TRIBUTE TO THE UNSUNG MOMMIES

Author: Rebecca McDonald, President & Founder
May 1, 2022


This Mother’s Day, I want to celebrate the women who never mothered a child biologically. They’re role models of a mother’s heart in ways deserving respect, love, and adoration. They sacrificially give of their time, talent, and treasure to nurture in the truest sense of the term “mothering.” True mommies to the mommyless or to others’ children, they may be single committed to nurturing others’ children or married but will never deliver their own. They nurture babies whose own mother was not there for them or nurture others’ kids in ways their parents couldn’t.

Single women profoundly influenced me as a young girl and one reason I am who I am today. I grew up on a humanitarian mission compound in a foreign land with a high number of single women serving the hospital, school, and other humanitarian works. They embraced singleness and poured their lives out 24/7 like a drink offering to nurture little ones. So powerful were these role models, I did not fear singleness. I saw lives that gave up marriage either by choice or by God’s design to nurture a world of children who desperately needed the maternal instinct that’s in every woman.

One of my heroes in Asia would love to marry and have her own children. My heart breaks that she is lonely in ways that married women will never understand. But she was called to be a mother figure to the broken girls of the red-light district who hang on her like the mother they never had. She’s too busy “mothering” to find a husband. She radiates joy and nurture; children flock to her in droves. She is the only safe person they know, a drink offering in a dark place.

Just because you can conceive doesn’t make a good mom. Sadly, this greatest job on earth requires no education, no certificate, no liability statement, and comes with no directions. Babies are having babies with no clue how to nurture. There’s so much more to “mothering” than physically bearing a new life.

This Mother’s Day tribute is to those mothers who have given their lives to lift others’ babies. I often state that after I raised my own babies, I am still just a mommy…Now a mommy to the mommyless. I’m nothing special. I simply do the work I’ve always done of nurturing. Women who aren’t biological mothers are experts at doing the same thing. We stand shoulder to shoulder and join forces with incredible ranks of “moms” who nurture to the exclusion of their own biology. I don’t deserve to be in their company. They know a pain and loss that I don’t. Yet they pour out their maternal instincts to lift the babies of the world.

As a practiced observer of pain, I don’t miss the signs of their sacrifice and sense of loss. They don’t cry in their soup and whine. They quietly give their lives to nurturing others. They are the teachers who pour themselves into the children born to others. They are the nurses who rock the babies in the nursery where the biological mom is incapable of loving for so many reasons. They are safehouse staff who faithfully go into the darkness to find little ones or who, when they were little, no one heard their cry. They hear the cry of the wounded and rejected. They make their pain their responsibility. They bring to the table whatever skill, talent, or treasure God has entrusted to them to be the moms those wounded, at-risk children never had.

It’s my privilege to stand in their shadow. I feel a unique pain for singles offered platitudes that married women and even clergy heap on their heads. I watch as they quietly bear senseless remarks and flippant misunderstandings. As a child, I cringed at the quiet pain filtering across their polite faces as grownups were oblivious to the impact of their comments. I have an uncomfortable knack for seeing pain that has no voice.

I have a soft spot for married women who cannot bear children. I grew up as an American in foreign lands where a woman can still be divorced, abandoned, used up, and discarded for this “sin.” I understand culturally why the women of scripture…Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, and Rebecca were devastated at their barrenness. I have a soft spot for moms who miscarry and mourn their loss. I have witnessed the unspeakable pain and confusion of Russian culture that considers abortion normal birth control, yet is taught by the Orthodox Church that abortion equals murder and is, therefore, an unpardonable sin. One of the earliest programs of WAR was stumbling on a weeping Russian who believed she was required to abort her new pregnancy because of living in a one-room apartment with six adults and no room for a child. She wanted this child in her happy marriage but couldn’t afford it. We supported her for two years. Now her precious son is a wonderful man.

So this Mother’s Day, the world of Women At Risk, International salutes those women who are, in some ways, more a mommy to the world than many biological moms. You are our heroes. We cherish you and lift you high. We honor you in the cultures of the world that would whisper other messages. We could not do what we do without you. We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as the mighty warriors of mothering and nurturing that you are. We honor your life as a “mommy to the mommyless,” standing together fulfilling the call to parent the motherless. I could write a similar letter to you about nurturing, protective dads who have not born biological sons and daughters, but that will come on Father’s Day.

Thank you for the honor of working beside you. Someday in Heaven, there will be a real Mother’s Day where the fruit of your labors will rise up and call YOU blessed. Because of you, they will celebrate your nurturing in their lives through your time, talent, and treasure.

From one mommy to another………..I love you. Becky

Is Happiness A Choice?

Author: A Dear Survivor
April 12, 2022


    This, I Believe

Over 10 years ago, NPR had a radio show called “This, I Believe.” This segment focused on written essays from listeners who were stating their stance on something they believed in. It was incredibly inspiring, but it also encouraged listeners to broaden their point of view to hear and understand someone else’s opinion. Below, I’ve written my own “This, I Believe” statement about something that can often be considered controversial:

    Is Happiness a Choice?

Having been a circle of protection to survivors of sexual and physical abuse, human trafficking, and other traumas, I believe happiness is a choice. Persevering against the odds stacked against them, these survivors have risen from the ashes because they chose to invest in their own happiness. One recurring observation I often hear when a survivor publicly shares their story is: “I would’ve never known they were a survivor because they’re just so full of joy!” Every morning, these individuals wake up and are haunted by their horrific pasts. They are faced with the decision of whether they are going to choose to linger in the darkness of their trauma or whether they’re going to choose the warmth of happiness – and by no means is that decision an easy one.

It is incredibly easy for anyone who has endured trauma to any extent to linger in those dark corner shadows where they won’t ever have to face what’s keeping them there. But the choice to be happy? That choice is one of the most difficult ones they have to make on their healing journey. When a person chooses to expose all those dark and scary places, they prove that they’re no longer afraid of what awaits when they open the drapes. It’s like when spring finally comes after a long winter, and they can finally open the windows, let in the fresh air, take a deep, cleansing breath, and allow themselves to begin sweeping up the settled dust and cobwebs.

I personally went through my own healing journey from the years of trauma I endured that resulted in multiple mental health concerns. After one final breakdown, where depression and anxiety left me on the ground, a shattered mess of hopelessness, questioning if I was strong enough to keep going, I realized that I needed to play an active role in my recovery to find true healing. It was no longer enough for me to solely rely on my weekly therapy sessions and my prescription medication. With the help of my therapist, I found it was most beneficial to start every morning making the conscious choice to choose happiness and appreciate the little things around me. I opened my eyes and found joy in the turkeys and deer as they walked through the backyard, in the sunrise over the golden cross that stands glowing high above the Cathedral on my drive to work, and in the sunsets as the burnt orange rays of warmth came streaking through my bedroom window in the summertime. Maybe that’s more of a testament to my personal growth, but similar practices are mirrored in the courageous and strong individuals I’ve had the honor of knowing and loving. Surely, if a survivor of something as horrific as human trafficking, torture, assault, etc., can open their eyes and choose their own happiness every morning, anyone can. This, I believe.

Love After Trauma

Author: A Dear Survivor
February 21, 2022


Merriam Webster defines the essential meaning of love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” While that seems simple enough, after enduring traumas such as human trafficking, rape, abuse, etc., love’s definition becomes less clean cut. Love also begins to change shape after a traumatic experience like the ones stated above. For some of us, love becomes sleeping on the floor together, because beds are too much of a reminder of the things that have been done to us, and our bodies begin to seize up, leaving us unable to move – or sleep. Some of us can’t argue with our spouse because it’s a stark reminder of our past experiences and shutting down is the only way to cope. Sometimes, love looks like sleepless nights, wrapped in a weighted blanket and the arms of our spouse as we endure another anxiety attack that shakes us to the core of our being and leaves us sore, exhausted, and unable to communicate other than in soft whispers once it’s over.

The idea of finding love after trauma can be terrifying. While some of us had happier childhoods and others learned the feelings of abandonment from a young age, the one thing we all can agree on is that we can still feel the brokenness and betrayal long after we were wronged. For myself, my father taught me at a young age that I would never be good enough for any man to stay in my life, including him. I carried that with me for my entire life – admittedly, I still do – which led to continuous situations of abuse while accepting any “love” that may have wandered my way…because I craved being loved. When I found my husband, it was the most terrifying experience of my life, even more than the traumas I had already survived, because it was REAL love, it was POWERFUL love, it was a love that was kind and would never falter. What I didn’t realize was that this love would be the hardest for me to place my trust in – it was just too good to be true.

One of the first things I ask when I speak with other survivors is, “How did you learn to trust people again?” That question is often answered with a little smirk and a chuckle, knowing that’s a loaded question with a loaded answer. I ask them, mainly, because any advice I can get is valuable, but also because it truly is the one aspect most of us can relate to. Almost every time, the first sentence of their answer is, “it was really hard.” Then, I asked one survivor that loaded question, and she told me that her trust in God was so abundant that her trust in people was because of Him. She then wrote me a verse on the back of scrap paper about trust that I still hang in my home office to this day. Mind you, this incredibly strong, sweet, and wonderful woman had been trafficked and tortured after trusting in people, yet smiled the biggest, kindest smile I had ever seen and answered my question so confidently, there wasn’t a split second of time for her to even think about what she would say! I have to say, I was completely awestruck! How did she make it sound so easy!? Though I’m still working on the trust part myself, I have been blessed with a husband who is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, and whose love will never end.

After surviving trauma, love can “sometimes” look like many different things. However, for survivors and their spouses, love is always sitting through the highs and lows of a painful past that may never be fully understood. Love is always just being there for each other 100%, even when we may not be 100% ourselves, and knowing that is enough. Finally, love will always be full of forgiveness and overcoming any argument or situation without giving up!



Valentine’s Message

By Rebecca McDonald, President & Founder
February 10, 2022


Gruesome? Yes. Romantic? … Definitely!

What man restores the sight of a blind girl, the daughter of the judge who has called for his execution, and sends her a “valentine” farewell moments before being put to death? That is the story behind the annual expression of affection we know as Valentine’s Day. It began as a tribute to St. Valentine, imprisoned by the Roman Empire for many acts of kindness. Though his kindness resulted in a gruesome penalty, it illustrates a vital element of true love.

True love is the gift that expects nothing in return and does for others what no one else does. My favorite part of the legend is that he restored sight to a girl even though her father condemned him to death. True love—not puppy love, not blind love, but true love—does what is best for others. It restores vision and helps us see clearly.


Uncomfortable? Yes. Romantic? … Definitely!

A precious survivor, trained to be a ballerina, was trafficked as a child and later rescued by her daddy. When her future husband courted her, she pushed him away, saying, “You don’t want to love someone as broken as I am.” Wrapping her in his loving arms, he whispered back, “Yes, I do. That was not your fault. I love you just as you are.” In that safe embrace, she found healing, hope, and her voice. Today she speaks for WAR, telling her story to bring hope and healing to others.

When I asked her hubby, “What advice do you have for people dealing with survivors and intense trauma?” His answer was, “Patience. My wife sleeps on the floor. Beds are a trigger. I used to accept that and sleep on the bed next to her. Now I just sleep on the floor with her.” Those words melted our hearts. True love took him from a bed to the floor—hardly a comfortable life choice, but a loving one!


A Mother’s Love Raises Mighty Men

A little girl grew up wounded and abused. She found true love in a godly man, healed from her scars, and became a strong, determined woman of God. Together they raised three boys. She purposefully brought them up to be powerfully protective, loving, tender husbands and fathers. Before going home to heaven, she had one request: that funds given in her memory be used to help others find the healing she had found.

Her husband and sons came to visit me at WAR Headquarters. Their father smiling beside them, the three sons—now husbands and fathers themselves—spoke of their mom’s impact on them as they grew up, their voices becoming tender and gentle as they relived her story. As I listened, I saw the powerful effect of a strong woman raising strong boys to be mighty, protective men. As a mom, I had begged God to give me “eyes to see” and wisdom to raise strong yet tender men—men like my husband, who loves extravagantly and sacrificially. Now I sat in a circle of protective men like those of my own family.

As I fast and pray for funds in 2022, I am humbled and thankful for gifts that allow your donations to be doubled—and I am inspired by a tiny woman named Ann who heard me speak and was determined to change lives forever. Join her and others in helping the House of WAR establish emergency housing to provide shelter for women running from danger to safety.


Unconditional Love Gives Sight

As you read this, WAR partners are bravely walking the red light districts of the world with the message of unconditional love, the gift that asks for nothing in return. Night after night they faithfully invade the darkness, whispering, Come to the light. There’s healing and hope.

During our Circle Tours, we march into the most notorious red light district of Asia bringing gifts and a message of hope for women in captivity. We go with seasoned partners who will follow up with the women. One time in one bar alone, 24 women slipped notes to our partners with their phone numbers, paving the way for secret rescue.

During the Valentine season, these hellholes—not fun places to begin with—come alive with false promises of intimacy. Neither glitter nor neon lights nor darkness can hide the rats in the corners, the hollow look in the eyes of tiny girls, the lonely desperation of buyers, and the shrewd, calculating evil of predators who trade flesh for money, innocence for despair, and life for death.

Those who carry the Light of the World into such places have night vision: supernatural insight to cut through the glare and see others with God’s eyes. If you want to help, consider giving to our Outreach fund that allows us to distribute gifts and show kindness to those trapped in red-light districts throughout the world and here in the U.S.


Finding True Love

I can say from my own experience that a soul mate is the real Valentine. I watched my parents weather the valleys and mountains of life and stick together come hell or high water. When I found my perfect complement—my soul mate—I followed him around the world, and as a result, the House of WAR was established. My husband tells that story and many others in his new book, sold on our website. In chapter 5, as he tells “his side” of our love story, he says, A soul mate protects you from yourself. A soul mate won’t let success go to your head, failure go to your heart, fear go to your confidence, or loss go to your soul.

This Valentine’s Day we are apart once again as I speak and travel to share the message of WAR. We gladly give up this time each year to serve others with the unconditional love. This Valentine’s Day, ask yourself what act of love you can extend to those in need, to those little men and women you are raising, and to those who love you unconditionally. One thing is certain: giving is more blessed than receiving!

With Unconditional Love for Valentine’s Day,

Becky McDonald



In Honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month

The following is a transcription from the video of WAR, Int’l’s Founder and President, Becky McDonald, sharing about January 2022’s National Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

I want to just send you a quick update and a thank you for your partnership in 2021 and now going into 2022. Women At Risk, International, in 58 countries with 15 different risk issues, is focusing in the month of January on anti-trafficking. It’s our national focus for the year, globally, and we are most known for our fight against human trafficking – this century’s fastest-growing arm of crime – of human slavery either through sexual slavery or labor slavery. Every 30 seconds, a human being is sold against their will somewhere in the world into one of these two forms of slavery, and in the United States of America, 300,000 minors – tender aged children, your daughter, my granddaughter, little people who are at risk, who have constitutional rights – and under COVID, we have seen children as young as three-and-a-half weeks old rescued.

COVID brought the world to a screeching halt, but not risk. And so, we don’t run. We don’t hide, and we don’t fear. We embrace it with the whisper and the message of “come to the Light. Come to the Light, the Light of the World where the peace that passes all understanding, the Prince of Peace, can help bring hope and healing.”

Albert Einstein said the world will be destroyed not by evil people, but by good people who see evil and do nothing. You have been good people. You have supported us. You have supported us in our efforts in Afghanistan both internally and externally, and there, we’re seeing a surge in human trafficking as well as families are desperate for money. Families are in hiding if their daughters are 12 or over. They have to give them to the Taliban as forced brides, but now, some are selling their daughters into a marriage contract at an even younger age to get money to feed the family. And so desperate measures, we are feeding families there and we are working with Afghans outside of the country as well. And thanks to gifts from TCT Family Worldwide, we’ve been able to step into many different risk issues and make a difference.

So, whether you are giving gifts or whether you are shopping with a purpose, we want you to ask yourself “what can you do in 2022 to lift the scourge of human trafficking?” This is a cry for a mother’s heart, from my heart to yours to circle your cradles, to be that safe place to those you love, and to get involved, a call to action. It might be something as simple as shopping. Maybe you go on our website or host an event and purchase the work of their hands. When we rescue women, we immediately give them a way to support themselves and give them job skills while they rewrite the story of their life. So whether you’re buying jewelry or scarves, you know that whatever you’re purchasing comes with a story card and it tells you the story of the people whose lives have been impacted and who are making that. You are buying the work of their hands.

So from our house to yours, in 2022, we want to wish you a wonderful 2022 and thank you for your partnership, and from our house to yours, we just welcome you into the WAR family, and there is an Irish proverb that hangs in my house that I will share with you. It is something that has been seen by hundreds who have eaten here and thousands of others who have come here for safety and security, so take it to heart.

It says this, “So come in the evening, or come in the morning. Come when you’re looked for, or come without warning. Friendship and safety you’ll find here before you. The oftener you come here, the more I’ll adore you.”

So, welcome to the House of WAR, and thank you for your partnership in 2022.