The Anthem Around the House

 

The residents at the Refuge House spend much of their day working through the program curriculum, doing tough processing and reflecting. It’s an emotional and exhausting work that they are choosing to engage in because they are desperate for healing and life change. One salve that brings emotional relief and even a sense of celebration is when they get to put on some worship tunes towards the end of the day and just sing.

One song in particular has been ringing through the house as an anthem of sorts in recent weeks: Come As You Are performed by David Crowder. We listen to our residents belt out these lyrics with such raw emotion, deeply consumed by their comforting words. Their heart of worship is so beautiful, reminding us that: “those who have been forgiven much, love much” (Luke 7:47). Whenever you hear this song, may it remind you to pray for the women we serve and worship God for how He restores!

Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
Lay down your hurt lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are

There's joy for the morning
Oh, sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal

Seeing Prayer in CPR Training

We recently hosted a CPR and First Aid training for our staff at the home. The steps to the process were wonderfully parallel to our mission heart. There was one step in particular that kept grabbing our attention. “Call for help.”

The new guidelines for CPR start out as follows: 1) tap the shoulders of the patient and determine if they’re alert; then 2) call out for help, yelling “help, help, someone help!” or “help, someone call 911!” It is only after that when the person treating the woman down would begin the rest of the process. 

Certainly those next steps are a great metaphor to the work done in our home. We hope to revive the heart and breathe life back into the women we serve. But, before that can begin, we have got to pray. We need to call out for help

At Refuge for Women, we believe calling out for help—meaning getting on our knees to petition our Creator and Healer God on behalf of the women—is paramount. 

In case of an emergency, we will of course be following the guidelines of appropriate first aid. But metaphorically, God used our CPR training to remind us that before we can begin treatment with our girls, we must cry out to God in prayer. He knows their needs better than we do. 

If you would like to join us in regular prayer for the program and our residents, we need a chorus of people calling out to God for help. CLICK HERE to sign up for our prayer team.

Looking for Resources? (Books)

Many of our volunteers and supporters ask us for a list of good resources where they can learn more about the issue of domestic sex trafficking. There are a growing number of books and documentaries that address the topic. We’ve compiled a short list of things we have read through so far. 

 

Renting Lacy by Linda Smith

As a US Congresswoman, Smith began to unearth the devastating realities that human trafficking was taking place on American soil and victimizing American children. This book tells the stories of the many children she personally interviewed in her efforts to inform the public, our government, and the non-profits seeking to serve those affected by sex trafficking. She recounts their stories as though the girls themselves are speaking, which portrays much of the thought process and internal reasoning that goes on in the minds of a victim. It is a difficult, yet valuable read. 

 

Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

Lloyd is a trafficking survivor who went on to found a highly respected non-profit that works with at risk and victimized youth in New York. This book is a painfully direct memoir of her past, her hope, and her current work. She includes not only the details of personal her journey in the commercial sex industry but also those of many of the girls her organization works with, which gives an interesting cross-section of the lives affected by this industry.

 

In Our Backyard by Nita Belles

Belles wrote this book as a result of the research she began while getting her masters. The more she dug into the topic of human trafficking, the more compelled she was to bring the stories to life. This book tackles sex trafficking as just one arm in a multi-arm beast. She also explores slave labor in the U.S. as well as the forced labor of migrants. 

 

The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley

This book brings a Christian perspective to the worker/volunteer who comes alongside trafficking survivors to help them heal. Bowley teaches her readers about some of the challenges and joys that come with serving the girls who are working to start their lives over after years of abuse. It is incredibly helpful to hear this perspective for those hoping to volunteer with RFW because it gives first hand insight and reminds us who is really doing the healing (God!). 

 

Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor
$9.14
By Katariina Rosenblatt, Cecil Murphey
 

Stolen by Cecil Murphey and Katariina Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt was targeted as a child not once, but twice, before finally being lured into the snare of a pimp. She gives needed insight into the difficult home lives and abuse that are all too frequent among sex trafficking victims and which make them easy targets for traffickers. Rosenblatt’s story of God’s pursuit of her, starting with a strong personal encounter with Billy Graham the year before she was first targeted, provided a very interesting angle to her story. God was with her through her entire journey.

 

The Slave Across the Street
By Theresa L. Flores, PeggySue Wells
 

The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

Flores’ survivor story is helpful to digest for several reasons. First, she sheds light on one of the common coercion tactics used by traffickers: blackmail and threat of harm to the victim’s family. Second, her trafficking story took place all while she remained living with and under the care of her white, upper-middle class family in the suburbs. It serves as a great reminder that this problem has no boundaries and can affect anyone. It also was a helpful read to understand red flags that may help us put a stop to someone else’s trauma.

 

Resources can be helpful to grasping the depths of this injustice. Clearly, we’ve read plenty and know the value in the education they give us. But from another perspective, we also think that nothing can replace the knowledge you gain from simply sitting with one of our survivors and hearing their personal story. When you have a face, a voice, and real emotions accompanying the story you hear, then your heart is connected to that woman in a meaningful way. We invite you to come spend some time with them. 

Anticipate

How appropriate that we find ourselves on the cusp of opening our home right as the Advent season begins. The days in December that lead up to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are to be filled with a growing sense of anticipation. Something’s coming. Something new is about to change everything. 

That’s how we find ourselves feeling about opening our doors for girls to find a safe place for healing. Our anticipation is building. We are eager for these girls to have a place to meet Jesus and for Him to change everything for them. 

When Christ was born he brought hope and peace to those on earth. Our prayer for this home is that the girls we welcome in our home will feel those very things. Hope. Peace. Love. Healing. 

Christ is coming. Advent is a great reminder for us to have an attitude of expectation, of anticipation. We pray expectantly that Christ will be born into the hearts of our residents, and into their lives. 

As you celebrate this Advent season, please remember us in your prayers and ask God to bring His hope and peace to the women we will serve. 

When a Community Stands Up

Photo: Creative Commons/Rebecca Siegel

Photo: Creative Commons/Rebecca Siegel

Refuge for Women North Texas finds itself being birthed in the midst of an incredible community. I hope you North Texas residents know how special you are. 

Back in September, Vision Ministries hosted a month long community education outreach forum to raise awareness about human sex trafficking. Hundreds of people from the North Texas area came to hear and to learn. Apart from God at work, that just doesn’t happen folks. He is the One stirring hearts in our community to fight this injustice. Not a single other city where The Refuge has a home has ever done anything like this. 

There is a groundswell happening here in our area. A year ago in Denton, most people in the community would have likely said: “Trafficking? Ya, I’ve heard of that happening overseas.” But the horrible reality is that it’s happening right here in Denton County. After the wonderful work that Vision Ministries did, people around here are now informed and inspired to stand up and fight. 

There are many angles to this twisted world of sex trafficking which all need fighters. The front line ministries are meeting needs of those still suffering the abuse. The safe houses are standing in the gap for those who’ve been rescued. Refuge for Women is coming alongside the victims for long-term, healing aftercare. God is rising up an army in Denton County to fight.

Today, we are feeling grateful for this community. We recognize that God has brought this issue to light in our area for a reason… we have a lot of work ahead of us to love and care for the girls our home will take in. It’s going to take all of us standing up together.