An incredible ministry opportunity is underway, by Assemblies of God World Missionaries. Four months ago, in partnership with the Costa Rican Rahab Foundation (NGO), new construction began on the very first government-recognized, safe-house shelter for victims of human trafficking. Let me take a moment to tell you just one of the reasons why this is a vital ministry.
At just 17 years old, young Mariel (name changed for protection) was presented with the promise of a job that she so desperately needed. Unfortunately, she did not realize that she was being lured into a trap. She would later be held captive and forced into the world of human trafficking.
Using false documents, her captor moved her from Costa Rica across the border to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and then on to Honduras, where she would be used for the sole purpose of sexual exploitation.
Mariel was beaten and raped over the next two months by her kidnapper. He even threatened to kill her family if she tried to escape.
Terrified, broken, and helpless, she wanted to die. She once put a knife to her throat, but could not bring herself to take her own life.
Mariel continually complained of an ear infection, in hopes that her kidnapper would take her to a clinic. He finally did; and while in the exam room alone with the doctor, she was able to confide in him about her situation. The doctor quickly called in authorities, and the captor was arrested!
Mariel was assured that he would be put away for a long time, only to find out he was released after three short months! She hasn’t seen or heard from him; but he has likely returned to his normal pattern of kidnapping, beating, and raping girls in preparation for the terror of the sex trafficking industry.
Although Mariel has now found help at the Rahab Foundation’s day facility program in Costa Rica, she sees her captor’s face every day when she looks at her son . . . the son of her exploiter.
Sex tourism is a severe problem in Costa Rica, with most of the sex tourists coming in from the United States and Europe. According to the Rahab Foundation, exploitation “recruitment,” begins around the age of 14.
Because of incredible answers to prayer, the Rahab Foundation has developed close ties with local police and government, and is now building the safe-house shelter for adult and minor victims of human trafficking (labor- and sex- related).
Once the shelter is complete, victims can expect to receive medical care, vocational training, tutoring, counseling with licensed professionals, legal assistance, weekly discipleship encouragement, and so much more. Currently they are offering services at their day facility, but cannot offer safety and security for them throughout the night.
The goal? Building a place where young women discover what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as a place where they can find freedom, hope, and restoration.