Tasanee Songsiriphong ('13) tells how missionary influence in Thailand led her family to Christ and about her connections to Rapha House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Rapha House is an organization, co-founded by Stephanie Garman Freed, that combats human trafficking and child slavery.
I am Tasanee Songsiriphong from Thailand. I recently graduated from Johnson University with a degree in Management of Nonprofit Organizations and this is my story.
I was born and raised in a small village on a mountain in the northern part of Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia with a population of 68 million. The predominant religion is Buddhism, though much Christian mission work exists there openly. I belong to the Lisu tribe, originating from Tibet and one of the six hill-tribe people groups of Thailand, stretching from northern India through Myanmar, Thailand, and into China. We are called “mountaineers,” since most of the tribes people live in the mountains; historically, these groups grew opium, but now many have switched to other forms of agriculture due to government crackdown on this illegal drug.>
My father had been sick for years with stomach problems. When two students from the Bible school came to our village for their internship, they told us about Jesus Christ as a Great Physician and as the Lord and Savior. My dad and mom immediately accepted Jesus without any hesitation. My dad recovered day by day with prayers and received modern medicines. Lives changed when my family converted from Animism to Christianity. In our culture, often an entire family is converted rather than merely individuals. The family would follow the father as the head of the family, much like the household conversions in the New Testament. The reason my family accepted Jesus was initially for healing.>
I went to a Bible college while serving Him as a radio speaker in my native Lisu language and graduated in 2006. In the meantime, I was equipped by God to serve His children by giving me the opportunity to take care of Rapha House in Chiang Mai, Thailand, an organization that combats human trafficking and child slavery. I report to Ms. Stephanie Garman Freed, the co-founder and executive director. Stephanie is passionate about helping young girls find a meaningful existence and rise above their conditions that treat them as disposable property. We have 24 girls at the House in Chiang Mai. It is a great joy to be able to see these girls have a future life free from abuse and especially a life that has been restored through faith in Jesus Christ.
Our mission is “to love, rescue, and heal children who have been freed from trafficking and sexual exploitation.” In order to accomplish this mission, Rapha seeks “to franchise proven solutions for the rehabilitation and empowerment of survivors, and prevent trafficking and exploitation around the world.” The mission, operating today in Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma) has become an “international leader of best practices in combating human trafficking.” Our scriptural fulfillment is, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice” (Proverbs 31:8, 9, NLT).
I came to Johnson University in 2012 to attend the program, Management of Nonprofit Organizations. In this program, I learned about strategic planning, human resource management, financial management, and Christian ethics in the work place. This degree program will help me administer the Rapha House more effectively and extend its influence throughout Northern Thailand. I graduated in Spring of 2013.
Of course, attending a university where instruction is in my third language is never easy. I often remember Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” God keeps His promises. He brought me to one of the most beautiful campuses in America. In a short period of time, I felt this place is for me another home on earth! I felt the presence of God among the people, professors, students, and staff. Johnson University will be in my memory forever. I realize that God brought me here to equip me and empower me, for I am to bring His good news to the people who are still in the power of Satan, to let them experience freedom as I now have freedom in Him.