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When You Are Given a Front Row Seat to Freedom

It’s going to be one of those three + cups of coffee kind of mornings. This blog is long overdue and the words are about to explode out of my being; yet more than anything I would most likely prefer to avoid every single thought stirring and just push forward not feeling it all. Yet there is a story to tell and hopefully a cord to be struck within your own soul as my pent up words come spilling out today… For those of you who know me or who have followed the blog this has been a 7 1/2 year journey of learning to let go of the American dream for something bigger; something eternal. I mostly fight it tooth and nail but when the let go happens and the following Jesus, “No turning back,” attitude comes, its beautiful and a must share… to hopefully get the glory to Him, the only place I ever want it to go, and to also spur you, whoever you are on the other side of the screen, on to knowing Him, or sparking a curiosity in you to know Him more. Yea, so long story long, 7 1/2 years ago my life and dream got wrecked. It was hideously painful and I will spare you all the gory details but just know I had to learn to live again or maybe for the first time. I went from a flat on my face pile of sobbing tears on my bathroom floor, to step by step being able to pull myself up off that ugly linoleum and walk the 23 steps into the kitchen to put processed chicken strips on a baking sheet for my hungry also broken sons, to step by step this morning helping co-direct a ministry committed to the restoration of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation…AKA …Human trafficking, sex slavery, the game, the life…whatever you may name it. Exciting right…Amazing, huh! And so it is. Yet I need to make a disclaimer to avoid any kind of self glorification or feelings of inferiority… I’m a sinner and in those 7 +years I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. I have followed my will instead of His. I have judged. Cheated. Had a negative attitude. Taken my life and others into my own hands thinking I could do a better job than the God of the universe. I have trust issues which turns into wild acts of trying to control things around me and puts me into an exhaustive hamster wheel running of people pleasing. Yet thanks be to God. He does not give up on us. I have been marinated in his grace and it has sunk deeply into my DNA. He shed a lot of His own blood that has been poured down into my self seeking life. In repentance he dumps his boundless forgiveness out on me, undeserved as it is. It just flows and washes out all the muck and mire inside. And so with that said, the good news is… I am not disqualified! In his mercy He has offered this time to me and given me a front row seat to freedom. Freedom of my own soul to let go of fear and believe that I am capable of reflecting His glory in a mighty way with the fleeting time I have on earth, and the freedom of others who have been literally robbed of freedom through the enemy act of human trafficking. Best news… You are not disqualified either, the front row seat invitation is for you…. So indulge for a moment on what that front row seat to freedom has looked like over the course of the past year…. We found out about human trafficking through the video Nefarious: Merchant of Souls in January of 2013. We shared what we learned through social media. God was already stirring others hearts. The stirred hearts began to meet and pray. And pray. And pray. And become more educated through reading, internet, other organizations, conferences and training. Did I mention we were praying. A lot! Restoration. This is the call we received. We began exploring options from a soon to be vacant hospital for a home to acreage foreclosures. We began dreaming. Counting the cost. And praying. Over the course of the year we formed a board. Organizational structure within the ministry, spread awareness, continued to receive more training and reading anything And pray some more. In January, our board met for a retreat to do planning for the year. With the goal of not saying no when we received a call to take in a girl. And a goal of having our first rental home open by November 2014. It was in that weekend that God formed our WHY… So exploitation ends for one more girl. This statement is our driving force; something measurable. Something to keep us on track when our eyes get misplaced from the goal. This is what we decided we would celebrate. A Lot. And then late February the call came. Soon after we had the first survivor in our care. Living in a safe house. Months before our goal date. Our team came together and began the process. Learning and growing and depending hard on Jesus and His guiding to help us walk along side this precious heart and offer tools of healing and support to accomplish her life goals. And she changed us all. She is changing us all. What I can tell you is that having a front row seat to FREEDOM is incredible to watch the hand of God take a life and empower belief that you are are worth fighting for you are worth so much more than the dollars that rolled through your hands and into a pimp’s night after night…You are incredible…Smart.. and You have a huge gift to offer the world and it has nothing to do with your body..but instead you intelligence, your insight, and your heavenly design, your giftings and abilities, and your tenacious spirit! To see this heart come alive and see the strength in her to make daily decisions to stay in and do the hard heart work of breaking away from the life and finding new life mostly leaves me speechless. I thought I had suffered a lot in life. Endured a lot in life and I have. My story is my story and my pain; my pain. Yet to hear hers.. wow. Wow.. all I can say is… strong girl; strong heart… Mighty God! When you have a front row seat to freedom the view is breathtaking to see a laugh out loud innocence emerge A non fabricated confidence begin, life accomplishments that had once seemed buriend come to be, and a hope for a future of limitless possibiblities is incredible… Yet it’s hard hard because it takes everything. and its draining… draining to listen to the pain the enemy caused. I want to scream and yell and punch something for all the pain this girl has endured for all the misuse she has experienced. It’s exhausting to have patience on the days that the past creeps in and the reality of why life is here in Wings of Refuge has to be for now and to muster one ear and one eye fixed on Jesus and the other on the healing trenches your walking in with her. It gets hard on the days I wish I never would have been gifted with this burden that breaks the heart of my Father. The days when I wish I could not know how evil the darkness truly is. Hard when it requires our family to sacrifice what we do and where we live…. It’s hard because my humanity becomes so vulnerable when I’m putting it out there to speak and ask for networking, partnering, financial donors, prayer warriors, people to commit their time, their skills, their money to restoration..I see what it will financially take and what it will take for time efforts watching our whole team put on many hats and get exhausted burnt out and yet press on. Yet our tagline comes clear… And when you see that today it is ending…it presses you in hard to Jesus because you see the FREEDOM… You see that even if she were the only one you ever get the opportunity to walk alongside and offer support to that it would well be worth it all. Yet you press hard and you muster up strength with His spirit inside you to ask for another life and ask for the soon to be move in ready home to be filled with survivors quickly and for the freedom front row seat to continue. And you watch a long ago plan that you could have never concocted or never would have dreamed come into reality. You know that this is the one thing you were made to do. To reflect the Glory of the Lord to the World. It’s bigger and so much more than ending exploitation for one more girl. It’s all about Him. His glory. When you answer the call. Walk into the,”Count the cost and drop your net,” life. Then comes the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and be disciples with others. Experience their hearts and share in their joys and sorrows and give your resources together. See your weaknesses together and cling and grasp tightly on the promises of Jesus together. And you realize that it wasn’t just the greats of the bible…Noah, Abraham, Job, Paul, Ester, Daniel, and Elijah…that they were all in fact “Just like us (James 5:17) and His glory and plan and miracles; signs and wonders can come to being in our life here in the new millennium… Then you see it as a woman opens up her annuity and donates 10,000.00 An organization donates a service dog trained to serve those with PTSD A vet in the community offers his services A couple purchases a home and offers the rent at a drastically reduced rate and helps renovate it to be beautiful for the girls Women in the community design beautiful bedrooms and people in the community buy items to fill the bedrooms Phone call and e-mail requests flood in to come and speak because so many want to help Someone offers Eye Care in the community Dental Work Haircuts Counseling Services The hospital creates a task force to help you and has the entire staff trained on how to identify and care for a survivor. A a local business offers landscaping services Community members and people around the state come to trainings and have background checks and sign confidentiality forms and commit their time to mentor and volunteer in these precious lives You network with a ministry in New York City called Elegantees and they offer to employ the girls to sew out of the home their line of clothing that all goes to help survivors and give the girls an income and job skills. We receive notice of acceptance into a mentor-ship program from a national organization for programming and training resources, when we thought we would be on a waiting list for over one year. And the list goes on with so many hearts and hands joining into help end exploitation for one more girl…. All I did was answer the call to follow Him…. And the truth of scriture becomes reality… “But in the moment when one turns toward the Lord, the veil is removed. By“the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is FREEDOM. Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. II Corinthians 3:17,18 Welcome to the Front Row Seat to Freedom… How will you continue the story?

Joy Fopma

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PO Box 562

Iowa Falls, IA

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