Thomas grew up in Pakistan, Rachel in China. They met in Shanghai, dated in Beijing, and got married in London. Their ‘home’ is in Norwich, England, but they started their family in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and are currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam.
They are both the product of good missionary stock! Between 1992 – 2002, Thomas’ parents, Rupert and Janet Abbott, were missionaries in northern Pakistan (Himalayas), launching agricultural development projects in some of the most hard-to-reach and fundamentally Islamic parts of the country. In November 2011 they moved back to the UK after living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, between 2002 – 2011, where Rupert was the Senior Pastor at the International Chiang Mai Community Church, and Janet fostered orphaned children prior to their international adoptions.
Rachel, on the other hand, before changing her surname to ‘Abbott’ on 9th August 2008, was a ‘Glover’. Robert and Elizabeth Glover moved from the UK to Shanghai in 1998, together with their six children (aged between 12 to 4) in a government-to-government initiative to launch ‘Care for Children’. In 2006 Robert earned an OBE for his efforts (although Liz should probably be made a Dame for hers), and the project is now beginning to expand into other countries in Asia (oh, and Thomas joined the team in 2003).
Thomas read History at St. Mary’s University in London. Straight after graduating in 2002 he got a job with the British Council in Shanghai, China, which is where he met the Glovers at Hang Shen International Community Church. Inspired by the mission, vision, and strategic outlook the Glovers had for Care for Children, he asked if he could do some work experience as the project moved from its pilot stage in Shanghai to a national project operating out of Beijing in 2003. He’s still working for Care for Children (but now paid!), married to the Glover’s oldest daughter, and led the first project outside of China in Thailand. He is now overseeing all project developments in SE Asia, while directly supporting the start of the new (2017) Vietnam project based out of Hanoi.
After growing up between home in China and boarding school in the UK, Rachel pursued her ambition to become a midwife. She read Midwifery at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. After graduating in 2009, she worked as a full-time midwife in Norwich, delivering hundreds of babies, both in the hospital and at home-births. She gave up her job on 20th April (2012) in order to accompany Thomas’ work with Care for Children to Thailand and then Vietnam. Of course, as a midwife, wherever she ends up in the world there is always a need for her skills and knowledge!
On May 26 2013 Rachel gave birth to our first child, Theodore (God’s gift) Siam (made in Thailand…), who is a much adored first grandchild and nephew on both sides of the family. He is also the first great grandchild on Thomas’ side. Such was the importance of the occasion, that Jonathan Agnew sent his congratulations via Test Match Special on the BBC. On November 4 2015, Barnabas (son of encouragement) Brave (because he will be) made his appearance – in a birthing pool at home in Norwich! That’s two boys… and counting.