Fighting Human Trafficking

Rescued
Calvary Chapel Believers are Fighting Human Trafficking

Calvary Chapel Believers Offer Christ & a New Life to Trafficked Girls in Southeast Asia

Story by Christmas Beeler
Photos by Isabel Hill

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die … plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Besides already reeling from the ravages of war and poverty, many areas in Southeast Asia have also become strongholds for human trafficking in recent decades. Countless numbers of children under 16 and women are sold daily. But God has sent Calvary Chapel believers to rescue some of these precious souls through the love of Christ and the healing power of the Word of God. Dozens of girls have found new life in Christ at one safe house founded by a believer named Holly seven years ago.

Escaping into the Arms of Christ

Jenny’s heart was pounding as she slipped out the door and ran through the alleyways of the city. She was terrified; her pimps had told her that she’d be tortured to death if she ever told anyone about them. But the slender teen didn’t want to live another day being beaten and abused for money, forced to pretend that she enjoyed it. She planned to throw herself into oncoming traffic. Suddenly a glimmer of hope came to her: She remembered a Christian relative who had always been kind to her. She had to try to escape. A few hours later, Jenny was in an office with her relative, sitting across from a tall blond American named Holly and a woman of her own nationality named Narian. She was too ashamed to look at them. Then Holly leaned forward and looked in her eyes. “I know you don’t know me, but my God knows you, dear child, and He loves you,” Holly said. “In my life, I have been violated like you, and I know the feeling of impurity, hopelessness, and like you’re dirty forever. But my God, Jesus Christ, came into my life and touched the pain deep in my soul. He healed me; He restored me.” Holly placed her hand over her own heart.

Bible Study

Tears began dripping from Jenny’s eyes. Holly added, “He sends me to help you because He loves you. I know you’re afraid, but you are welcome to come and live at my house.”

Narian also assured the girl by adding, “There are many girls there, and we live as a family because in my God Jesus Christ, we are all one family.”

Two days later, Jenny heard the Gospel at church and opened her heart to Jesus. For six months, she hid at the safe house until, in answer to prayer, her abuser was charged and put in jail.

Now Jenny interns at the church, helping other young women grow in Christ. She recalled, “My life changed so much. Holly was so kind, so warm. They told me of Jesus Christ, that He loves me! He came into my life. Now I am His child, and I have hope!”

Prayer of SalvationRescuing Souls

Zig-zagging through the countryside, the small van was packed with young women happily chattering and singing worship songs with Holly while a visitor, Pastor Charlie Restivo of CC Westchester County, NY, rode along. They were on their way to an outreach when Holly’s phone rang; a teen named Kim was finally coming to the safe house. Joyfully, they changed course for her village. The tiny teenager, even smaller than the other petite girls on the bus, climbed quietly aboard. Pastor Charlie noticed that Kim didn’t meet anyone’s eyes and seemed crushed in spirit. They welcomed her and resumed their songs.

Kim stared in wonder at the laughing and singing all around her. After living at the safe house, she learned how Jesus had saved the other girls, healed their hearts, and enabled them to forgive those who had hurt them. Three times a day, the girls gather for Bible study—in between chores, cooking, classes, and schoolwork.

Returning to Southeast Asia this past August, Pastor Charlie and his wife Dawn were amazed at the transformation in Kim since that day three years ago. “Now she’s got the biggest, brightest smile,” Charlie reported. “And she’s one of the leaders in the house. This last trip, she told us, ‘I don’t know why God made me the smallest, but He made me the boldest!’” Now Kim has a passion to share the Gospel with other girls still in bondage.

Transformed by Love

Sadly, many trafficked girls in Southeast Asia believe they have no choice about their situation—sold by people to pay off family debts for food, gambling, or medical care. Scores of young girls line up at karaoke TV bars, calling out to passersby. Holly’s team shares about Jesus and invites girls to the safe house. Dawn Restivo related, “Emotionally, it’s very hard for me to go and talk to the girls [who are still being trafficked]. Many say they are 20, but you can tell they’re much younger. They still have children’s hands.”

Mey had been padlocked in a room, beaten, and used until she thought she would lose her sanity. By God’s grace, she escaped to the Christian safe house. She recalled: “I never experienced love before in my life. When I came to the safe house, they told me about Jesus, and at first I didn’t believe. But as I lived here, I saw how they helped me and had so much love for me. Holly told me not to dwell on my past but look to Jesus and let Him heal my heart. Finally, God revealed Himself to me—that I am His child. The leaders at the house taught me how to read, and now I can read the Bible! God has changed me so much. He loves me, and He’s taught me how to love others.”

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6

Giving to ChildrenGod’s Life-Changing Word

He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Psalm 107:20

“Some of the girls have been drugged for years, since they were little,” said Holly, “so their minds are completely blown. But I’ve seen God restore their minds through His Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit.” Director of the safe house, Holly added, “Other organizations ask me why we’re so successful. I tell them it’s the Word. We read through the whole Bible in a year and study it together three times a day. The girls ask God to speak to them personally, and He does.”

God is changing not only the girls but also their families. As a young child, Kalaty was forced by her mother to beg and do other things for money. “When I was around 12 years old, my mom left me to live alone in the village. She would go to the city to try to make money and only came back for one week a year to take me to the bad tourist area, telling me to get money,” Kalaty recalled. “I was so alone; I would cry myself to sleep often during those years.” A village friend invited her to church, where she accepted Jesus.

At 18, Kalaty came to live at the safe house. “I never heard the words ‘I love you’ from my mom; I couldn’t understand why she didn’t love me.” As Kalaty read through the Bible, she realized that instead of hating her mother, she must forgive her and love her as Jesus said. She cited Matthew 6:15, in which Jesus teaches, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” She explained, “It was clear to me that God wanted me to forgive—and even love—my mom.” She felt God’s prompting to visit her mother and tell her that she loved her. Soon after, she discovered that her mother was dying of cancer. With Holly’s permission, she brought her back to the safe house, where the girls showered her with God’s love and care. Touched by their kindness and convicted by the Gospel, Kalaty’s mother accepted Jesus. A short while later, she passed away. Kalaty rejoiced, “I’m so thankful that I will get to spend eternity with my mom in heaven!”

Now Kalaty is married to an assistant pastor and serves in children’s Sunday school and youth ministry. She encourages others: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). She added, “God has healed me and cleansed me of the hate and bitterness I had in my heart. He has made me new! Now I am pregnant with our first child—she will grow up knowing the Lord!”

Street Ministry

From Prison to the Mission Field

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Holly knows personally how the power of God’s Word can bring a soul from utter darkness to freedom. As a young child, Holly attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA, with her family but never personally accepted Christ. She started taking speed at 12, using needles at 16, and finally ran away from home. Soon her life spiraled into a lawless, violent roller-coaster: running drugs for the Mexican mafia, carrying a gun, using men and women, and being used. Her family prayed fervently for her. “My mom was a prayer warrior,” Holly related. “There I was—cooking meth, getting into homosexuality, going to jail. I stole from them; I lied to them—and they never stopped loving me and praying for me.”

In a California prison, Holly ran into an old friend named Michelle, convicted for murder, who seemed to radiate a new peace and joy. Amazed, Holly asked what happened to her. Michelle testified that Jesus Christ had changed her from the inside out. Holly asked her family to send her a Bible. When Holly was frustrated that she couldn’t understand it, Michelle said, “You have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to understand God’s Word.” Holly humbly asked God for help.

Holly Shares Gospel TractShe began reading in Romans. Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves … whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16). Holly remembers that, suddenly, “God revealed to me I was a slave to sin, and I was serving Satan. I had a choice—I could present myself to be a slave to sin or of obedience.” She then prayed, “God, I don’t know You, but I want You. There are [evil] things in me; I can feel them. Homosexuality, drugs, alcohol—I don’t want them anymore; I want You. Take it all; change me.” From then on, she said, “God gave me a new heart.” Instead of terrorizing the other inmates, she showed them love. She couldn’t stop reading the Word, telling others that it was better than any drug or pleasure. “I had the joy of the Lord. There is nothing that compares to His love and peace.”

A year and a half later, Holly was released from prison and enrolled at CC Bible College in Murrieta, CA, while on probation. She spent her free time at the nearby women’s U-Turn for Christ ranch. “Now I see that God was preparing me to run a women’s home,” she noted. After graduation, God called her to Southeast Asia in 2009. At first she worked with needy children, then learned about the terrible plight of girls sold in tourist areas and various places. God provided for Holly and another native Asian Christian woman to open a safe house for girls. Modeling it after U-Turn, they provide the Word, unconditional love, and prayer—and the Holy Spirit does the healing. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I [Jesus] speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

God Protects & Provides

Though the spiritual warfare has been intense, God has protected and guided the ministry. At the first house, some of the girls’ pimps discovered their location and would come to threaten or plead with the girls to return. In August 2015, Holly was assaulted while on a motorcycle, leaving her with a hematoma in her brain, a fractured jaw, and broken ribs. Believers who visited saw what a terrible state she was in, and she was brought back to the U.S. to heal. In 2017, God provided a new rental home, safer and large enough for 25 girls. Holly and her ministry team are praying that God would provide to purchase a larger house to bring in more girls and to run a coffee shop to cover their expenses. She welcomes short-term mission teams to come and share Christ’s love with the girls at the safe house and in the community where bondage still exists.