I wish I could paint a lovelier picture than the one I’m about to share. I’d rather talk about the bright side of summer, the pool party we’re going to tomorrow or my grandkids’ play recital, but the truth is, summer has a dark side, too.
Here I am propped on the couch with an ice pack on my knee, resting as my doctor suggested after a straining injury. Volume 5 of Classical Favorites CD is playing in the background; I just finished humming along to a selection from Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets.’ Windchimes on my deck message me along the afternoon breezes and birdsong floats through the window.
While I sit thusly reclined, I also have time to read my mail. There’s a brochure from a non-profit we have supported in the past; they say they miss me. After I read their stories, I realize I miss them, too and my eyes well up with tears.
The letter and brochure in my hand are from REST Ministries—Real Escape from the Sex Trade—an outreach in the greater Seattle area where I live. REST is a partnership between law enforcement and other agencies that rescues women caught in the sex slave industry. Reading about the work they’re doing leaves me an emotional wreck.
The program director’s letter has this quote from a recent resident, “When I called the REST Hotline, my whole life changed. REST has become my family, giving me the support I never had. This place has saved my life, and I didn’t think I could be anything but a prostitute before I met REST. Thank you.”
Women trapped in the sex trafficking industry don’t have the luxury of time to sit and listen to music they love while reclining on a comfortable couch with summer breezes blowing in through their living room windows.
No, they do not.
“Over the last year, we’ve seen our biggest increase in requests for help since REST began in 2009. Over 400 new individuals reached out to REST for help. And in just over six months over 1350 nights of safe shelter were offered.
The brochure tells the story of Alaina. Recruited by a pimp at the age of 16 after running away from home, she was exploited through strip clubs and on the streets until meeting a team from REST.
“I am so thankful that REST came into my life. The help I received impacted me in powerful ways that I didn’t fully realize until much later. Now I want to do the same for other girls who are trapped like I was.”
Here are some of the outcomes REST ministries shared via this brochure in my hand:
- 3,142 nights of Rest provided
- Approximately every four days someone new experienced an interruption from commercial sexual exploitation
- 231 found community through the emergency shelter, the REST house and other services
- Clients achieved various goals including earning their GED, finding housing, getting a driver’s license & more
REST’s continuum of care goes from “Prevention to Intervention to Restoration.” Their current phase is moving from an emergency center to housing, for which they are asking funds. Hence the Director’s letter; they need money for housing and shelter. For rooms with couches and soft pillows and open windows…and maybe a windchime to hang near the window.
So I consider the disparity of my rich, full life and the darkness that exists in the bright middle of a June day because women are still trapped and enslaved, sold for sex and degraded because of greed. It breaks my heart as it does our Lord’s.
So–I take this broken heart feeling, get up off the couch and head down the hallway. I have some extra funds from an unexpected source—sitting in my dresser drawer for who knows what?
I think I know who.
I think I know what.
I think about now.
More information about the work of REST ministries is here. Even $10 a month can help. Or find a non-profit in your area that is doing the same good work and pray about how you might support them.