June Heartbeat

Education and Community Impact in Kenya

In a school four hours outside of Nairobi in late January, our missionary partner Ashley Carroll and her team of female Kenyan nationals helped intervene in human trafficking and domestic violence. No, they weren’t at the school to engage in a rescue operation – they were there to teach children about healthy value systems.

In Kenya, women and girls face disproportionate levels of violence. An estimated 39% of Kenyan females age 15+ experience physical violence in their lifetime, and 26% experienced violence within the last year (according to the United Nations). This violence can leave females vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of abuse.

But what is the root cause of this abuse and exploitation? A central root issue is brokenness in community — the way we view and treat each other. When a human is considered “less than,” they are reduced to an object and are seen as deserving of abuse. Unhealthy values and relationships reinforce unjust systems, which gives way to human trafficking and other forms of abuse and exploitation.

Preventing these injustices from happening in the first place starts with shifting harmful value systems and restoring relationships between people and with God. This goal is why, in a classroom of Kenyan students in grades four to seven, our team reminded these children they were created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made — and because they were made in God’s image, they were designed to love and respect each other. After teaching from Psalm 139, our team asked the students to turn to each other, affirming this message by telling each other: “You are made in God’s image … I respect you … I care about you … you are beautiful.”

The image of God in all humans is the foundational message our team uses in schools as they teach about human trafficking and domestic violence. By teaching children how to value, respect, and look out for each other at home, at school, and at play, our team is creating a culture of abolitionism amongst young people who can impact their entire generation.

To find out more, pray for, or give to our missionary partner, Ashley Carroll, visit here: give.fmcusa.org/AshleyCarroll.

 

By Katie Bergman

Freedom Forums for Community Impact

Thousands of people are trafficked and exploited in the United States every year  ̶  children, women, and men  ̶  American citizens and foreign nationals. All are people manipulated and forced to do things they don’t want to do.

The world around us is broken, but we are not powerless.

In late March, Set Free Movement teams in Decatur, IL and Portland, OR each hosted a Freedom Forum to draw attention to the impact of human trafficking on their communities. Survivors powerfully shared their stories of how the cycle of addiction, mental health, neglect, abuse, violence, and shame within their families drove them into precarious circumstances, exploitative relationships, and hard decisions. The systemic barriers they encountered in their community further entangled them in the web of human trafficking.

With a deepened understanding of the vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation in the first place, participants gained new tools, resources, and connections with local service providers to amplify and create change in their local context. Under the skillful leadership of Abby Fritzgerald in Decatur and Kelly Grace in Portland, both Freedom Forums helped attendees to identify their connectedness to this movement — even if they don’t work directly in human trafficking interventions. After all, these events were more than a forum for education, but a launching point for seeking hopeful solutions.

Who were these participants who could possibly make a difference in the complex social, economic, political, and spiritual issues that produce human trafficking? People like you and me. Both Freedom Forums were attended by students, pastors, educators, survivors, business people, social workers, counselors, policymakers, parents, law enforcement officers, and more. Each of these people has a voice within a sphere of influence that is needed in this movement. Each of the sectors they represent is a vital piece of a whole in moving toward holistic intervention in abuse at all levels.

Participants pledged ways they would leverage their skills, gifts, passions, resources, and connections to address the root causes of human trafficking in their neighborhoods. Some committed to regular prayer. Some committed to using their gift of hospitality to open their homes to immigrants and people in need of a safe space. Some committed to engaging the men in their lives to end the demand for sexual exploitation. Some committed to keeping their eyes and ears open for indicators of potential trafficking situations in their neighborhoods or with the teens they already coach or mentor.

Preventing and bringing healing to brokenness in community will take all of us. Where do you fit? How can your family, your church, your workplace be involved in creative, effective, and hopeful ways? For ideas of ways to take action, visit: setfreemovement.com/take-action.

By Katie Bergman

 

 

Hope and Thrive

For eight years, SEED has worked with Hope Beyond Circumstance (HBC), a group of widows who belong to the Karinde Free Methodist Church in Nairobi, Kenya. Together with SEED, the HBC widows have designed gift bags, skirts, headbands, and wallets. On our visit this year, Rachel (SEED’s product developer) worked with them to design scarves.

In almost every visit with a partnering artisan group, we hit a point where we think, this product we’ve been designing together is not going to work, what is Plan B (or C or D)?  Then there is often a point where the artisan group makes a breakthrough. That happened this year as we were working on travel scarves with the HBC group. Something wasn’t working with the secret pocket in the scarves. Suddenly, Pricilla, one of the widows, presented one she had sown with the perfect solution. It was so quick and so unexpected that I choked up with both wonder and joy.

Rachel snapped a picture of me with Priscilla and immediately posted it on Facebook. Set Free director, Kevin Austin, saw the photo and commented, “We’re working in Kenya, too: how can we work together?”

Thrive, a group of young women in the Karinde Church, have been working to address gender-based violence and human trafficking in their community. We knew of this group but had not figured out a way to work together with this Set Free group until Kevin Austin asked the question. We take direction from local leaders, so we asked HBC leader, Neddy Dingili, how we might connect the two groups.  She gathered all of us for dinner after a Sunday morning church service.

Each of the widows shared about life before and after their husband died.  They have faced circumstances of poverty, vulnerability, and isolation … and yet they find their hope in Christ and the blessing of their community of faith.

The young women of the Thrive group shared their hearts and what they are doing to fight trafficking and gender-based violence. They mentioned the need for foster homes. One of the widows immediately spoke up saying, “Bring them to us.  The widows are ready to help them.”

Together, HBC and Thrive chose the travel scarf to be a “freedom scarf.” For each scarf HBC sells to SEED, we also donate to the Thrive group. The young women of Thrive have begun blessing HBC by modeling and marketing scarves in Nairobi. These women are stronger together, connecting their hearts and work to create greater transformation in their church, in Karinde, in Nairobi and beyond.

By Rose Brewer

World Missions Prayer Calendar: June

01 Saturday | Cambodia

There are nine established Free Methodist Churches in Cambodia. Pray for church members in these nine churches – provision for those who are needy, healing for broken relationships and physical illness, and spiritual growth and maturity in Christ.

02 Sunday | Kenya

Missionary Ashley Carroll asks for prayer that amid learning a new culture and often feeling misunderstood, she would be reminded of how she is known and understood by the Father.

Birthday: Ashley Carroll

03 Monday | Bulgaria

Pray for the various training opportunities that are helping to shape the next generation of leaders in Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans.

04 Tuesday | Dominican Republic

Pray for many students’ lives to be changed through their experiences at Free Methodist-sponsored elementary and secondary schools.

05 Wednesday | Taiwan

David and Sarah Clemente and their family will be in the U.S. for partnership building this summer. Pray for safe travel, productive time with partnering churches and important time with family members in the States.

Birthday: Sarah Clemente, Susan Yu

06 Thursday | Europe

Mitch and Lynn Sue Pierce give thanks for the opportunity to serve Christ in Europe over the past six years. Pray for the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow across the continent and bring new life and hope.

Birthday: Lynn Sue Pierce

07 Friday | Creative Access-V

Pray for Don as he assists leaders across Southeast Asia with strategic planning.

Birthday: Don

08 Saturday | Middle East

Praise the Lord women in this region are finding freedom in Jesus Christ to understand their value. Pray for those who are stepping up to lead house churches.

09 Sunday | Japan

Gene and Minori Hall are preparing to serve in Japan. Gene asks for prayer that he might know Christ more deeply, so the fruit of his walk with the Lord will spill over into his relationships, and his daily life and work.

Birthday: Gene Hall

10 Monday | Angola

Angola is a Portuguese speaking country. This mission district is under the Brazilian General Conference. Pray for the continued expansion of the church and the resources to meet the needs of those among them who are suffering.

11 Tuesday | Paraguay

Pray for the Free Methodist Church in Paraguay to have freedom from a history of discouragement and a new vision for what God will do among them.

12 Wednesday | Spain

After General Conference in July 2019, Josh Fajardo will assume the role of Area Director over both northern and southern Europe ̶ adding to his oversight the countries of Belgium, France, Hungary and Ukraine. Pray for the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit for his expanded responsibility.

Birthday: Josh Fajardo

13 Thurday | Rwanda

Missionary Julie Yerger works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Kibogora Hospital. She will be in the U.S. for a few months. Pray that these months will be restful and restorative for her.

Birthday: Julie Yerger

 

14 Friday | Australia

The Philippine General Conference has one Free Methodist church in Darwin with French, Australian, Aborigine, Malaysian and Filipino attendees. Pray for the possibilities of opening new work in three other cities.

15 Saturday | Africa

Pray for Art and Sylvia Brown to have insight from the Holy Spirit as they develop ways to support the Africa missionary team most effectively.

Birthday: Art Brown

16 Sunday | SEED

Pray for the Hope Beyond Circumstances livelihood group in Kenya. Through the creation of a variety of products including skirts, headbands, wallets, and scarves they can support their families.

17 Monday | Greece

The church in Thessaloniki, Greece continues to see refugees coming to Christ and being baptized. Pray for these new believers who often end up relocating to other countries. Ask the Father to help them find a body of believers who will help them grow in their walk with Jesus.

Birthday: Maria Long

18 Tuesday | Israel

Pray for the church planters who are in the denomination’s ordination track under the supervision of Dr. Nabil.

19 Wednesday | Creative Access – X

People in this country are suffering from a lack of food, water, electricity and medicine. Please pray not only for physical provisions but for encouragement and perseverance.

20 Thursday | Myanmar

There are currently two International Child Care Ministries homes in tribal areas. Pray for new churches to be formed because of ministry to children.

21 Friday | Ethiopia

Pray for Free Methodist believers in Ethiopia to have a continued passion for evangelism.

22 Saturday | Hungary

In May, Zsuzsa McNamara began serving as the Assistant Pastor of theBudapest FMC and as the Coordinator of the Set Free Movement in Hungary. Pray for Zsuzsa who has a particular interest in developing children’s ministries, both within the church and with at-risk children who have been institutionalized.

23 Sunday | Uruguay

Uruguay is one of the most secular countries in Latin America. Almost two-thirds of Uruguay’s population lives in Montevideo. Pray for work in planting churches and making disciples in this city.

24 Monday | Middle East

Pray for those working with ISIS survivors and rape victims who have suffered unimaginable trauma. The stress of hearing their stories and helping them work toward healing places secondary trauma stress on those who are listening and giving aid. Ask God to provide them with divine physical, emotional and spiritual strength.

25 Tuesday | Hong Kong

Pray for the effectiveness of the Free Methodist outreach ministries through the centers for the elderly, the centers for youth, the study centers, and the preschool and primary school. Pray that as the church cares for human need, hearts will be open to receive care for spiritual need.

26 Wednesday | Guinea Cokary

Pray for the nurture and continued growth of the nearly two dozen church plants in the interior region of the country. Also, pray for new areas of outreach, especially in predominantly Muslim areas.

27 Thursday | France

The one church in Cergy (outside Paris) is primarily composed of Haitian immigrants. Pray for this church which desires to find more ways to witness effectively and reach more Haitian and African immigrants in the community.

28 Friday | Peru

Lima is a city of more than 10 million people. Pray for churches to be established and multiplied in this capital city of Peru.

29 Saturday | Middle East

Praise the Lord for the consistent ministry of Pastor R and the church to visit the refugee camps where people live in makeshift tents. In bringing food, clothing and blankets, the church has a clear purpose ̶ demonstrate the love of Christ. Pray for thousands of refugees to find hope in Jesus Christ.

30 Sunday | Set Free

Pray for Ginger Coakley as she leads the work of Eden’s Glory in helping women find physical, spiritual and relational healing from the brokenness and trauma of human trafficking.

Birthday: Ginger Coakley, Dennis Leon (Costa Rica)