Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Refuge House: Helping Victims of Human Trafficking in the Philippines

If you read THIS post about my trip to China and Thailand, you know that my heart breaks for victims of human trafficking all over the world.  It's such a dark and scary topic to talk about, but one that we NEED to talk about often and let the world know that it is NOT okay to buy and sell people.

What keeps me going in this quest to help these victims is stories of restoration.  I have met numerous girls/women who have been rescued and now live a life free of that bondage and are working through the healing process that comes after they leave.

Today I want to share about an organization in the Philippines that does just this called My Refuge House!  My friends, Crystal (Executive Director) and Kim (Director of Engagements), help keep MRH going.  Crystal lived in the Philippines and worked with the International Justice Mission (IJM) which eventually led to working with MRH.  I could go on and on about this girl's heart...she is truly a light for Christ and helping the oppressed.

MRH helps victims of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse by providing a safe place to live and helping them with the healing process through counseling, education and training.

I want to share one of the girls' stories with you today.  It's tough to read but SO encouraging to read about how the Lord is healing her through My Refuge House...

Jamie [not her real name] was rescued from a trafficker by law enforcement and taken to a shelter. She seemed to get along fine in the shelter and at her request, was sent home to be with her parents.
But a few weeks later her parents didn’t know what to do. Their daughter was missing again, and they were sure that the same “friends” who had sold her before had done it again.
So they asked for help. Help us find our daughter, they said. We don’t want her to be trapped in that situation, but we don’t know how to help her.
International Justice Mission (IJM) found Jamie again, and social services asked if they could put her in our home.
About a week after Jamie arrived in our home, we found out. She told our social worker that when she had been about 10 years old, her grandfather had raped her. She had dropped out of school and started to hang out with the wrong crowd. She never told anyone about it, because she was scared her parents wouldn’t believe her. Or worse, she was scared they wouldn’t do anything about it, even if they did believe her.
Last month, we were able to reunite Jamie and her family. Jamie enrolled in high school and is doing great at home. We were able to counsel her parents and thankfully, they were willing to do whatever it took to make sure their daughter felt loved. They were willing to fight for her, even against her grandfather.
But perhaps you’d rather hear it from Jamie herself? Here’s what she wrote recently about herself:
I can never forget my past, and the experiences in it.
On my paper (something she drew), I drew customers giving money, because when I think of the place where they usually brought me, I think of money, sex and customers. I had to entertain many customers, it’s like a life cycle for me, that I could not escape.
I cannot forget the abuse of my grandfather either. He raped me so many times. I was very young, and even though I never told anyone about it, it affected my life in every way. I dropped out of school and ran away. I considered myself worthless and believed my parents could never love me.
These are the most unforgettable, painful experiences of my life. I cannot forget them and they will always be a part of my history. Because of the trafficking and the abuse, I thought that there is no future for me. But I was wrong. With God’s help, he brought me to a safe place that became my second family. My Refuge House helped me to become a good person with ambitions and goals in life. I have changed a lot here and they gave me chance to finish my studies.
My family is also very supportive of me and they still accepted me despite my dirty past. My Refuge House gave me the support to tell them, and now I know they love me so much because of how they accepted me as me and didn’t reject me. With God’s help, because he guided me and praying has also become part of my life. These three serve as my ladder toward transformation in my life. I now know there is a brighter future that is waiting for me when I return to my family.

If you're wondering how you can help support My Refuge House, there are a few options.  And please "hear" me...they did not ask me to do this!  I asked them if I could, because I love what God is doing through them and want to see more girls helped!
1) You can pray for My Refuge House, it's staff, the girls in the safe house and the girls still out there being exploited.
2) You can support MRH financially.  Seriously, ANY amount helps!  Check out the various options for giving HERE.  Yes, it's tax deductible.
3) If you live around LA, Crystal can always use help for various events.  You can contact her at
4) If you live in North Texas, Kim is working on events here and would love your help!  If you're interested in helping here, shoot me an email at
5) Just start talking to your friends and family about the reality of human trafficking.  The more people who know about it, the more help there is!

*All photos are property of My Refuge House*


  1. I love your heart. God is working through you in such great ways. The stories you hear must be heart breaking. I will definitely pray for My Refuge House and all the girls!

  2. Wow. How powerful.
    You're totally right. It is NOT ok to buy & sell people.

    1. Sure is powerful. Yep, just helping get the word out!

  3. Thank you for writing this and for all of your dedication. We need to educate people on what is going on all around the world and how we can help! I just love your heart so much!

  4. I love love love your heart for these girls!!! Thanks for sharing it with us and educating us!!

  5. Your heart for these girls is amazing, I just love and admire you Kelli! Thank you for informing and sharing with us.

  6. i love what the international justice mission does, the head of the organization came to my college one time and spoke at our chapel, i seriously wanted to move and work for them after college

  7. Kelli I'm so glad you're helping to spread the word about this. Crystal and Kim have huge hearts (and you too!) to help these women escape from a terrible life. I can't even imagine. As hard as it is to read, it's so nice to hear stories of women helping women.
    Thank you for keeping us informed on this topic!

  8. Gosh this is heartbreaking. But I am glad it breaks my heart because it should. It makes me want to shout it from the rooftop that things like THIS are happening and we all spend our time on empty cisterns and nobody (in the mainstream media) is covering this as it should be. Thank you for this post, Kelli!

    1. It is heartbreaking isn't it?! But so great to hear stories of hope! Thank YOU for being passionate about this too, Nina!

  9. Love this! Thank you for using this platform to share what God puts on your heart!!!

    1. Aww of course! It's what I'm passionate about! Hope your week is going well, Bekah!

  10. You know how I feel about this and how much I adore you for getting the word out like this too! Great post Kelli!!

  11. I have tears rolling down my face from reading about her story. I'm praising God for My Refuge House and I will continue to pray for your friend and those that she helps. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for reading, Jen! It's so hard to hear/read these stories, but isn't it cool to read about the redemption?! I'm joining you in praying!


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