What does it take to set a boy free from a web of prostitution? What does it take to give that boy a place to live, a part-time job, and the chance to work towards a university degree in business administration?
It takes a team of dedicated Christian workers both international and local to make a difference in the lives of marginalized people who are suffering from poverty and exploitation. Through the Urban Light Foundation, an organization that focuses on empowering young men in Chiang Mai, Grace International School parent Ryan Binkley is one of the people dedicated to working with many young men who are homeless and providing them with educational support, housing, healthcare, job skills training and other services to help them leave a life of exploitation and prostitution.
Working with the Urban Light Foundation isn’t the only ministry that Ryan is involved in. Half of his time is also spent with Chung Doi Church equipping leaders and discipling new Thai believers. Lives are changed through the church such as that of a little girl who had participated in church activities back in 2001. The church lost contact with her but years later, she came back to the church and is now a believer, worship leader, and one of the best evangelists in the church, leading others to freedom in Christ. Ryan’s hope is that Chung Doi will plant a new church in the coming years and reach more people.
Ryan is able to do all of this because of Grace International School where his wife, Ning, serves the children of other international Christian workers by helping in the Educational Support Department. He says, “Since 2001, I heard about the quality of education and the family-like environment at GIS from the families of international Chrisitan workers that I worked with. When we lost our financial support and our teammates returned to the U.S. while we were living in Phayao a few years ago, we knew we could no longer stay in Thailand if we did not have a way to educate our children. Our oldest son was starting 1st grade and there was no international school in Phayao. We decided to move to Chiang Mai in large part because of the opportunity to have our children attend GIS and be able to continue ministry with the Thai church. Without GIS, we would not be able to stay in Thailand and continue to serve the church and the young men at Urban Light.”
It is because of GIS that the families of international Christian workers such as the Binkleys are able to shine the light of Jesus in Chiang Mai and free young men from the chains of slavery.