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Your Questions Answered!

As our leaders prepare to leave for Europe to visit a few of the new and established program locations for training, mentorship and assessment, we thought it timely to address a question we often get asked: “What does it look like for a new program to actually start? How does this happen?”

Well, great questions first of all. As the SA Foundation we are privileged to be a replicating movement of freedom, where we can impart years of history, wisdom and knowledge to other leaders to support and empower them to open up new doors of recovery and healing in their cities. This is crucial now more than ever in such a desperate world. 

The need is evident in every country worldwide, so as an organization our heart has always been for women anywhere to experience true hope and new life. This injustice must end throughout the nations, and it starts with each of us recognizing the need and leaning into what God is personally asking of us. 

For some, this looks like a fiery passion to work against this evil, through advocacy and rallying others. For others, it is to financially support the ministries involved in anti- trafficking. For still others, there is a deep conviction that they want to help the women affected more personally– to walk alongside them through the ups and downs of recovery and healing, helping them towards starting a new life. All are valid and necessary, but each is a distinct role that one must come to understand for themselves and pursue with open hands. 

When an individual expresses a deep sense of desire and conviction to work with the women, often they have already begun researching the need in their city and partnered with other organizations working with marginalized groups. Some have ministries within churches that desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. They come to find out about the work of the SA Foundation in planting programs and desire to know more or become a location for recovery, so they reach out and contact us. 

We do everything in relationship, so this is where it starts–coming to know that person or team and working with them in this journey from desire to operating. This is not a fast process, so that each person can feel well-equipped and have longevity in this line of ministry. 

Here is a very concise overview of the process to seeing a new program established.

  1. The SA leaders are able to meet online with these individuals, hear their hearts and what they desire to see established in their city 
  2. They ask for at least 3 leaders to be in place to establish a team that will support the frontline ministry in program, operations and mentorship capacities. 
  3. This team must gain charity status to establish themselves and develop relationships with the local service providers.
  4. The SA Foundation provides support through grants, formation of a team, as well as spirituality, assessment, training and mentorship to help establish this program, sharing all the values, principles and the SA Program Model that has been uniquely designed to meet the needs of the women. 
  5.  Training and support continue in a 5-year development and relational journey to see the program as well-established and self-supporting as able, serving the needs of the women locally
  6. SA Programs and leaders share and support one another through our SA Global Network. 

Over the years we have been privileged to work with amazing global leaders and have helped 15 programs start within 8 countries, helping an estimated 6100 women and 2000 children (to date) to be set free from slavery. THIS IS WHY WE EXIST! We are very excited for a potential new program in Bologna to continue through the training and assessment to become a new door to freedom within Italy. If you are interested in finding out more about program development and the steps needed, please view our website for details or get contact details here:


Your Questions, Answered!

Many of the women entrenched in sexual exploitation would actually not acknowledge or identify that they are in a situation of exploitation. Most have been groomed from an early age to believe that this was their “fault,” “choice” or what they “deserved.” Some have even believed that this is all they are “good for,” even by family members. These tragic lies and belief systems have deep roots that help to keep women enslaved. For others, they have been manipulated and deceived with the promise of a change in life, work, and circumstances, and find themselves forced into sexual exploitation. They are controlled mainly through fear and violence. 

To get out of trafficking and exploitation many risk their lives to leave, fleeing pimps and traffickers when they have a chance. They decide to risk asking for help, or they get pregnant and come into contact with medical and social services, with access to professionals who can begin to assist their escape. Police and special investigators are able to support and perform raids on brothels, trafficking rings and more, in order to arrest the traffickers and rescue the women and children. Then they help the women pursue the help they need and identify locations for them to be safe and recover.

Other ministries and services within the cities have direct contact with women in exploitation, from treatment centres and shelters, to charities that provide meals and support. These outreach bases and workers can form relationships and speak love and encouragement to these individuals and share about the opportunity for an exit out of exploitation and into recovery and healing. This is why every organization that seeks to use the SA Program Model spends much time assessing their cultural landscape and establishing relationships with local service providers to ensure their organization is known to these referring sources.  It takes a collaborative approach to ensure that women have their needs met from detox to safe housing, long-term recovery and employment opportunities in the future.

Getting out, unfortunately, doesn’t always mean staying out.  As with many toxic relationships, the fear, manipulation and control are so deeply entrenched, that the women, now physically free from their abusers, actually do not know how to be or live without them or this dark world they have just escaped. Shame and lies that run deep keep them from seeing their true worth and value. Recovery has to be a personal choice, for it takes commitment and endurance to face the pain. These women might need to hear many times that they are worth it and that a life free of these other toxic individuals would actually be better for them in order for them to believe it for themselves. These are seeds of hope, however, that we get to sow into an individual’s life, keeping the doors to recovery open and ultimately allowing God and his timing to bring the women to us, when they are ready for a new life. 

Many women, sadly, just don’t know the truth that there is a different life available to them, which is why we are passionate about opening up new doors and avenues of escape globally, so each woman in need can know that there is a community who cares and that hope is just around the corner.

Find out more about our program and where we work HERE.

Committed for Freedom

Committed. This is an uncomfortable word for most of us. It is not the easiest word to want to base our lives around, yet it is foundational in seeing freedom come in our lives. The culture around us can often make commitment out to be a trap, inviting us instead to be spontaneous, to go with whatever our feelings suggest to us.  Culture says no accountability is freedom, yet we have experienced and believe a joy-filled life and one of growth and purpose is one based in community with accountability.  Recovery and healing take intentionality–it won’t just happen. It takes commitment to stay the course for the long term, even when we don’t feel like working through our ‘stuff.’ It takes accountability, meaning letting others into the journey with you, ones that you know and trust to keep you focused and on the right path. 

This point in the journey is to ensure we put into practice, daily, what all the previous steps have revealed and taught us. We don’t have to let daily life issues have control over us, instead, we learn to filter them through the lens of the new perspectives and practices we have gained. Committed means that we will continue to take a personal inventory, allowing God to reveal our actions and attitudes that are still harming others. We desire to be in right relationship with others, which means we have to be committed to the work of recovery in our lives, allowing the Holy Spirit to continue his patient and loving work in us. 

In community we are constantly going to be refined, as living with others and having relationships is challenging no matter who you are. However, when this place of community and belonging is filled with God’s peace, purpose and love, there is truly no place we would rather be. So how do you set aside time to let God examine your heart so you can keep short accounts with him and others? To whom can you be accountable in this incredible journey of life? Champions, freedom within comes from simply practicing the daily routines of surrender and honesty with God and others. Easier said than done, we know, but we’re here to encourage and champion you onwards today! 

Empowered: Stepping into God’s Promises

Empowered, an apt word for this season, don’t you think? Fall presents many challenges and tasks for us. If you’re a parent there is the ‘back to school’ process happening right now, which can be overwhelming but also full of hope and anticipation. Fall can also provide us with a reset, a chance to set new goals, overcome new challenges, and lean into the new that is coming. Ultimately, to be empowered is to have choice–choice over the steps you take, choice over the path you want to pursue, but also the opportunity and confidence to actually take that step. No person can fully empower you, not even you, yourself. Only God can do that.

This awareness is a crucial component to healing. Only then can you own your personal recovery and take responsibility in processing the trauma, pain and harms in your life. God desires us to remain dependent on him to empower and guide us on this journey. He has never asked us to walk alone, but promises to be with us and help us. “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 40:10)

An integral component of recovery that the staff, leaders and women work through includes making ‘direct amends’ to those we have harmed. This is a big step, facing the reality that our actions have harmed others, and choosing to take responsibility for that. Making direct amends does not merely amount to a contrite apology, but involves a profound acknowledgment that we have played a role in damaging relationships. We want the other to know that we recognize our part in the causing damage. It is an action step that requires humility, a recognition of one’s own brokenness and a desire to bring change and restoration. 

The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us and brings conviction and clarity to our hearts and minds as we work our recovery. He softens our hearts to recognize our wrongs and empowers us to take action towards healing. Because God created us as relational beings, he is also ignites our desire to love others and to seek the healing of damaged relationships. He produces the fruit of mercy as we take action towards reconciliation. 

So, as you ponder this new season ahead and what your action, goal or step might be, hear these words and promises of Jesus:

 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

As he spoke to those surrounding him on the mountainside many years ago, he also speaks these promises afresh to you and me this fall season. May you know that the God who delights in you will also empower you, as you trust him and step into his promises!

Reflective: Seeing the Effects of Our Brokenness

The journey to freedom doesn’t stop due to the seasons. God always wants to help us heal and find new levels of freedom regardless of sun, rain or snow. The summertime may prove full of distractions and other things going on in your world, but this month we are choosing to remain REFLECTIVE. This pause in our daily whirring of to-do lists and struggles helps us to remain both connected and focused on God, the only one able to transform us from brokenness to wholeness. Part of personal brokenness is a disconnect in relationships. In our brokenness and pain, we also hurt others. We are responsible for our personal actions and attitudes, for owning our issues, and for knowing the effect we have on others. However, we also recognize we can’t do things differently without God’s guidance and love transforming and renewing our minds.

Unforgiveness can become a big underlying root in so much of our personal battles and the pain we feel currently in our world today. We want to justify ourselves and point the blame onto others, but in doing that we create barriers to healing. It breaks our relationship with God and others. God invites us continually to have our hearts searched and known by him, to keep us close and abiding in a relationship with him, that moves us to a place of seeing our part in the harms and brokenness around us. From this place of being seen, known and loved already we can begin to see the others in our lives that we know we have harmed through actions or words.

In the 12 Step process of healing, there is a time for writing out a list of those we have harmed with a willingness to own our part in the pain we have caused them. Reflective time allows us space to process and hear God’s voice to lead us in this journey. This is not a time for self-condemnation, but a way forward that leads to life, hope and freedom. We can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. God also grants us his peace as we bring our lack to him. He is the God of restoration and renewal, and says to us today, “with people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

PURPOSEFUL- In the Pursuit of Freedom

I used to think that being purposeful meant checking every box on my to-do list. Purposeful was a striving to do more, to be more, to feel accomplished. My purpose was always in the ‘doing’, so ‘being’ still or even resting often felt purposeless.  Being purposeful can also be described as being intentional. Intentionality is about being deliberate in what you do.

The trouble with our busy lives and distracted hearts is that we often rush past the intentionality or the deliberate pursuit of healing. You see, we never just ‘drift’ to a state of greater healing, faith or freedom. Time doesn’t just heal us from our hurts and traumas. These things require more than just time. They require our focus, effort and attention. Healing is not a mere tick-box exercise, but a journey or process based on a relationship with God, yourself and others. 

To a striver like myself, this healing process can feel challenging, since I desire that quick ‘tick’ to show that I am making progress. A relationship, however, can never be a tick-box exercise. Instead, we must embrace the journey and lean into faith, trust and surrender for these relationships to heal and grow.  It is often in the stillness and the resting that we come to appreciate this journey and gain the humility–knowing who we are in light of who God is–necessary for change. We must become purposeful in desiring the change that God wants to bring into our lives. He desires us to flourish and look more like him, who is Love, rather than to remain our fearful, striving or apathetic selves. He knows that we can be free of these shortcomings when we ask him to remove them, but taking that step requires faith and action. 

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15

In light of this perspective shift, purposeful now means intentionally pursuing a right relationship with God and others, seeking to look more like love in this world. Our world is in desperate need of seeing and experiencing this kind of love and freedom through others. So, in what ways can you be purposeful today?

June Blog Post: Confident Because of Trust

Having just recently witnessed the graduation of one of the participants, confidence and humility shined through her sharing. She stood assured of her value and worth, as a beautiful and brave woman, whose life has truly been transformed. Confidence like this comes, in part, through coming to know ourselves and coming to know and trust our Creator. The process of recovery, ultimately, is a journey of both of these elements, and as we quickly discover along the path, honesty and humility are key ingredients to this refining and healing process. 

As we look through the issues in our hearts that have held us stuck, we recognize our destructive patterns and our part in the perpetuation of these issues. These can be called character defects, such as pride, vanity, jealousy and selfishness. These are things that are in opposition to God’s ways. The truth is that we cannot remove these defects in our own strength. Once we have become aware of these defects, we must become willing to have them removed. Only God is capable of truly transforming our hearts from self-willed stubbornness to loving tenderness. As God reveals, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel to his people:

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

This confidence we are speaking about comes from that humble desire of wanting transformation, having had enough of the ‘stuff’ that has held us captive. We become confident that God can and will do the work, as we bring it into the light before him and desire the freedom he has for us on the other side of our defects. 

For many of us, the illusion of comfort and control can bring a false sense of confidence. Like any illusion, however, it vanishes when we try to grasp it. Confidence can be defined as

“the feeling that you can trust, believe in, and be sure about the abilities or good qualities of someone or something.” (Online: Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)

God invites us through the recovery journey and refining process to put our confidence in Him and let go of the defects that have gripped us. The question for all of us is, are we willing to let God do that in our hearts?

EMBRACED- (By God and Others)

What an apt time to discuss community and belonging in our current reality, where our world is gripped with fear and isolation. This week is also Mental Health Awareness Week, which points to the necessity of understanding our emotions, empathy and community. Now is such a crucial time to reach out to one another in love.

So, what do you think of when you hear the word ‘community’? Is it something you value and treasure? Is it a nice thought but not a reality for you? Or is it your very lifeline for survival? We all have a different level of understanding what it means to belong and to be embraced by others. For us at SA Foundation, we see community as being essential for healing and hope. It is a guiding principle of our organization, alongside personal recovery and servanthood. So why is it vital for us and the women and children we serve?

Well, we believe we were made to live in community. We serve a God of love and relationship. Our triune God exists always in harmonious community: God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love is therefore fully expressed in relationship and in community. At its core, community offers a place of acceptance, love and belonging, something we all desperately need! This is what we want to invite others into, especially those that may never have experienced this kind of love before. 

God embraces us in our weakness and failures. He is always open-armed to receive us back, as we bring our lack before him. Like the prodigal son returning home, we are met with joy and celebration, not scorn and rejection! As a community that centres around the necessity of recovery, our desire is that we demonstrate this open-armed welcome of receiving one another in our brokenness. We know it takes courage to admit our wrongdoings, but to know that we will be held and not rejected by God and others allows for the trust and faith to take that step. 

We have come to see and believe that whatever remains in the darkness and silence traps us in some way, limiting the life of freedom we were designed for. The way out of this hold is often through confession. There is such power in using our words to bring light into the darkness, to release fear and to allow others to come alongside us in comfort and understanding. We are not separated by our weaknesses; we are actually brought into closer relationship and empathy through our limitations. The book of James shares practical ways to live in freedom with one another, with Jesus at the centre of all of life. 

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 The Message paraphrase)  

We see through this that confession actually leads to life and wholeness, and that it’s supposed to be a regular practice to keep us living in freedom. We desire this for ourselves and the women we serve. We need others to help us heal, to point the way forward, to show us the love of God in being accepted even in our weaknesses and brokenness and to be a safe place of belonging. What a gift it is to be that community for one another. So, who are your people that you are inviting into your journey of healing?

Humbled: Seeing Correctly!

Throughout scripture we see Jesus continually meeting the needs of others, from a place of peace, knowing exactly who he was. He understood his identity and mission, and humbled himself to follow all his Father asked of him, even to death. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) Today is Good Friday, the day that we remember this incredible sacrifice by which Jesus died on the cross for us, in our place. This is the ultimate example of love and humility. 

A common misconception about humility is that it is being down on yourself or talking yourself down in front of others. But actually, humility is simply knowing rightly who you are, as one uniquely created in the image of God. The gift of this lens is that we can also see the wonderful strengths and DNA that God has intricately woven into us. Humility allows for confidence in being fully who we are, knowing our assets and our shortcomings, yet still trusting we were made wonderfully and with purpose. From this place of assurance, we can begin to look outside of ourselves to meet the needs of others, just like Jesus did. 

In the message paraphrase of 1 Peter 5: 5-6, Peter shares how we are to approach relationships with God, self and others. “In every relationship, each of you must wrap around yourself the apron of a humble servant. Because: God resists you when you are proud but multiplies grace and favor when you are humble.”

Isn’t that a wonderful picture- wrapping around yourself the “apron of a humble servant”? Jesus did this when he washed his disciples’ feet, giving us the example to follow of right heart posture of serving others in love. In this place of ‘washing others’ feet’, “grace and favor” are multiplied. But let’s not be mistaken. These are acts motivated by God’s love and his Spirit at work in us. When we step through the door into God’s invitation of relationship and surrender to him, the fruit of the Spirit actually become evident and grow in our lives. The fruit developed within us are aspects of God’s character, such as love, gentleness, peace and patience, which actually allow us to humbly see and serve others. 

There are many things, however, that prevent the fruit of the Spirit from flourishing, things that actually cause division in our relationships with God and others, such as resentments, unforgiveness, apathy and shame, to name a few. God is continually drawing us out into greater levels of trust and freedom, and in order to live free in him, we must rightly assess and bring to light, with the Spirit’s power, these dark areas in our heart that we often choose to hide. The psalmist writes this prayer that we are invited to echo: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

When we know who our God is, our perspective of who we are gets renewed. Pride falls away, when we finally look through the right lens. We are always in the process of being refined, but as we surrender and step out in faith, it is God’s kindness and love that draws us to heal further from the past or current situations that have harmed us and others. In this place of being held by God, we can shine a light on the darkness and expose it without fear, trusting that God will enable and bring about healing. 

God wants to bring us back into right relationships, into community, and to let our light shine before others, not run and hide from him or others!  True humility grows as we become increasingly aware of  how great our God is to extend mercy and grace to us fallen humans time and time again. This is what we celebrate at Easter. Even though we are not yet perfect, God still desires a close relationship with us. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins- all the times we miss the mark- past, present and future, so we never have to run or hide from him, or feel separated from his great love. He continually invites us to come as we are, bring him our lack and failures and let him lift us back into freedom. This is living in humility. This is hope!

Released: Stepping into the New

Do you remember the last time you had to take a step of faith? Do you remember how you felt? Nervous, excited, vulnerable, supported? 

Faith is not sight, at least not in the way we usually think of seeing. It is the opposite, in fact. We don’t usually get the full picture of what we are stepping into, but we get the opportunity to exercise our faith, to step forward with confidence anyway,  trusting God in the process. When we come to know that there is a God who is willing and able to restore us and bring us the peace we so desire, the next step becomes affirmative action, DECIDING for ourselves to place our lives and will into his care. This is like opening a new door and stepping through it, leaving behind the old ways of self-sufficiency to take that step of faith into the new.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church/of your heart] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with her/him (restore her/him), and she/he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 paraphrased)

The old ways of fear, shame, hurts and addictions are often our prisons, trapping us internally from moving into freedom, but as we take a step of faith, open that door, and accept God’s head-spinning offer to guide us, and even “EAT with us”, his power starts the ‘restoration’ process within us. It is humanly impossible to change our own hearts and negative thought life independently. We know this, because we have tried and failed. No amount of “trying harder” ever worked. When we release our old ways of thinking and believing that WE know best for our lives, we are able to continue the journey of faith and healing. We no longer rely on our own intelligence, determination, or anything else, but instead rely on God’s wisdom, voice and direction. He is more trustworthy and his ways are far better than our own unstable, changeable feelings and thoughts.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Released” is such a word of God’s loving action in our lives, promising the joy of freedom, and lifting our burdens from us. It is in this space that we become open to explore new vistas, new ways of seeing that we have maybe never tried before. For the women and children we serve, we desire that they know they are loved and valued and that they, too, are invited to open that door and start the journey of faith, stepping into the fullness of freedom that God so desires for them. God is continually announcing and delivering “freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoner” (Isaiah 61:1). He wants to bring them and us into spacious places, no longer prisoners to our thoughts or fears, but free to know abundant life with him.  

Maybe God is guiding you to take a step of faith today. Maybe he is knocking and asking you to open the door to receive his freedom today. How will you respond?