This post was written by Refuge for Women graduate, Shantell Vake.
I was invited to go on a mission trip to Rwanda, Africa by the founder and director of Ubuzima Ministries, Jamie Rhodes. This was my first ever mission trip any where and the opportunity was an experience of a lifetime. I first met Jaime at the Refuge when she was a volunteer. She helped nurse me while I was recovering from the tragic car accident back in the summer of 2014.
This opportunity also helped me get connected with the women whom they were serving and ministering to in Rwanda. I have started a business called Glorify Humanity and part of the company's mission is to build partnerships with individuals or organizations who support women who have been abused and sexually exploited.
My experience as a resident at Refuge for Women did help me minister to the women during our trip. The unconditional love and support that Refuge poured into me while in the program for one year showed me how to love on others. I learned to persevere, put my trust in God and rely on Him only. I got to share my testimony of where I was and how God is working in and through my life. He rescued me and here I am today persevering and enduring a new life becoming the woman He created me to be. It captured their hearts to hear that someone like me would go to Rwanda and be there among them. I am so humbled by the experience.
Our living arrangement was very humbling as well. It was a one bedroom and a small living space at a hostel where there was no running water. Our meals had to be prepared and eaten on the spot because they had no refrigeration. We had no access to internet nor phone (just like being at the Refuge program.) We had to boil water and fill up basins to bathe and wash ourselves. Whoever was last got the cold water! It was indeed a new experience for me to actually see a whole new culture and be thankful for the little things.
One of the highlights of my trip was witnessing five people dedicate their lives to Christ. Two of them got baptized a day before we left. Wow! Meeting and spending time with the women at the sewing school was also a highlight. They got to open up and share their stories. I thank God that sharing my testimony to them gave them some hope. We also had the opportunity to meet another group of women who are still actively working the streets to survive. Two of them are HIV-infected. It was so heartbreaking to see their expressions when they learn that Jaime was only going to be in Rwanda for a short time, it really showed how eager they are for help to live a new life.
I am truly grateful for how God's hand has been so evident in and through my life this past year. I thank God for the Refuge and the experience I got being part of the program. I thank God for the many people who continue to pour into me and offered support to help me go to Africa and even accomplish my dreams in being an entrepreneur.