Nurturing Love, Hope, & Strength

Author: Rebecca McDonald, President & Founder
June 2022


TEA FOR TWO

A Nurturing Ritual: There’s a deep joy in the ritual of tea. Tea is romantic, filled with renewal, and meant for reflection and nurturing. Each cup tells a story. Sipping tea is drinking in the gift of creation and makes us pause and linger on life. To paraphrase from The Way of Tea and Justice, tea provides a tasty lens to find a moment of quiet sanctuary. Tea never talks back and is a faithful friend. The simplicity of tea calls you to slow down, pay attention, and listen.

Nurture Those You Love: So let’s try together! Lift your cup, slow down, and listen. Whisper encouragement to those you love – your spouse, your children, a friend, a mom…you choose who needs to be loved on. Sit with them. Offer them a cup of tea. Listen to their delights of life and their struggles with it. Just listen. Listening has this renewing power that nurtures others. It sends a message that they are important, strong, loved, wonderful, courageous…A beautiful ritual, tea time sets aside the busyness and puts focus on the ones we love.

Nurture Each Other: Set a tiny table for you and your grands, spouse, or loved one. Have your own tea party. Beloved by the British Empire who took it globally, I grew up “taking tea” at a boarding school in Pakistan. The day I had a girl after three boys, I shunned mugs. My baby girl and I daily drank from my grandma’s teacups – her, milk and me, coffee – lying under the lilacs in the woodlands of the Appalachian Mountains. Today only the fanciest hotels offer high teas. You can do it at home, keeping it simple and fun. Simple is still fun.

Nurture Yourself, Your Thoughts, and Dreams: Tea connects us, but alone, it makes us stop and nurture ourselves amid the craziness of life. When overwhelmed by my day, the brokenness of those we lift, or just the sheer volume of work before me…I take a five-minute tea break. I sit in a chair with a cup of tea and tell the world, “For five minutes, the world is okay!” I let my mind wander and dream of big, God-sized plans for the WAR world. When I finish my tea, I feel a little refreshed and am charged to take on everything again.
So, WARriors! Nurture yourself, nurture your loved ones, and nurture your community. Raise a cup of tea and let’s dream together. Let’s nurture lives that are broken and seek love one cup of tea and one handcrafted piece at a time!

For further calm and loveliness, peruse and shop WAR Chest Boutique’s Tea For Two Lookbook

Sizzling Summer Specials and Newsworthy Events

Posted: June 1, 2022



Summer, summer, summertime! We’ve all been waiting for it, and WAR, Int’l is here to help you make the most of it with some special offers and important events.

Add us to your summer bucket list!


SPECIAL OFFERS

Mystery Item
UPDATE — We Have Sold Out! We are launching our 2nd Mystery Box on July 1st!

Introducing WAR Chest Boutique’s first ever Mystery Box! What will it be? Well, that’s for you to find out, but we can tell you the icing on this mystery cake is that it’s been handcrafted by rescued individuals from the beautiful country of Thailand. Starting TODAY, pop on over to warchestboutique.com and grab this exciting surprise, valued at $40, for only $10 while supplies last!

10% Off Special
For all parties held in June, July, & August, party attendees will receive 10% OFF their entire party purchase! Don’t miss this limited-time opportunity. Email our Party Event Center today to get your party scheduled!
Contact Party Central


SUMMER EVENTS

Join us the Fourth Monday of Every Month
Don’t forget to join us this summer for our monthly Zoom calls with founder and president Rebecca McDonald! In the virtual community we’ve cultivated, you will hear not only from Becky but also from courageous survivors and advocates who are passionate about combatting risk and fighting the injustice of human trafficking. The next call is scheduled for Monday, June 27 at 7:30 pm EST. To learn more, follow the link below to our upcoming events page!

Click here for Light Up Your World dates & speaker info.

June 7 – Outdoor Market Opens!
WAR Chest Boutique’s Outdoor Market will be back for the warm weather season and will feature jewelry, furniture, kitchen equipment, and accessories at excellent prices. Click here to learn more!

August 6 – WAR, Int’l Course
The WAR, Int’l Course, led by founder and president Rebecca McDonald, covers the history and mission of WAR, Int’l, how programs and partners are developed, the handling of products and sales with artisans, specific ways to get involved, and more. Click here to learn more!

August 10-13 – Unity Festival
WAR, Int’l will be at Unity Fest selling beautiful items handmade by rescued and at-risk individuals. Founder and president Rebecca McDonald will also be speaking on the main stage the evening of Friday, August 12th. Click here to learn more!

REMINDER

Our beautiful Tea for Two lookbook is HERE. Let’s foster hope and restore lives one handcrafted piece at a time!

Shop with a Purpose today!

A Part of Something Bigger

Trading Staff Sweat for Camper Sponsorships

By Bethany Winkel, WAR, Int’l Staff Writer
July 24, 2017

Colorful charts in the staff break room. Employees walking on their lunch breaks. Personal exercise challenges set and met. What was going on this past spring at Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) headquarters? It was some sort of exercise challenge—that much was clear. But who or what had inspired such a challenge?

Last month, we told you about a project near and dear to the hearts of WAR, Int’l staff: a one-week trafficking prevention camp for at-risk teens, taking place next month in a poverty-stricken Eastern European country. WAR, Int’l had the joy and privilege of helping to sponsor a number of girls for last year’s camp, and our staff was determined to sponsor even more girls this year. But the camp wasn’t the only project drawing the attention of WAR, Int’l staff; with a 5K/10K/half-marathon fundraiser coming up at the end of April, exercise and fitness were also on everyone’s minds. Seeing an opportunity to tie the two together, WAR, Int’l’s board threw down a sponsorship/exercise challenge to staff.

The proposal was this: In addition to WAR, Int’l’s initial sponsorship commitment, board members would sponsor up to five additional campers out of their own pockets. The catch? Staff had to earn these sponsorships for the girls by exercising. For each half-hour of physical activity logged, board members would ante up a dollar toward sponsorship. Staff accepted, and the challenge was on.

Five large paper thermometers went up in the break room at headquarters, each sporting horizontal spaces for logging exercise. Colorful markers were kept nearby. The ink on the first thermometer rose daily as staff traipsed in to record their exercise time, whether done on lunch break, at home, at the gym, or elsewhere. One thermometer was quickly filled—one camper sponsored—then a second.

The break room grew more colorful by the day, with the bright spaces on the thermometer reflecting a variety of exercise experiences as diverse and vibrant as the lines themselves. Staff members ran, walked, hiked, biked, or did aerobics. They exercised before work, after work, on lunch breaks, on weekends, and even while on vacation. For some, the challenge provided an opportunity to develop new exercise habits; for others it simply added an element of fun and teamwork to established routines. Many found great reward in stretching themselves, meeting goals, and shattering their own expectations.

Regardless of her experience, each participant enjoyed knowing her efforts went beyond self-care and were benefitting others as well. Several gladly shared their thoughts and stories with us:

Tricia, who does fundraising and consultant care, was among several participants training for the Gazelle Girl women’s race in downtown Grand Rapids, raising funds for WAR, Int’l through monetary donations. An avid walker and occasional runner, Tricia was gearing up to run her first 10K. She did most of her training at the gym, sometimes running on the treadmill for an hour at a time. “It was totally worth it,” she notes, adding that it was “awesome that I could support girls going to a summer camp as well!”

Also training for Gazelle Girl was Shelby, from our call center. In addition to evening runs around her neighborhood, she also ran on the treadmill during “naptime” while working her other job as a nanny. “It felt so good not only to challenge myself and meet my personal goals, but also to come into work and fill in the thermometer and know that I was a part of something bigger just by going out and running!”

A few staff members, taking advantage of WAR, Int’l’s location next to the beautiful Kent Trails, got in their exercise time during lunch breaks. Bethany, a staff writer preparing to walk the Gazelle Girl 5K, decided lunchtime walks would be a good way to get midday fresh-air brain breaks while also developing an exercise habit. Knowing accountability would help her stay disciplined, she sought a walking buddy via a staff email. Becky, from shipping and receiving, began joining her on the trail several times a week, and they have continued to walk together even with the challenge finished. “It’s been great getting to know each other this way,” Bethany notes, adding, “It’s also amazing how quickly the time and distance pass when you are yakking while walking!”

Tammy, from the cashiering department, also enjoyed walking the trail at lunch but clocked much of her time hiking, biking, and kayaking with her husband. “I’ve always been active,” she says, noting that taking part in the staff effort was a “no-brainer.” Yet despite her active lifestyle and good nutritional habits, Tammy’s main challenge has been maintaining a healthy weight.  At the same time the exercise project began, she was beginning to take off pounds and drop cholesterol points with a whole-food, plant-based diet. “It’s fun to have the weight loss to go along with all of the exercise for a change,” she says, “and being able to come in and add my time on the chart was just a really fun thing to see visually.” She especially enjoyed the idea of teaming up with coworkers to make healthy choices and help girls go to camp. “Win, win, win!”

Jen, from the programming department, also reaped unexpected benefits from the challenge, but unlike Tammy, she was starting from scratch. “Knowing my limits, I didn’t think I could exercise continuously for a long period of time,” she says, “so I started my own ‘ten out of ten’ goal.”  For ten days she would exercise thirty minutes a day, and at the end of the ten days, she would celebrate her success—whether it was eight days out of ten or, as was usually the case, a perfect ten of ten! With the employee challenge now in the books, Jen has kept up her personal challenge throughout the summer and recently began her eleventh rotation. “If I had started out at one hundred days straight I never would have made it, but short goals over and over have made for an amazing long-term goal!”

The heart of the challenge was perhaps best summed up by our retail manager, Kelly, a walker and yoga aficionado who welcomed the opportunity to take something she enjoys and use it for a greater good. Echoing the thoughts of many, she stated, “[It] was fun for me to feel like I was doing something for others and not just myself.”

Thanks to the passion and commitment of these employees and many others, by the end of the two-month challenge, all five thermometers were filled. True to their word, board members dug deep into their pockets and came up with enough to send five

 

more girls to camp. Instead of sending our partner funds for the fifteen girls WAR, Int’l had already pledged to sponsor, we were able to surprise her with funds for twenty. Those twenty girls will now be able to enjoy a week of fun activities, learning opportunities, ample food, tender nurturing—and potentially life-saving information. If just one young woman is saved from a future of slavery, that alone is worth all of our staff sweat and effort.

Having conquered our challenge and bettered ourselves along the way, we at WAR, Int’l now issue a challenge to you. What can YOU do to challenge yourself while helping someone else? You may not have a board offering to donate money for your toil and sweat, but what resources DO you have? How can you use them to make a difference in the lives of others? Join us in being “a part of something bigger!”


The twenty girls attending camp next month on a scholarship from WAR, Int’l are there not just because of our staff and board, but also because of generous donations from our supporters. We could not do what we do without you. Please take time to read about the camp, and consider partnering with us so that we may continue to offer opportunities like this one to at-risk children and teens around the world.

Eyes Opened and Hearts Changed

By Bethany Winkel, WAR, Int’l Staff Writer

Here at Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) headquarters, we hear many real-life stories from our partners—stories that break our hearts for those who suffer violence and injustice, while also inspiring us with testimonies of hope and changed lives.

Among the most poignant stories are those from “Rebecca,” who visits our headquarters each time she is in the U.S. and shares with us about the work she is doing. Rebecca works with at-risk and trafficked young women in two small Eastern European countries—one a hotbed for sex trafficking rings and the other a primary source of victims for such rings. The stories she shares about the horrendous situations there and the experiences of the girls she works with are both shocking and distressing, yet it is heartening to see that the work she does is making a difference for many.

Last year, we published an article about a brand new summer camp Rebecca had coordinated and hosted for at-risk teen girls in one of the countries where she works. Many of the 150 girls attending had experienced abuse, abandonment, and dire poverty, leaving them especially vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Thanks to the efforts of Rebecca and her dedicated team of volunteers, these teens were treated to an enjoyable week of fun, enrichment, and community.

But Rebecca’s vision for camp went beyond simply providing the girls with a fun experience. Along with tackling relevant topics such as suicide prevention and conflict resolution, Rebecca and her volunteer staff educated campers about the lures and tactics of traffickers, equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to avoid becoming victims. They also introduced them to the saving grace of the gospel. Rebecca reported back to us that the camp was a huge success, with many eyes opened and many hearts changed. She is confident that for some of the girls, the week they spent at camp has made a crucial difference between a future of slavery or one of freedom and safety.

WAR, Int’l has the honor and privilege of partnering again with Rebecca for this year’s camp. She is very excited about some new things she’s going to implement this second time around. Fueled by a passion to mentor and raise up a strong generation of local youth, she is selecting some of the girls from last year’s camp to be junior leaders, with high hopes that some will become full leaders at future camps. She is also excited to have hired an experienced camp director to join her committed team of translators and other volunteer staff.

Rebecca and her team are also thrilled to hold this summer’s venture at a better facility where the campers can enjoy real bathrooms, ample food, and fun things such as a swimming pool and a rock-climbing wall. (Bathrooms and an abundance of food are things we in the United States take for granted, but for many of these girls, they are unheard-of luxuries.)

In an upcoming article, we’ll share with you how WAR, Int’l’s board and staff teamed up in an exercise challenge to sponsor a number of girls to attend camp this year. As you look forward to reading that story, we encourage you in the meantime to consider how you might help as well.

Please read last year’s article for further details about the camp and some background information on the dire situations in which the campers are living every day. And then please prayerfully consider helping to sponsor a teen to attend this year’s camp. The cost to sponsor one teen to attend this week-long camp is $195, but we will gladly accept donations toward camper sponsorship in any amount. Thank you for joining us in helping Rebecca create a circle of protection and love around these precious young women!

To donate, click here.

Afterword – Fall 2018: Like the first camp, this second camp was a great success. We recently received a letter from Rebecca rejoicing about the lives that were changed during the third camp this past summer. She is now preparing for the fourth annual camp, to be held during the summer of 2019. WAR, Int’l has sponsored campers each year and is collecting donations now for next year’s camp sponsorships. Please consider partnering with us to help more teens experience this life-changing camp!

 

Book Drive

By Brittany Jacobson, WAR, Int’l Staff Writer

When Women At Risk, International comes alongside an organization, particularly a safehouse, we immediately address the needs they may have. Whether they are searching for someone to furnish a room, purchase specific items for their residents, or cover their team in prayer, our goal is to support them in the most holistic way possible.

Recently, we joined forces with Cherished Heights out of California. This survivor-led program takes a comprehensive approach to the recovery of victims of human trafficking. Its mission is to walk alongside women who have survived the trauma associated with exploitation as they go through their individual journeys of healing. This program equips and empowers them to live healthy, flourishing lives while becoming productive citizens within their communities.

Not only does Cherished Heights provide a residential program for victims of human trafficking, but also weekly support groups for survivors, and employment through the creation of jewelry, clothing, candles, paintings and spa products. This safehouse has a trained outreach team visiting local strip clubs each week, as well. Through small gifts and invitations to their support groups, they remind women how valued and loved they truly are.

We have taken on Cherished Heights as a partner of our organization, committing to assist the program in its areas of need. In this case, Cherished Heights hopes to fill a brand new library with Christian books that will uplift, inspire, and encourage the women in its program.

If you have new or very gently used Christian fiction, Christian Living, or devotional books, please send them or bring them to our headquarters at 2790 44th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49519. We have a collection box in the Volunteer Center of our building as well, and you are welcome to drop off any book donations there.

We also have an Indian partner who is need of classic, English language literature. This elite high school is teaching students about the significance of reading, and is looking to expand their growing library. We are interested in receiving works by classic writers including Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, or Joseph Heller, to name a few.

This book drive for both partners will run from May 1st to May 31st, and we hope to collect as many books as possible! We welcome your donations in person or via shipping to our offices.

If you have any questions about your book donation or this book drive please contact our headquarters at (616) 855-0796, or email us at info@warinternational.org. Thank you so much for partnering with us in this way! With your gifts, you are creating a healing environment for victims of human trafficking.

 

Please note:

If we receive an abundance of the same titles, we will distribute them to other safehouses and at-risk women in our partnering programs. Also, due to the number of books we anticipate receiving throughout this drive, we are unable to provide the funds to cover the cost of shipping books to our headquarters. We greatly appreciate your understanding in this matter and look forward to blessing these programs with your help!