Seven years ago, Cindi Wolk sat in her sunny Tennessee kitchen, laid her head on the hardwood table and sobbed.
She tearfully set aside Just Courage, a book by Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission. Cindi was left heartbroken by accounts of young girls sold into brothels around the world — girls not unlike her own sweet granddaughter, Chloe.
“This is not some theoretical problem. These are real children,” she explains gravely. “These are real families who are struggling to the point that they would sell their daughters.
"And what’s the difference between our grandkids and those children? Poverty. I may say that I struggle, but the truth is I’ve never struggled to the point of selling a daughter.”
This first painful awakening to human trafficking snapped Cindi out of her day-to-day and ignited a new passion for abolition. She wanted to help, but had little money to offer.
“I wanted to go over there. I wanted to be the one kicking down the door and grabbing the girls. But I know that’s not the part I can play. So I just looked out that window and said… ‘What can I do?’”
There on the horizon sat Cindi’s 80 acres of unused farmland. And —“eureka!”— her plan was born.
Moved to Action
A teacher and counselor by trade, Cindi had always envisioned the rolling hills around her home more as a retreat than a proper farm.
But the potential — and the potential adventure — was just too good.
Eager to learn everything she could, Cindi set about converting her rough fields into a cow farm where she could earn money to help IJM rescue victims of trafficking. She watched YouTube videos on how to lay miles of fencing and reached out to her farmer neighbors for help.
“I don’t know a thing about cows, really. But I was so moved, I said, ‘We will find a way.’”
Cindi brought home her first cow, Daisy, in 2005 and has tended dozens of ethically-raised cattle since then. She discovered a surprising knack for it — but not without bumps along the way. From chasing coyotes away late at night to sledgehammering ice from her water troughs one tough winter, she’s felt each snag as it’s come.
“I’m 60. I’m not 24. There are the moments where I say: ‘This is the stupidest idea I’ve had yet.’ I know God does what I cannot do, but he still makes me do what I can.”
"Amy, Daisy, Faith and Grace and Joy are all our there, raising money to rescue children. And I think that's totally cool."
An Unlikely Passion
Through all the hardships, Cindi has kept her sense of humor and a firm belief she’s making a difference. Raising cows has become her unlikely passion, and she’s using it to help children in need.
Today, Cindi is a Master Beef Producer in Tennessee — a “crazy journey” from her kitchen table years ago. Even the businesses who buy her cows love taking part in her unique mission to end slavery and violence.
In 2014, her cows brought in $3,500 to support IJM’s work.
“I get the incredible privilege of playing whatever role in that I can,” she says with a smile. “And it’s been the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”
Her husband Bob agrees. “When you look at the enormity of the need, you think you’ll never take care of this problem. Yet, when you do what little you can, you realize you’re a part of the solution.
"To help rescue one child — whether it’s from a brick kiln or whether it’s the slavery of the brothels — my goodness, that’s huge.”
"It isn't about how much you can do. It's about will you do anything." - Cindi Wolk, IJM Supporter, TN
Cindi encourages everyone to step up and do their part to help end violence against the poor — no matter what that may be.
“Don’t be discouraged. Do your little thing. Think outside the box. Have fun with God.” She adds, laughing, “You may end up in an adventure you never dreamed about!”
We’re so grateful for the creativity and compassion of supporters like Cindi around the world. You can help the justice movement in lots of creative ways, even by donating non-cash items you might have around. Our partnership with iDonate makes your gift-giving easy, so you can make a major impact right away. Learn more at IJM.org/idonate.