Miles for Freedom is not yet a big ministry as we might typically think. Yet I suspect that each and every woman who finds freedom from an industry built on slavery and exploitation as a result of their efforts will strongly disagree.
I’d like to introduce you to Kendall Darby. (You may recall having met her husband Gentry in a previous article). Kendall and Gentry have been married for just over one year at the writing of this article. As I sat across the table from them at Panera on Brown St. beginning our interview, I was unsurprisingly unsure what I would be writing about. You see, I had first met Gentry at the launch party for this very blog. Later, I ran into Gentry again in the Missions Café at Apex where he and Kendall were supporting their ministry Miles for Freedom, a fundraising effort for the Oasis House – a ministry like Be Free Dayton that works to free women from sex trafficking slavery. As a result of this encounter I and a friend rode our bicycles in support of Miles for Freedom on a cold autumn morning. I barely knew who Kendall was – I even mistook another woman for her on the path! So, as I listened to Kendall and Gentry tell me their combined story, this small portion of God’s story became clear. This story is about Kendall’s example of a woman’s Biblical submission to God and the husband He brought her to, and the resulting freedom offered to those enslaved by sin.
Kendall met Gentry while they were both out-of-state (they were also living in different states), on mission, serving their Lord and Savior. Both were individually pestered by friends to get each other’s phone number. Strangely enough, a question about buffalo led her to call him, and as they say, the rest is history. As their long-distance relationship grew, it became clear that Gentry was called to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Atlanta. As an avid in-line skater, he resolved to skate 27 miles on a popular bike path and spread the word to everyone along the way that 27 million people were trapped in the sex trafficking industry in one way or another. As usual, when God is involved, the seeming impossible occurs.
Kendall is a strong, assertive personality who knows how to plan and organize. Gentry is a dreamer who just wants to get out and do God’s work. Many of you readers can imagine the difficulties two nearly opposite personalities can have. He simply wanted to go out on his skates and speak to people one-on-one, but as he spoke of his desire to obey God, more and more people reacted with a desire to be involved. As the effort grew beyond Gentry’s simple trek it was clear that more was needed and the church Gentry attended in Atlanta offered to fly Kendall in from Dayton to help. Feeling well outside her comfort zone, in the midst of a long-distance relationship and all the questions that can arise from it Kendall stepped out on faith, traveled to Atlanta and got involved. Though she may not have seen it clearly at the time, her willingness to submit to the Lord’s direction set her on track to being the helper God designed a wife to be in Genesis 2:18.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV)
Costs built quickly. T-shirts were needed which required a logo to be designed. They needed to construct a website. Volunteers were needed along the route for safety, water stations and spreading the message. Each event costs approximately $1,000 requiring sponsors from local businesses. Miles for Freedom had escalated from a simple one-man trip to a charity fundraising event involving over 100 people. Kendall found herself in the middle of all of it. She told me that each event brings her to tears as she works to manage all the details. Considering the size of the events, which they have now moved to Dayton, the effort is essentially driven by these two disciples in complete obedience to God. They are already thinking ahead to January when they’ll start planning the first 2015 event which will take place in spring.
In the midst of the chaos and growing pains of a new ministry, Kendall and Gentry married. Kendall told me of how their relationship had multiple markers telling her that this was what the world typically considered as a high-risk relationship. Yet, the details didn’t really matter. She had set her heart’s dial to “Submission”, and God was clearly taking full advantage. Gentry freely admits that he was ill equipped to handle the work required and Kendall’s organizational acumen has been critical to the ministry’s success.
This year alone they have raised $5,400 for the Oasis House, and another $1,700 for Wellspring Living, the ministry they first supported in Atlanta. Through it all Kendall speaks of how their marriage has grown from their submission to God’s vision for them in their communication, trust, learning each other and watching the Holy Spirit. Miles for Freedom is not yet a big ministry as we might typically think. Yet I suspect that each and every woman who finds freedom from an industry built on slavery and exploitation as a result of their efforts will strongly disagree.
Author: Jonathan Allain