Courage House, Tanzania
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
– Luke 7:44-47 (NLT)
When I was questioning God about the idea to move to Tanzania full time in 2017, one of the things I believe He said to me was: “It will be better than you can imagine…” One of the ‘better than you can imagine’ things has been sharing our lives with the girls at Courage and seeing them grow and change dramatically right before our eyes. Seeing them worship God, hearing them pray and watching how they love each other is always humbling and inspiring. In fact, it’s always the highlight for every short term volunteer team that visits us. Our girls give so much love because they have experienced so much love, healing and forgiveness from God. Even this month new stories are being written:
Stories of Redemption…
It seems like God is bringing us some of the most difficult cases – precious and broken girls that no one has been able to help, or who have been completely ostracized from their community.
We got a call from Social Welfare about 2 such cases recently. One was 13 year old “Wema” whose family, school and village literally kicked her out. We were told the women in her village turned against her and that she was no longer safe. There was nowhere for her to go. Our team met with her and she sobbed uncontrollably thinking that we were taking her to jail. Wema was told over and over by others that she belonged in jail and she was assured Courage is a home and a family, not a jail. She came home to Courage House like a scared animal, but in a short time she is growing in many ways and experienced a level of freedom she’s never known. She’s extremely bright and our teachers expect her to thrive in school. Her father recently saw her and was amazed at the changes in her already and sent avocados to Courage House as a generous thank you.
Another call was about 12 year old “Flora” who was in children’s jail for 6 months because there was nowhere for her to go. She was known by the whole community as well and no one knew how to help her. She was dedicated as a young girl in witchcraft and was trafficked from the age of 8 years old and contracted HIV as a result. This precious child had been kicked out of several other centers and it was difficult for her to be in mixed groups. The social worker who tried desperately to help her called us and said, “please, you are our last hope for her.” How could we say no? Even though funding has been tight and we were going to wait to bring in more girls, we knew we had to help. It was an 18 hour bus ride to Courage House and when we met her, we were shocked at how tiny she was. She looked like a young child, weighing maybe 80 lbs. She came home to Courage House and just soaked up the love. She and her social worker wanted the girls and staff to know about her medical issues and although they were shocked and saddened, they’ve been loving and accepting of her. In school, this child can’t even count to 10 in Swahili, so she is joining our preschool class and is just happy to learn. She just told us she is going to work very hard and will graduate from high school one day!
We tell all of our girls that we believe God has chosen each one of them to come home to Courage. Last month we said yes to two others – a 16 year old who was 8 months pregnant and another 16 year old with a malnourished 10 month old baby boy. Both mamas and babies are now thriving and just this morning we welcomed a healthy new baby girl to Courage House. There is much life at Courage House! We now have 21 girls at Courage House, 4 babies, a 4 year old and now a pregnant girl due next month.
Each of these beloved daughters have experienced God’s love in a three dimensional level (Experiencing God as a Father who loves them, the Son of God who saves them, and the Holy Spirit of God that empowers them). This love and forgiveness has three parts to it – including pardon from sin, releasing from darkness, and healing from wounds.
As they receive ‘much love’ – they begin to naturally give ‘much love.’ They love God, they love each other, they love each other’s children. As they love – they begin to change. Like the woman in this passage, they were known as “sinners”. When we asked the girls one day what their old identity was, they shared what they used to be called by others. They used words like ‘cursed’, ‘dirty’, ‘prostitute’, and ‘sinner’. Like the woman in this passage, Jesus sees them differently than the world does. Where the world sees a hopeless case, Jesus sees a hopeful worshipper.
The questions for Simon and for us are: will we learn from the beautiful example of these girls? Will we realize our need for God and seek His forgiveness and love? Are we willing to let God change our hearts where they have grown hard or apathetic? Will we accept how much God loves us and in turn show Him and those around us much love?
Let’s grow together in worshipping and loving God. In receiving His love and forgiveness and giving that to others. It’s only then that this world can change… one by one.
We are thrilled that we are looking to open a transition house as soon as possible… a Courage House Too for our girls who need a place to come home to on their college breaks, holidays or who need a place to live temporarily while they enter the workforce and get on their feet.
We loved hosting a team from Grace Place Church in Clovis, CA. They brought some wonderful supplies and donations, did some work projects, medical outreaches and advice-giving by the RN who came, leather making classes, mentoring, music and preaching. The girls were so touched by this team. Thank you Grace Place!
We are excited to be hosting a few more teams coming soon from Bayside Church – Adventure Sports (who are hiking Kili!), National Community Church in DC and Trinity Lutheran, San Pedro later this year. A few pastors from the US will also be visiting Courage House as well this fall.
We opened a CLA (Courage Leadership Academy) Center! This is a place where our 6-8 of our older girls (18 years and older) are getting empowered by learning sewing, computer training, English and counseling. We are excited to be able to employ some of our girls now who are young adults and young single mamas. Our college girls are excited that they are a part of funding their education with making Courage Kimonos and other items too that we are able to sell in Tanzania, the US and there is interest in the UK too. Our hope is to be able to launch sales online by October this year. Thank you to the churches and donors that gave towards the sewing machines and made this CLA Center possible.
Just a few months ago we prayed and asked God to send someone to come help us with our work here since we are expanding. Unexpectedly God brought our niece Sami Cain who got her work permit now and is a volunteer “Program Assistant” and is capable in many areas. She is overseeing the CLA Center, mentoring our girls and assisting us with advocacy and marketing. What a huge blessing she is!
Courage Café in Moshi: Currently we are looking for space. Our hope and prayer is to open in 2020. This will not only be a source of funding, but a source of much needed jobs for our girls and the community.
Speaking Tour: We are excited to be coming back to the US for 6 weeks in September and October and will be speaking in the UK (Newcastle), Arizona (Phx, Tucson), California (Stockton and Sacramento), and Washington! We will also enjoy seeing our family and connecting with friends. We will post our schedule on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our itinerary and if you would like us to come to your church. Most Sundays are booked right now (except for one), but we have openings during the weekdays. We will also have Kimonos available to buy!
Transition House – Courage House Too. Pray for the right house in the right location at the right price. For now we are looking to lease a home.
Pray for victory over the many spiritual battles girls face as they live a new life of freedom.
Pray for our new babies and new mamas!
Funding for the Courage Cafe.
Health and well being of our girls, staff, us and our families.
Thank you for loving our girls at Courage House and joining us in changing lives and changing generations.
Joel & Stephanie
Courage House Tanzania