In 2009, Michael Hoyt and I got to know a refugee named Dilan through our church in Bangkok. Because of Dilan’s religious beliefs and advocacy for a marginalized ethnic minority, the government in his home country had started to harass, follow, and threaten him. When his family started receiving significant threats on their lives, he fled to Thailand with his wife, infant daughter, and mother-in-law.
One day, Michael and I found out in order to pay for the next month’s rent, Dilan and his wife were planning on pawning their wedding rings. I was moved by a verse in I John 3:16-17, and felt compelled to give personally, and my church community joined me.
After a few months, I had to return to America, but Michael committed to making sure that Dilan and his family had the basics to survive. Michael and our church stood with Dilan, and after about a year, a European country agreed to allow Dilan and his family to resettle there. So in March of 2011, Dilan and his family, with wedding rings in tow, moved to Europe, and began a new life.
Being a catalyst on Dilan’s journey to freedom was an incredibly meaningful experience for Michael. So before Dilan left, Michael met other similarly desperate families that Dilan knew, and began helping them as well.
When I heard how Michael’s experience had ignited so much passion in him, I figured, why not provide this incredible opportunity to more people? So we decided to create Life Raft International. People at churches in Thailand who wanted to help would be Advocates. We would introduce potential Advocates to a family of refugees, and let the friendship naturally develop. People outside Thailand we would call Supporters.
Michael continued to help various refugee families in Thailand, and found more people in Thailand who wanted to become Advocates. I worked on finding people in the U.S. who wanted to help our families. Michael has since moved to Morocco, but in his wake stands a powerful group of Advocates who continue to transform lives.
And that’s where we are today. More and more people in Bangkok are becoming friends with refugees, and taking on the role of Advocates, just as more people outside Bangkok are embracing the opportunity to transform the lives of our families by becoming Supporters.
We invite you to become part of our work. Our idea is that anyone can transform a family’s life.
If you are in Bangkok, you just have to be willing to get to know a family of refugees. If you’re interested, e-mail me at Chris@liferaftinternational.org.
If you are outside Bangkok, the first step is to commit a certain amount each month to a family. You can do that here. We will connect you with a family, and you will have the opportunity to personally be a part of our families’ journeys towards hope.
Thanks for your interest in us, and if you’d like to read more stories, please check out our blog.
President, Life Raft International