make a difference

Not Today

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The film Not Today is coming to Holland, Michigan!

None of us are free if one of us is enslaved.


Click over here to watch the film trailer.

This film is about human trafficking, specifically trafficking immersed in the caste systems of India.

This film is about making a difference.

(Visit the website to see if the film is coming to a theater near you, or how you can bring it to your area.)


Ruth Ann Doane of Manna Global Goods and Better Way Imports is hosting this film in Holland. (Ruth was a guest here and shared about how Manna Global Goods came into being.)

The film has some amazing partnerships you can read about those here. They include Focus on the Family, YWAM and Live 58. The film also won Best Justice Film at the Justice Film Festival.


If you live in the Holland area how can you see the film?

  •  The film will show at AMC Star 8 Theater in Holland the weekend of May 17
  • To reserve a ticket contact Ruth at
  • Tickets will also be available to purchase at Better Way Imports next week. The address is:

201 W. Washington #100
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: (616) 648-0900

I will provide an update on the exact date and time on About Proximity’s Facebook Page. 

The film will offer some great ways to follow up and be involved in the fight against human trafficking.


The Tulip Time Festival is this week in Holland. When you are out and about head over by 

Manna Church on the corner of 9th and Central Avenue to check out Manna Global Goods and make a difference. 

TOH Bracelets

And Action!

This is my monthly update for The Exodus Road.

You Can Make a Difference! 


Exodus Road staffer, Kelley J. Leigh, wrote an article at Burnside Writers Collective about the gap we can feel between sex trafficking and our safe suburban lives.

She writes:

One turn at a time.  One seed of holy unrest, watered.   One humble step. One choice to say “Yes” to the One true God who has a heart to rescue us all, one soul at a time.

Start small.  Water the seed. Let it grow.

Be a hero in this larger story.

Join the rescue.

Read the rest of her story Entering the Bat Cave here.


I’m With Lincoln:

Watch the powerful video here.

You can sign a petition here to tell your senator that ending human slavery is important to you.

Following the Made in a Free World blog  and The Exodus Road blog keeps you up-to-date on ways to respond.


Trade of Innocents

trade of innocents

A big welcome to our guest writer, Diane Harvey. She’s a super woman at placing herself in the proximity of renewal. She’s also our steady friend from Australia full of insight and encouragement. 

I saw the movie, Trade of Innocents last night, starring Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino, which focuses on the worldwide problem of human trafficking. It was powerful and distressing just like I thought it would be. It was a thriller. I felt my heart beating in some places, and spent most of the time with my hands gripping my tissue packet.

The movie is set in one community in South East Asia. The American husband and wife were played by Dermot Mulroney and Mira Sorvino. He was a detective and they were both trying to come to terms with the kidnapping and loss of their own young daughter in an idyllic American suburb.

There was resistance to the investigative operation. The police chief argued that the problem was too big to fix and that they were only after one man, that it was better to agree with the community who see and remain silent. We later found out that he was being paid off and was himself part of the problem as he was gaining financially by tipping the trafficker onto raids and turning a blind eye.

The disturbing trade is highlighted in the interaction between the American tourist, who appeared to be a married businessman and family man, but who wanted to use really young girls, and the brutal trafficker who agreed to supply ‘freshly picked flowers’ for him through kidnapping.

We got a glimpse into the lives of  the women and girls who were already captive, in one scene we saw one lady physically, verbally and emotionally abused by the trafficker who later died of her injuries. The dialogue transitioned to unsubtitled Thai in this scene, which added to the viewer’s feeling of powerlessness, horror and fright.

In the quiet moments we were taken with the sweet American lady (Sorvino) who shared about her story of loss, and helped escaped victims tell their story and begin to heal as they woke up each day in a safe environment. When she began her work, they were wary of her. A local had said to her, “they don’t trust Americans. They come, take their photos and leave nothing (good) behind.”

I have been thinking about this topic for a while so I wasn’t being presented with this grimy reality for the first time. The thing that did shock me was the reference to the practice of sewing girls back up to make them appear as virgins. I knew that women sometimes do this before marriage in some cultures to appear virginal, but it didn’t occur to me that this was being done as part of this evil trade.

At the end of the movie we had various non-profit partners speak to us about what they do in prevention, rescue and rehabilitation and heard some stories of hope. We were encouraged to pray about what part we could play and encouraged that we can act both individually and corporately to fight this trade (which is larger than the arms trade and the drug trade). I signed a petition for our country to have a minister for human trafficking, gathered some brochures, a fridge magnet on a “Walk for Freedom” fundraiser and left with the determination to fight this evil trade.

Will you join with me in my fight to abolish modern day slavery?

The Film Website and trailer

Resource Website

Facebook  and Twitter 

diane profile

Diane Harvey resides in Perth, Australia.  She is 36, has been happily married for 6 years, and has two beautiful children. She has studied education and theology. Currently, she is on maternity leave and serving in her church in the areas of women’s discipleship and social justice.

Newborn Health

newborn health

New life emerges vulnerable. The loss of a new life is devastating. We can work together to ensure that more families do not have to endure such grief.

I am a Mom to two kids and one life lost through miscarriage. We all have a story to tell. Woman who give life through childbirth find themselves in a  very vulnerable space, good maternal health care ensures the best possible outcome.

When we make maternal health a priority, Mom’s around the world receive a gift of hope.

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Millennium Development Goal #5 is to improve maternal health. The MDG’s were designed to be reached by 2015.

The Global Newborn Health Conference will be taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa April 15-18. The world is joining together to reduce infant mortality around the world. The conference will be streaming live here.


These are simple ways that maternal health can be improved globally:

UNAMIPhoto Credit: UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade

What Can You Do? 

  • Lend your signature to the Million Moms Challenge the right for every Mom to have a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth and a strong beginning. 
  • Two Degrees for every bar you buy a nutritional pack is donated to a hungry child. (Think TOMS for protein bars.)
  • Get involved in the Global Team of 200 partner organization Maternity Worldwide.
  • And the organization Shanti Uganda.
  • Pull out those gift catalogs and pick a gift that directly benefits maternal health.
  • You can follow the conversation at Twitter #Newborn2013
  • Watch Girl Rising and help support education to girls.
  • Read about PulseOx Screening for newborns.

Somali Refugees Dollo Ado Refugee receiving Camp in Ethiopia

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

What is your baby story? 

Existing for Others

bunk beds

A homemade diaper table became a bunk bed. We had been reading Bernstein Bear books and they were enamored with brother and sister bear’s bunk bed.

Sometimes it becomes very quiet in our house, too quiet…


Ever have those moments? Panic settles in as you run from room to room to find out what is going down.

A few moments from the Van Engen house:

  • A fashion show where the two kids modeled underwear on all their extremities. 
  • The impromptu science experiment in the basement involving baking soda, vinegar, and other substances.
  • The perfume shop that opened in the kitchen.
  • Josiah’s face and hair smeared with seven layers of lip gloss.
  • Play doh time in a bed
  • Toilet paper… I don’t need to expand.
  • Crayons and a wall.

(Now you are wondering if I watch my kids at all 🙂 )

Josiah Face

God was and is a creator. We are his workmanship. God labored over us with the deepest love.


Give your creativity unsupervised space.

To be meaningful, art must serve, must wash feet. Like Jesus, who has been called “the man for others” our art, to have meaning, must exist for others. [p86] Micheal Card, Scribbling in the Sand. 


I am so encouraged by the creative ways people are making a difference. Let’s keep adding to the ways we exist for others, letting our art and our talents serve.



Far More Interesting Things


Sometimes I go through moments of serious doubt about myself. Confidence is not something I’m able to gather and hold onto for any extended period of time. Many times that occurs on the heels of comparing myself to someone else. This is not honoring the person God made us uniquely to be.

I also love the way The Message puts this, we have far more interesting things to do with our lives.


Want something interesting with your life today?

Join the End7 campaign.

End 7 diseases by 2020. 7 neglected tropical diseases that affect a half a billion children.



Family Giving Opportunity


Stephanie Voetberg shared about her time serving at Orphanage Emmanuel last year. You can read about her experiences here.

This amazing young lady has found herself back at the orphanage this year loving the kids with all her heart. Her joy is contagious.

Orphanage Emmanuel is located in Guaimaca, Honduras.


Every 2-4 weeks a container is shipped from the states to Orphanage Emmanuel. This is a wonderful project idea for a family to complete.


Ideas for your family giving package:

-Body Lotion

Lice Picks

-Hair Brushes

-Hair accessories 



-Kitchen Spoons/forks


-Blow Dryers


-CANDY  (to pass out to the children)



-Nail Clippers

-Nail Polish

-Nail Polish Remover

-Bed sheets



-Snacks for the girls and I that live in the volunteer house

-Brownie mix, Cookie mix, etc…I love to make cookies and brownies for my girls that I look after!!!


Packages can be sent to:

Orphanage Emmanuel

Stephanie Voetberg-Volunteer

4611 Hixson Pike

Hixson, TN 37343

Package days are a great encouragement to volunteers and the children at Orphanage Emmanuel.

100 Non-Profits to Follow on Pinterest

100 pinterest

1. American Cancer Society

2. A Mighty Girl collection of books and movies for girls.

3. Action Against Hunger implement long-term solutions to hunger.

4. Alex’s Lemonade Stand fighting childhood cancer.

5. Amnesty International fighting for human rights.

6. Bread4theworld a collective Christian voice for ending hunger.

6. Care fights global poverty.

7. Catholic Relief Services helping those in need.

8. Charity: Water bringing safe and clean drinking water to developing nations.

9. Church World Service justice among the world’s most vulnerable people.

10. Compassion International releasing children from poverty in Jesus name.

11. Crowd Wise giving back.

12. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption finding forever families for children in foster care.

13. Delicate Fortress Creations shop with a purpose.

14. Disabled Sports America providing adaptive sports equipment for those with disabilities.

15. campaigns for teens and young people.

16. EarthShare connecting people with environmental causes.

17. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

18. END7 & GlobalNetwork helping to end tropical diseases.

19. Enough Project ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

20. Fair Trade Company sharing information about fair trade.

21. Feeding America fighting hunger.

22. FEED creating products that feed the world.

23. Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes at major military and VA hospitals for families.

24. Future Fortified Global Alliance of Improved Nutrition.

25. GENYOUth Foundation reversing the trend of childhood obesity.

26. Global Fund for Women investing in human rights for women.

27. Global Girl Media her voice and story to change the world.

28. Goodwill Industries International leading nonprofit provider.

29. Greenpeace For a green and peaceful future.

30. GroundUp Global serving the Liberian refugee population on the Buduburam camp in Ghana.

31. Habitat for Humanity imagining a world where everyone has a place to live.

32. Headbands of Hope for every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to research.

33. locally and globally caring for the earth.

34. #stop child abuse.

35. International Rescue Committee responding to humanitarian crisis.

36. Justice 55 giving back to organizations that help children.

37. KaBoom The KaBOOM! vision is a great place to play within walking distance of every child. 

38. Kiva empowering people worldwide with microloans.

39. Half the Sky Movement providing opportunities for woman worldwide.

40. Handcrafting Justice provides access to Fair Trade markets.

41. Heifer International empowering millions worldwide with gifts of lifestock.

42. Joni and Friends equipping Christ-honoring Churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities.

43. Luthern World Relief every generation lives in justice, dignity and peace.

44. Make-a-Wish-Foundation

45. Mercy Corps global humanitarian organization.

46. Micah Challenge Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice.

47. Milkshake…all that’s good a daily email connecting connecting you to ways to give back.

48. National Downs Syndrome Society

49. No Kid Hungry fighting Hunger in the United States.

50. One Campaign fighting against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

51. OneMoms a movement of Moms to fight extreme poverty.

52. OxFamER Raising funds for Oxfam’s emergency response work.

53. OxFam Grow Method ensuring your habit help the world have enough.

54. OxFam International lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

55. Operation Smile changing the lives of children born with facial deformities.

56. Pencils of Promise every child should have access to quality education.

57. People Water every bottle equals clean water to an area of need.

58. Plan International promoting child rights to fight child poverty.

59. Random Acts of Kindness Foundation facilitating a kinder world.

60. Reach out and Read evidence-based early literacy initiative.

61. (RED) helping those effected by HIV/AIDS.

62. Resurge International life-changing surgeries for children w/ clefts, disabling burns & hand injuries.

63. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides support and vital resources to families.

64. Rotary International  making the world a better place.

65. Ryan’s Well delivering safe water and sanitation to the developing world.

66. Save the Children creating lasting change for children in need.

67. Samaritan’s Purse physical and spiritual care globally.

68. Sevenly raise money & awareness for the world’s greatest charities.

69. Seva Foundation vital eye care and diabetes prevention

70. Shanti Uganda improving infant and maternal health in Uganda.

71. connecting consumers with cause-oriented brands.

72. Shot@Life  Vaccines to save children’s lives in developing countries.

73. Social Good Moms a global coalition of Moms who care.

74. Solar Sister Light. Hope. Opportunity. In rural Africa.

75. Somaly Mann Foundation Global dedicated to ending human trafficking.

76. STOP THE TRAFFICK  global campaign against human trafficking.

77. Surf rider Foundation protecting oceans.

78. TerraCycle eliminating the idea of waste.

79. The Global Fund for Children  invests in innovative grassroots groups around the world that serve hard-to-reach, vulnerable children.

80. The Humane Society animal welfare.

81. The Hunger Project Global committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.

82. The Mentoring Project mentors for boys.

83. The Nature Conservatory working for people and nature.

84. The Shine Project employing at-risk youth to make bracelets for college.

85. The UN Refugee Agency vital aid and protection to the forcibly displaced around the world.

86. TOMS one for one eye wear and shoes.

87. Trees, Water, and People helping to conserve natural resources.

88. United Nations Development Programme empower lives and build resilient nations world-wide.

89. safe water and sanitation.

90. Wellspring of Hope we can do more together than separately.

91. Women on Call connecting women to volunteer opportunities.

92. Women’s Refugee Commission protecting women.

93. World Food Programme fighting hunger worldwide.

94. World Vision Christian humanitarian organization.

95. Wounded Warrior Project honor and empower wounded warriors.

96. UNICEF advocating for the world’s most vulnerable children.

97. Vital Voices investing in women.

98. 10x10act  educating girls in developing nations will change the world.

99. #FairTradeUSA  fair trade products of the USA.

100. #GivingTuesday a new day for giving back.

Charity Miles


Charity Miles is a smartphone app that allows you to earn money for charity while you run, walk, or bike.

Bikers earn 10 cents a mile and walkers, runners earn 25 cents a mile.

Download the app, they track your miles, and you choose one of their sponsored charities.


Get Healthy and Make  a Difference!

This is a way to donate just by exercising.


This month Charity Miles is partnering with Global Team of 200 cause the UN Foundation’s #VDay10k campaign.

Miles are donated through this campaign to three organizations:

Shot@Life which brings life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.

Nothing but Nets working to fight malaria.

Girl Up a sponsor of the upcoming documentary film Girl Rising. Want to see it in Holland? Click here.


I know not everyone has a smartphone, if you do this is a great option for giving back.  (PS My cell phone fell in the sink. I’m not encouraging you to drop your old phone in the sink, toilet, or other watery space… just saying sometimes rice does not work, at which time you will need a new phone possibly.)

This is the kind of motivation I need to tie those running shoes back on!

charity miles

Save, Love, Give

save love give

Save, Love, Give is an app that allows you to optimize your cell phone bill in a secure way.  You are then provided with an option to give back your savings to micro-finance through the Seven Bar Foundation. You can choose not to donate, donate one time, or donate monthly.

We waste 50 billion dollars a year on unnecessary cell phone charges.


I love this concept of saving money and having the opportunity to give back!

My friend Mickie let me know about Save, Love, Give. (Mickie and I sit in each other’s cars every afternoon when waiting for our kids to get out of school. Those talks are a happy part of my day:)


Watch a video here of how much families saved on their cell phone bill, as featured on Good Morning America.

Ready to save money? Start here.


“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
-Mother Teresa