Freedom from Addiction

    In the hilly region of northern Thailand, a Lahu village is grappling with a significant drug addiction issue among its youth. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to this village alone. The illegal drug production in the Golden Triangle** area is fuelling drug abuse within various ethnic communities. 

    These minority groups, residing in the border areas of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar, are already vulnerable to substance abuse due to their marginalised status and poverty. Many of them are refugees who lack legal citizenship. Along with limited access to public services like education, these people struggle with reduced opportunities for higher-paying jobs. Farm workers rely on drugs to enhance their performance while the youth turn to easily accessible drugs.

    Setting Drug Addicts Free 

    To address this pressing issue, FEBC's Ethnic Languages in Southeast Asia ministry (ELSEA) has established drug rehabilitation centres in multiple villages. These centres are not exclusive to the Lahu community but are open to other ethnic groups such as the Palaung, Mien, and more.  

    The live-in centres provide food, shelter and spiritual nurture for those addicted to drugs. In addition to seeing people being freed from drugs, churches were being formed by those who overcame addiction and went back to their villages to witness. There were eight churches formed through one centre alone.

    FEBC's drug rehabilitation centres in the ethnic villages of Southeast Asia are setting drug addicts free.

    Longtime drug addict Y.* was one beneficiary. “I had been a drug addict for 14 years, starting with a simple thing like cigarettes. Later, I drank alcohol, hung out with drunk friends, and hung out with other women. I argued with my wife very often. I didn't work on the farm or garden since I was so lazy, but I still wanted money. 

    “Then I started taking opium and heroin. I lost my job and ran out of money. The people in several villages knew of my terrible reputation. When everyone saw me walking on the street, they would get out of the way. They were afraid I would ask for money or help from them and were disgusted with me.  
     
    “Then my friends left me.  My wife had to run away with our children before I sold them. My health plummeted. I lost everything. I felt so hopeless and helpless.” 

    Finding Freedom in Love 

    “Some Christians brought me a delicious meal. They talked about Jesus to me and gave me a radio. I thought about selling it to buy the drugs, but out of curiosity listened to it before selling it. I heard the radio say, ‘The way of hope’, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The message gave me hope. I decided not to sell it but to keep it as my last friend.  

    “The following week, the same Christians invited me to stay at the rehabilitation centre. I met people who were not my relatives. I had never seen or known them, yet I could feel the love in their voice, the warmth of their care, and their sincere embrace.  

    “In 10 months, God helped me to quit drugs. And today, I am free in Christ. 

    "I apologised to my wife and my children. Now I have my family and relatives back in my life. I have a new life, I have hope in God, and I have new sincere friends. I want to tell the people who are addicted to drugs about Jesus Christ. If He can change me, He can change them too.” 

    * Name abbreviated to protect the identity and safety of the individual and his family.
    ** The Golden Triangle region is the mountainous region transversing northeastern Myanmar, northwestern Thailand and northern Laos.


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