During my work with survivors of trafficking, I often wondered if there could have been a point in these women’s lives that would have prevented them from being trafficked. Over the years, these thoughts and questions crossed my mind often. The more I got to know the survivors and their stories, the more I wished something could have been done for them earlier.

I remember one particular night at the safehouse. The house was restless and the mood was down and cold, just like the weather outside. Everyone was feeling the winter blues, especially since it was the holiday season. Those days always seemed to be the worst.

As we sat around the coffee table that cold evening, the silence was broken when someone started a conversation about the meaning of “love and life” back home. I guess that is what everyone in the room longed for, but the more they tried to explain their own perspective on the topic, the louder the conversation became. Frustrations rose.

These women came from all different parts of the world so not only were there cultural differences, but no one spoke fluent English. After many attempts to speak through body language, hand signals, facial expressions, and looking over at me, as if I could translate, one woman walked out of the living room. The room became quiet, until she returned with a white board and started to draw a picture to express herself. Others followed and gathered around the board, taking turns. The frustrations turned into laughter.

As I sat there watching, I couldn’t help but realize, no matter where we came from or what we have been through, we are all the same. We long for love and belonging, things that give us hope. An anchor deep within, that is unchanging despite the ever changing circumstances of life. Hope that is greater than ourselves that can only come from God.

When it came time for me to go home, the women gathered around me in a circle, stretching out their hands to pray for me. We stood around the living room holding hands and each women prayed for me in their own language and then tried to translate it for me. One woman said, “Stella, I pray love and happy for you and family always, you happy girl and my friend.”

The lights reflecting out from the inside of the safehouse as I pulled away from the driveway, reminded me of the light that is always left on at my house by my Mother. I wondered if any of these women had a home with the lights on, someone waiting for them.

As I remember these women’s stories and everything they have been through, I can’t help but ask the big “what if” question: could something have been done to prevent my friends from going through such pain and injustice?

We Are Becoming was birthed from that question and a simple prayer for love and hope for all. Our vision  is to restore hope in young lives through the compassion of Christ. To share in the love of the good Father God, who knows each of them by name.

In thinking more about We Are Becoming, I began responding to the “what if” questions with answers and solutions. “What if” we loved them well through the love of Christ. “What if” we received them and gave them a home, a place of belonging. “What if” a biblical definition of restoration took place and more was given back to them, than has been lost and their lives were improved beyond measure. 

At We Are Becoming, we will live life together, encouraging each other as the youth BECOME who they were always meant to be: loved and full of life with hope for the future.

We Are Becoming will always leave the lights on.

Stella Sunwoo