On June 5, 2009, Ken & Ang Burkholder and family moved to Thailand to work with the mission group Global Tribes Outreach (GTO) as house parents for staff members living in Chiang Mai. Their job was being house parents and assisting staff as they prepared short term teams for service in Asia. They also provided support to the director of GTO’s Chiang Dao Compassion Home (CDCH), a children’s home. This home helps underprivileged tribal children get an education and introduce them to the love of Jesus. It was this service that opened their eyes to the need for continuing support for tribal students as they graduate high school and begin studies at a university.
In 2012, they opened their home to CDCH students pursuing their college degrees. As part of their mission, the whole family participated in daily activities with the students. They created a supportive and extended family life feel for the students. They invited a local Christian couple to help them bridge the language, cultures barriers and lead the students in weekly Bible studies.
Three years passed and they went from one to seven students living with their family. The need for more help to develop this ministry became a reality. As the family studied the Thai language Ken decided to change his language teacher to get a fresh perspective in language learning. In his pursuit he was introduced to a fellow who was studying at the local Christian seminary and teaching Thai on the side to help with his seminary costs. The start of this relationship became the answer to the prayer for a Thai couple to help develop the student ministry that was started and growing.
James was born into a poor tribal mountain family (Ahka). When James was seven years old a missionary came to his village to tell them about Jesus. James had the opportunity to go to a village school and finish his 12 grades of schooling. But because his family was poor he didn’t see any opportunity to finish his education at a university. He talk to the missionary about his desire to go to university and the missionary agreed to help him so he could finish his education.
When James was studying, he noticed many of the hill tribe young people didn’t have the funds to study or a vision for their lives. Because of this they were getting involved with drugs, prostitution, and getting into trouble with the police. Seeing this happening in his own village and the surrounding villages gave him a vision to help his tribe just like the missionary family helped him finish his university education and grow in his life with Jesus.
After completing his university degree James’s vision to help students financial and spiritually gave him the desire to increase his Bible knowledge. So he started to study at seminary and teach Thai language on the side to help support his studies. This is when Ken’s vision and James’s vision met. As they got to know each other Ken and James’ prayers started to be answered.
In 2015 they started Hope for Tribes a ministry to Christian tribal students. This ministry focuses on spiritual growth and helping students financially so they can complete their education. These two components in a tribal young persons life can not only change them but also help change the villages they come from.