Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yan's Story

When we were in Cambodia recently, some of the women from our team led a seminar for the older girls entitled “How To Have Healthy Relationships With Men.” Our women talked openly about their experiences with men and were transparent about mistakes made and lessons learned. They then invited any of the girls to tell their stories.

Yan volunteered to share her experience. She sat on the floor behind the translator, leaned her head against the translator’s back and through her tears told her story in a faint voice about horrible abuse and neglect. Yan’s story is the story of many of the girls who have come to Rapha House.

What made her story so unforgettable was what happened next. After recounting her abuse, Yan raised her head, straightened her back, and said with a note of confidence, “And now I want to tell you about my new life.” And for the next few minutes, she spoke of hope. She spoke of healing. And she told about the grace and love that she has found in Jesus Christ. It was an unforgettable study in contrasts.

At Rapha House, we give shelter and compassionate care to girls who have been trafficked and abused. We provide them with a place to heal. And through our programs and vocational training, we offer them hope for a better life. Some of the girls who come to us choose freely to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Yan has. And she will confidently tell anyone about the difference that He has made in her life. He’s one Man who has brought her nothing but good.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kvoe's Christmas

I’m not trying to make a difference to the world. I just want to make a world of difference to a child.

We spent Christmas with our family in Texas, exchanging gifts, playing games, and enjoying meals together. It was nice to see everyone again, especially our new grandson. Even family from Florida flew in for the holiday. Christmas is a special time.

On the other side of the world, this Christmas hasn’t been so pleasant for a twelve-year-old Cambodian girl named Kvoe. Kvoe is new to our safehouse. She was labor trafficked to Thailand and worked there for nine months before being taken to a Thai prison for three months. I’ve visited a Thai prison before. It’s no place for a child, especially one who has done nothing wrong except having the misfortune of being trafficked.

From prison, Kvoe was brought to Rapha House where she now lives. Some of our girls come to us after being trafficked as slave labor.

Recently, our staff took Kvoe home to visit her family. It was a long trip over bumpy roads to reach her village. When she arrived, she was greeted with heartbreaking news. Her house was gone. Her mother had died. And now this young girl and her little sister were left all alone in the world. Kvoe sobbed and couldn’t say a word.

There’s an interesting passage in the book of Proverbs. I like how The Message puts it: “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person” (Proverbs 3:27).

People who like to philosophize talk about the suffering children in the world and the fact that people can only do so much. And that’s about as far as it goes. Girls like Kvoe and her little sister don’t care about debates like that. They just want someone to be God’s hands to them. And by supporting Rapha House, your hands have become God’s hands to them. And now Kvoe and her little sister have a place to call home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ratha's Gift

It’s Christmastime, the season of giving.

This year, I was in Cambodia during Thanksgiving. I received from Ratha—a young lady at Rapha House—one of my best gifts early.

Ratha is the oldest girl in our program. She has been at Rapha House from its beginning. As a matter of fact, she is the reason that Rapha House exists.

Joe Garman, the founder of Rapha House, literally rescued her from the hands of the sex traffickers when they were preparing to take her away. Stephanie Freed went to work to provide for Ratha and a handful of girls like her a safe place to live. And now, Ratha has graduated from our program. But that’s not the gift I’m talking about.

After the graduation ceremony, this quiet and unassuming young woman took me aside to tell me something. She found a translator and said to me, “I want to tell you how deeply grateful I am.” Then she added, “You have loved me better than my own parents have loved me. And you have taught me to see the value that God places on me. Thank you.” And that was the gift that Ratha gave me.

After that, I was speechless and failed to correct her. Maybe I should have. But I failed to remind her of the important role that the Rapha staff plays. I failed to remind her of all the hours that Stephanie Freed and ARM personnel invest in this ministry. And I failed to say a word about the hundreds of donors who have sacrificially given to keep our ministry afloat. I didn’t say anything about all that. Probably I should have. But I didn’t. Instead, I gave her a hug, kissed her on the cheek, and told her that I love her.

As I sit writing this, I wonder where Ratha would be today without Joe Garman, Stephanie Freed, the Rapha staff and you, our supporters. And I shudder. Then I think about the hundreds of thousands of little girls that aren’t as fortunate as her. Nobody has reached them yet. And my heart breaks. So much is left to do. So many children are desperately waiting.

It’s the season for giving. Please consider Rapha House in your year-end giving. As you do, know that I’m passing on Ratha’s gift to you. You deserve it, too. Thank you for caring.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Update on Our First Graduation

Words cannot fully capture the experience of our first graduation ceremony.

At the ceremony, Sokhom, one of our graduates, spoke. She spoke with poise and grace and expressed her heartfelt gratitude. Nobody told her what to write. She put her thoughts in her own words. What touched me most was the praise that she gave to our Lord Jesus Christ for the work that He has done in her life.

After Sokhom spoke, we presented each graduate with her Certificate of Achievement—an official document which would be an equivalent to a cosmetology license. Then starting with Ratha—one of our very first girls—we gave each girl a pearl pendant necklace, a gift from the members of Pathway Christian Church. As I placed the necklace around each girl’s neck, I told her how beautiful she is and how God has done a wonderful work in her life. Most cried in my arms. Some sobbed.

Nine young women took back their lives that night. They no longer are victims or survivors. That night they claimed victory—a victory made possible through Jesus and the supporters of this important ministry.

Thank you for sharing in this work of redemption. Thank you for bringing hope to these precious young women.

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair. (Isaiah 61:3 NLT)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Just Got Back From Cambodia

It's always a long trip. But it's always worthwhile to visit our safehouse and aftercare program in Cambodia.

This trip was especially eventful, since we held our first ever graduation from our aftercare program. Nine girls graduated. And it was a night to remember--a lot of tears, hugs and laughter.

I'm completely exhausted. I'll post more in a couple days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things Are Changing At Rapha House

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. --Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

We just signed the lease on our new vocational training building. Now we can house up to 30 girls in our aftercare program!

Furthermore, we've added a new course to our program that teaches our girls the wedding business. Weddings are big business in Cambodia. The median age there is 21 years. And there are plenty of young people in Cambodia getting married. So we thought it would be wise to offer our girls an opportunity to learn this business for their selves.

Additionally, we are keeping our old facility and opening a restaurant there that will be run by one of the girls who left Rapha House after she married. It’s our first micro-finance project!

Things are changing at Rapha House. And with your help, we're bringing hope where there was no hope. Thank you for caring.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Rapha's 40/40 Campaign (Week Six)

40 Ways to Pray (Week Six)

Thank you for journeying with us during these forty days. And thank you for each prayer that you've offered on behalf of this issue and our girls. With God's help and your prayers, we'll continue to make a difference together.

36. Pray for an individual survivor by name.
37. Pray for an individual leader or worker who is helping to eradicate this evil.
38. Pray that prevention programs will reach and influence at-risk individuals and families.
39. Pray that captives who are still enslaved will find freedom.
40. Pray that God’s blessings be upon the staff and children of Rapha House.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rapha's 40/40 Campaign (Week 5)

Join Rapha in prayer for anti-trafficking work and workers.

Day 29. Sovereign Lord, may the United States government help fund prevention and recovery programs throughout the world.
Day 30. Mighty Defender, lead countries throughout the world to embrace the rights of women and girls.
Day 31. Holy God, stop governments from being corrupted by profiteering from trafficking.
Day 32. Kind Shepherd, help those who were once rescued but have fallen back into dangerous habits and lifestyles find their way back into the light.
Day 33. Holy Lord, help both men and women to manage their sexuality in ways that will honor you.
Day 34. Pray that those who have devoted their lives to serving survivors will grow in their professional development and become more effective.
Day 35. Pray that God will lead you in how you might get involved in responding to this evil and those affected by it.

And 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 well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10,11)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rapha's 40/40 Campaign (Week Four)

During our 40/40 Campaign, we're encouraging our supporters to take forty days to pray about this issue and our ministry. And we're asking that during this time you consider donating an additional $40 to the ministry of Rapha House. Thank you for caring and making a difference.

Prayer Focus
Day 22. Target a specific country or area, and pray for the defeat of the sex industry in that area.
Day 23. Gracious God, lead more Christian men to get involved in combating this evil.
Day 24. Lord Jesus, help the men of your church to seek purity and to renounce all forms of pornography and sexual exploitation of women.
Day 25. Precious Redeemer, may survivors not only experience emotional healing but come to see how you can redeem their pain and use it as a way to minister to others.
Day 26. God, help survivors lead the way to spiritual renewal in their own communities and lands.
Day 27. Merciful Lord, may survivors be able to establish healthy marriages and families of their own.
Day 28. Loving Father, may survivors see themselves with the value that you place on each of them.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rapha's 40/40 Campaign (Week Three)

Seven More Days and Seven More Ways to Pray
Day 15. God, raise up business leaders who’ll create new opportunities to eliminate the economic burdens that make people vulnerable to slavery.
Day 16. Precious Father, bring spiritual revival in places that are hotbeds for human trafficking.
Day 17. Sovereign God, bring traffickers to have a Damascus road experience that awakens them to the Lordship of Jesus.
Day 18. Lord, help other Christian and humanitarian organizations dedicated to the eradication of human trafficking, including the Salvation Army, World Vision, Justice for Children International, International Justice Mission, USIM, among others.
Day 19. Most Holy Judge, let traffickers be prosecuted and brought to justice.
Day 20. Sovereign Lord, lead governments and local law enforcement to make prosecuting this crime a priority.
Day 21. God, raise up leaders throughout the world to be the voice for those whose voices cannot be heard.

"Is not this 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?" (Isaiah 58:6)

Please consider giving a $40 gift to Rapha House during our 40/40 Campaign. Thank you.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rapha 40/40 Campaign (Week Two)

Forty Ways to Pray to End the Nightmare of Human Trafficking

During our 40/40 campaign, Rapha House is calling upon individuals and churches to pray about this issue of human trafficking. And we are inviting our friends and supporters to donate $40 to Rapha House sometime during these 40 days.

Day 8. Our Father, may a generation of survivors of trafficking become the new freedom fighters who’ll combat this evil and minister to victims who are still being exploited.
Day 9. Lord, we ask that Rapha House will be able to cultivate safe Christian foster care homes for young survivors within their own country.
Day 10. Gracious God, help churches and Christians to embrace this work as the work of the church.
Day 11. Sovereign Lord, may the United States government continue to influence countries to eradicate human trafficking from within their borders.
Day 12. Blessed Creator, may the US staff of Rapha House and the Rapha House Freedom Foundation be visionary in reaching and helping more victims to find healing and freedom.
Day 13. Our Protector, help the Cambodian staff of Rapha House and the Rapha House Freedom Foundation be protected from harm and to work effectively without growing weary in doing good.
Day 14. Father, supply the financial and human resources needed for this work.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15 )

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rapha Launches Its 40/40 Campaign

During our 40/40 Campaign, we’re calling on Christ’s church to respond by praying about the tragedy of human trafficking. And we’re encouraging caring individuals and churches to give forty dollars to Rapha House sometime during the forty days from September 28 to November 6.

Here are some of the 40 Ways to Pray:
1. Father, grant safety and success to the individuals and organizations that are rescuing victims of human trafficking.
2. Lord, allow Rapha House to establish more shelters to serve and care for rescued children.
3. Sovereign God, lead countries to be committed to justice for victims and the abolition of this violation of human rights.
4. Our God, guide Rapha House in creating housing, education and business opportunities that will allow survivors to live independent lives.
5. Lord Jesus, bring emotional healing to survivors.
6. God, raise up quality Christian men and women to serve in the various dimensions of this ministry.
7. Precious Lord, we ask that survivors will come to know Jesus as their Savior and Redeemer.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (Psalm 103:6)

Rapha House | P.O. Box 1627 | Joplin, MO 64802

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Day at the Beach

Recently, our girls had an opportunity to spend a couple days at the beach. For some, it was the first time that they had ever seen the ocean. They were excited and enjoyed a chance to spend a day playing and having fun.

Recreation plays an important part in the healing and recovery of our girls. People robbed them of their childhood. We can't give that back. But we can give them the chance to discover what play and carefree moments feel like.

At the Rapha House Freedom Foundation, we believe that our girls must do the hard work of emotional recovery and vocational training. But we also believe that they should have fun and a good time. After all, these girls deserve some happy memories to look back on.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Help Spread the Word About Rapha House

Share the story of Rapha House with your church, group or organization. To request a FREE copy of our new Rapha House DVD, email us at with your mailing address, or write us at Rapha House Freedom Foundation, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. Offer available only within the United States.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What About the Needy Children in Appalachia?

In the lobby at church today, a lady asked me a question. She told me about a conversation with a friend about our work. Her friend said, “What about all the needy children in Appalachia?” And this lady at church wanted to know what to say to her friend.

From my experience, I’ve never heard a compassionate person make this argument. I’ve heard a lot of people who are trying to dodge getting involved say such things. And I’d be interested to see what they’re doing about the needy kids in Appalachia. That’s not to impugn this lady’s motives. Just curious. That’s all.

Second, why should compassion care about borders? If a Canadian child fell into the Niagara River what heartless person would say, “What about the drowning children in America?” Instead, we would applaud those who did something to rescue the child.

Finally, there’s a good reason why Third World countries are called “Third World.” They lack the social and charitable infrastructure that we take for granted here in America. And the scope of human suffering that you’ll find in these countries is shocking. Few American children survive in garbage dumps. And though human trafficking happens within our borders, it nowhere approaches the scope that you’ll find in these places.

Hundreds of thousands of trafficked children are waiting for us to act. They don’t care about this debate. They just want somebody who’ll help. Why shouldn’t that be you?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Coffee Shop Epiphany

My wife went to one of those ubiquitous coffee shops to order a grande java-chip frappuccino decaf. It looked pretty good. The bill came to $3.85. While I was standing in line, I saw a one-pound bag of Guatemalan Antigua Coffee for $10.99. And that got me thinking.

I don’t drink coffee. And I have no problem with those who do. After all, I’m married to a frappuccino-drinker. But it dawned on me in the coffee shop that for a little less than the price of two pounds of coffee, someone could sponsor for a month a girl who has that has been rescued from human trafficking. That should get us thinking.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying our coffees. They’re a harmless and tasty indulgence. But let’s not forget the children. They’re worth the investment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dream Makers

I receive regular progress reports from the manager of our aftercare program. Usually, they’re not that interesting. Don’t get me wrong. They’re vitally important but not very interesting. They include expense reports, status reports and other business items, which are essential to monitoring our work. But what caught my eye on this report was the very last sentence. The manager sums up the girls’ progress, then concludes by writing: “They have their own dreams for their future.”

Think of it. These girls came from circumstances where dreaming only added to their sorrow. They were slaves. Their lives were not their own. They had no hope. No future. But now something precious has awakened in them. And they are dreaming dreams.

As a partner of the Rapha House Freedom Foundation, you are a dream maker. You inspire hope where there was no hope. You help bring to life things that have died. You give these girls the ability to dream. There are plenty of noble callings in life. But few are greater than being a dream maker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From Sorrow to Joyful Dancing

Recently, a Christian organization hosted a three-day concert in the city where our girls live. Thousands attended.

Nine girls from the Rapha House Christian praise team were asked to perform for the audience. It was a real honor.

This Christian dance and music team is just one of the many activities that the girls at Rapha House can participate in. They dance beautiful cultural dances and praise routines to Christian music.

After the performance, one of the Rapha girls said, “I was impressed that God gave me the opportunity to sing and dance for the people. And I praise the Lord that He loves me and could use me this way.” Another Rapha girl in the audience said, “Tears came to my eyes because I heard the people say that our dancing inspired them.”

Read what the Bible says: “You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my LORD and my God” (Psalm 30:11,12 CEV). God has done that for these girls. And he has used you to help. Thank you for caring. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Countering the Lie of Abuse

Abuse does more than violate a girl’s body. Abuse is a statement against a girl’s worth. Abuse says, “Your choices don’t matter. Your freedom is unimportant. Your desires are irrelevant. You don’t count.” Abuse injures a girl’s sense of self.

How can we repair the damage done by abuse? How can we counter this lie? Not by events, sermons or discussions. Not by raising awareness. Not with legislation. And not with concern and sympathy.

Are such things important? Yes. But such measures do not necessarily meet abused girls where they live. Only by providing abused girls with safety, justice, practical care, therapeutic support, and real opportunities for a better life do we counter the lie of abuse.

Actions make all the difference. You see abuse is an act that injures a person’s sense of self. And only when pure love acts do we counter the lie of abuse.

One passage of Scripture says it best: “Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it” (1 John 3:18 CEV). To each of our supporters, we say, “Thank you for your practical expression of love.” Together, we can counter the lie of abuse.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Making Room for Hope

Sopheap lives in a poor house. Sopheap is an older girl from our shelter who recently married. She relocated to her husband’s village. He is a poor rice farmer without much hope for improving his lot in life.

After assessing the situation, we decided to make an offer to this young couple. We would provide Sopheap with a sewing machine and supplies, so she could begin her own tailoring business in the village. She learned sewing at Rapha House in our job-training program. Furthermore, we would finance a food market that she and her husband could operate in the village, giving them a means of steady income rather than the seasonal work of rice farming. Additionally, we retired an interest-charging loan that they had taken out to start their lives together. We’re providing this couple with business management training. And we’re doing all this without charging them a penny of interest on our loan to them.

When you give to the Rapha House Freedom Foundation, you make a practical difference in the lives of people wanting to escape the desperation spawned in poverty. You're making room for hope. The Apostle Paul said that he was eager to remember the poor. That’s what real Christians do.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe so.
Some, when looking at this picture, probably only see three girls holding books. No big deal.

But when I look at this picture, I see something entirely different. I see hope. I see three formerly trafficked girls dressed in the uniforms of their new profession--a profession that brings them dignity, a profession that means freedom. I see three formerly trafficked girls studying English. Not everyone in their country gets that opportunity, but these girls do. Knowing even a little English opens so many more doors for them. And when I look at this picture, I don't just see three girls; I see dozens of people. I see these girls. I see the other girls coming through our shelter and waiting for their turn to learn the skills of independence that we teach in our aftercare program. And I see our donors. This photo would not be possible if it were not for our donors. And for them, the thousand words found in a single picture boil down to just one--thanks. Thanks. It's perhaps the best word that I can offer for what you do. And I know thanksgiving is felt in the hearts and spoken on the lips of each girl in this picture and so many more that you're helping. You're making a real difference.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mini Tutorial on Human Trafficking

The Road to Slavery
Often girls end up as victims of human trafficking because of their family of origin. Traffickers take advantage of parents ignorance and poverty. And so, girls end up enslaved in the sex trade.

The Road to Freedom
There are three steps to bridge the gap from slavery to freedom—rescue, shelter and aftercare.

The Problem of Relapse
Often girls who get no further than rescue and shelter relapse into the sex trade once they're on their own, for they have not been given any viable skills to live independently.

The Solution is Aftercare
With aftercare, we break unhealthy dependence on the family of origin; and we provide girls with marketable skills that help them live independently and with dignity. Aftercare means opportunity. And opportunity is the key to lasting freedom.

At Rapha House, we work with agencies and individuals who rescue girls from the sex trade. We provide safe and caring shelter to rescued girls. And with our commitment to aftercare, we work hard to help girls live successful and independent lives. We're successful when the girls that we serve are successful.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reflections on a Few Photos

Recently, I received some photos of our children attending the local activities celebrating International Children’s Day, a national holiday in Cambodia. A number of things struck me as I viewed the photos. First is how sweet and precious each face looks. I know most of these girls personally and marvel at what good kids they are. Second is how young each of these girls are. Forty of the Rapha kids are under age 18 with the youngest at our shelter being just four years old. And when I think of what these children have gone through it sickens me. But here they are in those photos celebrating children’s rights. Most of these kids lived for a time without knowing that they had rights, without knowing that they had value, and without knowing that they were loved. But freedom has changed all that for them. And you’ve helped.

Here’s a thought about how to celebrate International Children’s Day (June 1): Don’t try to save the world. Just save one child. And that will make a world of difference.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Couple Quotes Worth Noting

Walter Wink, professor emeritus at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, writes: "The message is clear, history belongs to the intercessors, who believe the future into being." Believing the future into being—a future where girls can live free of human trafficking—requires an army of intercessors who not only think human trafficking is abhorrent but who also will work, pray and give in order to eradicate this evil.

Good people all the time nod their heads agreeing that what trafficked girls face is disgusting and should never be. But disgust over human trafficking, even agreeing that human trafficking must end, is not sufficient. Edmund Burke said it best when he wrote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

No girl finds freedom through mere sympathy. They need intercessors to pray and act. Anything less means evil will triumph.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Three Steps to True Freedom

When you think of solutions to the the problem of human trafficking, there are three steps to true freedom. First is rescue. If girls are going to find freedom from human trafficking, someone must rescue them from this nightmare. At Rapha House, we work with professionals and organizations who have dedicated themselves to this heroic work.

The second step to real freedom from human trafficking is shelter. That's what Rapha House provides for girls who are survivors of the sex trade and abuse. Currently, girls as young as age four can be found at our shelter. There they find safety and quality care. Most of the girls at Rapha House are pre-teens and teenagers.

The final step to real freedom from human trafficking is aftercare. That's where the Rapha House Freedom Foundation comes in. We take girls who are ready to leave the shelter and not only provide them with shelter and care but also vocational training and English language training. We provide our graduates with housing grants, continuing education grants, and business grants.

When you contribute to the Rapha House Freedom, you're investing in a girl's freedom. And there's no better investment than investing in true freedom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

From Africa to Cambodia Via California

Some of the girls that we met while in Africa.
Recently, I returned from Africa, where we help children and youth who have been orphaned from AIDS. I told a group of girls whom I was teaching about our work in Cambodia. Here's a letter one of the girls wrote to the Rapha House girls.
Dear girls,

How are you fairing on with your life. I hope God has given all the happiness you need. As one of your sisters here in Africa I love you and I'll pray for you always.

As we were told about your stories by Pastor Kerry Decker, I felt that you were facing more challenges than me. I thought that I was the only girl with more challenges but for now you have more challenges than [me].

What I just want to tell you is that even if you are facing those challenges I love you very much. I have read that I should not leave my neighbor alone. So know that even if I am very far from your country we are still united together spiritually.

Know that God is the Father of mercies and He is a God of all comfort. If it were not for Jesus Christ dying on the cross everybody would have died hopeless.

So just take heart and know that someone somewhere loves and cares for you. Just trust in God in whatever you do and He will uplift you to higher standards.

To chase away the powerful emotions in us, we should trust in God's unfailing love in us. When we are in trouble we should take heart and cheer up cuz Jesus has taken the deeper suffering.

All the best in life and may God shower his blessings to you.


Loving sister,
Faith Joshua

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A CA PM in the OC

Today, I spent most of the evening manning our human trafficking display at a small shopping center in Orange County, California. A couple things impressed me about the event. First was the gracious reception extended to us by the shopping center--The Lab (, a trendy Southern California anti-mall. They were truly generous in allowing us to get the word out about our work.

The second thing that impressed me is just how many Christian organizations and individuals are working sacrificially to combat human trafficking. Most every organization there had some faith-based connection. In an age where it's sometimes popular to bash Christians, many persons of faith are working hard to give voice to sufferers who easily go unheard. Hats off to all who are lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness.

Three Simple Ways to Make a Difference

Here are three simple ways you can help combat human trafficking.
1) Link our blog and our website ( to you webpage or My Space page.
2) Send an email blast to your friends letting them know about our blog and website.
3) Repeat the following mantra when talking to your friends: ",,"
Pretty simple, isn't it? By helping us spread the word, you're making a difference to girls who have survived the nightmare of human trafficking.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Rare Generosity

It was the most remarkable act of generosity that I’ve witnessed in the ministry--without exception.

I just returned from Africa, where we work with children and youth who have been orphaned from the AIDS crisis. They live in a poverty rarely seen in America.

While I was there, I spoke about our work in Cambodia at Rapha House, and these young people were eager to hear more. So I was invited to speak before a large assembly at the camp that these children were attending.

Then on the final day of the camp, the director stood up and announced that the children kept coming to him and asking him if they could do something to help the girls at Rapha House. And so he sat a tattered box on the stage before the group. Then about 200 orphaned children lined up and began filing past dropping coins and folded bills into the box.

These children don’t receive allowances. They don’t have extra income. They are impoverished orphans. But that night a steady stream of boys and girls paraded past a collection box and gave sacrificially to help others who are suffering. Such a rare act of compassion!

Most people I know give out of their surplus. But that night, I witnessed people giving out of their poverty. It was truly unforgettable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sophea's Misplaced Trust

By Katie Chalk

Sophea is only fifteen. She's the newest arrival at Rapha House.

Each time she tells her story it's a little different, a little closer to the truth. It’s never easy for a victim of trafficking to admit how trusting they once were, how easily they had been tricked along the way.

When she met her trafficker at the age of fourteen, she had just returned from three years in Thailand, including a year away from her family working as domestic help for a rich family in Bangkok.

With all that traveling and working, she must have thought herself very grown up. “Sometimes I went to sing karaoke in my town,” she says. “One day a woman came to sing there too, and she talked to me. She wanted to know if I was looking for a job. She knew of one in Siem Reap that paid 3000 baht a month (nearly US$100)”
“My mother said it was up to me. So I decided to go.”

Did she like the woman who promised her such a good start in life? At this question she becomes confused, looks down at her hands with their brightly painted nails.
Finally she explains that she liked her very much. The woman was well-known to her. She was the mother of Sophea's boyfriend.

“Instead of taking me to Siem Reap, we went to a guest house in Udor Meanchey (near the Thai border),” says Sophea. “Then she told me that if we wanted to get to Siem Reap I would have to sleep with the driver as payment. He came into my room, forced me and told me he’d already paid 500 baht for it. Later that night there was another man.”

Next they traveled to Battambong, where they stayed three nights. There were more men, but no money in sight. “I wanted to run away,” says Sophea, “but I had nothing, and my family was too far away now.” Afraid of everything, she did as she was told.
As they headed towards the Thai border once more, Sophea spoke up for the first time about her treatment. Her trafficker reassured her and implied that she would soon organise a wedding between Sophea and her own son. Sophea was left in the hands of brothel owners and told to wait around a month.

"Life there was unbearable," says Sophea. "The men liked young girls and I was the youngest. I had all sorts of customers, Thai and Cambodian – I hated them all. Worst were the beatings if I said no. They gave me drugs and told me afterwards that I would need to pay for them out of my salary. I was never given any money at all for what I was doing, only more drugs."

Sophea woke up from her abusive haze when she realised she had been waiting a year for her boyfriend or his mother to come to her rescue. She managed to escape long enough to make a phone call to her grandmother who called the police.

Rapha House is the first place she’s felt safe in a long time. “I feel good here,” she says. “I feel secure, nobody hurts me. I can learn to read and write properly for the first time.”

The other girls, who have been through similar ordeals, have been friendly to her, and already she’s learning to trust the people around her. The staff say that she has a strong determination to leave her past life, including her drug addiction, well behind. This is helping her to settle in quickly, make friends and plan for her future.

“The first thing I will do when I leave here is look for my mother, my brothers and my sisters,” says Sophea. “I miss them. I want to learn hairdressing and beauty because I think I could earn money with that when I go home.”

Away from the situation, she can see more clearly how she was tricked and how many people must have known along the way, including the owners of the guesthouses where she was abused. She thinks it may not have been the first time her trafficker had taken this path with a young victim.

To other Cambodian girls she gives the advice “Do not fall into such a trick, believing people you don’t really know.”

But she refuses to release her last glimmer of trust. "My fiance can't have known about this, or he would have come to get me," she says sadly.
Katie Chalk is a reporter with World Vision Cambodia which financially assists RH.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Precious Gift of Freedom

You don't know how precious freedom is until it's gone. Our girls know that feeling. One day life was ordinary and predictable. Then everything changed. They found themselves caught in a web of circumstance too strong from which to free themselves. And certain death and destruction was picking its way across that web towards them. They sensed its dark and cold presence. But as their hopes for freedom were taking their last gasps, things changed again. They were plucked from this web of death and brought to our shelter. Think of it. By supporting the Rapha House Freedom Foundation, you're investing in a girl's freedom. And there is no more precious gift than that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

But Then What?

It is important to rescue girls from the nightmare of human trafficking. It is important to provide shelter for rescued girls. But then what? That's where we come in. The Rapha House Freedom Foundation provides these girls with resources to promote their emotional healing. And we provide housing, education and employment opportunities, so their dreams of lasting freedom can become a reality. It's a big job. It's an important job. That's why we need partners who'll help us. Read the posts below and consider how you might help us help these precious girls.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We're Seeking Business Partners

We're seeking business partners who can see beyond the bottom line to the opportunity of working with us in bringing hope to girls who have suffered so much. We're seeking business partners who want to employ their talents and business acumen in making a real difference in the lives of others. With the right project, together we can create economic opportunity that will profit both our girls and our business partners. Interested? Contact Kerry Decker at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

About Discouragement

People often ask me if I ever get discouraged with this work. After all, girls are being trafficked faster than we can rescue them. And of the tens of thousands who are trapped in this nightmare, we can reach only a handful. Then from this handful, not all that we help are going to go on to live productive lives. That’s reality. There would be plenty room for discouragement if that’s all I focus on. But when I start to think like that, I look at some of the pictures of the girls. I see their smiles. I recall their laughter. And I marvel at how far they’ve come. I would like to help every trafficked person in the world. I can’t. But I will not let the limitations of my reach keep me from touching whatever lives that I can. Together, we can make a world of difference to somebody. Anything less is to be defeated by discouragement.

Monday, April 9, 2007

It's Not Just About Cambodian Survivors

We passionately care about Cambodian survivors of abuse. But we understand it's not just about Cambodian survivors. We passionately care about all survivors of abuse. One in three American women are survivors of abuse. Some of the girls that we help in Cambodia have been raped multiple times a day in brothels. Their pain is real. But it is no less traumatic being raped or molested just once. It still hurts and wounds your heart. We've written a resource to help survivors of abuse find real healing. You can go online and purchase a copy of our book "Healing for the Wounded Heart: 100 Devotions for Survivors of Abuse" at Or send your order with payment of $21.59 (price includes shipping and handling) to: Rapha House Freedom Foundation, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506. Someone you know needs this book. Maybe you.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Two Very Different Girls

The other night, I asked my wife what life was like for her at age eleven. She was in the sixth grade, as best as she recalls. She tells me about her "steady boyfriend" whom she never kissed back then and who gave her a necklace. She spent a lot of time at church and playing with friends. She has some fond memories. I'm looking at the picture of two sisters who just came to Rapha House. One is age 14 and the other age 11. The email message I received about them says, "They were terribly sexually abused and trafficked." Their faces are blank and expressionless. Theirs has been an interrupted childhood. They will not have fond memories when they look back to their childhoods. All we can give them now is a better future. I think of my wife at age eleven, then I look at the picture of the youngest sister. You could not find two more different girls on earth. But they share the same dream of finding happiness. And now we have the privilege of helping make that dream come true for two new little sisters at Rapha House.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Stop Thinking Like a Westerner

Here are the facts. Asians, not Westerners, are the biggest customers in the Southeast Asian sex industry. Asians, not Westerners, are the main group who perpetrates these crimes against against children and profit from it. The bitter irony is that, to a large extent, Asians create these child prostitutes and then condemn them to life as outcasts. For a girl who is not a virgin in Asian societies is considered to be "damaged goods." So what does the future hold for our girls? Nothing, unless we can help them live self-sufficient and independent lives. These girls are not served by finger-pointing or handwringing. We must open our hearts, open our wallets and show them the practical love of Jesus. That's thinking like Christians, not Westerners.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

We're In the Business of Supplying Hope

During our recent visit to Cambodia, one of the girls at our halfway house confided in a team member that she felt hopeless. She understood that she cannot live at our shelter or halfway house forever. But looking ahead, she could see nothing but foreboding uncertainty. She cannot count on her family. And society will not help her. She is considered an outcast. She has no education or marketable skills and no money. This girl misunderstood our commitment to her and each girl in our aftercare program. Our foundation is successful when the girls that we serve are successful. And success means sustaining independent living with dignity. We are training our girls in job skills. We are teaching them English. We are investing in their futures. And we will supply eligible girls with grants to underwrite business opportunities and their living expenses. We believe what God does--that these girls are worth the investment.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My Recent Visit to Cambodia

One thing that impressed me most on my recent visit to Cambodia is just how much the girls are depending on us for their futures. They do not have any real prospects for hope other than the opportunities that we can provide for them. Right now, we have ten girls who are participating in our reentry program and who are living at our halfway house. We need sponsors for these girls to help underwrite their program. Twenty dollars a month is all that we're asking from our sponsors. And that small investment makes such a big difference in the lives of these girls. Donate securely at Or mail your gifts to Rapha House Freedom Foundation, 6755 Victoria Ave., Riverside, CA 92506.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Speaking Engagement

Last night, I spoke at the San Bernardino Sunset Rotary Club about Rapha House and human trafficking. I received a warm welcome. The people were truly gracious. What impressed me most is how many of them were surprised at the existence and extent of human trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation. Every year, according to the US State Department, between 240,000 to 320,000 girls are trafficked across international borders. That's about equal to the population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And this figure does not represent those that are trafficked within their own countries.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Our Mission

The mission of the Rapha House Freedom Foundation is to provide girls who are leaving Rapha House with a safe environment where they can receive the opportunity and training that they need to live successful lives.

New Girl at Rapha House

There's a new girl at Rapha House. This fifteen-year-old girl was rescued from a brothel on the Thai border and brought to Rapha House. Since August 2006, she was sold for commercial sex and forced to use a lot of drugs. But now, she has found freedom at Rapha House.

About Rapha House

Rapha House provides shelter and care for girls who have survived human trafficking and abuse.