“I don’t think I could live with myself and feel like I’m fulfilling the mandate of God on my life if I said no to something like this,” Ben said about his involvement with Uncaged.
Ben and Marilyn Wendland have been partners in the anti-trafficking work of Uncaged since it was only a dream founder Kim Westfall held in her heart. They had known Kim previously while working together on another ministries’ management team. When she shared her vision for Uncaged with them, they were intrigued with what she was proposing. “The vision resonated with the biblical call to reach the vulnerable. The goal of bringing them to freedom is at the heart of the gospel message,” said Marilyn.
They met the rest of the Uncaged team, including European director Beni Lup. “It is great to be in a room with like-minded individuals, people wanting to do something with some of the tragedies around the world. If there is something we can do, we want to do what we can,” they said.
When asked why they chose to be a part of this work, Marilyn told us two words came to mind:
integrity and vision. She knew Kim Westfall’s integrity and was impressed by the Board of Directors and the experts in the field she surrounded herself with. “Uncaged connected with people who were on the ground already doing the work,” she recalls. Anti-trafficking and trauma-informed experts build a solid foundation for the work, and Marilyn said she knew the money they donated was going straight to the work, being stewarded wisely, and making a difference.
The vision itself is the other aspect that solidified the Wendland's trust in Uncaged. “It isn’t just emotionally or physically dealing with these people,” Marilyn said. “It is spiritually—on every level. It is a holistic approach and that is important.”
Ben and Marilyn live in Canada and knew that any money they donate would go further if they donated to a Canadian entity. So, they connected Uncaged with Millenium, an organization in Canada that supports ministries worldwide. They believed it would be a great fit and it has been. The connections in Canada continue to grow, and more churches and individuals in Canada are having an impact on the lives of survivors in Eastern Europe.
That’s because people like the Wendlands know that this issue is bigger than one donor, one founder, or even one organization like Uncaged. It takes all of us uniting to become the Freedom Highway! Ben and Marilyn invited Beni Lup to speak at their church and they said, “Beni shook the church when he spoke. He only spoke for about 10 minutes, but so many people came up afterward to share how what he said impacted them and asked how they could help.” They shared the word with their small group of about 14 individuals and invited family and friends to get involved in a cause that was becoming close to their hearts.
“I can just barely imagine the horror of being captured,” said Ben. “If we can bring to freedom some of these traumatized survivors, it is all worth it.” He said he would tell people to remember that expanding the reach of the Freedom Highway takes time. “Keep talking about it to people you know,” he encouraged. “They know people who know people.” He told us about a business partner who asks him every year where to donate funds he has saved to, and he has pointed him to Uncaged.
“It enriches your life, gives meaning to your life, anytime you look beyond yourself,” they shared. “We don’t live anymore for ourselves but for God, and this issue is at the heart of God. We take that to heart and there is joy that comes from giving. Whether you accumulate little or much, if you only live for yourself, it’s a very empty existence.”
“For those who have the ability to come alongside people such as this, who are doing this important work, please do,” they pleaded.
We are grateful to the Wendlands, to Millenium, and to all our Canadian partners. You believe in the work of Uncaged and you are sharing it with your networks. Thank you! We know your part in the transformation of survivors is so much bigger than any of us can imagine. Let’s keep building this Freedom Highway together and see many more lives set free!