Keep Kids in Vietnam Warm This Winter

Winter in the Highlands of Vietnam can be brutal. Weather conditions are harsh. Many of the children do not have adequate shoes, warm coats or blankets for their beds – basic necessities we often take for granted.

WAR Int’l partners with a program in Vietnam which provides for the needs of children who are living in state institutions, have special needs, or are at risk of being sex or labor trafficked in their communities. The organization currently reaches out to more than 4,500 children who live in orphanages and boarding schools in Vietnam.

school_assembly_Sep '12Over the last few years, our partner has handed out hundreds of blankets and coats to needy children and this year the goal is no different.

This is where you come in. The organization is asking for $5 for a blanket and $10 for a coat, hoping to collect 3,000 of each item. If you can budget to give a $5 or $10 gift, you will help keep a child safe – not only from the winter cold, but from the dangers of trafficking and mistreatment as well.

If you would like to donate any amount to this organization, you can follow the link here.

We are extremely thankful for those of you who will respond to this call to action – providing safety and comfort to children across borders. We encourage you to continue to pray for this organization, that they would be able to not only reach their goal during this fundraiser, but they would impact many more children in Vietnam, sharing the Gospel with them in powerful ways.

As always, if you have any questions about us or how we partner with international organizations to bring a voice to the voiceless, you can email us at

Lady Godiva’s Showgirls closes

GRAND RAPIDS – Lady Godiva’s Showgirls closes in GR

In the dark corners of strip clubs all across the country, traffickers loom. Strip clubs are breeding grounds for trafficking – its disguise even sometimes fools the women working in them. Many of the girls who begin stripping do so through a “boyfriend” who eventually leaves the role of lover to become a master manipulator, taking every cent the woman makes during her ten-hour shift. Violence and criminal action run rampant in strip clubs across the United States.

It’s always bittersweet when a strip club closes for those who understand the pain and depravity the girls face in these dark places. On one hand, there is cause for excitement because many girls have been set free. On the flip side, when a strip club closes, questions like “Where are they now?” begin to emerge. Some of the girls will turn to prostitution. Others will drive farther away to other clubs, either in Grand Rapids or in surrounding cities like Kalamazoo or Lansing. Even fewer will decide to leave the life completely.

Despite the uneasiness that this situation brings, a strip club has officially closed in the city of Grand Rapids. Lady Godiva’s Showgirls, a controversial strip club in Grand Rapids, has been sold to make room for downtown apartments, offices, and retail space. According to Wood TV8, demolition of the building is set to take place this fall to allow for the new developments.

There were only three strip clubs in Grand Rapids, which is quite a small number considering the population density of this city as a whole. One of the two left, Sensations, is also owned by the same woman who owned Lady Godiva’s, raising questions about whether or not the second location will also eventually close.

Lady Godiva’s has a shady past marred with the death of several strippers, shootings in the parking lot, and mafia activity. A WAR, Int’l partner has tried to go into this particular club to minister to the girls with no avail – even being banned from the premises because she came without a male escort.

So while the questions arise in the midst of this news, WAR Int’l realizes the closing of this strip club could be one step closer to ending human trafficking in West Michigan – and sharing the love of Christ with the girls who now have to search for employment elsewhere.

Please join us in prayer as we lift up the girls who formerly worked at Lady Godiva’s. Pray that God would lead them to places of joy and peace – out of the sex industry. Pray for the ones who do turn to other strip clubs or pimps in Grand Rapids – for their safety and protection in these dark times. Pray that they would find an alternate way out of the sex industry.

If you would like more information about this strip club closing, or the development that will take its place, you can visit WOOD TV8’s website that includes their article on this issue at

Summer Sales = Bliss

Some of you have been anticipating our annual sale all year. Well, we have good news for you: you can breathe easy because our annual Sidewalk Sale is back and you’re not going to want to miss this! We are hosting the sale at all three boutique locations the rest of this month. This is a sample sale that meets a sidewalk sale – and it will support women worldwide! There will be one-of-a-kind samples from our product partners, slightly flawed scarf clearance bins, and clearance jewelry to sort through.

It is our passion to partner with champions around the globe who ensure women who create the beautiful products sold in our boutiques work in safe environments. These women are empowered in the workplace, receive fair wages, and learn about the love of Christ in the process. Supporting our boutique helps keep these women all around the world (including here in the United States) employed.

Our items make the perfect birthday, anniversary or Christmas gifts, but we also know that you are worth pampering! So, stop by and buy something for a friend, or for yourself.

Sidewalk Sale 2015If you live around the Naperville, IL area, visit our boutique July 9, 10 and 11. If you’re near Rockford, MI, check out our store’s sale July 16, 17 and 18. And if you’re around our Wyoming boutique, come stop by July 23, 24 or 25 to snag a few beautiful pieces at discounted prices. The sale will run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day at each boutique. If it happens to rain on any of these dates, the sale will be moved inside, so don’t fret!

If you don’t live near one of our shops, you are welcome to check out hundreds of discounted items on our website at, as well.

Come be a part of this event and join us on any of those July dates – we can’t wait to see you!

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.