Bekah's Heart, The Exodus Road

I Didn’t Think I Could Make a Difference {The Exodus Road}

Just over a year ago I found out about The Exodus Road for the first time.  I was sitting in a waiting room catching up on blogs when I came across this organization making a difference in the lives of children and others caught in sex slavery.

The issue of human trafficking was one God had been placing on my heart for months beforehand, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do to help.  Seriously 27 million people trapped in various forms of slavery around the world?!?  Every 60 seconds a child sold for sex.  These statistics grabbed my heart but also confused my mind.  How could I make a difference?  But as I’ve discovered many times in my life, if God is calling you to something, He’ll show you the next step.

For me, the next step was to join The Exodus Road Blogger Team as a way to raise awareness, and hopefully funds, to change lives and create rescue.   So on January 13, 2013, I took a stand and became a voice for the voiceless, saying, “I Blog for Rescue” for the first time.

20130113-213401.jpgIn the past year, I have been less consistent about my blogging and fundraising efforts than I had hoped, but I’ve still seen God do amazing things!  Here are just a few:

  • I’ve had countless conversations with people who were clueless about this issue, or at least how widespread it was until they read a blog post.  I’ve challenged people to pray, give, or at the very least, learn more.
  • I’ve connected with other organizations here in WNY to help make a difference in this issue locally.
  • I introduced you to my friend, Anna.  Though Anna is not a real person, her story is the story of those trapped in this kind of slavery every day with no hope to get out.  At least not without organizations like The Exodus Road!
  • I went out on a limb trusting God as I committed to personally raising/donating enough to The Exodus Road over the course of the past year to fund a raid ($1400).  God came though!
  • And perhaps my favorite:  When my congregation, First Trinity, began planning for the Advent Conspiracy this Christmas Season, my connection on the Exodus Road Blogger team led us to make that one of our “Love All” challenges. Once again, God came through and together we raised nearly $6000 to fight human trafficking!

And just to think that one year ago, I didn’t think my efforts could really make a difference. 

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke; to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  … if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a will-watered garden like a spring whose waters never fail.  … you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. … you will find joy in the Lord.”  (Isaiah 58:6-9)

How might God be calling YOU to be a Repairer and Restorer for the broken, needy, and oppressed in 2014?

The Exodus Road

“What Makes Someone Valuable?” {The Exodus Road}

“If we have hands like God and arms like Christ
We’d reach far we’d take each scar
And we’d never measure the length
We’d never hesitate
We’d never take the time to just think about it and wait
We’d stretch so far we’d have stretch marks of faith

Some people don’t even know there is a possibility to be saved
Because they don’t know what we know
That love isn’t something you pay for
Lust isn’t something you pay for
Sex isn’t something you pay for
Sin is something you pay for
And that price has already been paid for
With the blood of a Savior
Whose arms stretch so far they stretch through time
With limitless
Grace…”  – Hosanna Wong

Please hear the whole poem in the video below.  Take 6 minutes from your day and watch it.  Watch it and consider what it means for you to “reach far” and “take each scar” without hesitation.  Consider what you can do to set people free, whether across the world in India or your friends down the street who need to hear the truth of Christ’s relentless, restoring, grace.   While you may not be able to enter brothels and tear down walls for freedom, can you pray for or financially support those that can and are? Can you learn about and advocate for organizations working to set people free in your own town?  Can you use Facebook or Twitter  to share the needs and successes of organizations like The Exodus Road?
Who can YOU set free today simply by letting them know that they are beautiful, they are valuable, they are worth fighting for.


The Exodus Road

Don’t Watch This Video… {The Exodus Road}

I’ve seen this video a few times, along with many others like it. It still breaks my heart every time. It’s statistic like those shared in it that make me want to run the other direction and plead ignorance. But I can’t. I want to cry out, “God, why don’t you do something.” But I know his simple reply is that He did… He made me with a heart in His image, one that can’t see this situation and just walk away.

So don’t watch this video if you want to continue ignoring the issue. Don’t watch this video if you don’t want to have your heart broken. Don’t watch this video if you don’t want to be ruined.

But perhaps being informed, changed, or even ruined isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps a few more of us NEED to take the risk on behalf of those who have no voice. Perhaps we can speak up for them. I hope and pray that’s what I am able to do as I blog for The Exodus Road, an amazing organization of people who have stepped up and refused to ignore what they’ve seen.

Will you join us? Will you watch the video? Will you stand with those in need? Will you use your voice, your money, your resources, your time… whatever you have to make a difference? What will YOU do?



The Exodus Road

Sex Trade 101 – WNY Statistics {The Exodus Road}

A couple weeks ago I posted some statistics about sex trafficking in the United States.  Now it’s time to get a little more personal about Western New York.  It’s easy to believe that people, especially teenagers and children, are trafficked and forced into prostitution in far away places like India or China.  It’s much more difficult for us to wrap our minds around it happening over at the Galleria, Eastern Hills, or Boulevard Malls.

Elizabeth Feldes is a deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department and has spent 30 years trying to end trafficking.  I encourage you to read this article from May in which she is quoted many times, about the issues of human trafficking in Western New York.  If you want some of the highlights, here are a few key quotes:

  • “It’s estimated that worldwide, as many as 27 million people a year are victims of human trafficking, though Fildes said the number is likely higher. Locally, she said, law enforcement officers rescued more than 400 victims in the past five years.”
  • “According to Fildes, much of the success locally in rescuing victims can be attributed to multiple organizations that are collaborating on efforts to eradicate trafficking. There are more than a dozen organizations dedicated to fighting the crime, including the International Institute of Buffalo, Stop Trafficking of People (S.T.O.P.) and People Against Trafficking Humans (PATH). Most are working in conjunction with the Western New York Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance, of which Fildes is director.”
  • “Like Fildes, Brauer Ruchala said one of the biggest obstacles is the way victims are viewed by both the public and law enforcement.  “Too often, these girls are called prostitutes. People need to realize that this isn’t a prostitute, this is a child who was trafficked,” she said.”
  • “Statistically, the illegal sex trade is the second-largest moneymaker in the world, behind drug trafficking,”
  • “The Safe Harbor Act…  ensures that youths working in sex trades will no longer be prosecuted as criminals. Instead they will be given support and services to assist them in breaking free of what often becomes a vicious cycle. Still, Fildes said there is a gross shortage of services at the state and national levels. ‘We looked at one study that showed there are only 115 beds available nationally,'”

Read the rest of the article here and pray for those who are helping stop the sex trade here in WNY!  Join me also in praying for the teenagers who each day find themselves at risk for being lured into this dreadful situation.

The Exodus Road

Sex Trade 101 – Part 1 {The Exodus Road}

While I have been quiet for a while on the blog front on the topic of human trafficking, the passion to free and rescue the enslaved has not diminished at all.  For the next few weeks each Monday you’ll find a simple post here on the blog called “Sex Trade 101” reminding us of some of the basic statistics surrounding this issue.  As we go through our daily life it’s easy to forget that trafficking happens right in our back yard.  I’m not okay with that, are you?!?


Human Trafficking in our BackyardHere a


The Exodus Road


This picture gives me goosebumps:

These 100+ girls and young women (including approximately 30 minors) were rescued today from a brothel in India.  This raid was funded by The Exodus Road, an organization I blog for in support of their efforts to do just this: rescue those caught in human trafficking around the world.  This specific raid was headed up by their partner, India Rescue Mission.

A tagline we often use in blog and twitter posts is “Rescue is Coming.”  Well, for these girls and young women, RESCUE IS HERE!!! I just can’t get these girls of my heart and mind today.  In this picture the police are beginning the process of identifying the victims in order to charge the brothel owners who were arrested.

For many rescued, these first hours are very scary.   Pray for them that they would sense the peace of God and know that they are now safe.  Pray also for whatever happens next with them, that they won’t end up right back in a similar situation.  Pray that the information they share leads to even more raids and rescues.  Pray for the investigators who have been preparing for this raid for weeks.

And let’s take a few minutes to PRAISE GOD for His physical rescue of these girls, and the spiritual rescue He offers all.




This is why I blog for rescue!


Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Hope {Anna’s Story – Part 3 – Rescue is Coming}

Anna’s story continues today with the beginning stages of her rescue. This part of her story (and the part we’ll read next week) is based off of two other documented rescues from organizations who work to save those trapped in human trafficking (Sarah’s story and Minati’s Story). Because I’m writing from Anna’s perspective AND because organizations have to keep a lot of their investigation techniques secret for safety reasons, it is difficult to convey how these rescues actually happen. To find out more about the actual way raids and rescues happen, please check out The Exodus Road or Indian Rescue Mission, a partner of The Exodus Road who is making huge strides in rescuing girls in India.


March 13, 2013

It’s only been a few weeks since I left home, but it feels like years. I try to make myself look happy and healthy for the clients to please the Madam, but it’s getting harder and harder. I can’t really eat. Even if I’m given time to sleep in between clients, I never really do. The workload just gets more and more the longer I’m here and the longer I’m here the less I feel like a person. Some of these girls have been here YEARS. Many of them now think that this life is just fine, they’ve given in to the fact that there’s no way out. Maybe that’s just the best way. I want to maintain hope, and God, I’m convinced that only you could save me, but I’m beginning to wonder if you ever will.

March 17, 2013

God, it’s so lonely here. While I want to give up hope that You are the good, faithful God I grew up learning you to be, I hold out hope if for no other reason than you can hear and understand me. The only other girl that spoke Russian has been transferred somewhere else and I have no one else to talk to. Thank you for being my friend. If you’re real, then be with me tonight and be with Mama and the kids. I know how much they were hurting financially and for Mama, physically when I left and that was when I was there to help them. Provide for them.

March 20, 2013

Something really strange happened today. After a few particularly rough clients, I figured the new ones coming in would take one look at me and pass me over, but one man, who seemed different from the others, picked me anyway. If that wasn’t weird enough, when we got back up to my room, he didn’t force himself on me right away. He didn’t even want ANYTHING from me in return for his money. I don’t understand it. He got on his phone and the next thing I knew I was talking to a woman in Russian… someone who knew my language! I didn’t really say anything to her as I was scared of what might happen to me. I said what I knew the owners would want me to say and even tried to say it with a smile to convince the man, but it was all I could do not just cry out for rescue. I don’t even know who to trust, but the woman tried to assure me over and over again that the man was there to help me and not to hurt me and that I could trust him. Give me wisdom God. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but maybe this is it? Maybe this is where rescue can happen. I didn’t tell him, but I’m tell YOU now, God. PLEASE RESCUE ME! If nothing else, please send that man back, he was so kind to me and after the phone call he just let me lie on the bed and rest while he sat on the chair for the rest of the hour.

The Exodus Road

RESCUE! {I Blog For Rescue}

This Monday we’re taking a break from Anna’s Story for a week, because I thought it was important instead to rejoice in this message that was posted today by one of The Exodus Road’s partners:

“Rescued a 12 yr old virgin girl. Her own sister was trying to sell her virginity. She was going to be sold for $1100 and now our team rescued her and she is safe. The perpetrators are in jail. Thank you for your prayers and support.”

PRAISE JESUS! Join me in continuing to pray for those still in slavery and those who take great risks to be Jesus’ hands and feet in rescuing them. Learn more about The Exodus Road and its partners by clicking here.


Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Anna’s Story: Part Two – Slavery – Laos

We’ve already journeyed with Anna through the process of being trafficked and today we venture deeper into part 2 of Anna’s story which involves her actual slavery. As you can tell from previous posts, I’ve chosen to write this story from the perspective of someone who knows Jesus. I did this for many reasons including understanding the reality that this can happen to ANYONE as well as imagining some of the struggles that might come in trusting that God even exists when one finds themselves in a situations like this. Yet, even amid the struggles and doubts Anna can draw hope and strength from Christ. However, we must remember that for many “Anna’s” around the world, a faith and hope in Jesus Christ is a completely foreign concept. They have absolutely NOTHING to draw hope from. As you read the next part of Anna’s story, pray for those, like Anna who do know Christ and ask God to encourage them and give them strength in that faith today. Also pray for those that don’t know Him, ask Him to work in miraculous ways to reveal Himself and His love and His hope no matter how hopeless their situations may seem. Lastly, continue pray for the many organizations, including The Exodus Road, who are working every day to rescue “Anna”s, and be a part of God restoring the world to himself. Check out the link above to see information about the latest rescues and ways to get involved.

Anna’s Story: Part Two – Slavery

March 6, 2013
I’m so sick of this place, God. I don’t even feel like a human anymore. I never know when someone is telling me something true or when they’re just manipulating me into another awful situation. I tried so hard to get out of it. I demanded to be released… that only resulted in more… well, let’s just say I won’t do that again. Will I be here forever? I saw what happened to Alina and Regina when they tried to escape. I don’t have any money anyway and haven’t seen my passport since it got handed off to that Chinese guy on the bus days ago. So even if I got out, I wouldn’t make it far, especially since I kind of stand out here with my white skin. I guess the only way to survive is to just stay here. I don’t know how I’m going to go on. I don’t know if you can even hear me anymore God after all the things I’ve done but these few minutes that I get to sneak away with my journal every few days are the only thing that keeps me going so I guess you must be real in some way. If so, then help me do whatever they want me to do so I can stay alive.

March 10, 2013
Sunday. You would think being trapped in these dark rooms I’d loose track of the days, but I can always tell when it’s Sunday because we start earlier on Saturdays. I should be sleeping right now, especially with another long night ahead of us, but I can’t help but think of Marta, Ruslan, and Liza who are probably walking into the Cathedral in St. Petersburg right now. Do they even know I never made it to America? I can picture Pastor Peter at the front getting ready to teach from the Your Word. Oh the Bible. I wish I still had mine, but I’m so thankful for Mrs. Alena who told us to hide it in our hearts like Psalm 119 says. Sometimes some of those verses are the only thing that gets me through another night. Ones like Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

If I’m honest, God it’s hard to believe that you are here, with me, in such an awful place. I don’t know if you’d ever come into a place like this, so dirty, so broken, but I remember the stories Mrs. Alena told us… I think there was even one about you talking with a prostitute. If that’s true, Jesus, then maybe there’s hope for me?!? Help me trust this is true and give me strength. One of the other verses from Psalm 103 she had us memorize says you forgive and heal and redeem our lives from the pit. I need you to save me from this pit, Jesus!

I wonder what hymns they’re singing at church today; I keep thinking about this one verse from one of my favorite ones:

Christ the Victorious, give to your servants
rest with your saints in the regions of light.
Grief and pain ended, and sighing no longer,
there may they find everlasting life

I can’t wait for that day Jesus! Bring me out of this pit I’m in. End the grief and pain. Give me a new song to sing because the only one in my heart right now is one of hopelessness and despair. And as I head off to sleep tonight, give me rest and strength, because I don’t know if I can live this life one more day.

Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Could You Love Me Still? {Anna’s Story Continued}

When we last left off in Anna’s story, she was beginning to realize that something wasn’t quite right. As I share this week on behalf of the “Anna’s” in the world, I am filled with sadness. At the same time I am filled with praise for our Protector God whose heart is one filled with the desire to rescue. This was evidenced tonight in a personal way as we celebrate the return of Valencia to her home in Haiti after she had been kidnapped on February 13. I met Valencia when I was in Haiti two years ago. While her story is not connected at all with the work of The Exodus Road, for the past month that she has been missing, I have been trying, unsuccessfully to avoid wondering if perhaps little 10-year old Valencia was facing some of the same situations as the “Anna’s” in this world that those at The Exodus Road do work each day to save. I hope and pray that wasn’t the case in her captivity, but in everything I trust that our God’s hands were around Valencia every moment of every day. As I said before, our God is a God of rescue and I thank Him each day for organizations like The Exodus Road who carry out His mission. As you read the next segment in Anna’s story, please join me in giving praise for the rescues that happen each day and pray for all the Anna’s in the world still waiting for their freedom… Ask God to reveal His presence and give them hope in the waiting.

Anna’s Story: Part One (Continued)– Sold and Trafficked

February 28, 2013 – Not really sure where
How could I be so stupid? How could I not see that this whole thing was too good to be true? They took my Bible!!! What am I going to do, God? At least they gave me back my journal and a few of the other things in my bag including my picture of Mama and the kids. I don’t even know where we are except that we were in China for a long time. It seems like we’ve been driving south and then we crossed another border. It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but if I remember geography correctly, I’m guessing we’re either in Laos or Vietnam, maybe even Cambodia. What am I going to do, God? What am I going to do?

March 4, 2013
Dear God, finally some time to sneak away and spend time with You. I’m not even sure if you’re there, but I’ve got no other place to turn so I might as well turn here.

How can this be happening? Where are you in all of this? I don’t have my Bible anymore but somewhere near the end of Isaiah I remember you saying that you are always with me. How can that be true when I’ve ended up HERE!?! I thought life back in St. Petersburg was awful; it was nothing. The man who bought us he… well, he…. no, I can’t even write down what’s happened… it’s too much to bear… to horrible to write. If this is what Mama went through every night, I don’t know how she’s been able to keep going all these years. She always was so careful to protect us from all of this and here I am, trapped. Do you even love me God anymore? I feel so dirty and broken. How could you ever love me ever again? I knew all along that this wasn’t where you wanted me to go, but I went anyway. I thought I could help them with the money. I thought I could finally maybe go to school again. I thought… well, I thought, wrong.
I can’t help but cry as I remember what I’d tell Marta and Ruslan and Liza each night when they went to bed: “Jesus loves you; He always has and always will. Don’t ever forget that.” Is that still true for me, Jesus? Could you still love me, even now?


“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39

(Beautiful Valencia – Home again with her family!)