Can you describe Red Window’s ministry and vision?
Red Window Project’s mission is to facilitate a process of economic, social, and spiritual reconciliation for abused, exploited, and vulnerable people; in particular those who have survived cases involving human trafficking. Our method is to coordinate holistic services in order to complete the rescue of those who may have been physically rescued, but are still a long way from being restored.
We believe that for most survivors, vulnerability exists because of a lack of economic stability. We work tirelessly to empower survivors economically through job readiness training and access to formal education through our ALIVE scholarship fund. As we spend time with our students, we are constantly seeking ways to address social issues of family and community.
Although we believe in the importance of these two areas, if a student is not reconciled spiritually, we have missed our highest calling. We help all of our students rebuild a broken world view through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
How did the idea for Red Window start?
Red Window Project started as a pilot program under the direction of the International Justice Mission. It was known first as the Economic Self Sufficiency and Reintegration (ESSR) program. IJM realized that without alternative economic means, many of the rescued girls would return back to sex work within months after rescue.
ESSR began under the direction of IJM Cebu, and soon it formed a partnership with Cornerstone Fellowship from California in order to establish an independent third party organization so that more churches could participate.
What locations are Red Window working in right now and where do you plan to expand? On that note, how do you decide which areas to expand into next?
Right now, Red Window has one field office in Cebu City. We are beginning a feasibility study in Manila later this year. If all the indicators are there, that will be our first expansion site. It makes sense for us to first begin expansion within the country for two reasons:
- The need is still so great within the Philippines.
- We are already a known organization to the Philippines government.
Wherever we expand, active organizations need to be already on the ground making initial rescues successful.
Because we have such a close partnership with IJM, it makes sense to first look at where they already have field offices around the world. From there, we look at the other critical partnerships needed to make Red Window successful: business community, church presence, aftercare community, etc.
Every decision we make is taken to the Lord in prayer, and even though it may not make sense on paper, if we feel the Lord leading us, we will go.
Your vision includes the idea of reconciliation. Why do you think that is a crucial part of this ministry, both spiritually and socially?
We believe that we are all created for relationship — first with God, and then with others around us. These relationships and the capacity to have them are broken after suffering a traumatic experience, such as being trafficked.
Think about a young girl in a dark room, crying in loneliness and pain, asking God to rescue her, and it seems as if He doesn’t show up. Even after a physical rescue, we have to address that feeling of God letting down the survivor. We have to help her rebuild a world view which has room for a loving God when she might have given up on Him.
Now, to be fair, not every survivor loses faith along the way, and some find faith in the midst of suffering, but are still in need of spiritual healing and the understanding that it wasn’t due to their sin or faithlessness that this happened.
Likewise, many trafficking victims get lured into this work by their own family members, or close friends in the community. So when they attempt to reintegrate into that same community, it is very risky.
We can’t take a survivor and just address the immediate physical concerns by putting them in a shelter for six months and then sending them home. We all learn about relationships through our family, but if that relational model is broken, we need to find another way of teaching about healthy, blessed relationships. Survivors need to become equipped relationally.
How do people react to this idea of both humanitarian and social aid, along with a religious background? Are people skeptical or cautious at first?
Most people absolutely love the combination. In fact, they really aren’t two separate ideas at all. As people, we have separated them, but in reality, a true faith experience should result in transforming the community around us.
Some people will always say that we are speaking about God too much, or we aren’t speaking about God enough. And some will always complain no matter what. But we aren’t working for them.
We are working to please God by loving His children.
Do you ever have religious conflict with some people who come to Red Window for help?
We don’t require them to be Christians or even convert to receive assistance from us. So far we have not had any issues with our religious stance. We do not preach; we ask questions and we help them to find their own answers.
Do you think there is a difference between humanitarian aid and Christian aid? More specifically, what differentiates a Christian organization helping out vs. a secular one?
I would say there is a big difference between the two, and I would even offer a third option. Humanitarian missions deal with people’s physical needs, while Christian missions deal mainly with people’s spiritual needs. I would say that Gospel missions is a balance of both. This is what I read in the gospels — Jesus met a physical need in order that He could teach a spiritual truth. He would rarely, if ever, meet a physical need without teaching, and vice versa. Even in the temple, we read of His teachings there after healing someone. In my experience, when we are concerned with the whole person, physical and spiritual, we have a much better chance at long term success.
How can people actively help out/pray for Red Window?
Thank you for asking. We desperately need prayers and active participation.
Pray for wisdom, especially in our Manila expansion. We need the right information in order to make the right decisions.
Pray for safety for our students and our staff. Some bad people out there don’t like victims being rescued permanently.
Pray for our partnerships to continue to be effective locally and internationally.
Pray for our students to be successful in school and gain confidence in their new life direction.
Also, you can help by donating to our scholarship fund. Check our website for details, but currently we have students finishing high school, college, and vocational training. We need people to help us keep them on track. You can pay online through PayPal, or connect to us through Cornerstone Fellowship.