Do you have both kidneys in your body? If so, have you thought of thanking God for them? I never did either until recently.
This year I seem to have been exposed to some of the world's worst evils while doing the work of FARM STEW. In February, I came face to face with human trafficking in Uganda and have since researched it extensively, realizing it's a tremendous problem plaguing the global South. I am so thankful it is being exposed. Last week I went to see Sound of Freedom and wept through most of it, yet it represents the tip of the heart-chilling iceberg.
In May, while in Ethiopia, I asked a group of young, eager new FARM STEW trainers about the issue of human trafficking, and they all paused.
One broke the silence saying, “Joy, if we open the can, it is very full. In fact, each of us has someone we love who is functioning as a modern-day slave right now.”
But that's not the end of it. They bravely shared that many migrants leaving African countries for a better life end up losing internal organs that are illegally harvested to pay for their transport.
I had no idea.
The thought was so awful that I wanted to turn away, as you might right now. Yet, it seems God did not want me to because a few days later, I heard from one of our trusted leaders in a community FARM STEW had just entered. They had just been to the funeral of a woman who had died due to a botched harvest of one of her kidneys. She was selling her body parts to feed her children!
Other women sell their bodies in other ways, and some parents even sell their children, especially girls.
The consequences are too devastating to elaborate here.
Over the past few months, our team has begged God for His help in order to push through the harsh reality of this world that is rapidly achieving the status of the “Days of Noah” level of perversion and violence that Jesus said would happen before his second coming (recorded in Matthew 24:37-39).
The Bible describes it this way: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6: 5
God responded to our prayers with hope and encouragement, reminding us of our theme, the Year of Hope (Jeremiah 29:11). God comforted us with the knowledge that the work the FARM STEW family is doing is primary prevention.
What do I mean?
While we are thankful that many other organizations have been called to the important work of aiding victims of human trafficking, FARM STEW works to reduce the number of those who become victims in the first place.
FARM STEW teaches parents to support their families by growing their own food and selling some of what they grow. We teach savings and enterprise so that families develop an emergency fund so that desperate time don’t call for desperate measures. These simple lessons provide the tools they need to stay together as a family, giving them everything they need to provide for their children without selling themselves, their body parts, or their children!
FARM STEW provides washable cloth pads, helping girls stay in school rather than dropping out and increasing their likelihood of being sold.
Finally, whenever possible, FARM STEW provides wells and efficient cookstoves, reducing the amount of daily walking that women and girls must make simple to survive. These walks often put them at risk on long, isolated paths.
As I write, I am flooded with memories from the villages where I have personally seen and heard women say how thrilled they are to be able to feed their children, pay their school fees, and have a savings fund for an emergency. Their appreciation is so genuine, and I realize now that their joy doesn't end there but encompasses the reality that they will not need to migrate to a foreign land or sell themselves in order to accomplish these simple goals.
FARM STEW's work helps families stay together and thrive!
When we at FARM STEW talk about providing hope, we mean more than just a nice, positive feeling—we mean eliminating the desperation that can lead to unthinkable choices. That is what your generous support makes possible!! Think of what just a couple of FARM STEW trainers working in a handful of villages can do to bring hope to so many families on the edge of desperation.
You help these struggling mothers stay together with their children by giving to freedom from dependency and freedom to prosper and share. I pray that sharing the very real darkness that I’ve seen will spur us on to spread the light of hope through the work of FARM STEW. This is the work of primary prevention, stopping evil, and sharing Jesus' love and hope.
Thank you for being part of the family and thereby keeping families together.