepared short term teams for service in Asia. After a short time, they were asked to provide support to the director of GTO’s Chiang Dao Compassion Home (CDCH), a children’s home. It was this service that opened their eyes to the need for continuing support for Thai students as they graduate high school and begin studies at a university. In 2012, they officially answered God’s call to address this need by opening their home to CDCH students pursuing their college degrees. As part of their mission, the whole family participates in daily activities with the students, creating a supportive, extended family life and enriching the experience for staff and participants alike.
I’m Jasmine, the current girls mentor and I’m in charge of the girls house. I grew up in the mountains of Northern Thailand. When I was 13 I moved to a children’s home so I could get better education. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Bangkok to work for a year. Then I moved to Chiang Mai to study in university. While I studied in university I lived at a dorm for girls. It was then God inspired me to help hill tribe students. I want to see hill tribe students get a good education and have a strong relationship with God. I’m also currently working at Free Burma Rangers as their accountant and coordinator. I’m thankful God brought me to work along side Hope for Tribes as the girls mentor. And I’m excited to see what God has for my future.
We are James & Esther Saep, the overseer, boys mentor, and Bible teacher at Hope for Tribes. I (James) grew up in the mountains and my wife grew up in the city. After high school I had the opportunity to study at university because a missionary family helped him with finances, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to study since my family is poor. While in university I volunteered at the local church where I met my wife. We’ve now been married for 5 years. I met Ken and his family in 2013. Ken and I shared somewhat the same vision to help hill tribe students. With God leading we now work together to make this ministry happen.
When I was studying, I noticed many of the hill tribes young people were doing drugs and getting into trouble with the police because they didn’t have the funds to study and they didn’t have a vision for their lives. Seeing this happening in my own village an the surrounding villages and since a family helped me through university, my vision is to help other hill tribe students have a better life. For me went I went to university I wasn’t able to get Bible knowledge at the same time because there was nothing available like that and now I’m studying Bible so I can teach the students. With our ministry a student can do both at the same time and I think its good to build skills equally so after the student graduates he can choose to teach Bible or get a job from what he studied.
I (Por) was born into a troubled family. My parents separated and left us (my two brothers and I) with our grandma. We were a burden to her and it was very difficult for her to raise us. We didn’t have the opportunity to go to school and study because my grandma couldn’t care for us. She looked for a place for us to stay, like a dormitory or a temple with a school. She found children’s home for us to live at. I went to one place and my brothers to another. The children’s home that I went to helped me until I was finished with high school.
I then had to decide what to do next, keep on studying by going to university or getting a job. My heart told me to go on with studying. The children’s home where I finished high school didn’t help students that go on to study at university. I decided I could get a job to help pay my way through university. At the beginning I thought I could do it but the longer i studied the harder it got to study plus work. I got discouraged and thought about quitting my studies. During this time I had the opportunity to meet a family that changed my life.
Ken’s family allowed me to stay with them without paying anything so it would lighten my heavy load and I could focus on my studies. I lived with Ken’s until the guy students moved into a new house with James. James is Ken’s Thai partner in a ministry for university students called Hope for Tribes.
Hope for Tribes is a great ministry and has given me the opportunity to finish my studies. I was able to graduate from Rahajabhat University with a major in Hotel & Tourism.
I am very thankful for all I received. For Ken’s family for taking me in to their family when I needed help and was discouraged, for James who mentored and taught me more about the importance of my life, and my sponsor family who supported me financially so I could finish my university studies.
I am now working at a coffee shop here in the city. My dream is to become chef one day.
My name is Manop and am from the Akha tribe. I was born August 2, 1993. I have a mother, a brother and sister living and and older brother and sister that both died when they were young. When my mother was pregnant with me my father passed away from being beaten badly from relatives and neighbors. My mother said that life was very difficult without my father.
When I was 2 or 3 years old my mother married again. My new father moved in with our family. Our new father took good care of us and family life got better and better . Grief came to our family again when my brother died. It was a sad time for my parents.
When I was 6 years old I went to live at a children’s home because my family could not support me anymore. I lived at the children’s home for 11 years. They taught me how to live and taught me about God and how to have God part in my life.
When I was 12 years old my mother had and other child. It made me happy to have another brother.
After high school I went to study in Chiang Mai at Rahajaphat University and my major was Hotel & Tourism. My first year there was very excited to meet new friends and new places. In my third year my step-father passed away because he drank to much alcohol. With his passing it was sad and painful for our family. I was sad because I told my father that I wanted him to see me graduate from university and take a photo with me on my graduation day.
I don’t understand why people in my family have died one by one. But I turn my attention to the journey of my life. God never abandons his people. God blessed my life and took care of me. He has helped me finish my 4 years of university studies to graduation.
By the grace of God and the people he put around me I can continue to live my life for Him.
I am thankful for Ken’s family and Hope for Tribes ministry. They provided a safe place and helped me grow spiritually in my life. I am very thankful for everyone who was involved in my life to help me reach my goals and dreams come true.
May the Lord bless them all.