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Tomorrow I fly back home.  

It’s a strange concept, being home while being away from home.  Over these past few months of visiting family, reconnecting with my church, and fundraising for the future, I have asked God the question, “Where is home?”

And God answered simply and graciously (just like He always does).

“Sam, your home is with Me.”

No matter where I am, He is.  No matter how far I travel, He is there.  No matter how alone I may feel, He is always by my side.  God reminded me that ultimately my home isn't here on this earth.  I’m just a traveler, a wanderer, a nomad.  I am just a visitor on this planet who is passing through, awaiting the day when I will come face to face with the Lover of my soul and the Savior of my life.  And until that moment arrives, my purpose and desire and passion is to bring as many people with me on this faith-filled adventure as I can, so they too can meet the One who calls them His beloved sons and daughters.  

As a missionary who had absolutely no idea what she was doing when she first stepped out onto the field, I can now humbly say that I don’t have all the answers, but I do have one - and His name is Jesus.  For me, His unconditional love, forgiving spirit, abounding grace, and compassionate heart is enough to get me through any trial and hurdle me over any obstacle.  He is enough to carry me through any heartbreak, set me free from any sin, and bind up any infected wounds.  And I want the world to have a chance to experience that kind of love because it’s more beautiful than we could ever imagine, and it’s freely available to anyone who is ready to receive it. 

So when God says, “Go My crazy, rambunctious, and passionate daughter Samantha to South Africa and to the ends of the earth, and make disciples of every nation and every language and every beautiful shade of skin color and tell them all about how much I love them” - I go without hesitation.  So tomorrow, I'm going 7,000 miles away for my fourth year in a row on the mission field.

But to see where He’s already taken me this month…  read on  ;)
This year Calvary Chapel FTL decided to spice things up with their first ever Missions Week!  From January 29 - February 7th, missionaries from all over the world (including myself) gathered together as one family in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate the work that God has been doing in and through all of us on a global level.  We had daily events consisting of a few coffee talks, a persecuted church symposium, a local outreach day, a global awareness night on God's heart for justice, and an evening of prayer and worship!  Being able to travel between church campuses, build new relationships, and pray with so many different people was a blessing.  
 
The love and care that I felt from my church family filled me up and motivated me to keep pressing forward into the ministry that God has called me to do overseas.  I walked away from Missions Week encouraged, empowered - and slightly exhausted.  But the lack of sleep was well worth it!
This month, I had the privilege of returning to 90.9 LIFE FM radio for the Unbound: A City Against Human Trafficking show!  I was joined by Amor Sierra, owner of Miami Tattoo Company and our host Donna Jean.  We had the opportunity to share testimonies of what God is doing both locally in South Florida and globally to combat human trafficking and social injustice.  We shared tips on how to keep our youth safe from being vulnerable to traffickers and how to identify potential victims.  We also spoke about the healing power of Christ when it comes to restoration and redemption for survivors.  The show airs live at 12:30 pm every Friday, so for my South Florida friends… make sure to tune in!

To listen to the latest radio interview with Amor and me, click HERE.
(Photo: Me, John Aleman Miami Beach Commissioner, and Amor Sierra owner of Miami Tattoo Co.)
 
February 22nd was Shine A Light on Slavery Day!  We celebrated and raised awareness at the Miami Tattoo Company with live music, food, guest speakers, and of course… tattoos!  In honor of the #EndIt Movement, temporary red X’s were handed out to those who wanted to raise awareness on the streets by sparking conversations about human trafficking.  For those more daring, the money from the permanent red X tattoos was donated to support local anti-human trafficking NGO's in the USA.  I had the privilege of speaking to the guests at the event about human trafficking in South African and ways to volunteer in human trafficking awareness on a local level.  We were also joined by one of the Miami Beach Commissioners who wanted to show her support.  She has personally helped to shut down multiple cases of human trafficking in the local Miami area, so it was an honor to meet her.  It was a great day, and I was so happy to be a part of it!
On Feb 23, Calvary Christian Academy invited me to speak at their High School Chapel!  CCA is a part of the Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale church family, which is my home church!  The students learned about the main components of human trafficking, the different types that occur around the globe, the roots that fuel human trafficking (such as the pornography industry), how traffickers use social media to lure and groom victims, and how to identify a potential trafficker through their scams and tactics. 

They also learned about vulnerabilities and how our weaknesses, unmet needs and “blind spots” can make us more susceptible to becoming victims of this crime.  By discovering our true identity in Christ and by realizing our worth and value as daughters and sons of the Most High King, we can protect ourselves and others from falling prey to this evil.  By raising awareness, increasing our knowledge, and standing against human trafficking together… we can make a difference.
Can you guys believe that it's been three years since I first moved to South Africa? 

Looking back at the journey, I am amazed.  Each season has challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible.  My heart has been broken, my faith has been strengthened, and my passion has intensified.  I have held hands with victims, spoken at conferences, walked down the streets with women caught in prostitution, played soccer with pimps, and shared the Gospel message of hope with children all across the Western Cape of South Africa (and South Florida). 

Through the anti-human trafficking work that I have been doing with STOP, I have learned that prevention is always better cure, that raising awareness is necessary for change, and that building grace-based Jesus relationships with survivors is the key to helping them find freedom and rediscover their identities. 

I desire to go deeper into ministry than I have ever gone before, specifically with sex trafficking survivors.  There is a great need that I want to help meet.  God has given me a heart to teach, disciple, and counsel, and I want to steward the gifts He's given me by learning how to wield them most efficiently.  One of the best ways to use my gifts is to help those who have been caught and trapped in human trafficking find hope, healing, and the love of Christ. 

So I applied to grad school, and I got accepted.

This coming March I will begin my first online class at Liberty University pursuing a degree in their 60 hour Master of Arts in Professional Counseling Program.  My goal is to continue the missionary work that I am doing with STOP in South Africa while I take one online course at a time.  By the end of my studies (hopefully in three years time), I hope to finish my internship hours stateside and pass the exam to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

My vision is to use my counseling degree and license to counsel and disciple female sex trafficking survivors all over the globe, by partnering with safehouses, ministries, churches, and NGO's.  Through a biblical and Christ-centered approach to trauma counseling, I hope to share the love and grace of Jesus as I help these victims/survivors find freedom, healing, hope, and restoration.  There are very few counselors who currently work with sex trafficking survivors, so I want to be one that makes them a priority.  By equipping myself with the tools, experience, and knowledge necessary be the hands and feet of Jesus in their broken world, I want to find ways to enter into their dark place and shine a bright light. 

Because I will still be a full-time missionary on the field living solely on donations, this is a huge step of faith, but during these past three years, I have experienced God's faithfulness to provide for the dreams He's planted in my heart.  He truly is the God of the impossible! 

So please join me in prayer for financial provision, for the Holy Spirit to empower me to work as a missionary on the field while I study online to complete this degree at the same time, and for this long-term vision of walking hand in hand with sex trafficking survivors all over the world. 

To all of you reading this newsletter, thank you for believing in me and in the work that God has called me to do.  Thank you for your constant support, prayers, and encouragement, because without it, I wouldn't be where I am today.
PRAYER REQUESTS

- My flight to South Africa leaves on Wednesday, Feb 28th around 9:40 pm - please pray for safe travels!

- As I leave my family and friends back home, please pray for comfort and peace (for all of us) as I settle back into my missionary life overseas.

-
I am so excited to be rejoining my STOP family in the Western Cape, so please pray for a smooth transition back into the workplace, open doors for presentations, protection during street outreaches, and continued financial support for the work I am doing with them to combat human trafficking all over Africa!

 
Thank you for your continuous prayers, support, and love!  Without you all standing with me and believing in the work that God has called me to do in South Africa, none of this would be possible!  So thank you for sending me out and trusting me to give it my absolute best shot!

I look forward to keeping you all updated, and I am excited to share in the coming adventures with you!  Love you guys!

 
<3
 
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Sam Stokesberry · P.O. Box 2302, Dennesig · Stellenbosch, Wc S-7601 · South Africa

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