My Bar Exam Results, and What They Mean for Life Raft

Note: This is written by Chris Woodruff, our Executive Director. This Monday morning, I sat at the kitchen table, as I prepared to find out whether I had passed the bar exam or not. The night before, my heart had been under a lot of stress, but that was nothing compared to the toxic combination of adrenaline and cortisol that was now searing my heart.

A year ago, I was not even planning on taking the bar. Earning my J.D. from Georgetown would be enough to allow me to represent refugees so that they could get official status from the UN. Studying for, and taking the bar felt like a terrible, unnecessary experience that would only delay our long awaited move to Thailand.

But then I contemplated Life Raft’s legal work expanding. I imagined recruiting law students as interns, finding attorneys willing to do pro-bono work, and eventually hiring our own team of lawyers. If we were able to do that, Life Raft’s ability to help refugees would grow exponentially. Thousands more refugees could find freedom.

In order for these dreams to be realized, I would need to licensed as an attorney in the US. And in order for to happen, I would need to pass the bar exam.

So in late May, after officially graduating from Georgetown, I hunkered down, deep in my fortress of bar-prep books, and studied. And studied. And studied. It was terrible. I had to memorize the law of 13 different legal areas in 2 months. It was like 2 years of law school crammed into two months. I didn’t get out much.

So as I sat at my computer, it felt like 2 months of my life was at stake. Not only that, but friends and family knew how hard I had worked, and how important it was for me to pass the bar exam. Letting them down was the most terrifying, stressful thing.

I opened the letter that would determine my fate, and read painfully meaningless words and numbers. Finally I saw the fateful phrase: “this is a passing score.” A tidal wave of relief and excitement washed over me. It is done. It is finished. It is time to start working on the dream.

The End of the Safe House

_APY8532While we were in Bangkok, police raided the Safe House. Thanks to some quick thinking, the refugees who were there at the time were able to avoid arrest, and soon after, all the families fled.  It was a terrifying time for all of us.  Thankfully, all of our families are ok, and have since found safe homes. However, two breaches over two years makes it clear that God wants something more for our families.

Paradoxically, this crisis was an answer to prayer. For some time, we had been praying about whether to keep the Safe House open. When we started the Safe House, it had been because our volunteers on the ground believed in the Safe House, and were able to galvanize their community to get behind it and support it. Over the past two years, the volunteers who had founded the Safe House left Bangkok. And while new volunteers stepped up in their place, those new volunteers did not have the same passion for it. They were willing to put in the work to keep it going, but it wasn’t something they felt called to do.

As an organization, our ethos is to find where God is moving people’s hearts, and then to partner with that movement. Our volunteers in Bangkok guide our decision. Our heart is to enable people to love refugees.

So when our people on the ground no longer felt called to manage a Safe House, we were inclined to shift away from it. But it wasn’t that simple: The refugees still loved living in the House, and it had been an incredible tool that helped connect supporters with the refugee families. We sought God on what we should do. And when the families were forced to flee the Safe House, our answer was clear.

And we have found that no longer running a Safe House has been a huge, freeing step as an organization. Since then, we have started two new partnerships with churches in Bangkok, and have more than doubled the number of refugees we are reaching. Our leaders in Bangkok also have more time to focus on education for refugees.

More than anything, we are following where God is leading our volunteers to minister to refugees. It’s been incredibly exciting to see him continue to move in people’s hearts, and I can’t wait to see what more He has in store.

7 Things You Should Know About the Re-Persecuted

1. Who they are


The re-persecuted are refugees who flee their home countries, usually because of their religious beliefs.  They escape the persecution in their home countries, only to be persecuted again when they arrive in Thailand.


2. Why they come to Thailand


For many refugees, Thailand is the quickest, easiest country to escape to. Additionally, the United Nations Refugee office is there. After a long process, there’s the possibility that United Nations could give refugees official status. After the refugees receive this status, the United Nations will try to find a new country that they can move to permanently.


3. What happens when they get to Thailand


Most refugees arrive in Thailand on a 60-day tourist visa. As soon as the visa expires, Thai immigration police hunt them down, and will throw entire families into a terrible, filthy, prison. So families live in the shadows, forced into begging, or worse, to survive.


4. Why Thai Police Hunt Them Down


Unlike most countries in the world (including all Western countries),  Thailand does not offer any protection for refugees. Instead, they hunt down refugees and throw entire families in prison.


5. For the re-persecuted, life in Bangkok can feel like a nightmare 


They don’t speak the native language, and are forbidden from working. It is almost impossible for their kids to enter school. They may go days without eating, and always teeter on the brink of homelessness. Any time they step outside their home, they risk arrest. Police will even raid apartments, so any knock on the door could mean that an entire family will be sent to prison.


6. It’s especially terrible for kids


In the few years that they have been alive, refugee children face more hate than many of us will in a lifetime. In Bangkok, they are stuck in tiny apartments all day, unable to run and play outside. Moreover, it is almost impossible for them to go to school, so they may go years without formal education.


7. There is hope


Light shines brightest in the darkness. In the absence of any government help, churches in Bangkok are rising up to help the re-persecuted. Life Raft partners with these churches to provide food, shelter and education to the re-persecuted. You can read more about these efforts here: