Origins: The Massage that Unleashed Uncaged
Can you believe we’ve been on this path together for over six months? It’s been an amazing story so far, from our partner on the ground in Romania rescuing 39 survivors so far this year, to the progress we’ve made on The Sanctuary, to the coalition we’re building. Thousands of people ready to see Human Trafficking end (that’s you!).
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the miraculous story of our start. I may have already shared the story with you, but I wanted to tell it again, both to remind us of why we’re doing this and to share with those of you who are newer to this coalition.
I was raised believing that we’re put on this planet to do something meaningful with our lives. Two years ago, I really began to search for my purpose at this stage in life. After three grueling back surgeries and a retirement from Westfall Gold, I was praying daily, “God, give me something great to do for you.”
The first time I prayed this prayer, back in my 20s, God dropped a beautiful organization into my lap called Watoto Child Care Ministries. Over in Uganda, East Africa, we took the most desperate children, sometimes found in garbage dumps with their hands tied behind their backs, left as human refuse.
We would scoop them up, dust them off and place them in a family. Each family consisted of one housemother and eight children. We would place them in a home. We would build 8 homes in a circle – and anywhere from 30 to 150 homes in one village.
Then, in each village, we would drop in a school, a medical center, community center, and a church — all surrounded with sustainable farming. It was an incredibly effective model that cared for 3000 kids when I left. In a matter of time we would see kids turn into bright, happy, hopeful little people! Reflecting on this model, I often thought it would work anywhere in the world.
“God, give me something great to do for you,” I had prayed. In Watoto, He’d given more than I could have imagined. With this history, you can imagine that two years ago, praying this prayer again, I was hoping that God would meet me again with a mission much larger than myself.
Instead, one day I heard God say, “you should go get a massage today.”
I dismissed it. But it hit me again and I said “Well, okay Lord, it’s not the worst idea,” and I called my friend, who owns a spa. She answered immediately, “Kim! I was just thinking of you and wishing you would call.”
“Ok,” I said tentatively, “well, do you have a last minute appointment?”
“Of course, come right over!” she exclaimed.
When I arrived, she introduced me to Karen Rose, a woman with a gift for speaking into people’s lives. As I sat with Karen, I sensed something very strange happening. I had asked God to answer me, but the massage and impromptu time with a stranger caught me off guard! Karen began to talk about my life, including parts of my life that no one knew. My eyes widened as I listened closely. Then, Karen paused.
“Kim, you have always had a heart for the children,” she said, looking at me warmly. My heart leapt, remembering that “Watoto” means “the children” in Swahili. Karen continued, “Right now, I see you standing in front of cages and there are children in those cages. You are reaching out and opening the cages, the children are coming out, and as they pass by you, they’re being healed.”
I sat back, head swimming. This was not the massage I was expecting, let alone the answer from God I imagined. Karen believed that the image was about child slavery and human trafficking. I left the spa stunned.
Over the coming weeks and months, I did a deep dive on human trafficking. I started reading books, watching documentaries, talking to experts and authors. The stories of Survivors appeared all around me. Immediately, I began to reach out, forging connections to figure out how we could serve Survivors and end this atrocity. It became clear that there was an intense need for holistic, restorative care all over the world.
Less than two years later, we’re standing on the brink of having our first Sanctuary’s location in-hand. We have agreements with local government, law enforcement, schools, churches and surrounding community. We’ve rescued 39 Survivors this year; and they have their basic needs met… but they need more. They need trauma informed therapy, spiritual care, specialized medical care, education and vocational training. We are working towards the day when we can offer hundreds of Survivors the care they need, in The Sanctuary.
You are doing this restorative work with us. God has given me a mission that’s bigger than me, one that would require the gifts and talents of many hands. You have the gifts and talents we need. You have the keys to unlock the transformation of trafficking survivors.
Thank you for being part of this incredible story that God is writing.