International (MNN) – One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when rescuing women from human trafficking is their own perception of hope for the future.
Dr. Peggy Banks of Trans World Radio’s Women of Hope says, “An area of ministry that is very close to my heart and we see all over the world is domestic violence and sexual abuse. And when I talk to our leaders, nine different regions, and I hear the reports of what our leaders are dealing with on a daily basis, with our listeners, with women on the ground—two things: sexual abuse and human trafficking.”
It doesn’t matter what area of the world you’re looking at—women face sexual exploitation in so many contexts. Trans World Radio has a project focused on giving women hope. But it’s very important that these women see the hope has a trustworthy foundation.
Banks says, “Hidden Treasures is an audio drama that just tells the story that God has not forgotten them. That God has a purpose for their lives and they’re beautiful in his sight. And as they listen to these different stories of women getting out of human trafficking, the last episode does introduce them to Jesus as Savior– tells them that they can have a new life, they can have a different life.”
The drama consists of 10 30-minute episodes which are available online and also through personal listening devices. The content is based on the real-life story of a woman who is in ministry today, but the identities and locations are omitted for security and privacy reasons.
“It basically tells the story of one woman who was rescued out of human trafficking. And she goes back onto the street to talk to women who are being prostituted and just invites them into her story, and helps them see that there is a God who has not forgotten them. A God who sees them,” Banks says.
For some women, this message of hope is brand new. For others, Banks explains, it is something they’ve been waiting for—even asking God for. She says she’s encountered many women stuck in human trafficking who grew up in a Christian home or heard the Gospel and maybe even became believers. But through life circumstances, they became trapped in a life of prostitution.
“But yet they know and they’re praying for God to send someone to rescue them. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve encountered that that’s part of their story.”
TWR Women of Hope is partnering with six different organizations in Europe who are distributing and following up the Hidden Treasures content with tangible help and discipleship. They will be able to help women find a safe house and a community where they can learn more about Jesus and find healing all while having their value affirmed. This is huge in helping the women reintegrate into normal life.
TWR Women of Hope also hopes to produce more relevant content in order to help these women learn about God at a deeper level.
Why it works
Banks says the audio drama is powerful, simply because they are true stories. No one made them up. But it’s also important to follow up with these women and let them go at their own pace to accept this new grace and new life.
“I actually met the woman that this audio drama was created around in Europe. Today she’s about 85 years old and still runs a ministry on the streets there in the red-light area. So, you’re never too old to reach out to them. But these women, I think, find hope—a little glimmer of hope.
“When you’re working with victims of human trafficking, the longer that they’re experiencing severe trauma like that, they become less and less likely to think that their life could ever change, they could ever be anything else, and anyone would ever love them.”
It takes time and consistency to help a survivor accept that there is a way out of the life they’re living, and that there is plenty of love and grace to help them heal.
“And that better life is because God sees her and has already planned something better for her. And it’s just walking with her to trust the Lord because she has lost all trust in anyone.”
Another reason why it’s so important to have a team on the ground to walk alongside these women is because the content of this audio drama can be difficult to listen to. Banks says the episodes be an emotional trigger for any woman who has been sexually abused and exploited.
“So that’s why it’s important to us—TWR Women of Hope—that there is somebody right there next to them that can follow up right away and not leave them alone with this emotional kind of re-traumatization.”
But over time, with the proper support, these women can come to understand that they are not alone, and that healing can take place.
Support this work
There are a few ways you can support this ministry. First of all, ask God to use TWR Women of Hope and Hidden Treasures specifically to reach both men and women with hope and an understanding of just how much God values women. Pray that they would come to know Jesus.
Secondly, you can help the Hidden Treasures program grow. Banks says they’d like to expand the ministry into India and Africa, but that will take new programming to fit the local languages and cultures. They are also in need of more devices to send to their partner organizations on the ground so that more women can have access to this content.