Meet Team Freedom member, Joyce Kelly! Joyce was deeply affected by this year’s Team Freedom event. She helped us re-decorate our friend, Kathy’s room (she’s a fabulous painter!), and she helped push Kathy during the run. Joyce has a heart for vulnerable women, and I’m so grateful that she’s a repeat member of Team Freedom. If you’ve ever been on the fence about joining Team Freedom, read Joyce’s thoughts below:
My life was forever changed on Saturday, February 21, 2015. I am part of Team Freedom and we are a group of 200 plus women and men who have decided to get up out of the church pew and put our faith in action. As a team we have united our passion for the fight against human trafficking.
over 27 million in slavery….some say as high as 29 million, but really wouldn’t one be too many?
over 32 billion dollar industry…..this is what drives this, money valued above humanity!
With those numbers you could get overwhelmed, you could wonder what difference could I make? Team freedom has decided to run, bring awareness, and raise money to fight this horrific tragedy. I recently read about a missionary to India that is doing her part in the fight against human trafficking. She said, “Jesus transformed God’s message into action, and it should be our mission to devote our lives to similar action.”
MY AWAKENING-My heart was first awakened to human trafficking over 8 years ago. I was sitting in my nice warm bed, in my comfortable home and quite frankly my comfortable life. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t and isn’t a perfect life, and its not a life without trials but God was about to open my eyes to an issue that was breaking His heart and invite me to join him. I sat in disbelief as I watched a Christian TV show that was bringing the reality of human trafficking and bursting through my comfortable bubble. It was in India and there were little girls as young as age 9 being put into cages during the day and were pulled out at night to service men more times than I could believe. My first reaction was this can’t be true, this can’t be happening…it was true. Not only was in happening in India but here in my own city. I would later learn that God was awaking Natalie Grant’s heart about the same time to this tragedy, as well as Carmen Brown’s heart and He would connect us through Team Freedom. I believe God is doing that kind of thing all the time, we just need to pay attention.
God placed a burden and a call on my life to do something. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and it was not going away. As I prayed and searched God’s heart for my part He lead me to an unlikely place. Strip Clubs….As I walked into my first club and saw what was behind the darkness my heart broke again. I asked God what does this have to do with human trafficking? He spoke its all connected.
Human trafficking, sex industry, pornography…….
CALLED TO THE DARKNESS-I am calling you to go to the clubs and bring my love and hope. So, almost 4 years ago I said Yes to God and to His GO! About that same time, team freedom was formed and we ran. Its been quite a journey and one that I never imagined would be part of my story. God showed me that there are women in my city waiting for the hope and freedom that I have found in Christ, so I could no longer live in the comfort zone! Fast forward to last Saturday. Not only did Team Freedom run but we had the privilege of running with a survivor of human trafficking. Her name is Kathy and if you don’t know her story you can find it on thejoyfm.com. She was abused at age 5 by her father, addicted to drugs and alcohol at a very young age, gave birth at age 13 and her child was fathered by her own father. Just typing these words breaks my heart. As you could only imagine Kathy, spiraled out of control and ran away and was quickly swept up by a trafficker. There were years of abuse, trauma, and now sever health issues. How does one person endure such trauma? Kathy did, because she was and is a warrior, a princess warrior. Kathy finally meet the man who would forever change her life.
Kathy meet Jesus…
She is a new creation…
You can see it in her face, you can hear it in her words. Now don’t get me wrong its hasn’t been easy for Kathy and she has had set backs. But Jesus is her all and all.
Lavish Love-A few weeks before the race I had the privilege of joining THE JOY FM and doing a room makeover for Kathy. She had never had her own room and certainly nothing beautiful. As we painted and redesigned her room. I was overwhelmed at God’s pursuit of His daughters and how He desires to lavish us with His blessings. I thought of the countless girls that I meet month after month who aren’t free…yet. Kathy was a tangible person who had been rescued and redeem. As I painted her walls, I was kinda quite, just taking all of what God was allowing me to do in. God was allowing me to see redemption face to face. You see, being called to the darkness you can become weary. I was weary, I was desperate for Jesus to do something in the lives of the women we have met. Every month that I walk into the clubs and talk, pray, and cry with the girls it sometimes can just be overwhelming.
I cry out to Jesus…
I know you are enough…
Please deliver them, set them free from this hopelessness that they feel. I often feel so inadequate in the clubs, my heart breaks for those who so want to get out! I am going to be very honest here, sometimes is just plain hard walking right into Satan’s territory and bringing a message of hope. When I look right into the eyes of a women who is so desperate to be free, when she has so many obstacles to over come, addictions, lack of education, resources, etc. Its just plain hard at times to walk this out. My hearts cry is God I know you can, but how God? Can we make a difference in the lives of these women and quite frankly the men, the bouncers, and managers that we meet?
I’m often asked, What is your success rate? To be totally honest that question makes me mad! I’m usually not an angry person, but this question makes my blood boil. I think what people are asking is, are you really making a difference? Are “those” people really worth it? I say to that, you were worth it! Jesus went to the cross for you and he went for “those” people. All because of His extravagant love and we are called to the same life.
My response now to that questions is we have a 100% success rate.
I can say that because every time the “church ladies” decide to get out of the pew and walk into the darkness for the soul purpose of bringing Christ”s unconditional love to women who so often feel judge by the church=SUCCESS.
Every time the “church ladies” pray for a girl who is in tears, needing hope, needing to know she is valuable, and that God loves her right where she is=SUCCESS.
Every time the “church ladies” meet practical needs of the women we meet=SUCCESS.
Every time the “church ladies” walk into darkness the atmosphere changes, not because of who we are but who is inside of us Jesus walks into the darkest places in our city to reach out and tell people that He sees them and He loves them!=SUCCESS.
So as I ran beside Redemption I was overwhelmed at times. I found myself wanting to be close and I often just glanced down at Kathy. Kathy was living, breathing hope that we can overcome the most incredible obstacles and find true freedom!
God whispered, I am able Joyce!
I am the God of the impossible and there is living proof right in front of you.
Keep doing what I’ve called you to do.
I can take what is broken, what the world says is no longer valuable and transform, rescue, and redeem a life.
FreedomGirls Praying for those not free…yet! As we ran, and I looked at Kathy, hope running and God pouring out His abundant blessings on a life that so many would have thought would never amount to much. I felt the need to ask the team to agree with me in prayer for the girls that I knew who needed what Kathy had found, FREEDOM! Girls that God has allowed us to do life with through bible study, meeting for coffee, and learning their stories. God is no respecter of persons. What He will do for one, He will do for another. So, we prayed, we ran, Kathy prayed. and it was a beautiful, and incredible time. I began to sob as I prayed and ran which by the way is difficult at mile 7! Team Freedom declared freedom and called the girls by name. We as a community, the body of Christ, in unity brought those not free…yet before the Lord! Priceless!
Jesus has allowed me to see face to face what He can do for a life who cries out to Him. He was also building my faith, my hope by meeting Kathy. It renewed my strength and my resolve to keep fighting! To keep walking into darkness and bringing His tangible love to girls who need it. Girls, in my city, in my back yard. To not give up hope and to keep believing that God will do a work in my city. To keep planting seeds, and to know that He will make them grow, and to be OK with the fact that on this side of heaven we may never see all the results. I’m ok with that. But I also believe that we serve a God who does above and beyond anything that we could ever hope or imagine. It is with that faith and I choose to continue to STAND! and do my part.
What is your part? What is God calling you to do and will you choose to GO!
Founder of IAMFreedomGirl Ministries