Picking Up the Pieces / Unchained

Pearl is a survivor (and learning to be thriver and joy based) of sexual (and other) abuses throughout her childhood that began while she was still in diapers. She was essentially sex trafficked for several years from the age of 3 or 4 years old and was also forced to participate in child sexually abusive material during that era. Following is her bio in 7 stanzas.

Picking Up the Pieces / Unchained

Staring into darkness, watching shadows fall,
empty heartbeats echo down the dark and endless hall.
Starry dreams are crumbling, crashing quietly to the ground,
only to be trampled on then yearning to be found.

Fractured psyche, broken trust, leaving only fear,
Shredded heart, silent screams, crying without tears.
All the times, all the lies, all the damned illusions –
‘Loving’ people cast my chains with all their damn perversions.

Where’d it start? Who can tell? Does it really matter?
The time has passed, it’s moving on, having left the tatters.
And now’s it’s time to let it go, drop it to the floor;
Do what it takes to stop the bleed, blocking out the core.

So dark descends and night has come to take me in it’s folds,
And deep inside now I know there’s nothing left to hold.
That one way mirror finally cracked, a million tiny pieces
Perhaps in time, a two way mirror may rise from all the pieces.

In time came marriage masquerading as love,
for his dysfunction called to my self-loathing.
And when God’s whisper became greater than the threats,
I let Him lead me out. It was time to mend.

Been picking up the pieces with much hope, tumult and doubt
Just trying to figure out how to make it all count.
Mosaics have beauty when they’re put together right
and Stained glass glows gently if it forgives the night.

Years go by and hell still lingers, imprinted in my mind,
but something greater has displaced its stature and I find,
Faith holds on ‘til Grace declares: “They will NOT win, I prevail”.
Their chains are breaking because I’m learning, I AM worthy. LOVE prevails.

I can’t thank You enough, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Hidden In Plain Sight

March 2023

Imagine for a moment, working long hours into the night, your back hurting, your lungs stinging from the spicy dust of a well-known chip the factory you’re employed with is producing. Imagine enduring this while also being a minor, still in high school.

People often forget that human trafficking is more than sex trafficking; it is also labor trafficking, and often exists in plain sight.

West Michigan is currently under the microscope for a local food production factory violating child labor laws.

In late February, the New York Times (The Times) published an article highlighting labor trafficking here in West Michigan. WOOD TV also published an article locally.

This matter was brought to the attention of Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) when Rebecca McDonald, WAR, Int’l founder & president, received an email from a local employment placement firm, detailing their applicant screening practices and policies. Understandably, this firm wanted to disclose that their processes met legal guidelines which would help their clients meet legal guidelines too.

An Illinois-based food manufacturer that has production sites in Grand Rapids, MI hired a local employment agency, who allegedly hired the underage workers. The manufacturer has now hired an agency to conduct an independent review of staffing policies and plant conditions. This review is expected to take 60 days.

What can you do to make a difference? #CircleOfProtection

1) To better understand the risks, learn more here.

2) For additional resources, find them here.

3) To receive training as a Civilian First Responder (CFR), read more here.

Valentine’s Message

By Rebecca McDonald, Founder & President
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.