Rescue and Restoration: How Pulpit Rock Church is Fighting Human Trafficking with The Exodus Road
For six years, the generosity of the Pulpit Rock Community has impacted freedom in the darkest places around the world. Through a strategic partnership with The Exodus Road, Pulpit Rock has fought human trafficking on the front lines through supporting local teams as they work with law enforcement to help find and free survivors.
Not only does the community give financially, but various members generously donate their time. Jonathan serves overseas and volunteers here locally with The Exodus Road. A doctor from PRC volunteers to help with the mental health assessment and the needs of our investigators, and Pulpit Rock has hosted events at your church building for us. It’s been an incredible partnership, and your support continues to have signficant impact.
During the Mercy Campaign last year, Pulpit Rock specifically stepped into two big projects. You all generously helped fund the opening of our first aftercare shelter, Freedom Home, in Thailand and continued to launch a new team in the Philippines. I’m excited to share a bit about the progress on both initiatives.
Freedom Home is a place where survivors and their children are finding healing.
Last November, The Exodus Road opened it’s first aftercare shelter in Thailand. Serving survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation, this home offers both a temporary safe house and a longer term mentorship program for adult women — and their children. Led by a fully-national staff, clients at Freedom Home are offered life-skills training, trauma-informed counseling, quality childcare, and entrepreneurship and money management classes. What’s more, they are able to experience a loving, family environment.
To date, the Freedom Home has served six clients, along with seven of their young children. In addition to the women living at the home, the team has also provided some type of follow-up or support for 37 survivors in the local community.
Sola Long, The Exodus Road’s Regional Aftercare Coordinator and key leader at Freedom Home, is a Cambodian national with more than a decade of experience in the anti-trafficking field.
“It’s very important for Freedom Home to exist and to respond to [survivor’s] needs,” Long shared. “We allow clients to dream big, to identify what they really want. Our team is there to help them find a way to achieve it.”
The women all have different stories of exploitation and most have felt in the past that their only option to move forward was to return to work in the sex industry. One of the survivors entered Freedom Home after being trafficked since she was just 13 years old. Now she’s the mother of 4 children herself, each one from different fathers of different nationalities. Without the critical childcare and intentional job skills training, she had few options to provide even the basic necessities for her children.
But Sola and her team are giving these women opportunities for different futures — futures that they can choose and build, true freedom. Because of the mentorship from Freedom Home staff, two clients recently walked through the interview process and got jobs – one as a cashier at a grocery store and the other as an administrator at a construction company. They’ll be gaining critical work experience while their children are being cared for by staff at Freedom Home. Another client is working towards opening her own business. These resilient women have dreams and goals, and Freedom Home is there to help them realize those futures.
Holistic healing is being ushered in at Freedom Home, and Pulpit Rock has been a part of every single story. (Read more about Freedom Home in Thailand. )
Freedom is coming to the Philippines, in a time when it’s desperately needed.
The Exodus Road launched a national team to fight trafficking in the Phillippines, which Pulpit Rock has been a founding supporter of for the last two years. The Philippines is a country which is estimated to have one of the largest populations of human trafficking victims of anywhere in the world. They also face an incredibly high amount of online child exploitation. COVID-19 has only made the abuse more widespread. Some sources report an increase of up to 265% in crimes committed against children online since the pandemic started. The need for anti-trafficking work in the Phillippines is urgent.
Under strong Filippino leadership, The Exodus Road spent the last year building partnerships with law enforcement and government partners, setting up the legal identity within the country, researching and training. While much case work was slowed by the restrictions of the pandemic, we were so excited that the team supported police on their first official human trafficking case in February 2022, resulting in the freedom of 11 survivors (9 of them were minors) and the arrests of two traffickers.
And that case was only the beginning. Since then, the team has impacted the freedom of 40 survivors and gathered evidence to help police arrest 13 traffickers and offenders! We are pleased that 39 of those 40 survivors received some type of after care services or support from government social workers, our team or other NGO partners.
One of those stories involved our team monitoring a young man who was advertising girls for sale, offering sexual services ranging from $30 to $78. This trafficker kept girls and young women manipulated and controlled for his own benefit, sometimes in partnership with other pimps in the area. Our investigators gathered the evidence needed to intervene, working with police partners to plan a raid. The raid took place in a parking lot, and five young women were freed — including one minor.
The evidence against the trafficker was clear. Law enforcement arrested him, and if he is found guilty in court, he is likely to face a minimum of 20 years in prison and a fine amounting to at least $50,000.
These are the types of cases that are literally making human trafficking more dangerous for criminals in the Phillippines. The Pulpit Rock Church community is ensuring that case by case, survivor by survivor, the most vulnerable are being valued and fought for. (Check out four of our recent rescue operations in the Phillippines here.)
Human trafficking is a dark and complex social injustice to combat, and there aren’t many faith communities with the courage to step into the work. Pulpit Rock is one of those churches brave enough to do just that. You all continue to live out the love and way of Jesus with commitment and generosity. You are bringing rescue, justice, and restoration to those facing the worst abuses imagineable.
On behalf of all the survivors and their children, national staff, law enforcement partners, and future generations you are impacting right now through your giving, please let me say thank you. We’re fortunate to have partners like you alongside us in this work of freedom.
We’re beyond hopeful about the stories and lives we’ll get to impact together in the coming months and years.
The Exodus Road