BY RUTH BRADBURN WITH BILL WELLS
One of ASAP Ministries’ strategic goals is to equip and empower missionaries to return to the marginalized communities they were once a part of and share the good news of Christ’s love. As Ellen White wrote, “God in his providence has brought men to our very doors and thrust them, as it were, into our arms, that they might learn the truth, and be qualified to do a work we could not do in getting the light before men of other tongues” (RH October 29, 1914, Art. A, par. 17-18). Meet Jasmine Moo and Soe Soe Moon (pictured), two compassionate and driven Karen young adults who grew up in refugee camps in Thailand before resettling in the U.S. After personally experiencing God’s saving power in their lives, they have accepted His call to serve as ASAP’s first refugee student missionaries, ministering to displaced Karen people on the Thai-Myanmar border. In September 2021, Jasmine and Soe Soe launched to Thailand and began a two-year term of service there. Currently, Jasmine is serving as a teacher at an ASAP school, and Soe Soe is working as a Karen Field Ministry Assistant.
For years, Jasmine dreamed at night about going back to Southeast Asia. In fact, God first began calling her to be a missionary through a series of dreams during her freshman year of college. Inspired by the dreams, Jasmine and a group of friends traveled to Thailand and Cambodia in 2017 on a short-term mission trip. Although Jasmine was studying health ministry at the time, she agreed to teach several classes at the local church schools to help the teachers. Little did Jasmine realize how much the experience would change her life.
As she taught, Jasmine found that she enjoyed talking with the students. The Holy Spirit worked through her as she shared her testimony with them, and one day after class a certain girl approached Jasmine, clearly moved by her story. The student shared with Jasmine that her heart had been touched by how God had taken care of Jasmine through all the difficulties she experienced, from her time in the refugee camps to living in America. Two years later the student texted Jasmine. After graduating, the girl was now teaching in a nearby school. “Your story really inspired me, missionary. Now I want to be like you.” Jasmine looks thoughtful as she remembers this experience. “The reason I want to go to be a student missionary is to inspire people,” she says. “People are not going to remember the [words you spoke to them], they’re going to remember that you put your fingerprint on their heart.”
After Jasmine returned from the mission trip she prayerfully changed her major from health ministry to education. God had spoken clearly to her through the experience, calling her to give back to her people through the teaching and mentoring skills He created her with. “Everywhere I go, I want to be a light,” Jasmine says. She’s not sure what the next two years will have in store, but one thing she firmly believes is that God can use her to touch people deeply, no matter how much time they spend together.
Soe Soe came to America when he was 19 years old. Living in Southeast Asia was not always easy for him and his family. When civil war overtook the village in Myanmar where Soe Soe had grown up, he was forced to flee with his parents and five siblings to refugee camps in Thailand. But living in America presented its own set of challenges. “My family had to work in a factory, and I also got a job,” Soe Soe recalls. “My first two years I didn’t go to school. It was tough.” Soe Soe’s family struggled adjusting to life in America, living in a neighborhood where there were a lot of drugs and other unsafe activities. The environment wasn’t anything like Thailand or Myanmar. His family was not used to the culture or language of America, and so they struggled with a lot of things. “But at the same time,” Soe Soe says, “we praised God that we had church members who were willing to step out and help us to go through all of these things.”
With an open, genuine smile on his face, Soe Soe is the kind of person that you immediately know is going to be a friend. His optimism and sense of humor lighten the mood around him. Interestingly enough, like Jasmine, Soe Soe first felt the call to missions on a trip back to Thailand in 2019. “That taught me so much,” Soe Soe says. “It taught me that what I have learned here I can give back, because going back there really opened my eyes to see how people are struggling.”
Soe Soe feels so much gratitude that God has blessed him with education and the opportunity to go to Ouachita Hills College, thanks in part to the Judy Aitken Memorial Refugee Scholarship Fund. Now, he wants to return home and share the love of Jesus. “Going back is going to be a challenge, yes,” Soe Soe says, “however, I’m from there, so it makes it a bit easier with the language and the culture.” Soe Soe nods affirmatively in his thoughtful way. “I’m really excited, and I’m really blessed that God has chosen me and called me to be a part of this mission.”
Over the last two years, ASAP team members Julia O’Carey, Angy Plata, Laura Hokanson, and Bill Wells have worked hard to prepare Jasmine and Soe Soe for their positions in Thailand. We praise God for various partnerships and the support of numerous donors who have made this possible. Thank you for supporting this endeavor with your prayers and means. Both Jasmine and Soe Soe have been practicing recording events in their lives in preparation for creating a series of video-logs (vlogs) chronicling their journey to Thailand and their experiences there. Through their vlogs, they hope to share what it’s like to be ASAP’s first refugee student missionaries. Stay tuned for Jasmine and Soe Soe’s vlogs in the next couple of months. We can’t wait to share their journey with you!