Update from Pastor Joel and Stephanie Midthun, Courage House, Tanzania
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Ever get overwhelmed, frustrated or discouraged by the level of evil in this world? Do you ever feel like the bad things may outweigh the little good that you are able to do each day – whether in your job, ministry, or family? I sure do – and you know what else? King David did too and he lived long before network news and social media…
Even though he was living in the land promised by God to his ancestors (a promise fulfilled with the faith of Abraham, the leadership of Moses, and the courage of Joshua), he still faced various struggles even as he lived in the kingdom of God and fought to expand it.
We face these same struggles — living in the light and joy of the kingdom and yet seeing the dark, heavy evil that is human trafficking, and the horrific effect it leaves on our girls. We also experience the seemingly untiring forces (physical and spiritual) that seek to steal, kill, or destroy all that God is doing in their lives, and in our efforts with them.
Here in Psalm 37 are three temptations that face each of us who seek to live in the kingdom of light but also see the kingdom of darkness daily:
Temptation #1: Losing rest and hope. Being still is resting in God and His love. Waiting patiently is waiting expectantly – continuing to do good, believing that God’s purposes will win out in the end – no matter the present circumstances.
Temptation #2: Stressing out when you see the relentless power of evil in this world. Do not fret – that is, do not be anxious, worried or uneasy about the future. Instead, trust in God, His ways, and His timing.
Temptation #3: Striving in anger to change the evil outcomes we see purely through our own power, revenge, control, or manipulation. Here we are tempted to turn from God – feeling that He has not or is not doing enough – and we must do what He is unable or unwilling to do. This temptation is to lose confidence in God’s power and in His goodness. Instead, continue to fight evil but do it with the weapons of the Spirit – rest, joy, hope, trust, humility, prayer, and perseverance.
In this way we can continue to inherit and expand the land. During the first part of 2019 we have seen God begin to do this right before our eyes!
Occupying the land:
Our girls are now living full time at our new Courage House property! There is room for up to 30 residents (we have 18 girls and 3 children now) our kitchen is fully functioning, and our school has 2 classrooms, a chapel/library, teacher offices, a preschool, and a counseling room.
Building improvements: in the last year we were able to nearly finish the dorm, school, and kitchen. These improvements included tile walls/floors, plastered and painted all interior walls and ceilings, wooden and metal doors, a water tower, two 10,000 liter water tanks including water pump system, a complete sewer system including septic tank and all piping, painted floors, sinks, showers, toilets, retaining walls, glass, all electrical wiring, lighting, hand rails and landscaping started.
We were blessed to have an amazing combined property dedication/graduation service last month! Those who were able to join us included Archbishop Shoo and Assistant Bishop Saria from the Lutheran Church of Tanzania, our board, staff, lawyers, missionary friends and other dignitaries from the community. 4 teams from the USA joined us and helped get everything ready for this momentous day! We also signed an official MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Northern Diocese ELCT (Lutheran churches) which is an incredible partnership for CWW. They are pledging to give land and buildings for more Courage Houses and work to fight trafficking in their beloved country of Tanzania.
Another amazing blessing was sharing in the engagement of one of our first girls who has grown into a beautiful woman of God to a godly young man- a leader at his church and is also one of our teachers at Courage House. It gives the rest of our girls so much hope for themselves to see the possibility for them to also be loved in a pure and holy way.
Last but not least, we baptized 5 of our girls and dedicated 3 of their children to God. This was a power experience as many children in Africa are dedicated to powers evil when they are very young. As each one of the girls was raised out the water, we prayed specific blessing over them and their future and the joy and peace of experiencing a spiritual and physical cleansing from their past was so evident on each face.
Blessing the land:
We were blessed with four teams from the USA volunteering and ministering with us in January and February.
Pastor Nathan Hoff and a team from Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro, CA ministered spiritually through messages and preaching as well as practically through physical labor, welding, digging, teaching, and encouraging. Pastor Nathan Hoff, Pastor Herb Hoff (Nathan’s father) and Pastor Joel and Stephanie were able to organize and minister to over 50 Lutheran pastors and spouses at a two day conference – speaking about leadership, emotional health and human trafficking. Joel and Stephanie were able to give each couple one of their newly published books (Battles and Breakthroughs) as a gift. This church has been so generous in giving to buy the new property, to help with renovation costs, lots of other practical donations and also with college fees for our girls who are transitioning! Thank you Trinity!
One of our partners, Shema Global, came and they are including Courage Worldwide in their human trafficking documentary along with several other wonderful organizations – these video interviews and photos will help communicate our girls’ stories and Courage’s future vision in effective and powerful ways. Check out their amazing work on www.shemaapparel.com. They are giving jobs to trafficked women and we love their clothing along with their hearts! Thank you Shema!
Another great partner, the Arise! Women’s team from Minnesota ministered to us leaders, to our staff, and to our girls – giving strength, healing, and encouragement to all. They also helped to sponsor a conference for over 160 women from all denominations and backgrounds called “Joy in the Journey.” They also donated 5 laptop computers for our new computer program! Thank you Arise!
We were pleasantly surprised by a last minute visit from Stephanie’s sister and 22 year old niece who has a degree in International Relations. While here, they were able to help with our new Courage Merchandise; African Kimonos and jewelry made by our girls that is helping to fund 8 girls in academic and vocational colleges this year. Stephanie’s niece decided to stay a few more months to help as a volunteer Program Assistant to assist us in key partnerships here in Tanzania as well as teaching computers and English to our girls in our new Courage Leadership Academy (girls who are transitioning). This is an unexpected blessing for sure!
Sustaining the land:
One of our major goals for 2019 is to become more self-sustainable. Becoming sustainable involves both building up our core of regular monthly partners and finding new ways to bring in other income streams. It costs roughly $12,000 a month to operate Courage House in Tanzania. Currently we are 100% dependent on donors and support from the US. We are falling short of our monthly goals and so here is our prayerful goal for this year:
- 2019 Monthly Partners Goal – $5,000 per month increase. This is our top priority above anything else.
- 2 new church partners @ $500/mo. = 1,000
- 10 new individual partners @ 100/mo. = 1,000
- 30 new individual partners @ 50/mo. = 1,500
- 60 new individual partners @ 25/mo. = 1,500
- Other income streams is our next priority:
- African Kimonos made by the older girls
- Courage jewelry made by the older girls
- Courage Café in Moshi
- Adjacent land for farming near Courage House.
Expanding the land:
We have grown so much at Courage Tanzania. We will have 18 girls and 3 children at Courage House and recently launched 6 girls into college or vocational schools studying early childhood education, journalism, 2 studying hotel management and tourism, one studying social work/project management, and another sewing and design. We are also launching 2 others to college this year supporting some of our former girls as well.
In the future we want to build another dormitory at Courage House in Moshi to double our capacity (in 2020) and also have a transition home as soon as possible. Because of funding we weren’t able to open that in January as we have hoped, although we have a great transitional program for those girls.
In the next 5 years we have a dream to open Courage Houses in 3 other regions of Tanzania.
Thanks to our faithful God and you our faithful partners – we are inheriting the Land!
Joel & Stephanie
Courage House Tanzania