For Kids Only!

Nobody likes to do chores. Working is just no fun when you could be playing with your friends. But lots of kids have to do chores all day without ever playing. Some even have to get jobs so they can take care of their families. Other kids are forced to work all day for no money at all! It’s not fun. A lot of these kids don’t have moms or dads, don’t go to school, don’t have enough food, and don’t feel very safe. WAR, Int’l wants to change all that! We make sure they have a safe place to live, people to love them, and lots of time to play and have fun. You can help too! The money you use to buy stuffed animals, sling shots, bracelets, crayons, and other toys at WAR, Int’l goes right to the places that keep kids healthy and happy! You can also come to WAR, Int’l and do all kinds of jobs that help us keep doing this awesome work. Tell your mom, dad, or babysitter—grab a friend and come on over! We need your help!

Life After Exploitation

A look at hope & healing

Fluorescent light bathes the room, spilling onto the black tables and empty, cushioned, swivel chairs. The tables are laden with plastic organizers, boxes, and a metal basket stuffed with scissors, pliers, glue, pens, and a few pieces of candy. Shelves and cabinets line the perimeter of the room, filled with beads, spools of ribbon, wicker baskets, and more. A quilt and other decorations adorn the walls. One is a slip of paper, upon which a Psalm of longing and invocation is handwritten.

This is the U.S. Training Center within WAR, Int’l, and the strong, brave women who sew, fashion jewelry, and concoct spa products here are survivors of sexual exploitation—a horror that many of us can’t fully grasp; we can only brush our fingers against it, feel the dips and grooves of the scars it leaves on flesh and soul. The women may be free from their abusers, but they are not yet free from the burdens of their dark pasts. Yet strangely enough, they have an advantage that non-victims do not: they know—truly know—what it’s like to wear a price tag, what it’s like to be used, what it’s like to be abused again and again and feel helpless to stop it. And their experiences can galvanize them to take action against the risk of trafficking and exploitation.

Before that happens, however, healing of all sorts needs to take place. First, caring people need to clean and bandage their physical wounds. The meaning of this may be literal; victims are often physically abused and beaten. But they also need to be treated for other physical problems: dangerous pregnancy, STDs, and malnutrition, among other things.

The body often heals more quickly than the mind, so psychological issues may linger long after the wounds have scabbed and the infections have cleared. This is because women in the sex industry have experienced a great deal of trauma. They have most likely been raped. Clients have stripped away their humanity, turning them into objects for their own personal pleasure. Pimps have threatened and abused them. So it’s no wonder that they suffer from PTSD, substance abuse, dissociative disorders, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide. One can understand why they feel worthless, helpless, and ashamed (though they are, in reality, strong, beloved, and blameless). It’s no surprise that they must renew their lost sense of identity.

The healing process can span for years. Take Theresa Flores, the founder of Traffickfree. She still experiences nightmares about the times she was trafficked as a teenager. But recovery can and does take place. One woman in the U.S. Training Center, Monique, is steadily heading in that direction. Once a victim of the sex industry, she now aspires to open her own jewelry-making business. She is currently honing her skills in preparation for that day, designing and repairing gorgeous jewelry for WAR Chest Boutique.

Life may never be the same for survivors, but this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes those who were formerly voiceless become powerful vessels for change. They share their stories in front of audiences, build organizations that advocate on behalf of victims, and work to rescue those who are still trapped. Theresa Flores founded the S.O.A.P. program, a SOAPclever and effective way to reach trafficked women and girls. This initiative labels bars of soap with the Human Trafficking Hotline. Before large-scale events, the soaps are distributed to hotels and motels, where trafficked individuals can find them and seek help. Anny Donewald—a former exotic dancer and prostitute—founded Eve’s Angels. Among other things, this organization reaches out to women in the sex industry by visiting them in their places of employment. They show women the love of Jesus and offer them a way out. WAR, Int’l’s very own Rhoda Kershaw—another survivor of sex trafficking—is a powerful advocate and dear friend of ours. She also uses her experiences for good, sharing her story and speaking out against the crime of human trafficking at our Civilian First Responder conferences. Though Monique is still involved in our program, she is already using her experiences to spark change; she recruits other women into the U.S. Training Center, inviting them to join her on the road to healing.

You can help these advocates and promote change alongside of them. Get involved with organizations founded by human trafficking survivors. Volunteer to label bars of soap with Theresa Flores. Show sex workers the love of Christ with Anny Donewald. Stand up with Rhoda Kershaw and speak out against the injustices that are perpetrated against millions of people worldwide. Join Monique and search for women to rescue. It doesn’t matter where or how you help. Every second of time you give makes a difference.

You can also walk with rescued women on the path to healing by purchasing the work of their hands. This gives them a livelihood, a positive way to support themselves, a means of escape from traffickers. When you wear or use their products, you share their story and give them a renewed sense of dignity.

Finally, treat everyone you meet with love and respect. Unless you are told, you have no way of knowing what another person’s life looks like. Physical wounds may be covered with clothing, and emotional wounds can be concealed with fake smiles. The worst case scenario may not be true, but act as if it is. After all, everyone struggles with something and needs compassion. Your kindness alleviates pain and gives strength to those who feel weak—whether they are trafficking victims or not.

Volunteering: Extending Arms of Love

It is no secret that our volunteers are the backbone and foundation of this organization. The precious time and talent they sacrifice provides tangible hope for rescued and at-risk women. A few hours a week makes it possible to offer women and children places of safety. war-volunteer-03   Over time and with enough volunteers, OKthose few hours multiply into hundreds, adding value and impact beyond imagination. The volunteers at WAR, Int’l serve selflessly each week, giving themselves and their energy for the wellbeing of others. This is one way arms of love are wrapped around at-risk women.

war-volunteer-02At WAR, volunteers are also a source of blessing and inspiration. One of the greatest joys of volunteering here is experiencing the relationships that form between staff members and fellow volunteers. As weeks pass those relationships mature and bear fruit. We are a family of WARriors. Each member plays a different role, but all work towards the same goal; being a voice for the voiceless. Together we are stronger—and louder. Our volunteers encourage and lift the spirits of WAR, Int’l staff members on a daily basis. When asked how she would describe her experiences at WAR, Mary, one of our devoted volunteers said, “Wonderful. You are surrounded by very caring people all working towards a common goal; to help women who need rescuing. You are part of a bigger cause while being blessed with wonderful friends. It’s like a big family.” Our volunteers are an integral part of this organization and are greatly appreciated and esteemed.

Volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes. This is a small list of the work available for volunteers of all ages, talents, and abilities:

  • Use your organizational talents and administrative skills to help WAR be more efficient and in turn, allow us to reach more women
  • Restock handmade products that directly empower and provide a living for rescued and at-risk women.
  • war-volunteer-01Help out in our garage where products arrive and are shipped out to different events and product parties.
  • Research risk-issues or possible venues for WAR to speak at and spread the word.
  • Through simple data entry, make it possible for WAR to communicate with more people, businesses, and organizations in order to raise anti-trafficking awareness.
  • Tag and package jewelry and other handcrafted products as a way of supporting women who need to make a living and have a place of safety.
  • Organize a variety of donated goods that provide comfort and encouragement to rescued women and their children.

Whether you live near or far there are ways to volunteer your time, talent, or treasure:

  • Partner with your a local soup kitchen, domestic abuse center, or school
  • Donate online or through the mail, regularly or as a one-time gift
  • Pray for the endeavors of WAR and the women who are beginning a new life
  • Host a WAR party or a community event
  • Vote on new products via email
  • Become an intern
  • Create unique cards of encouragement for rescued women

lyn-vanderLaan-groupDo you want to get a group involved? Are you hoping to volunteer? Join our family of WARriors! All you have to do is contact Michelle Griffeth, our Volunteer Coordinator, with any questions you may have. Once you are ready she will help schedule a day that works for you. Do not hesitate to call her at (616)-855-0796 or email her at

Here are some of the thoughts shared by staff members when asked to share their appreciation for our volunteers:

“I love our volunteers! It is so encouraging to see so many wonderful people selflessly giving of their time and talents. They are an encouragement and offer a breath of fresh air!”

“I enjoy walking through the volunteer center, meeting volunteers and getting to know them. It’s so neat that you give your time. You inspire me. I think, “I should volunteer too!”

“I deeply thank each of you for your commitment and hard work for WAR. Thank you for your countless hours of service which bless our rescued and at-risk women around the world. We have the best volunteers around!”

“There is nothing that warms my heart more in this building than to walk through the volunteer center and hear the wonderful buzz of volunteers cheerfully filling the room. I love how they have bonded and built friendships over projects and tasks that serve wounded women around the world. The thought of it just makes me smile.”

“You keep our building running. Without your day in day out, detailed work, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

“Thank you for giving your time, talent, and treasure. You make it possible to provide women and children places of safety.”

“Each day I find myself taking a sanity walk right into the volunteer center. I feel it is one of the safest, warmest places in this building; one I run to for encouragement and a gentle reminder of why we do what we do. Thank you for being the light in my day!”

“I think of the Greek word parakaleo. It means to be called to one’s side. Our volunteers have truly come alongside and partnered up with us. That means so much.”

Quench Your Thirst for Freedom

Party with purpose!

This summer, keep cool and party on by hosting a product party with Women at Risk! You’ll receive a free hostess tumbler as our thanks to you. Hosting is easy—we send you all the products and displays, and it’s a great way to beat that summer boredom with family and friends. Our products are fashionable, practical, and support women’s safehouses and enterprises all over the world. Whether you choose a handbag or a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece, you’ll know your purchase has a purpose in helping lift at-risk women to dignity and freedom. So what are you waiting for? Call us today to plan your party and receive your free hostess tumbler. Quench your thirst for freedom with a Woman at Risk product party!