A life transformed

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A life transformed

Miranda’s life has been completely transformed thanks to the Freedom Challenge day center and girls’ conferences she attends. Here we share her story…

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Miranda is 15 years old and attends a Freedom Challenge Day Center in Moldova. She grew up in a difficult environment; her mom and her mom’s boyfriend are both alcoholics and did not give her the care and attention she needs.

The house was always a mess and there were often parties late into the night. Due to her home life Miranda did not do well in school, her grades were always low, and she did not ask for help.

Bad influences

After school she would go to tend the cows and goats in the field. There, she would often be around older men who had a very bad influence on her. Many people in the village would say she was nothing but trouble.

Then one day, Joy, a lady from the local church, invited her to begin working at the church helping tend to the greenhouses and other daily jobs. After several days of work at the greenhouse, Joy visited Miranda at home. She was shocked at what she saw. Miranda’s mom was drinking and having a party with five men and did not show any interest at all in her daughter.

Joy realized how much danger Miranda was in and offered help. Joy felt that God was telling her to take Miranda and care for her. Miranda now lives at the church and she is safe there. She is also able to take part in the conferences and camps for socially vulnerable girls and at-risk boys, supported by Freedom Challenge.

Discovering gifts

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These camps have had a huge impact on her life and given her confidence and an understanding of how precious she is to God. The Lord is doing great things in her life. Her school work has improved and she is getting good grades. She has also discovered a wonderful gift for drawing. At the church, she helps where needed and reads poems on Sunday as an encouragement to others.

She has even started to dream about the future. She wants to be a photographer and believes that God can use her and her photography. So, through the Lord working in her life and through attending the day center and girls’ camps, her life has been transformed and she is looking to the future with great hope and optimism.  

Names changed to protect identities

If you would like to find out more about our work in Moldova, you could join us on our mission trip to Moldova in November. 

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Raising up generations

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Raising up generations

Last month a team of Freedom Challenge women helped lead a Christian women’s conference in Bangladesh - alongside the project leaders working full-time in that country. Here, one of the project leaders shares the powerful story of Reja and the impact her faith is having on her community

It was a dream many years in the making—over 60 ladies from across Bangladesh came to take part in the first women’s conference in the country. Many traveled from difficult to reach places, which is one reason why most are not able to meet with other followers of Christ regularly. Others face family and community persecution if they openly share that they have left their majority group’s faith.

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The Operation Mobilization (the organization Freedom Challenge is part of) team hoped to encourage and equip these ladies, some of whom are the only believers in their areas. As they gathered and shared their stories, the team was reminded of the dedication and devotion needed to reach some of these most unreached places. Reja* shared one such story, evidence of discipleship happening by local believers and faith being passed down to the next generation.

A purposeful meeting

Reja said, “I used to pray and read the Qur’an but still there was a fear inside my heart.” She was afraid of what would happen when she died. One day she visited her aunt’s house and saw what she knew to be a holy book that she had also seen at her in-law's home. Her aunt told her she received it from an OM team member who then agreed to meet with Reja and her husband.

“They behaved very well,” she said of the believers she met at the OM office. “Their behavior was very different from the Muslim people. We chatted with him and they gave the message to us.” She and her husband left with several books to read and started meeting every Friday with the team member and his wife to read the Bible.

She read the entire Bible and said, “This is the truth. This is living. I asked, ‘What should I do? I want to accept this?’” She and her husband were baptized and kept reading Scripture daily at home. “My house is 20 kilometers away from the leader’s house,” she said.

When their son was a teenager and old enough to understand she and her husband said, “Now we should share the truth with our son, too.”  When he approached his parents about a girl he was interested in marrying his parents said, “Yes, if she wants to accept Jesus too.”

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“She’s a good girl,” she said, motioning to her daughter-in-law who had accompanied her to the conference. Her granddaughter joined in the sessions as well, making the crafts along with the ladies, bowing her head in prayer as she watched her mother and grandmother act out a living faith.

Secretly preaching

“Since my family was completed, I now secretly started to preach to my cousins, then others,” she said. She said many responded with questions. She would bring the questions she couldn’t answer to the leader and his wife and grew in her knowledge and confidence in sharing with others.

She now tells the primary school students she teaches about Jesus—and anyone who she can meet with. She knows of 32 people who have been baptized. She says her sister, brother-in-law, and mother have believed and that she is still sharing with her father who goes to pray daily at the mosque. “He says that whatever you are saying is correct but when you say Jesus is God’s son, that is not correct,” she said. “But I believe one day he will come.”

She goes to eight different areas to meet with people and takes her Bible when possible or takes a recording of the Scriptures on her mobile phone. This is especially helpful for those who can’t read.

A growing faith

One long-time OM team member who has watched Reja’s faith grow over the past nine years added, “She does this of her own initiative. No one is telling her to go. It’s very encouraging.” As the ladies left the conference, they took their faith back with them to their homes. The team prayed together that they would then carry that faith to the others they encounter.

Please pray for these ladies to grow in their knowledge of God and in boldness. Pray that many like Reja would faithfully share with others and that generations of Christ followers would be raised up as a result in Bangladesh.

*Names changed/withheld to protect identity

If you want to see Freedom Challenge projects for yourself and see God at work in women’s lives, join us for one of our 2019 Mission Trips

 

 

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Witnessing Transformation for Women in Bangladesh

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Witnessing Transformation for Women in Bangladesh

Last month, a group of Freedom Challenge women brought a much longed-for dream to life as they helped to lead a Christian conference for women in Bangladesh. Here, Nicole Walters shares her reflections on the event…

They walked into the room where the conference would be, seeing desks and chairs; it felt too formal, like a classroom. Five ladies from Freedom Challenge had come to Bangladesh to help facilitate the first ever women’s conference in Bangladesh. I have only lived here for a little over a year, but this country and these ladies are firmly planted in my heart. Others have worked here and dreamed of a conference like this for a decade.

Feeling fearful

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The next morning 43 women would enter this conference room. Many would come from difficult to reach places, some from villages hours away by bus, rickshaw, boat, and on foot. Many of their families have rejected them because they have chosen to follow Christ in a country that is 80% Muslim (with a Hindu minority). One of the ladies told us that she told her family she was going to visit a friend over the weekend and was fearful of what they would do if they found out she was learning about Jesus.

The ladies from Freedom Challenge started unpacking suitcases they had hauled from the United States full of supplies. We had discussed a theme with them, one that had been in the heart of our team leader’s wife for many years: New Life, Notun Jibon in the Bangla these ladies speak.

A room full of butterfiles

We watched in amazement as the team transformed the room from formal classroom to a welcoming space. They moved tables around and put out colorful bags full of art supplies. They atmosphere was full of anticipation as they started hanging colorful paper butterflies from the ceiling. They told us about the plans they had for making bead and paper butterfly crafts, a clear theme emerging.

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The butterfly theme hadn’t been discussed, only that we would talk about the new life. Our leader’s wife took out one of the mugs we had made for each participant of the conference—with a butterfly on each one. She had this picture in her mind for years as she dreamed of a conference like this—linking the transformation that happens in a butterfly’s lifecycle to the transformation that occurs as we follow Jesus.

It was clear that God had gone before us, had spoken this image into the hearts of all the people involved in planning this conference. 8000 miles apart from each other, our hearts were one. This weekend was the answer to years of prayer. And now we stood in a room full of butterflies everywhere. After prayers and tears flowed, we walked out of a classroom that had been transformed into a sacred space.

Everything changed

As a communications professional, I often get the distinct vantage point of observer. I watch from the sidelines, taking photos and writing notes to capture the stories of what God is doing here in Bangladesh. Over the next three days I watched in amazement as the entire countenance of women changed. Like the change of that meeting space, I watched as some women entered the conference guarded, some silent. As they received the truth spoken over them, laughed over games and crafts, connected with each other in small groups, and prayed together over shared stories of deep hurts—everything changed.

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One woman towered over others, a serious face to go with her strong features. At the end of the day she poured out her story to one team member and they prayed together. Over the next few days we were amazed to see a different woman at the conference. She was full of life and laughter, joy apparent on her face as she hugged other ladies and told jokes during breaks.

I watched another woman withdraw into herself during interactive times. I noticed she was one of a few ladies that couldn’t read or write (many of the women learned to read as they went through literacy or skills programs offered by our teams). We prayed that first night that those that felt left out would feel a connection to others, that God would draw them out. Over the next two days I watched her pour out her heart-wrenching story to a counselor that prayed with her and would simply show up to put a hand on her back when she knew a teaching might be hitting a tender spot for this woman who had lost everything.

The gift of community

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At the end of the conference we received communion together and received the gift of community with each other. Every woman in the room hugged each other, wept, and prayed over each other. I’ve never seen such a clear display of the Body of Christ holding each other up, such obvious transformation in the faces of his children in just a few days. Much freedom was gained in those days and I know this is only one small part of what God is doing in these ladies and all over Bangladesh in places we don’t get to witness it.

Nicole Walters works for Operation Mobilization (the organization Freedom Challenge is part of) in Bangladesh.

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"I want my daughter to be strong, to fight for life and never give up”

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"I want my daughter to be strong, to fight for life and never give up”

Daniela’s life has been incredibly tough - but thanks to a Freedom Challenge Early Learning Center in Moldova she and her baby are beginning to experience life in all its fulness. This is her story…

Daniela* did not have a happy childhood. Her mother left her in an orphanage when she was just one-year-old, where she grew up without adequate care and love and with few moments of joy. When she finished high school, Daniela had no choice but to leave the orphanage and learn to live independently even though she had not been well equipped to look after herself. She moved to Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova, in hope of a better way of life.

Living on the streets

One day, having trouble with her job and having nowhere to go for help, Daniela ended up on the streets. There, she met a young man who told her he liked her and wanted to marry her. But after just one week together, he became very violent and Daniela ended up in hospital with severe physical injuries.

Several years later, Daniela met another man who at first showed her respect, love and care, but later became addicted to alcohol and turned very violent. She became pregnant but because of the physical trauma from her first relationship she sadly had a miscarriage at almost six months. From that moment on, doctors said she would never have children again.

Dreaming of being a mom

As time went by, Daniela found herself a new job and rented a small apartment in the city. Three years later, Daniela met another man. He was different from her previous boyfriends; he loved her and took good care of her. The only thing he did not want to hear about was having a baby. This saddened Daniela, who dreamed of being a mother. She started praying and one year later God answered her prayers – she became pregnant. But when she told her husband, he acted as he had promised and left her.

Daniela found herself back on the streets with nowhere to go. Through some acquaintances, she found a special center for single mothers where she was able to live for a year. Giving birth was very difficult due to the physical trauma she had experienced. However, the real shock came three days later when the doctors told Daniela that her little girl had Down’s Syndrome. Then the real fight began.

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Never giving up

Due to her lack of income and housing, and her age, doctors and others suggested she give her baby up for adoption. Daniela was strong enough to say “no”. She decided to name her little girl ‘Alexandra’, a boy’s name, because as Daniela put it: “I want my daughter to be strong, to fight for life and never give up.” Now over a year old, Alexandra is a very special girl who is full of life, very positive, active and always smiling – she finds a reason to be happy in almost everything she sees and does. Recently she started walking, even though doctors said she would only be able to walk at the age of five.

Then some friends of Daniela’s recommended that she attend our Early Learning Center. Here, her most acute needs are met, such as diapers and medicine for her baby. Also by attending the center, Daniela has been able to learn and to improve many aspects of her life. She received parenting and life skills training which means that she has become a better mother and a good woman who trusts God. She has relinquished all the anger she had stored up in her heart and found enough strength to forgive the people who had caused her so much suffering. Now she is full of love, compassion and the joy of life.

There are so many other women like Daniela that we would love to help! We can only do that with your support.

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

 *Name changed to protect identity

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"We developed a sisterhood unlike any other I've ever had"

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"We developed a sisterhood unlike any other I've ever had"

Shelly Ginter Conrad shares why she is going to attempt to summit Mount Rainier this August and why she is so passionate about ending human trafficking…

My love for mountain climbing was birthed in the Himalayas in 2013 as a member of the Mount Everest Base Camp Freedom Climb team. I was privileged to have had this climbing experience alongside the founder of The Freedom Challenge, Cathey Anderson, as well as with many other amazing women from countries around the world. It was a life-changing experience that led me to not only better view the world through God’s eyes, but it also ignited a passion in me to climb mountains.

Prior to my involvement in the 2013 Freedom Climb (now called The Freedom Challenge), the subject of human trafficking was not even on my radar. With my life focused primarily on my family, coaching, and other activities, the world that I lived in was safe and comfortable. When I first heard about the Freedom Climb, I began to search the internet to research human trafficking. What I discovered shocked me and I wanted to get involved in efforts to combat it. 

Everest Base Camp

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As a former NCAA Division I collegiate athlete, I have always been an active person who has prioritized exercise and staying in shape. As a result, doing something physical, like mountain climbing, was appealing to me and I believed God had called me to be one of the climbers in 2013. I knew that I would have to devote myself to getting in great shape for climbing at high altitudes. So, with excitement and anticipation, I embarked on my training and fundraising. In the end, standing on the summit of Kala Patthar (18,504 ft.) just above Mount Everest Base Camp, was one of the most incredible experiences and accomplishments of my life. Having endured several long days of intense, arduous trekking and climbing, our team was blessed to reach our goal. The journey we all went through bonded our hearts and minds and made us ever aware of the struggles that enslaved women and children endure every day.

After having lived in Texas for 30 years, I moved to my original home state of Michigan in 2014 with my husband and high school-age daughter. My son and his wife, who were married last summer, live in Texas.  After a period of adjustment to living in Michigan, I am now the varsity volleyball coach at Frankenmuth High School, a leadership and teamwork motivational speaker, as well as a women’s Christian conference speaker. You can read more about me and what I do by visiting my website: shellyginterconrad.com . To bring awareness to my efforts in 2019, FrankenmuthClimber.com is linked to my professional website so that people could easily access my fundraising page and read more about the 2019 Freedom Challenge and learn about why I am climbing.  

Since moving to Michigan, the timing for me to climb with the Freedom Challenge again has not been right ... until now. I am excited to once again join The Freedom Challenge movement as a member of the Mount Rainier Summit team. I committed to climb Mount Rainier this past November and I have been training and fundraising since then. I have primarily been using Facebook and Instagram to communicate with my friends and family, but I will also be mailing personal fundraising letters to friends and family to seek additional support. I have also been blessed to have a local sportswear company (Grasel Graphics) support me by designing and providing me with personal workout gear printed with Freedom Challenge Mount Rainier information on it. I wear this apparel when I train to bring awareness of my efforts as a Freedom Challenge climber. They also designed Frankenmuth Climber support team t-shirts for me to sell to help raise awareness and the needed financial support. 

A team of praying women

Just as I did in 2013, I formed a prayer team of women to come alongside me and support me on the journey. I communicate with them through a private Facebook page. Every few weeks, I share prayer requests and post various updates about the progress of my training and fundraising efforts. They use this forum to post encouraging messages to help keep me motivated and trusting God. I know that God has called me to this effort and that He is faithful to help me succeed in my training and fundraising efforts. I encourage all climbers to surround themselves with a group of women who are committed to faithfully pray for them. Their involvement and encouragement will be a blessing.

So, how do I personally go about training for climbing Mount Rainier? 

Well, training for mountain climbing when you live at fairly low altitudes like where I live in Michigan is a challenge that requires me to be creative. I have incorporated the following as part of my indoor cardio training routine: The Stairmaster and treadmill (working up to its highest incline) while carrying a weighted backpack (increase weight over time); step ups with a weighted collar or backpack, and an elliptical machine that has a “climb” feature set at its highest incline. I also incorporate cardio training outdoors two days a week, weather permitting.

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On my outdoor training days, I do much longer cardio workouts that are focused on hiking distances with a weighted pack, and walking up and down stadium stairs or steep hill inclines to develop endurance. When the weather warms up here in Michigan this spring, I’ll do some long trail rides and hill work on my mountain bike. I currently use a Training Mask (2.0) for some of my cardio training. It is a resistance tool for your lungs that I have found to be extremely helpful in building lung capacity. It mimics a high-altitude environment by forcing you to focus on your breathing as you learn to take deeper breathes and slow the pace of your breathing.

I also include weight training as part of my routine to focus on building strength in the lower body, back, shoulders and core. Developing outstanding cardiovascular endurance is critical, but you also need to be doing strength training for optimal success. I lift a minimum of three days a week, using strength training ideas from mountaineering websites; as well as a strength-training regimen developed for me by a friend who is a professional strength training coach in Texas (Roland Jehl). There are lots of ways to strength train; you just have to find what works best for you based on your climbing goals and the amount of time you can devote to training.

Spiritual training

While physical training is important, I have found that “spiritual training” is also very important.  This part of my training routine consists of prayer and Scripture memorization. In 2013, I memorized Psalm 139. I wrote the verses out on 3x5 cards and carried them with me when I went on long hikes. You do a lot of thinking when you train, especially on long cardio days, and that is the optimal environment for me to memorize Scripture and pray. When the climb arrives, I want to be able to recall and recite the Scripture I have learned to help me endure and persevere when I get weary.  

There are many components to preparing to climb and it can sometimes get overwhelming and it is not uncommon to experience some fear and doubt. Despite this, I am learning to enjoy the process as God uses our journey (to include training setbacks) to teach us about our limitations and our constant need of Him. God is faithful and He has proven that to me over and over in my lifetime. I love an adventure and having the opportunity to climb again with the Freedom Challenge and fellow climbers is something I am looking forward to. The friendships that were forged in my 2013 climb remain ingrained on my heart. The shared experiences bonded us and we developed a sisterhood unlike any other I’ve ever had.

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In 2019, I will meet new sisters-in-Christ and I look forward to getting to know them and as we climb for a common cause. Ultimately, I pray God is glorified and His work is done in and through us as we humbly seek His strength as we embark on a climb that will forever change us from the inside out.

Climbing for Their Freedom,

Shelly Ginter Conrad

There is still to join Shelly and sign up to our 2019 Mt. Rainier Challenge!

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The miracle of sight

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The miracle of sight

Rachel’s life has been transformed since she became a Christian through a Freedom-Challenge supported program. Now, she is helping other women overcome the challenges of life in this poverty-striken village in Africa

“Prostitution, beer drinking, drunkenness, insults, fighting, uneducated children, malnutrition and witchcraft,” answered Rachel when asked to describe her village called 4Miles.

“Everyone is living without hope. I feel pity for the children here, all with dirty and ragged clothes, and drunk parents. When someone gets sick they go to the witchdoctors, not realizing that is not where they can find real healing, truth, and everlasting life.”

Rachel and her husband have been living in 4Miles, a town in Zambia, for the last 20 years, living their lives in the best way they knew how, but not always following Jesus.

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God Calling

One day in 2015 Rachel was visited by a Freedom Challenge-supported worker. He told her about a local discipleship program and how it could help her learn more about how to follow Jesus. Although Rachel had grown up in a Muslim family, she knew this was something she must do. For the next few months she worked hard to save enough money to do the yearlong discipleship and missions training.

“After doing discipleship and missions, I wanted to keep learning more, so I became a student at Tabitha Skills Development. Since joining Tabitha, my life has completely changed. At first my husband couldn’t understand the changes in me, but last year he also decided to go through discipleship training. Now we can understand each other and be an example to our neighbors by loving and respecting each other.”

At Tabitha Skills Development, a program supported by Freedom Challenge, Rachel successfully completed the beginner, intermediate, and advanced sewing training. She quickly became an encourager and example to the other students of how God can transform your life if you just allow Him to. She has since become a fulltime missionary, serving with Tabitha, with a focus on reaching the women in 4Miles.

A New Vision

“After joining Tabitha, God was always speaking to me about not leaving behind the ladies in my own village. My eyes were totally opened to God’s vision for my life. He was calling me to be like Tabitha in the Bible! I have been teaching my fellow women, just like I have been taught at Tabitha, and they follow everything I do. I used to be a bit difficult and had a very bad temper, but now God has softened my heart. I have even told all my family about Jesus, and they have become Jesus followers!

Now that my eyes are open to the need for Jesus in my village, I will never stop teaching and preaching until God calls me onwards. The small one-room building that our family used to use as a tavern, is now where the ladies meet for prayer, Bible study and skills training.

God has transformed my outlook on life so much, that even if I sometimes go to sleep hungry or in pain, when I wake up I feel energized and ready for ministry.”

Physical Sight

In addition to Rachel’s spiritual eyes being opened, God has also opened her physical eyes!

Rachel always struggled with being able to see properly and didn’t have a suitable pair of glasses to assist her vision. She could hardly read, thread a needle or do any intricate work. However, Rachel now testifies to the restoration God has given to her eyesight. “I now have no problem putting thread through a tiny needle, or reading in the evenings with dim candlelight. God has done a miracle for me!”

The love of Jesus has the power to transform lives and communities. As Rachel continues to minister to her village of 4Miles, she dreams that one day when asked to describe her village, she will be able to say it is a ‘vibrant community of Jesus followers.’

Join Rachel in praying for God’s wisdom, strength and protection as she diligently ministers to her community. Pray for endurance to not give up as she often faces persecution.

You can support women like Rachel to bring transformation to their communities by donating to Freedom Challemge. Thank you!



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"Will you be my sister?"

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"Will you be my sister?"

Katrina* attends one of the Freedom Challenge-supported day centers in Moldova where she receives help with school work, healthy food and the opportunity to hang out with her friends in a safe place.

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Last year, Katrina (14) and some other girls attended the Vulnerable Girls’ conference – a few days of teaching, games, craft and fun. Some of our Freedom Challenge supporters from the US helped out (and we’re going again in 2019, if you want to join us!)

During the small group discussions, Sabrina shared her hopes and dreams openly. In one of the sessions the leader talked about body image and identity. Katrina told her group leader that, “I would like to be like you, to look like you and to have children and a husband like yours.” The leader, Ina, replied: “You don’t need to look like me to have this, what’s important is who you are. Everything I have is due to the fact that I have chosen to follow God.”

Throughout the conference the girls were encouraged to choose God. Often the girls would hug Ina and ask her if she loved them. At the end of the three days, Katrina asked Ina: “Will you be my sister?” Tearfully, Katrina explained that she didn’t have any brothers or sisters and that her mom was working abroad and that she lives with her stepfather who drinks and shouts a lot. He almost stopped her from coming to the conference but with the help of a relative Katrina was able to get away from home.

Her home life is incredibly tough. And the conference is a vital way to help Katrina discover her value and to learn how much God loves her.

And this is just one girl’s story. There are many more vulnerable girls like Katrina in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. With your support, we are able to reach out to them and to see the direction of their lives begin to change as they choose to follow God and trust in him.

You can give today to help more girls like Katrina: $150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom

Or sign up to one of our 2019 Challenges 


*Name changed to protect identity

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 The Freedom Challenge Sisterhood

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The Freedom Challenge Sisterhood

Hi! I am Karis Williams and I am excited and honored to be joining the Freedom Challenge Team as the Communications Project Manager.

The Back Story

From a really young age (15 to be exact) God gave me a burden to use my skills, talents, and life to combat the common injustices women around the world face: abuse, exploitation and assault which often lead to and promote labor and sex trafficking.

I have had the opportunity for the last 10 years to be an advocate, to lead sexual assault investigations, to conduct research on human trafficking globally, to interview and mentor survivors, to conduct awareness presentations and to assist in the creation of curriculums.

It has been a pleasure to be able to do all this, but each step has taken a great amount of faith, patience and obedience. Many times I wondered if I was going in the right direction or how all those life experiences added up or what they would lead to. The journey was not always clear, even when God told me to do the Freedom Challenge Estes Park in 2017, I didn’t think it would ever lead to where I am now. Estes Park was truly a milestone in my faith. During that time God worked out in me a new understanding of humility (you can read my blog about my experiences here) and further confirmed to me to continue combatting the darkness that is human trafficking.

Since then I’ve been praying that I will be able to combat human trafficking with like-minded people. If you have ever delved into the world of human trafficking you know it can get dark and grimy. Prayer, fellowship and the reminder that God’s heart is for freedom, justice, mercy and grace are what is needed to keep you going.

I have found these like-minded people in the sisterhood of the Freedom Challenge. I am so honored to be able to continue fighting for justice, bringing awareness and raising my voice arm to arm with women, sisters, wives and mothers fighting for justice.

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What comes next

Joining the Freedom Challenge staff has meant a lot of changes for me in 2019. I will be moving from Florida to Georgia and, although that entails so much, I am excited to be coming on board at this time.

This year I see amazing things coming up for Freedom Challenge: two climbs in new territory (Washington and Oregon), a whole new type of challenge as we undertake a cycling challenge in California; and online Freedom Challenge Circles to increase awareness and to strengthen our community of advocates and climbers. My hope is to see Freedom Challenge reach new heights this year, to encourage more women to raise their voice, to climb with us and join this sisterhood.

This week is our Super Bowl Prayer Challenge, where we are partnering with different organizations and people to fight trafficking the best way we can… through prayer! This event unites organizations, churches, athletes, families all as prayer warriors for one of the world’s greatest injustices in a city (Atlanta) that has been a pioneer in fighting injustice in the US. Maybe it’s because I served in the military, but I see this weekend as our battle ground, we are coming together as warriors going to war. This event is no small thing and it’s also just the beginning.

Whether or not you will be able to join us this upcoming weekend in Atlanta, we do hope you join us for prayer and maybe even one of our climbs or mission trips coming up. Together we will end trafficking!

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Freedom Day Bootcamp

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Freedom Day Bootcamp

What could possibly entice someone to wake up early on a Saturday morning, skip their coffee and gather together in a church gym to sweat their way through deviously designed acts of physical fitness?

For 50 women and men it was nothing less than the plight of 40 million men, women and children, facing far worse than that as trafficked humans. Led by the Freedom Challenge team of Advent Church in Boca Raton, Florida, these brave souls joined in the first Freedom Day Bootcamp with the hope of bringing trafficked people one step closer to freedom.

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January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month. It is an important time to lift up the often hidden tragedy that millions are forced to live as modern-day slaves. The statistics are shocking. Tracy Daugherty, Director of the Freedom Challenge, shares that of the 40 million trafficked people, 12 million are women and 12 million are children. Although human trafficking is more prevalent amongst the poor in third world countries, there are an estimated 60,000 trafficked people in the US. Sadly, South Florida is a major gateway for human trafficking in this country.

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Moved by their awareness of human trafficking, in January 2012, 48 women from seven different countries climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to declare freedom for those who could not. Advent Church was represented on that climb and has since sent 28 women around the world to climb to proclaim from the mountaintops that Jesus means freedom. But these women do more than climb. Advent has raised over $400,000 to fight human trafficking when they come down the mountain. Their support, and that of many other climbers around the country, has enabled the Freedom Challenge to run anti-human trafficking ministries in critical places like India, Moldova, and Zambia.

The women of Advent Church’s Freedom Challenge Team decided to mark this year’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month by offering a Freedom Day Bootcamp where men and women of all ages and fitness levels could gather to challenge themselves physically and to stand in solidarity with all those who have been enslaved and marginalized. On Saturday, January 5, participants paid $25 to challenge themselves at 15 different circuit training stations led by volunteer instructors of Slash Fitness, Delray Beach.

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Additional donations helped them raise $1,700 with a promise of more support to come. Advent will begin forming teams for the two Freedom Challenge climbs scheduled this year: one to Mt. Rainier and one to Mt. Hood. The bootcamp was challenging for all the participants, as the climbs will be for the climbers. But we all know that the greatest challenge still lies ahead: to end human trafficking in our lifetime.

Susan Hagen and Debbie Dingle, leaders of Advent Church’s Freedom Challenge team.

You can find out more about hosting your own event to bring freedom to women and children around the world here. 


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A grace-filled mission trip

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A grace-filled mission trip

Dr Shannon Perry took part in her first Freedom Challenge in 2012, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. This year, she took on another challenge - a Freedom Challenge mission trip to Moldova. Here’s her story…

Through the Kilimanjaro climb, I met Cathey Anderson, the founder of Freedom Challenge. She was an inspiration to me with her evident and vocal love of Jesus. While I have been a Christian my whole life, I had not experienced Jesus the way she appeared to and I wanted to be more like her.

When the opportunity came to travel to Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, to see where the money raised through Freedom Challenge events goes, I signed up and learned that “God has a wonderful time waiting for you.”

Roxanne Hicks, our team leader, provided vital information to prepare us for our travels and was able to give insights into what we would see and do. Our group consisted of seven women and one man from England, Scotland, Southern California, and Phoenix.

We were going to Moldova to participate in a Vulnerable Girls’ Conference in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, and were asked to prepare get-acquainted games, bring ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, and present a short skit. Roxanne planned to distribute winter coats to the girls and asked for contributions to help pay for them. She also explained that we would be staying with a host family; that we might have to share a bed with another team member; there may be no running water; we may have to use an outdoor toilet, and it may be cold with limited heating. Languages spoken were Romanian and Russian but interpreters would be available. We were given information about the dress code: knee length or longer skirt to church and a head scarf may be required. Long pants and a dress shirt for men. No jewelry or makeup, no fingernail polish, and tattoos should be covered. Christians in Moldova dress very conservatively and use no makeup. We also received lists of common Romanian and Russian words.

A true visionary

When we arrived, Tamara, our host and a true visionary, took us to the OM headquarters where we were to stay the next few days. We stayed in dorm-like rooms, three or four to a room, with toilets and showers available in the hall. We were quite comfortable and met several other missionaries who were there for longer periods of time.

After a good night’s sleep, we had a cultural orientation and then went sightseeing in Chisinau. The next day we had a team meeting and did some decorating in the room in which the conference was to be held. When the conference started, we had some icebreaker games, a welcome and worship. Becky gave three sessions during the days of the conference: My Body, My Mind, and My Soul. In the afternoon, the girls and some others went rock climbing and tried a ropes course. Kim and I stayed back and made dozens of chocolate chip cookies. During the conference, we provided support for the missionaries who were stationed in Chisinau; we set up, cleaned, cooked, washed dishes, and did whatever needed to be done. There was always prayer before each activity.

Giving out winter coats

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The final activity was providing winter coats for the girls. The vendor brought a great variety of sizes and colors of coats and the girls had a wonderful time selecting the size and color they wanted. At the end we had a group picture of all the girls in their coats.

The next day, Tamara drove us to Paicu, her home village with a population of about 400. In Tamara’s house, one large room has been converted into a church. We went to the church and sorted all the things we brought: the 35 coats of various sizes that Heather brought and which we planned to distribute to the villagers; craft supplies; school supplies; and candy.

The next morning five of us put together eight food parcels and delivered the parcels to some village women. We came back and picked up some ready-to-eat food: hot soups and bread and delivered it to several other elders. Tamara assured me herthat the needy people receive food parcels once a month for four months during winter. During the summer, the people are able to grow vegetables in their gardens so don’t need the food parcels.

Women’s evening

After dinner, we decorated the church with flowers and balloons in preparation for a women’s evening. About 45 women and children came. We had singing, a little preaching, we introduced ourselves, then Kim, Lianne and I gave testimony. We hoped that our testimony encouraged the women. Even though we are fortunate, we also have had troubles and sorrows in our lives which we have overcome or are in the process of overcoming. We performed a silent skit and Mary explained the skit: A young woman, portrayed by Camille, was looking for salvation in all the wrong places. She drank, used drugs, sought money, and was abused. All the while Jesus (represented by Anthony) was there waiting for her. He pulled her out of her troubles and showed her that He loved her. We then did a couple of crafts and gave out prizes. After another song and snacks, we ended the very successful evening with an evaluation and prayer.

The next morning we visited the girls’ house that Tamara is constructing. The house is due to open in June, 2019, and will house 25 vulnerable girls. Next to that building was the Elderly House where eight men and eight women will be accommodated. Tamara expressed concern that winter is coming and she still needs to obtain windows for the second story and a roof before winter arrives. We gathered around and prayed fervently that Jesus would see her need and somehow enable her to secure the funds to buy the roofing supplies and windows. That evening, Tamara received word that €10,000 has been deposited in an account set up in her name by a non-Christian who did not know Tamara. We witnessed a true miracle.

Welcomed with big smiles

We went on into the country to deliver food parcels to two women who live in a remote area. Their homes have no running water and no toilet. The women have to walk quite a distance to obtain water to carry back to their homes. They also collect sticks from the forest which they use for cooking and heating their homes. Three women were there painting the interior of one of the homes; they had painted the other home the day before. They seemed happy, deriving mutual support from each other. These were my favorite people that we visited; they were industrious, welcomed us with big smiles, and seemed content in their setting although it certainly presented challenges. At 80 years of age, I was the oldest one by far in our group. Roxanne and the others had fun telling the villagers how old I am. Because of their circumstances most of the villagers look much older than they are. For example, the two villagers in the picture above are in their 60s.

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We returned to the village to deliver more food parcels. We also gave out some of the coats that Heather had brought, a real blessing for the children. In the afternoon, half of us delivered food parcels and the rest of us organized crafts. To experience life in the village we rode in a horse cart, a common form of transport of goods. This ride was a first for many of us.

After-school program

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About a dozen children stopped by after school. They were fed, we had a craft for them, and had a Bible lesson. The nativity story was told by one of the resident missionaries using a flannel board and flannel characters. It was the most clever presentation of the story I have ever seen! At the end of the story the storyteller asked the children questions to be sure they had understood what they saw (and they did). Then they went out to play. Several of these after-school programs exist in the village.

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That evening we went to a private home for a prayer meeting. These meetings occur each week. After introductions, we all began praying aloud. After some sincere and heartfelt prayers, we had a scripture reading and testimonials from three of us, then snacks.

On our final day, we drove back to Chisinau and took all the Moldovan staff out for a Moldovan feast at a local restaurant. It was a way to thank a wonderful group of women who are doing marvelous things in their ministry.

The presence of Jesus

Since I have returned home and had time to reflect on the experience, I recognize that Jesus was present with us throughout the trip. The girls at the conference shared some of their challenges and received prayers and support for their healing. The missionaries were wonderful in their ministry to these girls, to us, and to one another.

In the village, Tamara exemplifies charity and prays with and for the people who live there. She has an active prayer life, presides over the church with the help of her brother, has taken a young woman into her home, serves her community, and identifies needs. She is the most visionary person I have ever met. With her limited resources, she is building two residences: one for vulnerable girls and one for elderly men and women.

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I have shared my experiences in small groups and continue to pray for Tamara and all missionaries. For the first time, I was able to pray aloud spontaneously over the telephone with and for a young man who is questioning God because of the health challenges his son has experienced since birth. I am seeking additional ways to help the family so that they do not despair.

This was a wonderful, grace-filled mission trip in which we saw blessings occur and witnessed true charity and good will in action in the missionaries “on the ground” in Moldova and the group of missionaries who participated in this trip.

Dr Shannon Perry is a nurse specializing in maternal-newborn nursing. She has taught maternity nursing and child and adolescent development courses. She is co-author of three maternity nursing textbooks and numerous articles on maternal-child topics.

You can find out more about our 2019 mission trips here.






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"Don't let setbacks in life be the end of your goal"

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"Don't let setbacks in life be the end of your goal"

A couple of years ago, Deena Nunes was told she would probably never run again. But on Dec 2 she ran a half-marathon for Freedom Challenge. Here she shares her race recap story of strength, perseverance and how God’s timing is always right on time

My alarm went off at 3:30am and I didn’t even fight it. We left the house at 4:45am and arrived at the race at 5:10am. Because it was still quite dark out, the Christmas lights were illuminating the streets. It was beautiful.

I chatted with my mom and dad, stretched a little bit and got into the starting line around 5:45am.

I thought it was going to be perfect…

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At 6am, I said a silent prayer and just asked God to guide me and get me to the finish line. That was so direct and ultimately the prayer I needed to pray. He knows everything. Just listen to Him. Shortly after 6am, we were off and on our way. For the first mile and change, we ran through the city. It was still dark out but there was a beautiful breeze. I was thinking at this rate everything was going to be perfect. Haha if only I knew...

I reached the third mile and the first recording from my sister played through my Bluetooth speakers. Made me smile so big. By the fourth mile, it was no longer nice out. It was downright hot and humid, and it would only get worse as the hours ticked by. Nothing much happened from 4-7.5 miles. Things were where they needed to be. I watched the incredible sunrise during that time period (so wish I had taken a picture of the sky) and was just happy telling myself I was more than half way there and that I could do this.

I kept going

Well it was short lived when I got to 7.5 miles. I enjoyed the next recorded message from my sister, but I really thought I was going to be sick, so I walked for a half mile. Had some Gatorade around the 8th mile (as well as the 3rd, 6th, and 11th). I honestly think that was a bad mistake on my part. My stomach just can’t handle Gatorade. But I kept going.

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A little over the 9th mile, I spotted two familiar faces in the crowd and two amazing supporters and friends of mine. Debbie and Scott were at the perfect spot at the exact moment I needed to see them. Again, God works His magic. I made it to mile 10 when the third message from my sister came through my music. She told me I just had a 5K to go! On any other day, I would have just bolted. But today was not like other days. My stomach decided to start having issues and it’s nearly impossible to try and run through it. So, I walked from mile 10-13.

Getting the race in perspective

Mentally, I was in the race the entire time. I never doubted myself. It was the physical aspect that got me today and that was hard to comprehend as I’ve never endured that during a race. That’s why they call it a comeback because it’s not the same (Deena has experienced serious health problems in the past - you can read her story here). It just puts in perspective how you can really take things like races for granted and always get so caught up in the moment that you don’t truly value what you are doing or achieving.

At this point, I knew I would never make 2:30 and I was okay with that. During those rough miles, I just prayed, and I thanked God for showing me how challenges really make you strong and really allow you to persevere through it all. It was as if, at that moment, everything from the past two years all flashed in front of my eyes. And I was like WOW! And in an instant, I counted my blessings and thought about the women and children who we help get out of modern-day slavery.

The final message I received was about 12 miles in. My sister included not only a message with her but also Mely (my niece) and that’s when I got teary eyed. Thanks, twinny for all the incredible messages. Seriously helped get me through.

Finding the strength to finish

Debbie and Scott found me when there was less than a mile to go. Debbie walked with me and that was such an impactful moment knowing that she was going to help me finish what I started. As soon as I heard the music and saw the people, I found the strength to run the last few yards.

I crossed the finish line and was instantly overcome with gratefulness. Today, I realized that the time on the clock really means nothing to me and that by overcoming all that I have in the past couple years and being able to achieve this was all I need to be proud of myself.

A great feeling

Thank you to not only my parents and Debbie and Scott, but for all of you at home near and far who have been praying for me, encouraging me, and supporting me. The phone calls and texts have made my day. I am so loved and that’s a great feeling. Many thanks to the Freedom Challenge for this incredible opportunity. You are an awesome support system and I am so honored to be part of an amazing family.

My final time for those asking: 2:52:30. An hour more than my PB, the hardest out of the five half marathons I have now run, but the most fulfilling and most rewarding.

Coming out stronger

My final words are this: Don’t let your setbacks in life be the end of a goal. It won’t be easy, you will suffer some losses and tough times, but you will also come out stronger.

Thank you, God, for answering my prayers.

We did it Freedom Challenge!

Deena ran her race to raise funds for Freedom Challenge as part of our individual / team challenge - you can do this too! You can find out more here.

 


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"I felt the incredible task that lay ahead"

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"I felt the incredible task that lay ahead"

On October 12, 2018, I participated in my first ever Freedom Challenge. There were 29 women in total for this challenge and collectively we raised $130,000 to help fight and prevent human trafficking around the world, along with agreeing to hike the Grand Canyon.  

On the first day, we met each other and had “pack school”. This meant we were learning how to put everything into our backpacks that we’d need for the next four days. As I looked around at all these courageous women, I was in awe.

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All of our fundraising and 16 weeks of training had led to this moment. For some reason, the reality and weight of what we were about to do didn’t hit me until the next morning.

Overwhelmed with emotion

We woke at 4:30 am to pack, grab breakfast, and set off. As I sat in the hotel holding coffee, waiting for our van to leave for the hike, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. It wasn’t a scared or tired cry, but rather a full realization of what we were about to embark on.

I felt the incredible task that lay ahead, the thoughts and prayers of all those who supported me in this journey to this point, and thought of all the women and children whose lives could change through this. These feelings exploded in the form of tears and as they ran down my face with the prayer team’s arms around me, I knew they could bring healing; for myself and potentially many others.

Embarking on our journey into the Canyon, I realized we carried more than just the weight of our packs. In our group, the seven of us carried titles like:

·         Nervous

·         Excited

·         Scared

·         Strangers

Surviving in the wilderness

With every step and story shared, as we descended 3,000 feet, the gap of the unknown decreased. Normally, relationships take time to grow, but I learned they can be fast tracked when you’re hiking and surviving in the wilderness for four days.

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You see, it didn’t matter who we were. In fact, half our team was American, the other half Canadian, ranging from 24-59 years old. We had this fantastic group of unique women that became connected no matter what our age, race, origin, or occupations were. All of those things fell away when, for example, one of us tripped on the way down, or when I woke up to a migraine on the second day.

In those moments, we surrounded each other, both physically and spiritually. As I lay flat on the rock, after throwing up from the intense pain, I didn’t know how I was going to continue on.

Praying for a miracle

But these women placed me on a mat, covered me with blankets, and then laid hands on me, praying for a miracle. (Normally, migraines take me out for the whole day)

Initially I couldn’t move, but within two hours, I was able to keep water down, and then breakfast.

As I was in this pain, our group had an hour of T.A.G (time alone with God). I sat there, wrapped in a blanket, and memorized this verse.

Don’t panic. I’m with you.

  There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.

I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.

  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” - Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Strength returned, pain slowly decreased, and we were all hiking again by noon! We are truly never alone, and God gave me the strength to carry my 57lb backpack and walk to our next camp site that afternoon!

Taking steps towards freedom

Over those four days in the Grand Canyon we hiked down, climbed up, and pushed our bodies to the limit. We also laughed, cried, told our stories, spent time with God, and took many steps toward freedom!

Each morning, Blair (who had participated in two other freedom challenges before) read to us about the women and children that were being rescued and restored through Operation Mobilization (OM) and the money that was raised.

This gave us meaning and strength with each step. I also couldn’t help but stop at least 10 times a day and revel in the astonishing beauty that encompassed us while we were down there, feeling intense gratitude.

God bought us together

The women I was surrounded by had come from all over North America, but it was God who brought us together. There is nothing God cannot do when we give Him our “Yes”, including set the captives free!

Emerging from the Canyon back to civilization on the last day, we carried new titles:

·         Warriors

·         Sisters

·         Friends

Taking part in the Freedom Challenge Grand Canyon has been surreal, intense, and life-changing. Perhaps God is calling you to something similar.

And you can be sure that if He calls you to it, He’ll bring you through it. I am living proof!

Why not take on a new challenge in 2019 and join us in Mount Hood or Mount Rainier - registration opens Nov, 23!

Sylvia St.Cyr is an author, speaker, blogger and publishing consultant. Her first book, Love vs. Fear, was short-listed in the 2016 Word Alive Press Publishing Contest. She lives in Manitoba, Canada with her supportive husband and their two children. 

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Help us give the gift of education to children in Bangladesh

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Help us give the gift of education to children in Bangladesh

In remote villages in Bangladesh children as young as four or five are forced to work in the fields or to make products like soap, sandals or clothes to sell at local markets to support their families.

They have little hope of ever going to school.

But Freedom Challenge is working to change this. With your help we are currently supporting 30 grade schools in these villages, helping 900 children to receive an education that they would otherwise never have.

One teacher said: “The families are very happy and very involved. They are taking what they learn at school and teaching their parents and older brothers and sisters who have never had a chance to go to school.”

But there are so many children that are still being forced to work instead of going to school. With your help we can prevent these children from being trapped in a cycle of poverty and help them develop into the people God intended them to be.

Between now and Nov, 27 (Giving Tuesday) you can double your donation when you give to Freedom Challenge

We are thrilled to partner with Christian Community Credit Union to raise money to provide education and development opportunities for women and children in Bangladesh. Through a special matching offer, the Credit Union will double what we raise up to $10,000! The funds come from the Credit Union’s “Cards that Give to Missions” program.

What is the best gift that you could give this Giving Tuesday? $150 sets one woman or child on the path to freedom, but any gift you give will make a difference.

Education isn’t just breaking the cycle of poverty one student at a time; it’s changing the face of villages.



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“We were able to speak truth into her life” 

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“We were able to speak truth into her life” 

Ruth’s moving story highlights exactly what life can be like for a young woman who has been trafficked into Europe. But our faithful outreach teams play a vital role in making a difference to these women’s lives. Here’s how…

Ruth* is always standing at her corner of the street, waiting for customers, when our team comes to visit at night. 

She has a smile on her face and shares a few polite words with the team. She accepts what we offer her, whether it is tea, biscuits, handwarmers, or an Easter or Christmas gift. She will reply vaguely to our conversation without ever giving anything personal away – and then she makes it very clear that the interaction is over. 

This has happened almost every week for six years.

Faithful prayer

One night, after praying for meaningful opportunities, our team went on outreach to the streets of Athens as usual.

Ruth was at her corner, and accepted her tea and biscuits, and was about to turn away… then she turned back and, suddenly, the flood gates opened. Out poured the story of her home in West Africa, of being brought out of her country, finding herself pregnant, brought to Greece, put on the streets, of being hurt and scared, missing her child, being attacked by abusive customers. We were amazed at God’s answer to prayer. After six years of being politely shut out, we were able to speak truth into Ruth’s life. 

Building trust

The following week, and the weeks to come, Ruth retreated back into herself and put her mask back on. We continued to pray for her more specifically because we knew better what she was struggling with. A few months later, we were on the streets one night when she was very distressed by something that had happened – she felt able to bring her fear and grief to us and ask for our help and to pray for her. 

This isn’t a story with a happy ending – yet!  But God is working, slowly, quietly, in his own time. We haven’t reached the final chapter. We are trusting him with Ruth.

Trafficking in Athens

There are over 300 brothels in Athens, as well as studios, hotels and stretches of open road filled with thousands of victims of trafficking. Nearly 40,000 women and children are trafficked into Greece each year from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. These young women are often lured to Athens with the promise of a job. Some are sold into trafficking by family members. Others are manipulated into the work by men they consider their romantic partners. 

Our partner project in Greece provides a 24-7 helpline and they have a network of people who can offer help as it is requested – in the form of doctors’ visits, language lessons, or shelter and support to enable woman to escape forced prostitution.

How you can make a difference

It is for women like Ruth that we are taking on our Grand Canyon Wilderness Backpacking Challenge in just over one week. Your support could bring much needed shelter, rescue, or just simply someone to talk and pray with, to let them know how deeply they are loved by their heavenly Father.

Will you help us reach more women like Ruth? You can donate today!

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

*Name changed to protect identity

 

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Expect the unexpected

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Expect the unexpected

Connie Hallof shares how travelling to the Philippines to visit Freedom Challenge projects gave her and her team mates more than they bargained for…

Poverty and Wealth. Giving and Receiving. Those were the “biggies” I was preparing myself for before embarking on the Freedom Challenge’s mission trip to Cebu, Philippines in July. It had been 30 years since my last visit to the Philippines and I was so excited to return. Having been there before I knew that the sights, smells, and sounds of another culture can overwhelm at first, no matter how much you prepare ahead of time. Freedom Challenge is all about, well, the challenge. Putting you in a place to lean in to God and let Him reveal Himself while putting yourself out there for others. So I arrived in Cebu City with an expectant heart. Not knowing exactly what to expect besides expecting the unexpected. God did not disappoint!

The Unexpected #1 - Inspiration

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I had been tasked to give an “Inspirational” talk at the 10 year anniversary of the scholars program of Operation Mobilization Philippines (OM is the organization of which Freedom Challenge is a part). This is a ministry that Freedom Challenge has been involved with in the past. We were overwhelmed with story after story from the students. Their enthusiasm, smiles, and determination were contagious and left us feeling inspired by them. This was our first taste of what a tremendous work is being done in Cebu. Lives are being forever changed. My anxious thoughts on giving an inspirational talk were dispelled when I saw that these students were all providing that to each other in their daily courage and determination. 

The Unexpected #2 - The hike to the mountain school  

We were a team of seasoned Freedom Challenge hikers and set out to hike up to one of the schools operated in the mountains. The hike was the one thing that none of us thought would be a challenge - we were wrong! We found ourselves ill prepared for the rainy season trail and scrambling up rain soaked rocks. I think I speak for the entire team when I say we were humbled during that trek. Our gracious OM guides helped us over the waterfall and up the valley walls.  

The Unexpected #3 - Student Assembly

We were anticipating meeting 40 students at the end of the hike and we were greeted by approximately 400! We were tired, hot, covered in mud and overwhelmed. Yet we were so blessed by the Hudlon School and their welcome assembly. Our time with the students and their mothers was rich. They never seemed to give it a second thought to look past our outward appearance (muddy and sweaty) and into our hearts.

The Unexpected #4 - Redirected Prayers

Next was a prayer walk through the city.  Sweet precious time was spent with the OM team as we split up to cover the city in prayer. While my focus was on Cebu that day, I later found out that as an OM staffer was praying for my family during the walk, a miracle was taking place at home thousands of miles away.

The Unexpected #5 - Poverty Simulation

Thinking we would experience an evening of role play, we came away wrecked, having experienced for a brief moment, a couple of hours at most, what it was like to be so very vulnerable. I find it difficult to put it into words how that experience changed me. The panic and stress that people go through on a daily basis just trying to make ends meet in a manner that never occurs to most of us. We got to experience, ever so briefly, the trials and tribulations of a family trying to make enough money for basic needs to be met while running into obstacles that required heartbreaking decisions to be made. It emblazoned my heart anew to be a champion for those who have no voice.

The Unexpected #6 - Kinitarkin Island

Witnessing the beauty of God’s creation, sleeping with chickens, the wonderful lack of insects (yea) and then there was the AIDS awareness talk followed by a salvation message! It was the sweet time with students that was my favorite part of the entire trip. Seeing their hopes and dreams of the future, trusting God for provision, and the gracious generosity of the island families was tremendously moving.

I went to the Philippines thinking about poverty and left with an imprint on my heart of the tremendous wealth of relationship, character, and love of Jesus that I experienced there. I went with a desire to give of myself yet came away being on the receiving end of so much kindness, grace and love. I was inspired by the staff of OM Philippines and the students they minister to. I have come away challenged and strengthened in my resolve to continue to do what I can to combat social injustice and assist others on to a pathway of freedom.

Connie Hallof

You can find out more about our mission trips here.

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