It seems like just yesterday that we started Fields of Hope and I moved to Ethiopia. Now five years have passed! This last year has been quite the journey, with plenty of ups and downs to go along with it. On a personal note, Ruth and I have enjoyed our time here in the US. We have loved watching the seasons change – especially this spring after the long, cold winter. Seeing all the flowers bloom and the green leaves pop out of trees that looked dead is nothing short of amazing. Seasons come and go and our season in the US is coming to an end.
At the end of August, we are planning to move back to Ethiopia to continue on with the next steps of Fields of Hope. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of details that still need to be worked out (where we will live, for example). But, we are choosing to trust God that all will work out as it always has in this incredible journey over the last 5 years.
Fields of Hope is also going through a season of change and we are excited to see what will come out of it. As you know, for the past five years we have been partnered with Yenoh Merkeb in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We have loved getting to know them and consider them to be part of our family. However, starting in September of this year, Fields of Hope will entering into a new season. Our two organizations still share one goal and we will continue to encourage and help each other in whatever ways that we can. If you are interested in continuing to support Yenoh Merkeb directly, I am more than happy to put you in contact with them.
Fields of Hope is working on a few new projects to bring hope to women living in the harsh realities of forced prostitution and human trafficking in Ethiopia. This problem is growing ever bigger in Ethiopia with more and more women and children being sucked into the cycle of poverty, prostitution and despair. This is where we step in and plan to bring a new cycle of hope, opportunity and joy.
You have heard us talk for a while about our ideas of opening a farm, a coffee shop and a school. These ideas are really starting to take shape and we are so excited! The more we have developed the ideas, the more we have realized that they form a complete method of helping these individuals start new lives. If our only focus was on the education of children, then their mothers would still be working as prostitutes, the children would still be going home to brothels and red light districts after school and many of them would inevitably start working themselves. If we only focused on providing new jobs for women, then their children would not be received the life changing education that they need to equip them for whatever God brings to their life. If we only focused on providing new jobs for the women and quality education for their children, then those women who are too hurt and abused would have no safe place to go and be restored.
This is why we believe that the vision we have been given of having the farm, coffee shop and school is unique in that it will allow us to create this new cycle. The school will provide an excellent education that will equip each and every child to stand up and be world changers, it will keep them off the streets and out of the brothels, it will preserve their innocence and it will serve as a community hub for things beyond what we can even imagine. The coffee shop will provide fair paying jobs for women that are seeking to escape prostitution, it will instill dignity into their broken lives, it will provide them with much needed job skills, it will allow them to realize that they can do more than sell their bodies and it will ultimately provide them with the resources that they need to start a new life for their family. The farm is the last piece of this puzzle and is incredibly important – it is interesting that this was the first vision that we had for Fields of Hope. The farm will serve as a place of restoration for women who are too hurt to be able to jump right into working in the coffee shop. They can live on the farm and work with their hands, all while receiving counseling and love from the Fields of Hope staff.
It will also be awesome to see how all three of these ventures will work together in other ways. For example, the farm can provide many ingredients necessary for the food at the coffee shop. The coffee shop can provide food for the children at the school. The school can provide a place to train women who will then go on to be pastry chefs or baristas at the coffee shop. The connections are endless and I am sure that we will find many more along the way. We are really looking forward to all of this and cannot wait until school is in session, coffee is being poured and the crops are being harvested. It truly is an exciting time!
We also need people! We need you! There are countless ways that you can get involved in Fields of Hope. If you feel any kind of calling to be a part of this work, please reach out to us – we’d love to start that conversation with you. If you want to donate to our cause, that’d be awesome! If you want to donate your time, that’s great too! We are going to launch a fundraising effort called the “One Dollar Campaign” soon and are looking for people to help us with this! Even just liking on us Facebook and helping spread the word around is a huge help!
If you’re in the Pennsylvania area and are free on July 19th, then please join us for a Fields of Hope Fifth Anniversary Celebration. It will be at Pathway Community Church in York, PA and will be from 5pm-8pm. Find the event on Facebook and RSVP! We’d love to see you there!