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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

"Yesterday was the best day of my life!"

“Yesterday was the best day of my life,” I heard her say. I was sitting in the dining room of the Sanctuary as survivors were telling their Resident Specialists about how they celebrated Easter the day before.

Easter in the Orthodox Church is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon after Passover, a different day than protestant Christians celebrate the resurrection. I was excited to be visiting Romania during the time of Easter and to get to experience my first Orthodox celebration. The survivors who were at The Sanctuary that day asked if they could go to the nearby Orthodox church for midnight mass on Easter Eve.

We went into the village and through the doors of the church. The whole town was packed into the little building. Everything was new to me, but to these girls, they were returning to their roots. They held my hand and guided me through the service.

The people were chanting prayers in Romanian and it was so beautiful. The Priest lit our candles and we, in turn, lit the candle of the person next to us until the room was full of light. The congregation walked three laps around the church, the girls arm in arm with me.

It was a truly precious moment for me when they excitedly asked what I thought of the service. They shared this little part of their culture and history with me. Back at The Sanctuary the next day they were just as excited about sharing the day with me. “Going to church with Kim was the best day,” one of them said.

They then asked if they could also visit another church in town. It is amazing to see survivors who have seen the darkest of humanity now desire to connect to their spiritual roots and to God. They are open and they want to explore.

This choice to explore—to connect to who they are and figure out their own way forward—is so important for healing. Choice-based therapy means giving survivors the ability to make their own decisions. They haven’t known what it is like to have a choice or control over their own lives for a very long time. They need to go where they feel comfortable and safe. They need to be empowered to make their own decisions.

This is all part of the healing trafficking survivors experience at The Sanctuary, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Will you be a part of it, too?

Be the key to choice, to empowerment, and to transformation!

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