The dream to restore victims of human trafficking
KENT E. BELL
I was first introduced to the plight of human trafficking victims by Susan in 2010. Susan had made an appointment, and as she sat in my office I did not realize the question she asked me that day would lead Bethel Life on a journey to open a long-term aftercare facility to offer Hope and Healing to such victims. The question was simple… “Pastor, have you ever considered reaching out to victims of human trafficking?” I must admit, it was a question I had never considered, and to be perfectly honest knew almost nothing about. After prayerful consideration I knew I had to know more.
A phone call to Bishop Talmadge Gardner led me to a contact with Charles Powell of “Mercy Movement”, a ministry under the covering of EVUSA and a ministry of the IPHC. As Charles and I talked, he shared his heart and passion to raise awareness in the church community, and I knew we had to meet. On October 17, 2010 Charles and Mark Palmer drove into Greenville and met with a group of approximately 30 interested members from our church family. This event opened our hearts to the need for the church to take action in reaching out to the hurting and abused. The seed was planted, but now needed time to grow and develop.
As we began to pray and seek God as to what our role could possibly be, it became apparent that we were to open a long-term aftercare facility. Our prayer is for a home where Hope and Christ-centered love collide to bring complete healing of spirit, soul, and body to young women 18 years of age and older who have been victimized by slave and sex trafficking.
With the vision in place, we purchased a home in October 2012 and an extensive remodeling plan was put in place. The home will feature eight individual bedrooms, three full baths and one half-bath, a completely remodeled kitchen, dining room, living room, office, and conference/ meeting room. A place with everything necessary to offer a safe home environment where their healing can begin is now becoming a reality.
Of course the home is only the beginning. The restoration program must also include those “special people” who will give themselves to loving and caring for the girls. We have found two of those in Savannah and Joan. Both will live in the home and occupy two of the eight bedrooms leaving the remaining six beds for the placement of the girls. Joan will serve Project Restore as Residential Director (she prefers House Mom) and will oversee the daily needs of the girls. Savannah will bring her life experiences to Project Restore serving as Program Director, seeing that each individual receives a full complement of medical, emotional, and spiritual services necessary to walk the journey to freedom. The length of stay will be defined by the needs of each individual with the average stay expected to be between 12-24 months.
Many ask the question…“where will the girls come from?” Project Restore will be a referral based after-care program networking with Law Enforcement, FBI Task Force, Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security, and additional ministries and emergency care shelters. Rescued victims identified by these agencies will be interviewed and accepted based upon their needs and desire to commit to the program.
What we have found is that when you take a step of faith God provides exactly what you need to complete the assignment. After purchasing the home and meeting monthly with willing volunteers we knew that we still needed guidance and direction. That’s when a call was made to Dennis Mark of Redeemed Ministries of Houston Texas. Dennis and his wife Bobbie lead the aftercare program of the Houston based ministry and have been a wealth of information and support. With hearts to serve, they traveled to Greenville in January, 2014 and invested four days of training, and assisted with establishing policies and procedures for the ministry.
With the remodeling of the home nearing completion, policies and procedures in place, we now prayerfully consider the girls who will soon enter the doors of the home that we will call Lyndsey’s Place. Why Lyndsey’s Place you might ask? Let me take you for a moment back to Sunday, October 17, 2010 when this vision was being birthed in the hearts of Bethel Life. Lyndsey Bellamy was a beautiful 21 year old young lady full of the love of Christ, a desire to love people, and to be a pastor’s wife…only she was losing a battle with leukemia. I had met Lyndsey and her family in the fall of 2006 as God brought them to Pennsylvania from Florida and divinely connected them to our church family. Lyndsey was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, and although she had gone through what appeared to be a successful bone marrow transplant, the cancer returned more aggressive than ever. On Sunday morning at 2:00 A.M. I received the call that I was needed at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. I remember sitting with Lyndsey’s mom asking God for the right words to say as a very difficult decision needed to be made. It was time to release Lyndsey into God’s loving and caring arms knowing that she had left something very special behind in every life she touched. It was that same Sunday evening following her death that Charles Powell would speak at Bethel Life. Lyndsey’s Place was born that day in our hearts and represents the love, hope, and beauty we experienced in the life of this special child of God. We dedicate Lyndsey’s Place to the memory of a very special young lady and purpose to be the light God has called us to be.
The mission and vision is clear…the house is prepared and now is the time to open the doors. We invite you to join us in prayer and support for Project Restore and Lyndsey’s Place. The overall cost of the home and remodeling is estimated at $140,000.00. God has provided, and the ministry has raised $108,000.00 of the needed funds to complete the remodeling and payoff the mortgage. Of course there will be additional monthly support necessary for operational cost. We encourage you to ask God how you might partner with “Project Restore” to make a difference in the lives of these young ladies who are starting their journey to freedom. If you would like to have more information concerning the Ministry of Project Restore or learn how you may offer financial support you may visit our website at www.projectrestore.org or contact Pastor Kent E. Bell at Bethel Life Worship Center in Greenville, PA., Phone: 724-589-5433. To donate to the Restore Project CLICK HERE.