Circles of Hope

By Lauren Geppert
By Tess Nordick
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Amy Owen
By Melissa Hahn
By Jill Asibelua
By Madi McGraw
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Jeremy Varnell
By Norm Headlam
By Emily Giuriceo
By Kristi Herring
By Alban Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Glenda Root
By Oscar Camacho, Jr
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Don Robb
By Mike Pope
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Moses Uvere
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Ruby King
By Shannon Lewis
By Susan Weiser
By Charles Pierce
By Chase Studdard
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Jodie Niznik
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Erin Hargrave
By Katie Geurin
By Mary Ann Connor
By Ryan Sanders
By Bryan Eck
By Ginger Holland
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Bob Downey
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Lynda Reynolds
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Karrie Cox
By Lindsey Sobolik
By Julie Rhodes
By Josh Wiese
By Scott McClellan
By Michelle Tibbatts
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

This is the story of many people working together to bring transformation and hope to the world of human trafficking. While we can all enact change in our corner of the world, and one person can change the whole world, for a problem on the scale of human trafficking, it’s going to take all of us working together to bring about worldwide transformation.

“Welcome home.”

These are words of balm to the girls of My Refuge House (MRH). They have been rescued from a life of human trafficking and abuse to a new home at MRH. Ranging from as young as 8 to 16, these girls did not choose the trafficked life. They were forced into this hopeless existence; a life filled with darkness, fear, and sadness. But, when they come to MRH, they are not abused, but valued; not neglected, but cared for; not condemned, but restored. And it takes so many people to bring about this transformation.

If you were to zoom out on the Google Map of this story, you would see that trafficking is a worldwide problem, with an estimated 30 million slaves in the world and about 400,000 children trafficked across borders every year. In the Philippines, where this story is centered, it’s estimated over 100,000 children are trafficked each year, mostly by foreign travelers. 100,000. Let that sink in for a minute. The average Texas elementary school has 516 students, just 1/20th the amount of the children being exploited on this one tiny island. Something else you would see is overlapping circles of people who want to see an end to trafficking and restoration brought to the girls of My Refuge House.

Circle One: Local Staff
My Refuge House (MRH), located in Cebu, Philippines, is dedicated to serving the girls who have been rescued from trafficking. International Justice Mission (IJM) rescues the girls from trafficking and MRH is the next step in that process as IJM doesn’t have their own aftercare programs and instead relies on the restorative work of places like MRH. The home has room for 30 girls and currently has 18 girls living there. When the girls arrive at MRH, they receive medical care, counseling, education, but most importantly, they receive a future filled with hope. And all of these things are provided by the full time MRH staff. They spend their days providing medical care, counseling, therapy, education, being house moms, making sure the girls are safe, and so much more.

Leading up the staff is Rose Ann who is the director of Program Operations. You just have to see Rose Ann smile to see that she radiates peace, hope, and love for these girls. Along with Omar, the director of Administrative Operations, they keep everything going each day at MRH. There is also staff that focuses on prevention of trafficking. They want to work themselves out of a job, to no longer be necessary, and to do that, they are trying to educate people and end the demand. The My Refuge House staff is the first circle to making sure these girls get a future that is filled with hope.

Circle Two: The Stateside Staff
MRH also has dedicated staff members who work stateside in California and Texas.

Heather Bland works as the CEO of MRH from California and is also a Licensed Family and Marriage Counselor. Her heart for these girls is palpable, and her encouragement is never ending.

Kim Jones is the Director of Engagement for MRH. Several years ago, the Lord brought her into working to serve those who have been trafficked and particularly with the girls of MRH. Kim’s heart and vision for these girls is big and beautiful. She works tirelessly to serve them and to help engage the community here stateside with what is happening in the Philippines.

These two women, along with interns and volunteers, help ensure that MRH is funded to provide for the girls. They work to let people know about what is going on in the Philippines and around the world.

Circle Three: IBC and Beyond
My Refuge House has been an IBC Global Partner since 2011, and IBC has helped to fund their programs and new building projects in the last couple of years through the generosity of IBCers. Due to their involvement, many people have joined the circles that are encouraging and cheering on MRH, including IBC’s Pastor to Women, Jodie Niznik.

In early 2016, a team from IBC visited the home and joined the circles of those who cheer on MRH. On the trip were IBC’s Pastor to Women, Jodie Niznik, and her daughter Billie. Billie, who was 17 at the time of the trip, was excited to go and meet the girls, many who were about her age. “Human trafficking is something I have been aware of for a long time, and it’s something that is on my heart,” Billie said. Jodie added, “Billie has such a heart for people and the marginalized. And I felt like it would be good for her to see girls her age. She is mature enough to handle that. I knew it could be potentially transforming for her.”

As Billie continues to share what she saw at MRH as she heads off to college this fall, others will learn about trafficking and hopefully be inspired to work to end it.

Full Circle
There are so many people involved with My Refuge House, but in order to truly end the demand and make it so places like My Refuge House don’t need to exist, we all need to work together. There has to be a collective effort from one side of the world to the other. How does this transformation affect us here in the US? Here at IBC? We need to realize the reality of what is happening around the world, that girls are being trafficked. And that people around us are helping drive the demand. Through pornography use demand is driven higher for more girls to be trafficked into internet cafes. Men visiting the Philippines drive the demand for girls to be bought and sold. We ALL play a part in educating ourselves and those around us. Images on a screen are real people and often, they did not choose the life they are being forced to live. We need to see transformation in the lives of those who create the demand.

In the meantime, we also can continue to pray for and support the work of My Refuge House, knowing that their work is changing the world for good. One of the girls, Hope, shared this message a while back in a video for MRH and it perfectly sums up what My Refuge House is about and why their work brings change to so many lives:

“MRH is not an ordinary house. It may be made of brick and have four corners, but there are girls in that house and those girls are being restored, are being changed by love, and by hope. They are being given a new life to start over from the past…they have a future. They can be an inspiration to others; they can be hope to millions of people."

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