Small things make a big difference

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Small things make a big difference

In Russia, your support is helping children at risk experience a safe place – adults who support them, care for them and share God’s love with them. Recently the team ran a winter camp for nine children. Here one of the team members shares how the simple things that we take for granted are giving these children a sense of their worth and value

‘It's so important to give these children a place where they can spend time together without pressure from their parents or guardians. A place where they could have fun, go sliding down ice slides, go bowling, do craft and be free to be a child again.

So excited

One of the girls, Olga* (10) had a dream come true while she was at the camp; eating lunch at KFC. KFC is the most popular fast food restaurant in the city. Olga said she was so excited about eating there because she had never been before. She had seen the TV ad many times, and every time she saw it she wanted to go there. It seemed cool. Many of the other kids in her school have been. Now she is so happy that she can tell her friends that she has also tried it.

We also had a visit from Father Frost and his helper ‘Snow girl’, who gave the children presents. We will never forget the reaction from Anna* (5) when she opened her present. “Wow! It’s just what I wanted! Wow! Toothpaste! I will brush my teeth every day now!”

She was also given shower gel that smells like bananas. During the movie she wanted everyone to smell it. If someone didn’t want to smell it she just shoved it in the person’s face anyway!

Tough lives

But it says a lot about how tough the children’s home situation must be that they feel so happy about things that are so small and part of most people’s daily life.

It meant so much to Anna to receive something that was her own; her own toothbrush, her own soap, her own candy that she could share with whoever she wanted (which, in this case, was everyone!). But the thing that amazed us most was that as soon as Anna received her gift she said that we needed to pray and thank God for it.

As we get to know these children and teenagers through the camps and the weekly day care sessions, they are becoming more open about what’s going on in their lives and are interested in our lives too. Most importantly they are interested in hearing about our faith and about God. Please pray with us as we continue working with these precious children!'

Your support makes a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable children like Anna and Olga. Thank you! 

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

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'Giving her a hug set her free!'

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'Giving her a hug set her free!'

Benthe, our project leader in Costa Rica, shares how she is sharing God's love with women in very poor communities and how this is bringing fresh hope to many families

I love to do visits one-on-one with women in the villages because I notice that they really enjoy this contact and helps them to open up. When we show interest in them it gives us opportunities to share truth with them.

Lost everything

One woman I visited told me how, a year and a half year ago, she lost everything in a fire. She explained that God helped her to start over again and showed her that He was with her. She has never been married but has four children with two different men.

After that she told me that she is asking God if the man who lives with her now is to be her husband. If the answer is yes then she says they will get married. If no, she believes that they should separate. What a big decision! But that’s what God wants. It’s great to hear that she wants to be obedient to Him and wants to live more for Him.

God can change him!

Later, I visit another woman and her husband came and joined us. He is known as the alcoholic of the town. She cannot read but he can. I got to know them and I shared God’s truth and love with them. I prayed with them and invited them to church that evening. For the first time in a long time, he came to church. How great it was to see him there! God can change this alcoholic man into a big man of God.

We recently went to visit a village we’d not been to before. All of a sudden one of our volunteers gave her testimony; she shared how she had been abused and that she had never shared this with anybody in 58 years.

Let them feel God's love
 

After we got back to our base, I had a good conversation with her. I prayed for her and gave her a big hug, which is something I do a lot with the women in Talamanca! Let them feel the love that God has for them. Later she shared with the group that the hug had given her such a good feeling –  it had set her free. It was very special! God wants us to share and show His love in this way.

Your support helps Benthe and others like her to show God's love in practical ways to women around the world - thank you!

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

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'A beautiful journey with Jesus'

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'A beautiful journey with Jesus'

This weekend, as we reflect on the meaning of Easter, Natasha Schoultz, one of our project workers in Europe, shares how she came to have a faith in Jesus, and how she felt called to work with women in brothels

'I grew up in South Africa in a strong Baptist family. I attended Sunday school every Sunday and knew most of the Bible stories well by the age of eight.

At that age, I understood that Jesus loved me and I wanted to follow and please Him. So I prayed telling Jesus that I believe He is the Son of God, that I believe He died on the cross because of my sins, and that I want to be His child and have Him “live in my heart”.

As I continued going to church and growing older, I learned more about what this means – it means a relationship with God, where we talk to each other through prayer and reading the Bible.

Shraing my heart

When I pray, I talk to God and share my heart, and when I read the Bible He talks to me through the Bible and I understand how He loves me and what makes Him happy. I try to live my life finding His way for my life, and following that way, because I love Him and know that He loves me.

I also know that He knows better than me what is good for me. In the Bible it says the heart is deceitful, so I know that it is not best to follow my heart but better to read the Bible and see what God says on any given topic.

To me having Jesus in my heart, means having Him change my heart to be more like His heart, to love the things He loves and to hate the things He hates. As I read the Bible, I see where my heart needs to change.

When I was 14 I was baptized in my local Baptist church, and shared my testimony with the church.

'Like a desert'

After my baptism, I went into a “wilderness period” (meaning my spiritual life was dry like a desert, rather than full of life as God would want) where I still prayed and read the Bible, but where I did not fully try to obey God. The less we obey God the more like a desert our lives become – we feel empty and dry inside.

When I was 23 and living in London I realized that I would never be happy until I completely surrendered my life to God, meaning not just believing in God, reading the Bible and praying, but really following Him every day in everything! I call this giving Him “Lordship” of my life. Around this time He became the Lord of my life.

Called to missions

A few months after this I felt called to missions; I wanted to see people all around the world also have this beautiful relationship with Jesus. I moved to South Korea six weeks after making Jesus my Lord!

When I was 28 I started studying at seminary (M.Div) to become a pastor. I want to pastor women – especially women in brothels. I graduated at 31, and moved to Eastern Europe to do this ministry (in brothels) which is where I have been since.

It has been, and continues to be, a beautiful journey with Jesus!'

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'I just wanted to give him a hug and cry with him'

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'I just wanted to give him a hug and cry with him'

South Africa has the highest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world - 5.6 million. The AIDS Hope project, supported by The Freedom Challenge, is providing opportunities, education and hope for children and families affected by the disease. This is the story of how one volunteer was impacted while working at the project

When Monika, one of our volunteers, joined AIDS Hope, she found it very tough. The stories about the kids’ backgrounds broke her heart causing her to spend time alone in the prayer garden crying and praying to God.

HIV is a real problem in South Africa. It is not just about statistics or stories on social media; it is real people and families who are being affected.

Afterschool program

Each afternoon, Monika worked with a small group of children in the afterschool program to help them with their homework. One boy in her class was doing very well in school even though he struggled with certain subjects. He had a positive attitude and was generally well behaved in class.

One day, Monika picked up that something was bothering him, but she wasn’t sure what was wrong. Later after class, he shared: “Mam, I’m afraid of dying.” His uncle had become quite ill at home and the young boy was afraid that he would also become sick.

Feeling heartbroken
 

“I just wanted to give him a hug and cry with him,” Monika said, feeling heartbroken after hearing the boy’s story.

Many of the children that AIDS Hope is reaching out to, have seen their family members and caregivers become ill. It’s hard to imagine what kind of fears they go through, especially when they are just seven to 13 years old. On the other side, the difficult situation isn’t hopeless; it encourages Monika to give them hope and share about Jesus. “Because Jesus is our hope, you don’t have to be afraid,” she told him.

No longer afraid

This young boy believes in Jesus and lives a life that is not defined by sickness or fear. God is amazing. He makes everything beautiful in His time and causes all things to work together for our good.
 
Doubt and struggles may come, as we are human, but let’s learn how to trust God even when life is hard. We can hold on to the living hope and salvation that God has given.

Your support really does make a difference to so many people in so many countries. Thank you!

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

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'I thank God that mother and baby are both healthy'

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'I thank God that mother and baby are both healthy'

Razia is a member of a Freedom Challenge-sponsored pregnancy care training group in Western Asia. Each week she has been learning all about pregnancy and birth, but she never expected to be putting her training to use so quickly and so dramatically

‘My sister’s labor pains started on a day when there was a demonstration in the city over the fighting in a nearby area. Because of this, it was difficult to find a car, but eventually we did, and we started the journey to the hospital.

Road blocked

‘I took all the clean things which I had prepared for my sister. On the way to the hospital we had many problems because the road was blocked and there was lots of police and army security.

‘On the way, my sister’s labor pain increased. The driver stopped the car and got out and my sister lay down on the seat of the car. I used the clean things I had prepared for the delivery and the baby was born.

Cutting the cord

‘I remembered how I should help mother and the baby. I dried the baby, cleaned baby’s mouth and nose with separate cloths and then I cut the umbilical cord. After 30 minutes we carried on to the hospital. 

‘When we reached the doctor, he looked at the baby and said, “I cannot believe that you could do this delivery. Where did you learn this?”  I said, “I learned from the training lessons in my group.” 

So thankful

I thank God that the mother and baby are both healthy and that there were not any problems. I am very glad that I could help my sister in this emergency and for all that I learnt. I want to thank those who prepared the lessons for my group.’

Razia’s story demonstrates just how much of an impact your support for Freedom Challenge projects around the world has. Thank you!

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'They have no education, no skills and very low self-esteem'

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'They have no education, no skills and very low self-esteem'

Este has been working in Panama on a Freedom-Challenge supported project for the last four years. Here she shares why she felt called to serve God in Panama and how this project is giving women back their dignity

How did you end up living and working in Panama?

My husband and I are from South Africa. Our very first short-term mission trip was to Iran. There the Lord changed our hearts to serve Him full-time as missionaries. A couple of years later, in 2008, I went on a short-term mission trip to Afghanistan. There I saw the widows of Afghanistan, living in poverty, without food, with no education and no skills. And there I engaged with a ministry that teaches women to sew and to support themselves. There the Lord changed my heart for the unprivileged, women with no skills, women lost without Jesus.

The Lord prepared my heart for a ministry with women, for one day, somewhere and that day happened when He called us to Panama in 2013. We live in Volcan among the indigenous tribe, the Ngobe Bugle Indians. Poverty, alcohol abuse, drugs and teenage pregnancies are part of their daily lives.

Children as young as 12 or 13 years old with their own little babies is a common scene. They have no education, no skills and very low self-esteem. So Joya de Esperanza – Jewel of Hope – was born.

Tell us a bit more about the project that you lead in Panama

I didn’t actually like sewing at all until after I came back from Afghanistan. All of a sudden, I just wanted to make quilts. Starting with baby quilts. And that is exactly what I do and where we start with each new lady that joins Joya. All of them start by making a baby quilt by hand. Most of them don’t have sewing machines. I want to teach them how to do it properly by hand, so that they can go back to their community and teach others to do the same.

The first quilt they make, they can keep for themselves. After they complete their first quilt, I give them a certificate. Then, I teach them how to use a sewing machine. Then little by little we start making aprons from men’s shirts. I want to teach them that you can make things from ordinary items, instead of buying fabric.

We then sell our items – mostly to visiting mission groups – where 60 per cent of the selling price goes to the lady and 40 per cent goes back into the ministry.

And of course, along with all the sewing we have devotion time every day, which involves chatting, building friendships, sharing women’s love, joys and sorrows, and where we can share God’s love, mercy and truth.

Can you share any stories of how this project is changing lives?

Sonia said:

“I like Joya de Esperanza for the way Este treat us. Este is a kindly person that treats people with love and she is friendly. She reminds me a lot of my mom, my mom used to treat us the same way that she does. I started to come to Joya de Esperanza because I was lonely at home. Coming to this ministry I met new friends, but more important I gave my life to Christ.

First I went alone to church. I invited my husband to come with me, first he don't want to, but later he joined me and also gave his heart to Christ.”

Now, both of them are fully involved at the church.  Sonia's husband, Jacobo is part of a soccer ministry at the church, with the youth."

Stephanie said:

“Coming to Joya de Esperanza my health improved significantly. I have toxoplasmosis; some of the symptoms include constant headaches, cough and blurred vision. I was home alone, and very anxious about my sickness and my situation. I met Este and all the other ladies, who are very loving.

While sewing, I got so distracted from my symptoms that my headache, cough and anxiety faded away. I like to come every day to learn about quilting but, at the same time, I like the fact that I have a group of ladies that I can talk to and have friendship with.”

What are some of the challenges you face here?

For sure the most challenging is commitment. Commitment by the ladies. Our ministry is growing, little by little. Nearly every week a new lady turns up who wants to join Joya de Esperanza. We have interviews with each one and have certain criteria and we ask that they attend for at least three months.

To encourage the ladies to attend regularly, we give an incentive every other month for the lady who has attended classes the most regularly and on time. We rent an apartment that is spacious, airy and light, and a safe place (in not such a safe area). We also have a kindergarten for the little ones while the mammas do their sewing. A challenge is the monthly rent of $350. As well as more sewing machines, quilting fabric, scissors etc.

How can women in the US make a difference to the lives of these women?

Este.jpg

Give thanks to the Lord for this ministry and pray that He will use Joya de Esperanza to bring Hope where there is no hope, that He will make Jewels out of women who see themselves as of no value and who have little self-esteem.

Together we can make a difference. Together we can take hands, together we can be His hands and feet, together we can serve Him – the King of Kings!

I thank you.

Este de Nysschen
OM Panama

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

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"We give them unconditional love and respect"

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"We give them unconditional love and respect"

Sarah* works for Freedom Challenge-supported projects in Europe, building relationships with women and men caught up in prostitution. We asked Sarah to share some of the joys and challenges of this type of ministry

How did you end up working for Operation Mobilization (the organization that Freedom Challenge is part of)?

George Verwer, one of the founders of OM, came to our Bible college in Switzerland. I talked to him and went on a summer mission trip first. A year later I joined a team that worked among Asian immigrants in Britain. Then I spent three and a half years in the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan and India).

There, I met my husband Brian* and we got married. After three and a half years in the US we moved to Europe which is where we have been for 27 years. We arrived just as the iron curtain of communism came down and we travelled extensively in Eastern and Central Europe.

Unfortunately, the economic situation in many of these countries is so bad now that young girls and women with children end up on our streets and in our brothels. Many are victims of human trafficking, but poverty is also “a pimp”.

Tell us a little more about the project you’re involved with.

I am a so-called street worker which means I spend a lot of time in brothels and on the street. I teach others how to visit the women and men caught in prostitution and what is important in this ministry. We also visit the source countries (the countries that many of the women caught in prostitution come from) and run awareness and prevention sessions. I follow women up who come out of prostitution and build friendships with those who are still doing “the job.” We also write and produce literature that is appropriate and attractive for the ladies we meet.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I love people and spending time with them. I enjoy being out there knocking on doors and getting to know the women, trying to install hope and share possibilities when they have lost perspective and are caught in a terrible hamster wheel. We give them unconditional love and respect and meet them at eye level. Often, we see some life return into “dead” eyes that portray dissociation and despair.

What are some of the challenges in this ministry?

“Do you have another job for me”, is the question we hear the most. “Do you have a flat I can move to so that I don’t have to live here in the brothel?” In most cases we cannot help in this way, but we encourage them to learn the language of the country they are living in and help them with courses as a first step. We help them write CVs and make calls to other organizations. A partner organization take women when they have room and another group is providing training to those who want to learn to sew and learn some other skills.

Can you share any stories of how you have seen God working in the women’s lives?

There are stories every day when we are out. Once in a while a woman has a dream or a vision which empowers her to believe in God. One woman had the same dream every night that she walked into the ocean and a wave washed over her. Every time she did this she felt cleaner and cleaner.

Another one was still in the brothel. When we came to meet her she told us to not come into her room as she was leaving and not returning. She had felt the presence of the Lord there; he had touched her face and heart. She knew she was clean and felt that she could walk out and start something new at this point. She went back to her home country.

How would you encourage women in the US to support this type of ministry? How can they make a difference?

Prayer and finances. Without continuous prayer, we would not get far. It is a dark environment and the enemy is active. But Jesus is stronger. He gives us wisdom, strength and the stability to keep going and become a steady friend for some of these women. There are so many needs. Many cannot make it on their own when they get out.

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

*Names changed to protect identity

 

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"We walked in solidarity with all women who don't have freedom"

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"We walked in solidarity with all women who don't have freedom"

Over 250 people took part in our recent Freedom Steps event raising nearly $10,000 - we are so excited at how many lives this will change. Two participants, Nellie and Paige, share their reasons for taking part

"I have a passion for fighting Human Trafficking. About four years ago, my dad was fighting cancer and I was taking care of him. As I watched TV at the foot of his bed, I came across a symposium on Human Trafficking. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I do remember the feelings that welled up inside of me. My heart was bursting. I wept. I knew that very moment that fighting Human Trafficking was a mission God had for me.

Seeing with my own eyes

In 2016 I visited Cambodia. I saw with my own eyes how women and children were being sold. I can’t begin to describe the feelings I had as I witnessed this atrocity. I felt so powerless. I couldn’t do anything to stop what was going on. I remember going to bed that night demanding that God show me what He was doing to end this.

The very next day, I was taken to several organizations dedicated to fighting human trafficking. Despite my attitude towards Him the night before, merciful God showed me what He is doing. He is using His people to rescue and restore in Cambodia. He gave me hope.

Walking in the name of freedom

I heard about Freedom Steps and was so excited that I could participate in Pompano Beach, Florida! I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited to walk a 5K in the name of Freedom. It was suggested that we raise $150 as a part of the Freedom Steps Challenge. This amount is important because $150 can set one woman or child on the path to freedom.

On the day of the event, I woke up and walked over to the beach. As the sun came up and people were arriving, I had the pleasure of meeting a few lovely ladies. It was such a beautiful morning!

I’d walked that beach many times before, but that day was special. Women in South Florida were coming together for a cause we were so passionate about.

We walked in solidarity with each other and with all women around the world who don’t have freedom. We came together. We prayed. We got to know each other. We encouraged each other. We ourselves were encouraged. Now we go on fighting this evil with a few more friends than we had before that morning. God will keep using His people. He will keep using us. He is faithful and merciful."

Nellie Alfonso


"The Freedom Steps event on Pompano Beach in South Florida was an incredible event. The Freedom Challenge Team never ceases to amaze me with their passion and tenacity to end modern-day slavery.

We walked the 5k on February 25th to raise awareness and funds to free women and children all over the world from slavery. While I’m only 22 years old, I’ve learned that there is always something that I can do to help end this injustice.

Walking the 5k was a simple gift of money, time, and energy to this incredible movement of women called Freedom Challenge, who will stop at nothing to end modern day slavery.

Paige Rajala

 

 

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A changed life changing lives

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A changed life changing lives

Grace's story is an example of how your support is providing holistic care for vulnerable women - and the amazing impact this is having on their lives

“Bad things would happen and it made me believe that there was no God, or if there was, He would not care about me,” says Grace, a young mother of two boys, explaining how she used to think before she joined Tabitha Skills Development, a project support by The Freedom Challenge in Zambia.

The project disciples, empowers and equips vulnerable and marginalized women.


Grace says that she used to live an ungodly life that involved a lot of drinking.  But then she became a Christian and her life began to change.  

True transformation

One Sunday morning, Grace and her husband Joseph were visiting a local church. The leader from Tabitha was speaking, inviting women interested in a tailoring course to submit their names.  Joseph urged Grace to apply. When she was accepted into the Tabitha program the true transformation started.

Grace began learning more about God through the mentoring and Bible studies that are a vital part of the Tabitha programme.  

Receiving guidance

“It was important for me to grow spiritually before I was able to expand in practical ways,” Grace says. In addition to specialized skills training, all women have a chance to receive guidance in life skills such as cooking, health, HIV/Aids, gardening, basic business and literacy.


As Grace learned beading, tailoring and business skills, hopes of self-sustainability were ignited.  

Grace’s son Peter had dropped out of school because they could not pay his tuition fees. But now Grace was able to use her new skills to earn enough money to send an eager and excited Peter back to school.  

Declaring freedom

Not only has Grace been given skills that enable her to provide for her family, she is now leading Bible studies and teaching and mentoring many other women, declaring to them that change and freedom are possible!

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

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A long journey to freedom

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A long journey to freedom

Bringing change and freedom to the lives of vulnerable women can be a long and sometimes complicated process, as Ava's story shows. A project team in the Middle East share how they are bringing hope to this young disabled mom who is living in a very difficult situation

Life has never been easy for Ava*. She and three of her sisters were born with a genetic condition affecting their legs. Today, Ava drags her legs along as she moves, crawling about the house and yard to do the laundry and other housework for her family. Her wheelchair is old and because of all the steps around the house, she uses it only when she is granted a rest from chores or receives a rare visit from one of her sisters.

End of a childhood

Ava’s childhood ended abruptly when she was married to a man 30 years her senior to become his second wife. Her mother thought she was doing the best thing for Ava; how else could she feed her six children after her husband died? At least if Ava was married she would have food and shelter.

So before Ava turned 12 she was married off to this much older man. Soon she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy; this baby was raised by Ava’s husband and his first wife who had been unable to conceive children.

Now there are three boys roaming around the tiny home located next to the mud-built stables that house a few cattle. One of the boys is walking cross-legged, showing the signs of his mother's condition.

Building trust

A Freedom Challenge project worker has started to befriend Ava, but it will be a long journey to providing her with all the help she truly needs.

The project staff are building trust with Ava and her family, including the husband and first wife; this is essential if they are ever going to be able to truly help Ava. With little interventions, such as providing shin protectors and bringing a therapist along for assessing Ava and her youngest son, they have started on this long journey of bringing freedom to this household.

The project staff hope that one day Ava and her whole family can live in true peace and support of each other.

*Name changed to protect identity

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

 

 

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Baby steps

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Baby steps

Este, one of our project workers in Panama, shares a lovely story of how one woman's life is slowly being transformed thanks to a sewing and Bible study ministry

During a recent devotional time at Joya de Esperanza, Karina gave us wonderful news – she wants to get married.

Karina has been living unmarried with her partner for more than 15 years and they have three children together. She told us that she wants to make her life right with God.

Wedding excitement

She asked us to pray for her and to help her with advice about the legal documents they will need to get married. She wants to have a small wedding celebration and she is very excited about it!

Ok, so this is not a ‘BANG’ story.. maybe because you don't know Karina, it’s ‘just another story’.  But, for me, having known Karina for a few years, I’ve see this beautiful and very talented young lady and mother, start to open up little by little.

She has started to share some of her joy and burdens, little by little with baby steps her life is being transformed.

Not feeling worthy

Once Karina was uncertain of herself.  Lonely.  She didn’t have any friends.  She spent lots of time just sitting in her house and she would think negative thoughts about ‘not being worthy of anything’.

Today, I see a lovely mature woman, full of joy, with friends that love her, and look up to her. This woman that was ‘not worthy’, has become a bussiness women; she started a little chicken shop from her house. She has discovered a talent for sewing and speaks freely of how the Lord is busy working on her.

Little by little

I give all the honor to the Lord for this ministry that changes women's lives with small baby steps at a time… little by little… one by one!  

I want to thank you for sharing your love, your thoughts, your prayers and your support. Without you, and you, and especially you, we cannot continue with this ministry, Joya de Esperanza – Jewels of Hope – in a small town in Panama.   

May the Lord bless you with his wisdom, with his grace, and with his love in whatever area of your life you may need it.

Este

 

 

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"No-one wishes to have a life like this"

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"No-one wishes to have a life like this"

Tomorrow, our Freedom Steps event is taking place – women right across the US are walking 5k for freedom. And the story below, about trafficking in Italy, explains why this event is so important in raising awareness of the millions trapped in modern-day slavery! There is still time to sign up and take part.

If you look carefully you can spot the women sitting alone along the streets in Pisa, Italy, waiting hour after hour, day after day.

Many of these women have been trafficked to the area from other countries and are forced to provide sexual services to the men who stop along the road.

Slavery in Pisa

The Freedom Challenge supports project workers who have a vision to bring freedom to the women and men trapped in sexual slavery in Pisa.

“Often even Christians do not know how to engage with these people,” explains the project co-ordinator. “But what would Jesus have done? Would he not have spent time with them to reach out to them with his love and forgiveness?”

The project workers moved to Pisa in September 2014 and spent many months getting to know the area, the churches, the local people and their needs. Most trafficking victims come from Nigeria, or from Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and other Eastern European countries.

There are also a large number of transgender individuals from Brazil who have ended up working as prostitutes as they struggle to find other work in Italy.

Spiritual and emotional support

In February 2016, the team started a weekly outreach on the streets of Pisa.

“No-one wishes to have a life like this,” is a phrase the outreach team have heard women say on multiple occasions. This has made the team realize that the women need a lot of support both spiritually and emotionally.

“The fact that many women have allowed us to pray for them and have opened up about their traumatic past shows us that we’re doing the right thing,” explains the team co-ordinator.

Though a lot needs to be done to help the women holistically, the team are successfully building relationships with the women while looking at ways to help those who wish to exit a life in prostitution.

Thank you for partnering with us and enabling us to reach these women with a message of hope and freedom!

 

 

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Fellowship, acceptance and a fair wage

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Fellowship, acceptance and a fair wage

One of our project workers in Nepal explains how two destitute women's lives were transformed as they learned new skills and found a new passion and purpose

“Namaste”, I say with a smile as I greet the cheerful women who work daily at our farm in Nepal planting, harvesting and packaging organic produce.  Many Women in Kathmandu struggle to find safe and reliable work where they are not exploited. 

Raising families alone

They have many responsibilities at home, often raising families alone with their husband being absent, drunk, or just irresponsible.  Many are poorly educated, illiterate, and left alone to raise and educate their children.

Our farm employs four local village women full time and dozens of others. 

On the verge of death

A few years ago, two young street women were found on the verge of death in the gutters of Kathmandu.  Maya and Shristi* were rescued by a local church.  Their they remained until they started an internship on our farm, a hands-on course in sustainable organic agriculture. 

At first, these women were very shy, but over time began to gain confidence.  “We are so happy, we didn’t think we were learning anything, but then we began to teach and we saw that we have learned so much!” they excitedly reported after training a group of local farmers. 

Their confidence flourished

From that time on, these two women grew and became more outgoing, took initiative, and led training. Their confidence in themselves flourished. After graduation one of the women said, "We thank God for what he has taught us through this farming training.”

Many more women have found fellowship, acceptance, and a fair wage doing work they love on our farm.  They are treated with respect and dignity, and as a result they love to plant fields, tend crops and then joyfully harvest the fruits of their labor. 

Thanks again for your partnership in transforming lives!

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'I longed to help our struggling community'

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'I longed to help our struggling community'

The outlook for young girls and women in Bangladesh is not bright. But for some vulnerable children that’s all beginning to change. Thanks to your support we are able to give vulnerable children the opportunity to stay in school

Nita’s father dreamed of educating all his children but he worked long days as a weaver and barely earned enough money to feed his family.

This meant that his children had to drop out of school after only a few years and start working. But Nita was determined to finish her studies.

“I worked alongside my father while studying,” she explains “and through our combined hard work I graduated. Sadly, my father died before that.”

On finishing school, Nita wondered what she could do to make a difference in her community.

“I longed to help our struggling weavers’ community; so many children didn’t attend school,” she says.

As Nita was looking for work, she heard about a Freedom Challenge project that helps children stay in school for longer, and provides education where no schools currently exist. The project trains and supervises teachers, children are educated in single class primary schools to help them catch up and their parents also have literacy lessons.

I told them of my dream to help my community and they hired me,” explains Nita happily. “I am grateful that I can earn some money to help my own family and see my dream fulfilled.” 

Facts about Bangladesh:

·         Population of 152 million

·         Around 47 million people live in poverty

·         13% of children are forced to work as child laborers

·         The country is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes

·         Only 53% of girls attend high school

Your support makes a huge difference to the lives of the children and women that Nita works with. Thank you!

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"I lived with the thought: 'I am not good enough' "

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"I lived with the thought: 'I am not good enough' "

Oxana works on Freedom Challenge-supported projects in Moldova. She shares how her own difficult childhood has helped her understand the vulnerable girls and women she works with, and explains why she is so excited about taking part in a Freedom Challenge climb this year!

What projects are you involved with in Moldova?

I manage some of the social projects in the relief department and am also responsible for our Elderly Care projects and Day Centres for children. Besides these, I am involved in the ‘Freedom Challenge’ and I am praying about how I can do more in this area.

How do these projects make a difference to people’s lives?

Many of the people who receive help ask why Christians are doing this for them; they say they feel a relief from their hardships when we come and talk about God. What impacts them most is the fact that they are not forgotten. In an environment where the state does not care for them and they feel forgotten by people, they recognise that God is thinking about them.

What has motivated you to take part in a Freedom Challenge event?

Though the main activity is climbing a mountain, it is not really about the climb; it’s more a symbolic act of love for people affected by human trafficking. I will go as a representative of Moldova to share about our ministry among vulnerable girls, about their situations and what God is already doing here; praying that through all this, God will open more doors for this ministry.

Last year I had planned to take part in the Wyoming climb but I did not receive a visa, so I couldn’t participate. But I am happy that in September 2017 I will have the chance to participate in the Machu Picchu climb in Peru!

After the disappointment of not getting your visa, what motivated you to keep going?

As I left the embassy I was truly very discouraged, but God told me to be courageous, to take heart and not give up. I have seen the hearts, the tears and the pain of the girls who are at attend our summer camps. These girls need God’s love; they need these moments at the camps - that’s why I keep on. There were still many times of discouragement, but every time God reminded me of what He told me that first moment and so every time I decide anew to go on.

Why is this ministry for vulnerable girls so strongly on your heart?

What motivates me most is my own experience; I come from the same background these girls are growing up in, I have lived the same nightmares they live. I have suffered psychologically and emotionally. I understand these young people who are ashamed of their family, of their home situation, of the way they themselves are, and who do not feel they are people equal to others and made by God in a wonderful way. I myself lived with the thought that I am not good enough, and now I want to be an instrument to help them. God has worked wonderful changes in my own life and family, and I want to tell others that this is possible.

How has God made a difference to your life?

When God entered my life He changed me, but also made me a door through which His blessing extended to the rest of my family. At that time I had been living in Moldova’s capital city for several years, but God motivated me to return to my family and I lived with them for another 10 years. During this time everything changed. My brother turned to God. My father - who used to be an alcoholic - has not drunk alcohol at all for the past 11 years and has changed completely. He is more sensitive and no longer the harsh, crude, violent man he used to be.

There are still challenges; my parents do not know God yet, their relationship is not easy and my mother is still hurt by all she has gone through at my father’s hands. But there have been so many changes and I continue to pray for them. This is what I also want to tell the girls: Change is possible, and this change can start with them. It is not enough for them to just pray for their parents and wait for the parents to change, if they themselves are not changed – but if they allow God to change them, He can also bring change through them.

Find out more about our Machu Picchu climb here.

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