Stephanie Midthun, Community Relations Director, Courage Worldwide Pastor Joel Midthun, Living Water Church and Courage Worldwide Board Member
Everyone has a story — and everyone’s story is affected by so many other stories…
When I wrote the song, Believe in Me in 2008 to tell “her” story (a girl being trafficked for sex) and be her voice, I had no idea how much that song and “her” story would affect my own.
Since writing the song Believe in Me and launching many benefit concerts to raise funds to open Courage House Northern California in 2011, I work now as the Community Relations Director for Courage Worldwide. My husband Joel is on the Board of Directors at Courage and is also the Pastor to our girls who call Courage House home in Nor Cal. We’ve personally witnessed the transformation in many lives of these once broken and vulnerable girls. Our church, Living Water, has a big heart for the mission of Courage Worldwide, especially in Africa, and gave financially to so that Courage House, Tanzania could also open in 2011. Now we get to personally meet those girls whose lives have been changed across the world …
I am writing this blog to you from Tanzania, Africa — our home for the next three months!
My story now has a new chapter here in Tanzania. My husband, Joel, and I were asked to go to build relationships in the community to assist in the expansion of the Courage House there as well as build relationships with the children who call that Courage House home. I once feared the thought of going to Africa, but after my first trip there in 2003, I fell in love with the people and was wrecked at seeing children on the streets. It was there I vowed to be a voice for the voiceless. Joel, on the other hand, calls Africa “home” as he was born and raised in Madagascar where his family were missionaries.
Meeting “our” girls has been the highlight of our trip. Our story is again being affected by “her” story.
Karibu — welcome. The first night we met the girls was at an incredibly special celebration to welcome us to their home. It was so satisfying and encouraging to see that the girls were thriving and happy. They sang and danced for us for hours and shared delicious food they had been preparing all day. What a night!
“Esther,” one of the first girls who came home to Courage House Tanzania in 2011, joined in the celebration. She has a brilliant smile that lights up a room. Esther is now out on her own working at a local restaurant — she’s doing so well that the owner is promoting her to be the manager. During the celebration we had a moving prayer time with the staff and the girls. Esther prayed passionately for the girls in the U.S. who are struggling and who are on the streets — she began to weep as she prayed. We were all in tears as she cried out to God on their behalf. Esther’s sister, “Sarah,” also came to Courage House in the early days but is not doing well. Esther’s cries were also for the sister she loves that she wants to see free.
For most of her life, Esther’s story was bitter, painful, traumatic, and hopeless. But now her story is rich, deep, joy filled, peaceful and loving while full of hope for her future. In addition, the story of her future children and grandchildren will be forever changed.
Her story has forever been rewritten and now has impacted ours by encouraging us to bring more girls home.
What is your story? How have others rescued, inspired, or changed your life? It could have been a parent, a teacher, a pastor, or a coach: who affected your story? Who gave you life, time, money, or encouragement? Have the prayers of another impacted you? It seems all of our stories are intertwined with that of another.
Ultimately, all of our stories will be written to include the lives that we touch and affect, inspire and challenge, through our words and actions, gifts, and prayers, through our time and sacrifice — that is how we change the world and that is how we affect lives…
Have you given any thought to how your story can affect our girls who call Courage House home? Not everyone has to move to Africa for three months like we did. For those who have given financially, volunteered your time selflessly, and prayed fervently, you have already helped rewrite countless girls’ stories’ like Esther.
However, there are so many more to write and rewrite!
Your help is needed now to build more key relationships and strategic partnerships, to identify land for more safe houses for victims and community centers for prevention, Courage Café’s for jobs and funding sources.
The time is now. There are many lives of children at stake who desperately need a new story.
Your story can change her story. Thank you for reading ours.
Brothels are painted with flowers. Our team has seen girls as young as three years old taken into them.
This is the Red Light District. Prostitution is illegal, but the corruption is greater. Law enforcement is part of the problem here.
This is the village where some of our underage girls come from where drugs, gangs and prostitution are the norm. Rescues and victim identification are non-existent.
Education and training is critical with staff and the community. We will be hosting training for law enforcement as well as pastors to help identify and rescue girls.
We speak at multiple locations. Our goal is to build key relationships to bring education and awareness and a Not in My City, Not in My Country campaign.