This is a guest post, written by Robin Ann Houtsma, an Atlanta blogger and Wellspring Living supporter.
I am so thankful for one of the greatest privileges on the planet: opening God’s Word with over one hundred women from across North Atlanta made up of preschool moms, businesswomen, twenty-somethings, college students and grandmothers at Eastgate Church. In our fall Bible study we did not want to simply gather and grow; we wanted to join forces and make a difference for others. Though our backgrounds and seasons of life are as diverse as can be, our heart is beating with one passion— to rescue and restore!
This heartbeat began when I was awakened to the horrific realities of exploitation happening to women all over the world. I was shocked to discover that Atlanta is a major hub for human trafficking. I later traveled to Greece with Christine Caine of the A21 campaign and visited her shelters, hearing firsthand the stories of girls who had been rescued. My heart was impacted forever. As I returned to Atlanta I knew our group of women could rally together to stand with those rescuing girls right here in our city. But where should we start?
Upon meeting with some of the staff of Wellspring Living, I knew this was the ministry we wanted to get behind! Wellspring has been successfully rescuing girls far before many of us became aware of the saddening statistics in Atlanta. At least four hundred girls a month are trafficked in our city! The staff provided us two very practical yet impacting opportunities for involvement.
First, we could sponsor parties. Many of the young women spend their sweet 16 or other birthdays in the program. Their graduations also create another special day of honor. There is so much hurt, shame and pain that has taken a toll on their young lives. They need to know that they are loved, they are valued, and they are worth celebrating. It does not cost a lot to ensure that these girls are thrown a party for these special events, celebrations they deserve.
Second, we could provide Bibles. Another reality is that most girls come empty-handed into the program. They are brought from prison or straight from the streets. One of the greatest gifts we can give them is a Teen/Women’s Study Bible. Lives are restored and transformed by the power of God’s Word. Giving this gift builds a bridge to connect these precious lives with the many promises God has provided in the Bible. With these values in our hearts, the women of Eastgate Church set the goal of sponsoring 10 parties and providing 50 new study Bibles.
It was not a coincidence that I wrote our latest Bible study on the life of Joseph entitled “Project Promise”. As we gathered together we studied about God’s promise to Joseph and the great calling over his life. Before Joseph saw the fulfillment of these promises he first endured horrendous abuse and suffering—he was trafficked as a slave by his own family. Our hearts were moved each week to make a difference for those who have endured the same. It also gave us a tremendous spirit of hope as we concluded our study—that despite what the enemy has meant for evil, God can turn it for good. God’s promises did not fail; He completely restored Joseph’s life! This is our prayer for every beautiful young woman rescued through Wellspring Living.
We were ecstatic when the final totals came in at our last gathering. We had raised $3,000 to sponsor 25 parties! We more than doubled our goal. We also brought in 80 brand new Bibles as Christmas presents for all of the girls! What a privilege to partner with this powerful ministry. Thank you, Mary Frances Bowley and Wellspring Living, for being on the front lines of this great battle and for allowing us the honor of standing with you!