Sarah’s Story – Hopeless to Hope
The following story is written by Pastor Stephen Henson, Compassionate Hope Foundation Philippines Nation Director. Under the dedicated and tender care of his staff, one survivor's life was forever changed.
At first glance of the image above, you might think these two girls are sisters. But that is not the case.
The older girl in the picture, Sarah (name changed), was greatly neglected by her family. This neglect led to many unhealthy life choices and a baby at the young age of 13.
At such a young age, Sarah was unable to provide care for her baby, so her grandparents took baby “J.” She was bombarded with hateful words by her family and unfortunately, was convinced to move away with a much older man.
Sarah missed her baby and desired to have baby “J” back, but knew she had to find work to do so. With no life skills or training, she went searching on Facebook for entry-level jobs. To her surprise, she got a response from a spa.
After a few days at the job, Sarah found out it was a scam business, and all the spa offered was sexual services. Then just 15 years old and with nowhere to go, Sarah was unsure of what to do. But a coworker enticed and coerced her to stay at the spa, and she found herself trapped.
After a few months, Sarah was rescued from the establishment along with 15 other adults. Two days later, she arrived at the homes of Compassionate Hope [a partner of the Tim Tebow Foundation] in the Philippines. She was on suicide watch for two weeks and had no hope to live, but the Compassionate Hope staff and her house parents surrounded Sarah with unconditional love, support, and prayer both day and night.
But then, one day, as I walked into our kitchen at the Village of Hope, I turned the corner, and there was Sarah with my wife, laughing and smiling for the first time. Joy filled my heart as if I was seeing my child walk for the first time.
A few months later, Sarah accepted Christ as her redeemer. It was quickly apparent that this was truly a life-changing conversion!
As Sarah continued to heal from the trauma, she longed to see her child again. At this point, it had been over a year since she had last seen her. The Compassionate Hope staff felt Sarah was ready, but knew it was not as easy as making a phone call and seeing her child. Her daughter was with Sarah’s grandmother's family, who has many troubling vices.
All of the family members viewed Sarah, this precious child of God, as a “no-good, worthless piece of trash who should be discarded.” This is a polite way of saying what they actually meant.
So we prayed and made a game plan. I explained to Sarah that God's plan was to share Christ with her family and for her to be reunited with her daughter. But we knew that this mission was not going to be easy.
We finally got one of the family members to agree to a video call with Sarah once per week. This contact led to Sarah's mom, aunt, and Sarah's daughter finally visiting the CHF Homes of Hope. It was an exciting day with tears when baby “J” came, and more tears when she left that evening.
I reminded Sarah that her mom saw Christ for the first time that day. Sarah said, "Where, sir?" I said, "She saw him in you, and when the time is right, God will give you the courage to share the Gospel with your family." We continued to help build a bridge of trust between Sarah and her family until they finally agreed Sarah could visit their home and see her daughter again.
As we entered Sarah’s grandmother’s home, most of the family was present. Sarah greeted them with a warm "Kamusta," which means "How are you?” but we could feel the cold reply in return.
Sarah went before her grandmother, who was still strong and greeted us with a snarling, resentful expression. In slow motion, Sarah sank to her knees. After years of pain and suffering, God finally led her to this precise moment to share the Gospel. It was as if she could hear the Spirit say, "It is time."
As her family watched, Sarah humbly told her grandmother how sorry she was for all that she had done and the consequences that happened. As a tiny reluctant tear flowed from her grandmother's eye, Sarah asked if she could tell them how God had changed her life.
There was an unexplainable, instant spirit of resistance. "NO, I am okay!" Sarah's grandmother said. "But I can see you are different now."
As if she did not hear her grandmother, Sarah went right into sharing what Christ did on the cross, and how he transformed and changed her life. God then moved among this hardened family, and many tears followed.
Now, several months later, God has restored Sarah's honor and favor with her family, and they are now allowing precious baby “J” to visit Compassionate Hope on the weekends. Everyone has fallen in love with her, and “J” has quickly bonded with her mother.
Please continue to pray for Sarah as Compassionate Hope helps her work on her education and as she learns to be a mother.
Stories like Sarah’s are all too common in the Philippines where 80% of children are vulnerable to becoming victims of child sexual exploitation.* But rescue and restoration is possible. Sarah is proof. And with your support, more children like Sarah will have a fighting chance. A chance to hope. A chance to be set free. A chance to truly live as a child of God.
Please join the fight today. We need you. And more importantly, children in crisis around the world need you.
*Statistics sourced by International Justice Mission