"Who you climb with matters"

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"Who you climb with matters"

Lauren Stark shares three lessons that she learned from taking part in our Freedom Challenge in Utah last month

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If Jesus hiked up Double Peak with us today, I wonder what kind of hiker he would look like? Would he use poles? Would he have Merrill hiking boots? What kind of trail mix would he be munching on? Would he carry an extra pair of socks or bring a holy can of mace?

I believe Jesus was an expert hiker. He holds the record for completing the hardest hike ever. But he looked differently doing it. He didn’t have supportive, protective boots. No change of socks. Was he even wearing sandals? Maybe he did it barefoot? Feeling every sharp pebble or stick. Stubbing toes, getting hotspots. I don’t think he had an Osprey backpack full of water. He had an unbearably heavy piece of wood splintering into his already beaten back. The pain of the pressure of that cross on his shoulder makes me gasp! A face unrecognizable beaten to a pulp. His beard ripped from his cheeks. A crown of prickly thorns digging into his head. World's worst migraine. No electrolyte gummies to keep him energized. No, what kept him going was my face. Perhaps even this very moment as I write a blog to bring life to others: “He lost his life so I can find mine here.” He hiked and died so I can live and live abundantly. How great is our God!

But he doesn’t stop there. He hiked again. He was on every hike as I trained. And he hiked with me in Utah. We had three main hikes and as I was giving my attention to pray for freedom for the oppressed he brought his attention back to me. I learned three things:

Hike 1

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Elevation 7800 - Air pressure is different when up this high. Your lungs aren’t used to it. There is a “panic” feeling that can set in as it feels like you can’t catch your breath. A fellow hiker described it as running a marathon while breathing through a straw. I started to freak out in my mind: “God calm me down, I want to enjoy this hike.” God replied “And I want you to enjoy your journey with me.”

You see for the past year and a half I’ve been living with this secret vision of me running/operating a rehab facility. A place of complete healing and restoration for people who are trapped with addiction. I pray and pray for some sort of door to be opened. I get frustrated waiting on him since my current reality doesn’t match what's in my heart. Through the elevation change in my lungs the Lord brought to my attention that we go through “spiritual” elevation change as well. If he takes me from spiritual point A to point B too fast and I’m not ready I will freak out, panic, suffocate and run for the hills. He knows what he is doing. His timing is important and he wants me to enjoy the process. 

Hike 2

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Before we move on Lauren we have to knock down some idols you've built.  We started our 2nd hike with a big rock in our hand. We couldn't put it down, even if we had to get into our packs we had to ask a friend to hold it. We carried it for four miles. At the top of the mountain we were told to lay our “something” down, something we needed to be free from. God revealed to me that I have an unhealthy appetite for the need to feel important and the need to be recognized in the eyes of man. If we are going to build our dream rehab then it can't be about me. He needs to get all the glory, not me. 

Hike 3

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Who you climb with matters. Our 3rd hike was the hardest yet. 12 miles in triple digits. I was doing great until about mile five. I couldn't get my body cooled down and I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I couldn't shake that feeling. Trying to remain calm for about another mile or so didn't work and I had a little meltdown. I can't do this!! I just balled in my hands. My lady hiker friends gathered around me, prayed and encouraged me. They helped cool me down, lightened my load and nourished me. Something in my attitude shifted and I put my big girl panties on and got myself out of there! It was no beauty pageant but i'm pretty sure God framed it somewhere in heaven. Who you climb with matters -who you do life with matters. 

So if you have not done freedom challenge before I beg you to please sign up. You just might be freed from something too!

You can sign up for our next Challenge to the Grand Canyon here.

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Breaking walls down

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Breaking walls down

Hannah Collier shares about her first experience of a Freedom Challenge hike in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park...

On June 22, 60 women arrived at Zion National Park to fight for the oppressed and broken hearted.

As these 60 women came together, my heart grew full; 60 women saying yes to the challenge. While any single one of us may not be able to bring down the sex trafficking industry, our unity in the fight will break its walls down one by one. These 60 women who are willing to walk (or climb) through discomfort that they may bring freedom to the women, children, and men who live in conditions that mimic hell, are just one example of that.

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This past week chains were also broken in the lives of the freedom fighters. Susan Howard of LoveWorks ministry joined us as our conference speaker. Through her, the Holy Spirit brought freedom to our hearts—freedom from sin, freedom from victimization, and a freedom to love others well. She spoke, “There is nothing wrong with recognizing pain, unless it leads to hopelessness. Our pain should always bring us to the cross…we must give God permission to minister to us through our pain.”

It is hard to fight for the freedom of others without recognizing the ways Satan has enslaved us.

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I was given the privilege of capturing these moments on camera. Through this role, I had the opportunity to join a different team each day and I was amazed by these women’s consistent willingness to be vulnerable, their desire to see victory be had for Christ over the trafficking industry, and their desire for growth.

A willing heart often is the vehicle of God’s miracles. Through willing hearts, mountains are moved.

In the midst of the deep emotion and tears over the reality of enslavement, laughter was also had—and a lot of it. We were given the opportunity to participate in a paint night led by Sonya Finley where we meditated on God’s redemptive power and ability to bring beauty from ashes. There was much laughter in the room that night as women conversed and giggled over their artistic abilities.

Overall, the Bryce/Zion climb was a beautiful representation of how God works in our lives. Pain and suffering come with our fallen nature, but through the joy of the Lord we can still walk with joyful spirits. We can both laugh and cry, just as we can celebrate victory and hit our knees daily in prayer for the Lord to continue to work in the dark areas of the world.

Chances are, you have heard the statistics of sex trafficking, you have seen the horrific pictures of children not being taken care of well and subjected to the awful decisions of another. The remaining question is: “What are you going to do about it?”

This past week, women fought for freedom by putting one foot in front of another. Through pain, heat, and fear, victory was had in more ways than one.

This is the Freedom Challenge. My challenge to you? Get involved. Ignorance is not bliss, use your voice to advocate for those trapped in slavery.

Find out how you can get involved in our next Challenge.

Hannah Collier is an intern with The Freedom Challenge.

 

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"You care about us when no-one else does"

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"You care about us when no-one else does"

Worldwide, 14 million girls are married as child-brides each year. That is 38,000 young girls every day. Research shows that if girls receive a formal education, the rate of childhood marriages falls by 64%.  

Your support is enabling our project workers and teachers in Central Asia to work with entire communities in remote mountainous villages, where child marriage is common, advocating for and promoting the education of girls. Here is what some of the people involved in the schools have to say:

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School chairman:
"We saw some girls wandering around outside and thought, ‘Why aren’t they coming to school?’ The problem is that some of the old people still have closed minds. They say it is not good to educate girls.  We have only recently started this work.  Until we are educated, our problems will not go away, so we are going to keep bringing the girls. We have begun telling people that their children will get free books and supplies to attend school, maybe even up to middle school here and that getting an education will be easy!”

Parent of a school student shared: "Many changes have happened in our lives.  It is different because we are very poor people. We couldn’t afford the fee of $5 to send our children to school. I only studied until fifth grade, and then there was no teacher for higher levels, and no money to travel to another school. We were poor, so I stayed at home. Because of education, we are very thankful. Those who brought education have given us free pencils, textbooks, notebooks, and uniforms. It was all free. The school is completely full and you brought teachers.  Now there are so many girls studying! What is the reason they are studying? It’s because of the care that people have given.  We are very thankful. You care about us when no-one else does. No-one else comes here. No-one else is working here.”

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School principal shared, “Many changes have happened. Many government teachers just pass the time. But by the grace of God, the teachers who have been posted here are working hard, coming on time, and doing their best for the children. And then two female teachers joined us and they are also doing a great job. Because of this, we have seen many changes in the students. However, there is still the problem that parents here are illiterate. When the children go home and open their books, the parents can’t help them to understand. So, we are doing our best to teach very strong basics to the children up to class three. We are also helping the older students who have some weak areas as well.  Since I have been here, from the time I came until now, I feel that there are many changes.”

The difference your support is making is incredible. Only with your help can we continue to prevent child marriage and give girls all that they need to be able to achieve their dreams.

$150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom but any gift you give will make a difference. Thank you!

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We need your help!

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We need your help!

The start of our Utah Challenge is only a few weeks away - and we need your help in a few ways.

  • Pray: Our Challenge hikers will be pushing themselves to their physical limits every day – they need our prayers to keep them strong mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Pray too for God’s kingdom to advance in the countries where we are working to set women free. You can find more topics for prayer here: https://www.thefreedomchallenge.com/prayer-challenge/

  • Share: Tell others about The Freedom Challenge. Share our posts on social media. You can follow the action throughout the week of June 22 - June 27 on Facebook and Instagram. And encourage your friends, family and colleagues to give, to pray and sign up for our next challenge.

  • Go: There is still time to register for our Grand Canyon challenge in October. We’ll be hiking rim-to-rim in this glorious national park. You can find more information and sign up here: https://www.thefreedomchallenge.com/new-events/.

 

We're excited to hit the trails in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park to raise awareness of human trafficking and to raise funds for our vital rescue and restoration projects around the world.

Thank you for standing with us as we take on our next challenge. We couldn't do  any of this without your support!

 

 

 

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"I want you to know that these projects are changing lives!"

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"I want you to know that these projects are changing lives!"

Ginger Martin, President and CEO of American National Bank, and a Freedom Challenge supporter who's taken part in five challenges so far, shares how visiting our projects in Zambia has impacted her

As a woman, a mother, a female CEO and a survivor of sexual abuse, I am passionate about raising funds and awareness to fight human trafficking. In February 2018, that passion and commitment was elevated to an even higher level when I, along with four other women, visited four Operation Mobilization (OM) projects that Freedom Challenge supports in Kabwe, Zambia. 

 Ginger Martin, Lisa Rose, Jennifer Brockway, Tracy Daugherty, Elaine Ellis arriving at OM Zambia

Ginger Martin, Lisa Rose, Jennifer Brockway, Tracy Daugherty, Elaine Ellis arriving at OM Zambia

In case you don’t read any further, I want to make sure you know that I’ve witnessed first-hand how these projects are changing lives! The funds you give and your participation in Freedom Challenge events raises money that meets the immediate needs of women and children in desperate situations, but even more importantly, OM is providing skills, training and education that will allow them to build a better future. If you are considering participating in or donating to a future Freedom Challenge event, let me encourage you to DO IT! 

Bethesda Mercy Ministry

 Children at Bethesda Mercy Ministry

Children at Bethesda Mercy Ministry

Our first stop was Bethesda Mercy Ministry. Here, we met the husband and wife team from Zambia that oversee this program, Henry and Brenda. They shared that the disabled were an unreached group. They are rejected by society, the parents feel shame and the father often abandons the mother and child, leaving them destitute and poor. Bethesda’s mission is to provide daycare and education for disabled children from toddlers up to 21 years of age, in the hope they can live an independent life. They also help the mothers develop a business plan to earn a living.

 Ginger with Deborah

Ginger with Deborah

We went to the various classrooms to meet the teachers, volunteers and children. We saw children that were crippled, wearing leg braces, on crutches and in wheelchairs. Some had Down's Syndrome. The amazing thing is that many of the children were so full of joy. One class sang for us. The class for the older group (18 – 21), was learning life and social skills like personal hygiene, being on time, and how to be a good worker. One little girl that captured my heart was deaf.  Her name was Deborah. 

 Business proposals

Business proposals

We met ten of the mothers of the disabled group who shared their one-page business proposals. Most plans involved the selling of vegetables, charcoal, cooking oil, etc. These women were given a $4 loan from OM to start their business. 


Mercy House

Our next stop was Mercy House. It is located in the poorest community in Kabwe called Makululu. The OM missionary that runs Mercy House is from Scotland, and her name is Ann. Mercy House provides the $40 it costs for a school uniform, which allows a child to attend public school for a year. The kids go to Mercy House after school and are provided a meal and Bible teaching. Most of the kids in Mercy House are being raised by a single mom or a grandmother. We met one mother who was 21 years old with 3 children; her oldest was 11 years old. Do the math! 

 Bernadette teaching sewing

Bernadette teaching sewing

Tabitha Skills Development

Mercy House also has a program where the mothers can learn how to sew, so that they can make money. Bernadette from Zambia teaches the program. She received her training from another OM program supported by Freedom Challenge called Tabitha Skills Development.

 

 Pharen, leader of the Tabitha project

Pharen, leader of the Tabitha project

We also met 37-year-old Pharen, who is the leader of the Tabitha Project. She shared her story of becoming an orphan at age 14, the hardships she endured and how God took care of her. The pain and hurt she suffered inspired her to want to help other women, so the Tabitha Project seeks to empower vulnerable women by teaching them skills and mentoring them. They learn to sew, knit, crochet and make beaded jewelry.

 

The leaders of the Tabitha Project are committed to expanding their efforts to reach more women in the community. During our trip, we saw a new building under construction that will facilitate this, and we also met two other young women that were being developed as leaders so that they could go out to other Zambian villages and teach more women the skills to make a living.

Makwati Community School

 Makwati community school - kids at recess

Makwati community school - kids at recess

The last project we visited was the Makwati Community School, which offers elementary school classes. Here, we spent time with the Principal, visited several of the classes and talked with many of the teachers. We enjoyed having recess with the kids and interacting with them. Next to the school was a field planted with sweet potatoes that we learned was purchased with Freedom Challenge funds. The sweet potatoes are sold to raise money to support the school. Isn’t that a perfect example of your donations being used for real-world, sustainable solutions?

In the OM house we stayed in hung this very simple sign: “Beloved is your deepest and truest identity.” For me, this sign sums up what OM projects are accomplishing. These projects are showing the oppressed and vulnerable women and children of the world that they have value, they matter, and that in God’s plans, they have hope and a future, thanks to the time, talent and treasure of people like you!

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Ginger Martin, President and CEO of American National Bank

Ginger’s passion for fighting against human trafficking has led her on a mountain climbing journey with The Freedom Challenge since 2014. With five climbs under her belt thus far, including 7-Summits Colorado 2014, Mt. Kilimanjaro - Africa 2015, Grand Tetons - Wyoming 2016, Estes Park - Colorado 2017, and Machu Picchu - Peru 2017, Ginger has tirelessly raised funds and awareness for the women and children who are victims of human trafficking. As a result, Ginger has been asked to speak to a multitude of different groups throughout South Florida to tell her story of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and the leadership lessons learned along the way.

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'I was not your stereotypical hiker'

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'I was not your stereotypical hiker'

Since becoming a Christian, I have been taught about, and I am learning to embrace, the reality of God as my Father. It was difficult since I grew up in a fatherless home, but over the years I am slowly learning how much God loves me as His cherished daughter. He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5-6).

Besides growing up in a fatherless home, I lived with a mother who was emotionally absent.

This week I experienced a side of God that I never have before.

I went on a three-day hike with 160 other women, all hiking for the ministry of Freedom Challenge. Freedom Challenge is a ministry that rescues and restores women who have been victims of human trafficking or modern-day slavery.

Upon entering the auditorium, I quickly became aware that I was not like many of the others. There were many fit, young women. I did not meet the stereotypical model of the avid hiker. Being the largest woman in attendance made my insecurities resurface. What was I doing with a group of women that were there to stretch themselves physically? I had trained to do this but I was feeling very intimidated. I was not in my comfort zone. It was as though I was living on a whole new planet.

From the time I had left Ohio, I had been asking God to show Himself to me. How was He going to do that in this very uncomfortable scenario?

Day one – no turning back now

It all began on day one of our hike. We had 16 women in our beginning hiking group. Even on the shuttle bus on the way to our hike, the tears started. Would I make it the whole six miles? Will the group have to compensate for me because of my physical pain? There was no turning back now.

As we started out on our first hike, our leaders shared that no one was going to be left behind. Each person on the team was important and that their goal for us was to experience God and His community of women. Each one of us have value and they challenged us to learn about each other’s stories. Their words brought me comfort and I longed for them to really be true.

Sharing my story

The day proceeded along excellently. The hike was very doable and I was asked to lead for most of the hike. During our lunch break and after our time alone with God, I was asked to share my story with the rest of our team. Women were challenged and God was glorified! Blessed be His name! My feet were in such physical pain when we were done that I could hardly walk after we had rested. But this was the first time in my life that I had walked six whole miles. And to think that I had two more days of this. I limped to dinner that night and hoped that it would not be too obvious how much pain I was in. I did not sleep well that night because of the pain and I so dreaded the morning when it arrived.


Day two – feeling vulnerable and weak

I went downstairs the next morning to a group that was eager to go. I was approached by JoAnn, our spiritual leader and told that if I needed to take the day off and rest that it would be OK. She told me that there was no shame in resting. They wanted me to be able to attend the third day’s hike. I decided to risk it and go on Day two’s hike.

The tears again started as we rode in the shuttle bus. What in the world was going on in me? Again I felt vulnerable and weak. That’s right where God wanted me. When we arrived, I started out strong but the hike was not as level as the day before. I found I was tiring easily and was experiencing the altitude difference.

'I was not in control'

Daria, one of our sweet leaders from SROM (Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries), offered to carry my backpack for me. It didn’t seem right that someone else would have to carry my load. This was my responsibility! I am the one usually helping others. But in this new element, I was not in control. My load was wearing me down quickly and my heart was beating out of my chest with each hill that we climbed. I humbly handed over my pack.

Our group ended up breaking into two and there were five of us who walked behind the others. Our little group was encouraging and allowed the hike to be more fun and less regimented. We continued to make slow, forward progress.

On top of the world

At one point we came to a very large boulder and Benthe, our Netherland girl, climbed it quickly. We took her picture along with the others. Daria asked if I wanted to get up on the rock and I told her that I wasn’t going to be able to because of my knees. She assured me that I could with their help. She step by step showed me where to put my feet and, as a team, they helped me up this rock. I felt as though I was on top of the world!! I sat on the rock with arms of victory as they took my picture. Little Daria ran up the rock and sat down right next to me and we celebrated.

Getting off the rock was a challenge too. Daria knew exactly how to help me and she asked another one of the women to help. We worked together and I got off just as easily as getting up it. That experience gave me a sense of dignity and I really began believing that these women did care.

In our time with God that day, we were asked to contemplate the phrase, Retreat, Pray, Hear, and Obey. One verse that God also had impressed on my heart that week was,

Psalm 27:14. “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous, wait patiently on the Lord.”

Waiting on God

The verse did not seem to correlate with any of the verses that we talked about during our group time but I still went with it, waited on God, and contemplated the phrase, Retreat, Pray, Hear, and Obey.

What did obeying look like for me during this hike? God impressed on my heart that obeying, most times, includes taking risks. “Will I trust Him to be enough? Will I trust His provision?” One way I had exercised trust on this particular day was to allow the expertise of others to show me how to climb a rock. What seemed to be too difficult became easier when I submitted and trusted their judgement. It was another way I had to lay down my self-sufficiency, and allow others to help me.

My main take away for the day was, “Will I choose to trust God when it seems like what He is asking is too difficult or impossible? Will I trust in His wisdom and allow His daughters to enter into my weak areas? Will I allow myself to admit to my weaknesses so that He can make me strong?”

I felt challenged by God that day but I did not feel as though I had experienced Him in the way I was longing to. Again, I was reminded of the verse that God had impressed on me.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous, wait patiently on the Lord.”

 

Day three – facing my biggest physical challenge

Day three arrived and, with two days of successful hiking, I was excited about this third day. We were going to Inspiration Point and I was excited to see what God had in store for us.

I was told that the majority of the hike was fairly level but that we would climb the last I/3 about 800 ft in elevation. In my ignorance I did not comprehend how much 800 feet actually was. Benthe quickly offered to take my pack but I was feeling good and chose to carry it myself.

'Would I be able to do this?'

The hike was going along so smoothly with gorgeous views of waterfalls and mountains. The trail was busy with people which slowed us down a little. We hit the last third, ugh! I climbed up a lot of stairs, turned at the curve and climbed a whole lot more. There was switchback after switchback. My backpack was taken off my back and was handed to Benthe once again. We climbed and climbed and climbed. We saw people far up the mountain and I was told that was where we were headed. This was my biggest physical challenge. Would I really be able to do this?

My team cheered me on with each switchback. Daria kept telling me that I was doing a great job. Mia would hold her arm out to me to lean on if I needed to. Then we hit the most difficult, rocky part of the path that was all solid rock wall on one side and straight down a few hundred feet on the other side.

Relieved and in shock

All I can say is that it was a good thing that I did not know ahead of time what we were going to face. One foot in front of the other, trust my experienced leaders, trust God’s wisdom and protection. After what seemed to be hours, which really wasn’t, we made it to the top. I was relieved and in shock. Are we really here? It was glorious being so high up and overlooking the lake from a totally different view.

During our time with God, we were asked to contemplate several questions. One of them was, “What have I learned in this temporary community to take back to my permanent community?”

Before we had our time of sharing how God spoke to each of us, JoAnn anointed us with oil and spoke over each one of our lives. Our SROM leaders then told us that they wished to wash our feet if we were open to it.

Being ministered to

I have never been a part of a foot washing before. My feet were filthy but I put my pride down and asked Daria if she would wash mine. As she did, she spoke into my life and I, in turn, had a chance to speak into hers. It was a humbling, beautiful experience. It was another opportunity to allow myself to be ministered to. I had nothing to offer these beautiful women except vulnerability, weakness, and to reflect the strength, love, and healing of God that I had received from Him.

It was at this point that my eyes were completely opened and I realized I was experiencing the other side of God. He clearly manifested Himself to me through this community of women.

The other side of God

When it came time to share our hearts with the group, I shared what the other side of God was for me and how He used this community of women to be a part of that.

By not receiving motherly nurturing growing up, I never experienced, in totality, what female love, and nurturing really was. I had a husband and two boys but they could not offer what only healthy women can. These past three days, God used his community of women to physically, emotionally, and spiritually minister to me in such Godlike, pure ways. There were no strings attached, there was no demand that I be a certain way. I was accepted, challenged, encouraged, and “loved on” in a way that could only be from God.

Nurturing love

Sure I have had friends minister deeply to my heart, but what I experienced this weekend was much more profound. I was never made to feel that I was their “special project”, but they offered help if I wanted it. They didn’t force their agenda on me and I never felt that they were trying to rescue me. They cared enough to help me experience God in a more, complete and refreshing way. I experienced the motherhood and sisterhood of God. The nurturing tender hand of His love.

Their love was strong, yet gentle. Their love was not dependent on how well I performed.

Feeling more complete

I experienced what only a nurturing mother could have given me growing up. This week helped me grow in a way I would have never dreamed of. I feel so much more complete and I feel I know God in much more of a holistic way. I found Christ’s tender, loving side with a community of women who reflected Him so well.

“God sets the lonely in families….” He set me in His family of women that perfectly reflected His other side.

“Wait patiently for the Lord” I waited and He made Himself known to me. I am changed by His perfect and complete love.

Then at the end of the week, they honored me with an award for outstanding effort. They were the ones that needed to be honored because of how well they reflected the love, mercy, and tenderness of Christ.

Ginger Taddeo took part in the Wyoming Freedom Climb in August 2016.

You can join our next hike in Machu Picchu - sign up here.

 

 

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Loved at last

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Loved at last

Your support is helping teenagers like Anita* recover from the trauma of rejection and abuse and discover what love and family are really meant to be like...

Anita's parents abandoned her when she was five. Although she was taken in by her grandparents the rejection affected her deeply. The very people who should have protected her, loved her and cherished her didn’t want to know her.

The wrong crowd

Her early teenage years were incredibly hard as she tried to negotiate life without a parent's guidance. She looked for acceptance in all the wrong places and fell in with a destructive crowd who she thought were her friends.

Instead, they sold her repeatedly for sex.

Then Anita found out she was pregnant. At that time she was living with a man, the father of her baby. But when she told him she was pregnant he said he had never loved her and was actually engaged to someone else. Finally, he agreed that she could stay with him until the baby was born but after that he never wanted to see her again. When her waters broke he threw her out of the house and told her not to come back. He refused to take her to hospital, so in desperation Anita called a taxi.

A stark choice

With her new baby in her arms Anita's choice was stark. Her grandparents had said she could come back only if she gave the baby to an orphanage. The alternative, so Anita believed, was homelessness but she already loved the baby and refused to abandon it. The hospital took her to a local shelter where they taught her to care for the baby.  But when the government funding for this shelter was cut it had to close and Anita had nowhere to go with her tiny baby.

Thankfully, she remembered someone telling her about House of Joy, a Freedom Challenge-supported project in Kosovo that provides shelter for vulnerable young women, many of whom are fleeing domestic violence or have been rescued from traffickers.  

Part of a new family

With just a tiny shred of hope left, Anita got a taxi from the shelter to the House of Joy. The staff were surprised to see a teenage girl with a tiny baby in her arms standing on the doorstep but Anita and her baby were warmly welcomed in and have been part of the House of Joy family ever since.

Anita is doing incredibly well. Her baby has given her the motivation to really change her life around and commit to everything that the program at House of Joy has to offer. She is determined to give her daughter a better life than her own. She is studying hard and hopes to finish her school exams and then to continue her education.

House of Joy is a real family for her; the staff and other residents love her, and she knows she has a home there.

There are so many girls like Anita in Kosovo, trapped in a cycle of abuse and rejection. House of Joy is the only long-term reintegration center in the country.

*Name changed to protect identity

Thanks to your prayers and support we are able to continue to provide life-changing intervention in the lives of young women.

$150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom.

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Captivity on the open road

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Captivity on the open road

The lure of paid work is overhwelming when the alternative is desparate poverty. But many young girls in Ghana are being lured into a life of captivity and mistreatment. Asana had no idea what awaited her when she moved to another part of the country looking for work

On the corner of the street, a girl stands balancing an empty metal bowl on her head. She greets Portia, our Kayeye Ministry Coordinator, with a smile. They exchange conversation for a minute or two before parting ways.

“We’re trying to help her out before she gets pregnant,” Portia says.

The girl is 18 years old. She, along with many others like her, lives on the streets of Kumasi, Ghana, where the promise of a paying job drew her from the northern regions. But what she found, as most women who moved south in search of decent earnings have, has left her alone and trapped in a cycle of abuse and struggle.

The empty metal bowl will be filled with heaps of maize meal, wood, fruit—and any number of other heavy items. Without the bowl, she will carry bags of rice on her head, or car parts, such as tires; anything she is ordered to carry by the people in the market who pay her.

It may seem like a fair deal: do your work, get paid. But for nearly every girl, the loads get heavier and heavier, and the money rarely—if ever—comes.

Weighed down

For the Kayeye (a slang term originating in southern Ghana, meaning “going [to carry]” and used uniquely for the girls who carry heavy loads on their heads), the cycle begins in the predominantly-Muslim north.

Asana came to the south out of necessity. The third of six children, she watched her parents divorce because of her father’s mental illness; her mother and older sister travelled south to work as Kayeye. At 10 years old, Asana did the same.

Asana’s sister recognised immediately that Asana was too young to carry such heavy loads on her head. Instead, she found Asana a job as a dishwasher for a woman who sold waakye, a popular Ghanaian dish, on the side of the road. The woman agreed to pay Asana 5 cedis (approximately US$1.25) at the end of each day. As time went on, however, Asana learned that the woman had no interest in paying her more than once a week—and even then, she only gave her whatever spare change she felt like giving her.

Cheated of her payment and alone, Asana found herself trapped on the street for more than a year, caught in a web of abuse and mistreatment.

A better future

But then one of our project workers introduced herself to Asana and told her about our home for girls in Kumasi where she could live free from fear and where she could go back to school. Her family agreed that she could go.

Now 12 years old and living at the home, Asana is once again in school and is at the top of her class. She is starting to dream of a better future; she plans to become a nurse and return north to help the mentally ill, like her father, where basic health care is inaccessible.

This home for girls in Ghana not only provides schooling to young girls, it also offers young women the chance to learn a skill such as hairdressing or tailoring to keep them off the streets and to empower them to live as freely and independently as possible.

Asana is now thriving. It is your gifts and the gifts of many other Freedom Challenge supporters that make this possible. Thank you!

$150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom but any gift you give makes a difference!

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On the road to healing

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On the road to healing

Freedom Challenge’s Director Tracy Daugherty is in Zambia this week so we wanted to tell you a little about how your support is making a difference in this country, reuniting vulnerable young girls with their families and giving them the chance to get a good education and discover their potential. This is Nessa’s story…

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On a grey rainy day, Isaac, a teacher from a Freedom Challenge project in Zambia, found a young girl lying on the side of a road, covered in dirt. She was weak and disoriented and appeared to be in shock. She had clearly suffered some kind of trauma but couldn’t explain where she was or what had happened.

Isaac was shocked by the sight of the girl; then he realized he knew her – it was Nessa*, a 13-year-old girl who’d been missing from her home and school for four months. Nessa was known to many of the Freedom Challenge project staff in Kabwe. As a child she’d suffered severe injuries during a fire, including burns to her head which had left her with a slight mental disability. She also had a tendency to wander and would then struggle to find her way home.

Crisis care

Upset by Nessa’s condition but relieved to have found her, Isaac took her to the project base for some much-needed care. Ketty, the manager of the base kitchen, stepped in to tend to Nessa; bathing her, providing her with clean clothes and giving her something to eat.

The staff were concerned that Nessa had been sexually abused. A quick check-up with the doctor revealed that she had malaria; the fever had caused her to faint next to the road. The doctor gave her medication and happily reported that Nessa was not HIV positive.

A heart-warming reunion

Karen, one of the counselors at the project offered to take Nessa home. On the way, Nessa asked if they could fetch her belongings from the market. This is when Karen realised that during Nessa’s time away from home she was likely forced into prostitution. When they reached Nessa’s home village, Nessa’s mother was in awe at the return of her lost daughter. It was a heart-warming reunion.

Nessa is now back in school and only leaves the house with a companion.

Without this Freedom Challenge project in Zambia, Nessa may never have made it back home. But now, thankfully, she is receiving counseling with Karen and is learning how to move forward after such a difficult start to her life.

All of this is only possible with your support – your gifts are essential to enable these projects to keep going and to keep caring for children who are in such desperate need of security and protection.

Thank you for the difference you are making to girls like Nessa!  

$150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom.

 

 

 

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Shop for Freedom

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Shop for Freedom

This month we have been on the hunt to bring to you our top pick of online shops that are impacting women’s lives by supporting survivors of human trafficking and preventing slavery. These businesses are teaching new skills, paying a fair wage and some are even giving women shares in the company – all of which mean women are not only surviving but succeeding and flourishing!

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They are also producing some of the most original, creative and desirable products on the market including clothes, bags, jewerly and natural beauty brands.

Here’s our pick of the top shops where you’ll find meaningful and original gifts, as well as a little something for you!

Sudara

We love their Punjammies – pajama and lounge pants, they are so colorful and look so comfortable!

“Every purchase invests in job creation and skills training for women in India who are working to remain free from sex slavery.

 

https://www.sudara.org/

Relevee

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Elegant, sophisticated and beautiful – Relevee’s jewelry is made by trafficking survivors using ethically-sourced diamonds. If you’re looking for a piece of statement jewelry or something for a special occasion, give their collection a browse.

https://relevee.com/

To the Market

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Jewelery, bags, kids’ clothes, home goods, there is so much to choose from here, including Bath and Body products such as soap, perfume, body lotion and fragranced candles. You can even shop by causes you feel passionate about, including human trafficking and refugees.

To the Market is “helping vulnerable women artisans become economically empowered through the dignity of work”.

https://www.tothemarket.com/

Freeset

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The founders of Freeset began working with sex trafficking survivors in India to give the women a way out of poverty. The women create gorgeous handmade scarves, tees, bags, jewelry and more. All purchases support anti-trafficking initiatives in China, Nepal and India.

https://freesetusa.com/

 

Shop for Freedom

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Your purchase from Shop for Freedom fights slavery and funds anti-trafficking efforts in Asia. You can also find out on the website what your purchase will give back – one scarf equals one week’s worth of wages. They have everything from gift bags to purses to tees to ties and tech cases.

https://www.shopforfreedom.com/shop/

You can also purchase Freedom Challenge branded-kit from our online shop; you’ll find everything you need for your outdoor adventures. And you’ll be supporting our projects at the same time.

Happy Shopping Freedom Fighters!

 

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Taking part in grace-filled action

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Taking part in grace-filled action

Miranda Sprague, Freedom Challenge's new missions coordinator shares her story, her heart for missions and how being a new mom is showing her how God can use every season of life for His purposes...

“In the Bible, we never find Jesus telling us to pray for more money, only to pray for more laborers.”

These words, spoken by a Brazilian Missionary, are the words that the Lord used to bring me on the Freedom Challenge team as Missions Coordinator.

Hello there! My name is Miranda Sprague and I had the honor of participating in the Freedom Challenge Climb in Wyoming during the summer of 2016. It was there that I heard this powerful statement.

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Desperate need

During one of the conference days, a panel of missionaries updated us on Freedom Challenge projects in the countries where they work. One was a missionary from Brazil. With tear-filled eyes she informed us of the great need for laborers. She said God can always bring the resources and they have plenty of vision for their myriad of needs, but they don’t have enough people to help make them happen. The mission field is in desperate need of more laborers to help reap the harvest.

Her cry for help brought tears to my eyes. The Lord has so many people to reach and so many things He wants to do. He has chosen to use His children to execute His will on earth as it is in heaven... but what are His children doing? Are they actually going? Are they actually participating in the Great Commission as all Christians are commanded to do (Matt. 28:16-20)? Sadly, I think not.

Getting uncomfortable

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Many of us, me included, get wrapped up in “MY here-and-now” which distracts us from the bigger reality of a hurting world in desperate need of the Gospel and people to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We go to church, we raise our hands in worship, we pray before meals, we give to charity, but we often don't stretch beyond that safe Christian lifestyle. We don't get uncomfortable. We don't put ourselves in those unfamiliar places, situations, and cultures. We don't allow God to really use us beyond our safe circles.

Now, I'm not saying the only way to fulfill the Great Commission is to literally go to the ends of the Earth; we can fulfill it in our homes and our communities. But are we even doing that? Are our ears receptive to hear the call to go abroad and across borders if He asked? My spirit has been challenged and convicted by this missionary’s statement ever since.

The Lord doesn't just ask for my money; He asks for me.

Jesus pleaded for His disciples to pray earnestly for laborers to be sent. What if I AM the answer to that prayer? What if YOU ARE?

God wants to use us in every season of life

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I have an eight-month-old baby boy named Jeremiah. It’s been an AMAZING journey so far as a mother; one of the greatest joys already! But being the mom of a little one has made me feel like I'll need to be ‘on the benches’ for a while when it comes to missions. I feel that traveling abroad and doing missions at this stage of life just isn't possible. For the most part, that may be true, and the Lord honors my role as a mother and holds it in the highest regard. But the Lord is also amazing at making ways in EVERY SEASON to fulfill the Great Commission.

So, when Tracy Daugherty, the Freedom Challenge Director, asked me to prayerfully consider taking on the Missions Coordinator position, I was hesitant. But the Lord brought me back to the verse which that missionary’s statement was inspired by: "Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ ” (Matt. 9:37-38). And when I read that, the memory of the missions’ panel came flooding back along with the conviction. I felt a firm YES from the Lord that He wanted me to take this position. 

Using God-given gifts

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After talking with Tracy more, I realized that this position would be a way I could fulfill this conviction and the Great commission. I will not necessarily be a physical laborer going out into the literal fields, but I can help SEND those laborers. By using my God-given gifts of coordination, organization, and leadership, along with my passion for missions, I can help plan and coordinate these trips so laborers can be sent. The Lord was working everything together.

And, to make it all so completely clear that the Lord wanted me here, when I met with the former Freedom Challenge Missions Coordinator via Face Time, I realized she was the SAME WOMAN at the conference who said that first statement! Gil Moromisoto from Brazil, one of the sweetest and most inspiring women you'll ever meet, was the one on the missions’ panel at the Wyoming climb. She has done an amazing job starting up the Freedom Challenge Mission Trips and coordinating them all thus far. So, as you can see, God is at work here and has been in all of this.

Grace-filled action

Now, I say all this for a couple reasons. First, to explain how God brought me on this team and how faithful He is, working all things together for good in every stage of life. Second, I hope to stir up your spirit and maybe even bring about some Holy conviction that would not lead to guilt but to grace-filled action. To encourage you to reflect on your current spiritual state when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission and to see if just maybe God is calling you to the harvest, whether that be local or abroad. If so, I’d love to invite you to join us as a laborer on our Freedom Challenge Mission Trips.

Freedom Challenge Mission trips 2018

This year we have two short-term Freedom Challenge mission trips. In July we will be going to Cebu in the Philippines to serve the Freedom Challenge projects. Then in November we will have the opportunity to serve Freedom Challenge projects in Moldova (more info to come). 

Our trip to the Philippines will be an amazing opportunity to see firsthand where some of the funds the Freedom Challenge raises goes to support. One of our projects here works with underprivileged children to give them education and skills to set them up for success. This is a preventative project. It aims to keep these children out of Human Trafficking by enabling them to go on to university, get jobs, and provide for their families in freedom. We call these children the "young scholars".

During this trip we will serve the children of this program as well as do many other outreaches with them. The team will spend five days participating in hill trekking, visiting schools and communities, prayer walking through the red light district, sharing or giving sessions on life skills and crafts with youth who are not in school, and much more. By going on this short-term trip, you'll help meet the needs of our projects and hard-working Missionaries, needs that can only be met with more laborers.

Most importantly if the Lord has called you, He will equip you for specific powerful and good works through the power of His Spirit and the message of the Gospel for the people of the Philippines. It is His Gospel through your actions and words that will transform the lives of these people and bring true and everlasting freedom. That is what it means to use your freedom to give freedom!

We so hope you can join us this summer or fall on one of these trips. If not, we hope you hear from the Lord and see the doors He has opened in front of you to share His Gospel and participate in the Great Commission.

Find out more information about these trips and register here. You can always email me if you have any questions: miranda.sprague@om.org

The harvest is plentiful my friend, but the laborers are few! Are you the answer to this prayer?

Blessings,

Miranda Sprague

Freedom Challenge Missions Coordinator

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Miranda Sprague lives in Southern California, with her husband Joey and son Jeremiah. Miranda studied Biblical Studies at Calvary Chapel Bible College and Life Pacific College. She and her husband served on staff at the Father’s House Church in San Diego as the directors of the School of Ministry called Immersion for a few years. Miranda has participated in numerous mission trips throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. She and her husband have always felt called to go on trips and support missionaries as God leads them.

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Let's fly!

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Let's fly!

Hello Freedom Fighters. I found this blog I wrote a year ago. At the time I had no idea what the future held or that I would be taking on the assignment of directing the Freedom Challenge a few months after this jump. It’s amazing what happens in a year.

I am expectant and eager for what 2018 will bring! I encourage you to take a step and a risk this year. Challenge yourself – get above the things that can immerse you and pull you down. I can’t wait to get on the trails with you, your friends, your sisters and your daughters, (check out what is coming up for 2018). Let’s step out and up into faith this year and then stand back and see what He does.

It's an honor to lead this movement of passionate woman. Let’s Jump, Fly and Climb!

Why did I jump?

On January 1, 2017 I jumped, but WHY? – By TRACY DAUGHERTY

It is very interesting listening to reactions after proclaiming to friends and family that you plan on jumping out of an airplane. I know from personal experience. Input, interest and concern came out of the woodworks when I announced I would be skydiving for the new year.

Surprisingly people are not passive about this topic or their opinions concerning it. A variety of comments ensued, such as, “I have always wanted to do that, maybe I will someday,” and “Are you nuts? Why in the world would you fall from a plane?!”

I also heard, “You know, I heard a news report, read on the Internet or watched on YouTube…” then the horrifying story began. There were also the more rational groups of people who advised me by saying, “Okay, here is what you need to know; when you jump, arch your back, drop your chin, throw your feet back, shut your mouth and plug your nose.” Tips and tools for the novice jumper came in intervals. I loved every minute of it — learning a lot about people and even more about myself. Feel free to keep the pointers coming. One thing is for sure: I enjoy them far more than I ever imagined I would.

To answer everyone’s questions as to why I jumped:

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1. I wanted to

For years, I have thought about it, read about it and talked about it. It was finally time to put those thoughts into actions. I dream about flying at least once a week. For anyone who knows me well, you know that I truly do believe I will fly in heaven. Many people have no interest or even a thought about it, but for as long as I remember I have had no question that it will happen. I will FLY in heaven.

A few years ago I read and was inspired by the words of young teenage poet, Erin Hanson:

There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask, What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, What if you fly? What if? Therefore, I determined that this year I would start getting some early practice for heaven. This jump, this year…LET’S FLY! I flew because I wanted to. Joie de vivre — Joy of Life!

2. 2016 was challenging

I am one of those people who value and welcome pictures and ceremonies that create Memorials to help bring meaning and insight to seasons and life experiences — they help me process. I still remember hiking in the Genesee Valley in the fall of 2015 with my husband. We were both strongly impressed that 2016 would be a year of pruning, change and much transition. At the time I had no idea how deep those cuts would go, nor how much stronger I would be after they healed.

Between the college gradation of our daughter, a marriage, a high school graduation, many deaths of dearly loved church and family members, sending beloved church staff members off to assignments with new destinies to fulfill, finding and purchasing our first owned church building and the growing pains that come with that, unfamiliar twists and turns, nips and tucks from people, aches and pains and even some disappointments to boot - it was a year of lessons learned.

All that said, walking in the midst of a dimly lit path feels disillusioning at best sometimes. In spite of all this, I knew this was the time to jump. It was time to fly, see higher, get a clearer vision and remember what the Bible says: “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Colossians 2:1-4. January 1, 2017 marks the day and is a memorial reminding me of the position I am invited to. A position where He is in control and has a clear view to navigating my tomorrows with precision and expertise.

3. Keep it Spicy

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Pastor Honey (my husband) and I have been together 27 years, married and in ministry for 25. This means we have been on many dates, adventures and joint ventures. It takes effort to maintain the balance between mystery and fun. This year we needed this date. Just the two of us. As we are transitioning and kids are growing and we are more aware of this tribe ending the way it began – just the two of us.

At first I was reluctant to ask him to join me, knowing how he feels about heights. Knowing I have dragged him on other thrilling adventures (hiking, zip lining, ropes course etc.), however, gave me faith. To my delight and surprise, he said yes! Everything about the day was spectacular. There was so much suspense and unknown between driving, training, taking off in the janky little plane, and strapping to our tandem trainer we barely new and now know very well – (hello Felipe from Brazil!).

As we waited, strapped up, wind blowing, door open to jump, we said our last “I love you” and then there we went… He jumped!

Best date EVER.

To close, I want to leave you with a short exhortation for the new year! I am certain that many of you do not share the same passion about skydiving, however my encouragement is this:

•    Joie de vivre – Don’t forget the joys of life — what you love and what you dream. Do something because you want to; it produces wonder. In the grind of life, we forget what we want to do or what we love. This year, do at least one thing that brings joy, makes you feel alive and even feels wasteful and extravagant. It revives the heart.

•    Don’t get stuck in the long middle. Remind yourself through scripture where God wants your head and heart. You have a daily invitation found in Colossians 2:1-4.

•    Keep it spicy – keep dating your spouse, your friends and yourself. Mystery is important to life — don’t lose it. Take a risk. Surprise your loved one, a friend or yourself.

I love you, my sister friends and fellow daughters of the most high God. This year, live like royalty. We have so much to look forward to, and if anyone wants to jump with me I might just take you up on it. I LOVED IT. I AM GONNA FLY IN HEAVEN.

Let’s Fly,

Tracy Daugherty
Freedom Challenge Director

 

 

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Goodbye 2017 ... Hello New Year, New Chapter, New Possibilities

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Goodbye 2017 ... Hello New Year, New Chapter, New Possibilities

As we reflect on the last 12 months and look forward to the next, Tracy Daugherty helps us to say goodbye 2017 …. hello New Year, new chapter, new possibilities, new direction, new Season!

A New Season is a merciful gift to humanity from the heart of our creator. God is outside time and space and doesn’t need seasons, yet He has graciously set up these markers to help us turn the page, provide us with a blank canvas, giving us an opportunity for a fresh start.

"Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years," Genesis 1:14

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven," Ecclesiastes 3:1

Remember, “nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Because of this, I am grateful for the close out of the year!

As I reflect on 2017 I wanted to share a picture God gave me to help end strong and start new. I hope it will encourage you.

The Picture

I was carrying a backpack (you know I love to hike). In my pack were many rocks I had collected from my year’s journey – varying sizes, and values. Some of the rocks were beautiful polished rocks representing amazing victories and memories I had collected. Other rocks were heavy, dirty and represented difficulty and disappointments from the year.

Most of the weight in my pack came from many small pebbles I had unintentionally swooped up a little at a time throughout the year attempting to be helpful and responsible. As I came to the close of the year and started planning to collect new provisions for my next journey I became concerned because my backpack was already very heavy. I reflected on how I could move forward with my shoulders weighted and my bag full. This quote came to mind, “the beautiful journey of today can only begin wen we learn to let go of yesterday.”

The Practical

In response to the visual symbolic picture I wanted to get practical. My husband and I made a decision to build a rock memorial to offload the “weight” in a year-end exchange with God. My life had become filled with the miraculous and fabulous, exciting and victorious, daunting and treacherous, trivial and small. It was time to both celebrate, commemorate and cast all of the years happening on the Lord.

On an ordinary day just a few weeks ago we gathered rocks and built our memorial.

“So, Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a memorial. Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound, then ate there by the mound,” Genesis 31:45-46

I chose a location that I frequent at least three times a week as I walk my dog. Spending a good hour, we placed the stones in a pile praying over each representing the good bad and ugly of 2017. At the conclusion of this exercise I felt light and free and ready to fill my life with new direction and provision for 2018. Each time I walk past the memorial I remember the goodness of God and choose to forget what I need to leave behind from 2017 – ALL!

I'm so glad Dear Fellow Daughter of the King that we're all beginning this new season together. Let’s travel light and go to where we have never been before!

Moving Forward,
Tracy Daugherty
Director of Freedom Challenge USA

P.S Why not make 2018 the year you take on a new challenge? Join us to hike in Utah in June or in the Grand Canyon in October!

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The Cathey Anderson Memorial Fund

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The Cathey Anderson Memorial Fund

On December 22, 2015, Cathey Anderson, Beloved friend and founder of The Freedom Challenge, passed away. Today in her honor along with her family I want to announce the Cathey Anderson Scholarship Fund. Please watch the video below to hear from Cathey and read from her daughter Callie Carson as she explains the heart behind the scholarship Fund. The ability to apply for a scholarship for one of our 2018 Challenges as well as the opportunity to give to the fund will begin Monday, January 8. Cathey loved women and enjoyed seeing the inner transformation in them as they gave to their sisterhood throughout the world. I am grateful to keep her legacy alive through this Scholarship fund

"At a summer conference in 2010, my mom (Cathey Anderson) was posed with the question from a speaker: “Where are you allowing your fears to stifle your faith?” She knew immediately the answer-her fear of heights. Multiple times in her life she had attempted to summit Mt. Whitney and was never able to because her fears held her back from achieving that goal.

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The following September, my mom tried yet again to summit Mt Whitney one last time. This time she knew that she would not allow  anything to sway her resolve. God and my dad, would faithfully get her to that peak. It was on the drive home after this breakthrough   that the Lord planted the vision of the Freedom Climb (now known as The Freedom Challenge) in my mom’s heart, mind and soul.

Fighting for freedom and justice

The first thing she said to my dad upon receiving the vision was: “God wants me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with women to fight for freedom and justice.”

And so it began. In January of 2012, 48 women from around the world gathered to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to be a voice for the voiceless and fight for justice for vulnerable women and children around the world.

Since 2012 there have been many more mountain peaks summited by hundreds of climbers and thousands of women and children are being set free. God’s heart and the vision continues to expand and grow as the battle for freedom and justice is fought.

Memorial Fund

The Cathey Anderson Memorial Fund is specifically for women who have a passionate desire to be part of this movement by sharing their own stories, raising support and helping educate the world on the devastation of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. 

My mom’s heart from the very beginning was that this call to women would be a daring experience for them that would encourage growth. Signing up for a challenge would mean putting themselves in the shoes of enslaved women and children imagining the pain they face each day. Because this vision was born from a place of being freed from a fear that she battled her entire life, my mom also desired that those invested would learn to face their fears and experience the same freedom. Freedom from the lies they believed their whole life. Freedom to speak up and use their voices to be a beacon of hope, love and perseverance.

Stepping out in faith

My entire family desires to keep my mom’s memory, legacy and heart alive. We pray that this fund motivates women to participate. We pray that whoever receives assistance would be encouraged to step out in faith and work hard to raise awareness about modern-day slavery. We also pray that they would receive freedom in areas of their lives where they have been in bondage.

Ultimately my mom wanted every man, woman and child to understand that Jesus is the Lover of their soul and came to bring salvation, redemption and freedom to this world. -Callie Carson

Cathey Anderson explaining her vision for Freedom Challenge:

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The true meaning of Christmas

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The true meaning of Christmas

With just 10 days to go until Christmas day, we bring you a wonderful story from Asia; a story of how the true meaning of Christmas is being told in counties that have never heard it before and how it is changing hearts and lives

Lucy* was 12 years old when she realised that Christmas was not just about parties and presents. At the time, she was studying at one of the Freedom Challenge-supported schools in south-east Asia.

The true meaning of Christmas, explained to her by teachers at the school, touched her heart.

A reason to hope

"Before I knew Jesus, my life was filled with worries,” says Lucy. “Now that I understand what Christmas really means, I have a reason to stand firm in Christ and hope for the future," she enthuses with a bright smile.

Each year, teachers at the school provide truly special Christmas celebrations for 300 children and adults. Each child receives a gift bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, exercise book, pencil, erasers, towel, cup, bowl and spoon.

One of the project workers describes the atmosphere at the school on the day of the festivities:

Brimming with excitement

“As our vehicle pulled up into the school compound, the children were running all over the school, brimming with excitement. The evening's celebration was a fitting reward for their year of hard work. As school finishes for the holidays, most of the children remain in the village, spending their days climbing trees, jumping ditches, fashioning toys out of whatever they can find and helping their families in daily chores.

“More truckloads of children arrived from partner schools and churches. Some arrived dusty from the ride through the dirt track. Those who lived in the school looked freshly scrubbed and groomed as best as they could.

“When the concert finally started, the children, parents and teachers filled up the classroom and spilled out into the corridors. The twinkling fairy lights and colourful garland laced the hall and created a cheery Christmas atmosphere.

The programme started with worship. Choruses of “Hallelujah” rang out from the hall into the village, as if heralding the birth of Jesus years ago on the first Christmas.

Music, dance and songs

One of the project workers shared a message of hope that is found in Jesus. The message is especially poignant for the parents in the community as many of them live in abject poverty and despair, but desire a better future for their children. Thereafter, we were treated to a myriad of performances, ranging from traditional dances and songs in different languages, to modern hip hop dances to English songs.

Lucy’s story and her growing understanding of what Christmas is all about is a huge encouragement to the teachers. They serve the children and community so faithfully, providing quality education that will give the children a better future and strong spiritual foundation.

Sharing Jesus' love

As the Christmas story is told again and again in this community, our hope is that more people will come to know the love of Jesus and find joy and hope amidst their daily struggles and challenges.

This Christmas you could help to bring the message of Jesus to more and more people around the world.

Every $ you give makes a difference!

*Name changed to protect identity

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