Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As I write this there are exactly two weeks left for me in Seattle and I am shocked at how fast my time here has gone. In a few weeks I will be on a plane back home and although my time here at REST is coming to an end, the work in this ministry is far from over.
This month at the REST house we had the opportunity to celebrate a resident who graduated from the transitional living program—meaning she was able to nail down housing, remain sober, retain a full-time job, and regain custody of her daughter. This particular young lady has fought with everything she has to remain sober and not let her past define her future. Being able to experience and witness the growth and humility of this young lady has been a blessing in itself.
This month was also a month of more questions about who God is and what He looks like in every woman’s life. We have questioned purpose, faith, love, and redemption. Not every woman we serve is a believer, but we had the opportunity to discuss in great depths the gospel and what it means. We were able as a team (both staff and survivors) to discuss the lies that surround faith, and how Jesus has played an active role in their recovery in many different ways. I think in particular about a conversation with a woman who has been wrestling with the idea of faith. We got to discuss what faith looks like, and how even though it is hard to have, that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). We got to sit and have a time of questions and answers, we got to cry together, we got to talk about the past and we got to talk about the beauty of the future.
This month we got to celebrate a particular resident because of her one month without speaking to the man who exploited her in her past. A few months back this young woman struggled with whether she was strong enough to remain in the REST program. Struggling with the lies spoken into her life she felt unworthy, unlovable and had the idea that the man who exploited her in her past, was the only person capable of “loving” her.
One thing at REST that we learn is that a human trafficker has done their job correctly when the people they exploit begin to repeat and believe the lies they have been taught by their abuser. This particular woman struggled with the lies. We watched the night terrors, the battle of the mind, and so many other things she was struggling with. On one particular night, this young lady did not come home. At REST there are protocols with this, but since we had not heard from her as leaders we had all gotten worried about her safety. In the morning the next day as leaders we all came together worried, but knowing the faithfulness of God, we prayed believing full well that the Lord had full control of the situation at hand. The moment we all uttered “amen,” she had walked through the door. We celebrated and told her how much she was loved and happy that she returned home. This led into a beautiful conversation of her struggles, her worries, how overwhelmed she had felt with the love from the ministry that she did not know how to take it.
That is what we are called as a church to do, overwhelm both those who know and do not know Christ with love. What a way to show Christ in us! This woman has grown significantly in her recovery. We have been able to watch her grow and have been amazed at how far she has come.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…
Last month I got to update all of you about the blessing of back pages going down. This was a huge step on behalf of all the women and men being exploited online, but there have been challenging trickling effects that I want to ask you to pray for.
When one site goes down, more pop up. With REST working alongside law enforcement we have seen more websites pop up exploiting women here in Seattle. With the shutdown of back pages, we have also seen more trafficking happening on the streets. A lot of exploited women have now been pushed out to the streets to work, causing even more danger than they are already subjected to.
One advocate at REST discussed going out on the street to reach women and realized a week after back pages shutdown, “there were three times more women than there was a week ago.” That broke our hearts to hear but we also see how the Lord is working in it. It has given us more opportunity to reach out and help these women, to have conversations with them, even though they are short, we have been able to get out the REST hotline number and supplies for these women.
I think of the story last month of women on the street who received a REST care package while they were on the streets being exploited. In this package came an emergency hotline number, feminine products, a Bible, and a quote reading “you deserve to be loved.” One woman being so touched by this, tracked down the lady who gave it to her just to thank her for the Love she had given through gifts and words of love. This reminds me of how we as a Church are called to, “Love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. I love hearing the question “Why are you doing this?” and the simple yet complex and beautiful answer is because of the love Jesus has given, we want to share with you.
I want to thank you so much for walking alongside me on this journey. It has been hard, it has been emotional, and it has been life-changing. The Lord has used you to be a vessel in this mission of bringing the gospel forth to women who have been exploited.
For the many debriefing meetings, the going away training and the closing of my time here in Seattle with these women. Relationships have grown and been fostered, and I will miss all of them greatly.
For the continued growth of each woman at the REST house, the shelter, and all the women that are currently being reached out too by the outreach program.
For the continued strength of the staff, missionaries and volunteers. Also for the new interns and missionaries coming after me. Many of them will be landing in Seattle within the next week and begin training.
Thank you so much for your continued support.
Mother’s Day is a complicated day for many people, including the women REST serves. Not every woman who wants to be a mom is able to be, not every mom is able to be with her children, and not every woman has a healthy relationship with her own mom. This Mother’s Day, we were able to spend some time rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn.
Amber, a member of the staff team at the REST House, shared:
Currently, all of the residents at the REST House are mothers, and we were able to celebrate them on Mother’s Day with a brunch at the house, gift cards, and individual bouquets of flowers. This day is both a day of joy as well as a day of mourning for our residents. We decided to take some of the residents to Lake Washington to create a space for them to process and grieve the heartaches this day brings for some of them and rejoice in the hope they have for their futures, as well as their children’s futures. They were able to share with each other their heartache and hope as they released lanterns onto the lake. This was a powerful night of bonding, sharing, and allowing themselves the space to grieve and have hope for the future.
As you continue to think about the mothers in your life, will you join us in praying for healing, restoration, and reconciliation between these women and their children?