Friday, 7 November 2014

Human Trafficking Head On // November Update

Dearest Friends and Family,

Apologies for the lack of updates from America! My first three months of mission have been very intense and now I am in the UK for a short break to organize some things for the rest of my stay.

In August 2014, I started my 6-month placement in Downtown Los Angeles, working on the frontline with victims of human trafficking. Currently, it is estimated that 27 million people are trapped in human trafficking (slavery) of some description. I have previously supported and researched organizations that deal mainly with victims of international trafficking, people who are kidnapped, sold or tricked into a life that they have no choice over: filled with brutality, poverty and cruelty that is way beyond the scope of what you and I could imagine. The demographic that I work with falls prey to the same shocking and terrifying brutality, cruelty and devastation, but with some crucial differences…

The victims that I work with and help to rescue are not usually those international victims that we are used to hearing about: the ones who went to another country, seeking better employment and opportunities. No, these girls and women that I work with are very different…

Their stories tend to start the same: their father/ grandfather/ uncle/ cousin/ brother (or a more than one of them) raped and abused them when they were very young. Step 1 in the breaking down of their self worth; in the normalization of abusive relationships and the realization that they will never loved, valued or protected any better than they were in that moment. Step 2: their mother/ grandmother/ aunt/ sister/ cousin (or all of the above) tells them that they are a liar, or that they are not special, that this happens to everyone and this is real life, so why do they think anyone should feel sorry for them or help them? - they learn that they should not reach out for help because they will be rejected and ridiculed and their hearts will be broken again by the crushing realization that they are not loved, valued or protected by the people who should be their safety. So they harden their hearts to that hope and open them to a future of ‘normal’ abuse, violence and sexual exploitation…

The average age that one of these girls is ‘turned out’ to sell herself and earn money for her pimp..? Twelve. 12. Not even a teenager yet. Whether she is courted by a ‘boyfriend’ (read ‘pimp’) who then forces her to work, sold by her parents (or often foster parents), turned out by her family to earn money for them, or kidnapped as a runaway who has nowhere else to go, these girls become slaves before their childhood is even over.

So where do I come into this horrific picture..? I am fortunate enough to be able to help manage and work in a safe house / shelter about 40 minutes outside of Los Angeles where these women can come and find safety, rest, love and an opportunity (if they choose to take it) to begin a new life. It is heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time and there is no ‘typical day’ at the shelter, but here are some examples of days that I have lived through with some of these girls already…

On Monday, I might be the ‘house mum’: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking the girls out for ice cream or a walk at the beach.
Tuesday, I could be breaking up fights or arguments in the house, or helping a girl to come to terms with the devastation she has suffered, or the overwhelming choices she now faces.
On Wednesday, I might get a call at 2am to our 24 hour hotline from a girl who is terrified and hiding from her pimp who has threatened to kill her; or a call from a social worker who has a girl in the Emergency Room who has jumped out of a moving vehicle, or was beaten her within an inch of her life..
Thursday, I may be at the police station, going on a sting operation with LAPD (yes, sometimes we even get to wear bullet proof vests!), or working alongside the FBI to help a girl to be strong enough to identify her pimp and help to uncover huge prostitution rings.
Friday, I could be collecting a newborn baby from court- already ‘in the system’ within the first week of her life because her teenage mother is the victim of this life she never chose (but has fortunately managed to escape from).
On Saturday, I might be driving the familiar ‘tracks’ of LA where these girls (some as young as 12) walk and wait for men to stop and buy them… We drive around, handing out gifts (including our hotline number) to these girls who are ‘in the game’ and telling them to call us any time. 12am – 3am is the worst shift… the girls and women walk around in literally lingerie and heels in plain sight and I always have to fight back the tears when we see a girl who has chosen to return to the life after being with us in the shelter…
On Sunday, I might be blessed enough to take the girls to church and for one of them to ask for prayer and feel for maybe the first time God’s love, or any love at all..

There is no typical day, or week, and no way to describe the pain that I witness on a daily basis… but there is also nothing that compares to seeing God reach in, or for these girls to finally make the choice to start their lives again: to see them go into a program, be reunited with their children, finish their education and get a job and a life that they can be proud of and feel valued in.

What we do in this ministry is difficult, but it is such an unbelievable blessing! So when my manager asked me to extend my contract to 12 months, I was absolutely thrilled!

My position is completely voluntary. That means that I will not earn anything for 12 months and will also have to support myself while I am there, including $4,000 for a year’s accommodation, some meals and any necessary training. This is currently where I need your support the most. I absolutely hate asking for money, but I have realized that, in order for this to be possible, I have to.

I have calculated that it will cost me $500 per month to live and volunteer in this ministry. That is roughly £350. If 10 people committed to £35 per month (until August 2014), that would cover my monthly costs and allow me to continue to do this work.

For one off donations and gifts, please either donate via PayPal:

Please feel free to pass on this information to others who may be interested in supporting me in the work that I am fortunate enough to do.

Thank you for your support in prayer, encouragement and finances. I could not do this without you!


Ronell x

Monday, 21 July 2014

Volunteerism- Please Help Sponsor This Mission

Dear friends and family,

As many of you know or have read, I have recently left my job as a teacher as I believe that God is calling me to serve Him in a different way. I applied for a Volunteer Missionary position at in LA and have been offered a place! 

How soon I am able to go depends entirely on how quickly I am able to raise the funds to go. Please go to my online fundraiser and donate as you feel led.  For those of you who know me outside of the blogosphere, you can also donate to me in person if you would rather not do so online. 

Whether you are able to donate financially or not, I would very much appreciate your support in prayer in the lead up to and throughout my time in mission.

Thank you! 


Ronell x

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fall in Love with Life (via Upworthy)

I found this video on Upworthy (originally Tedx) and it is just absolutely INCREDIBLE and BEAUTIFUL! I sincerely suggest you watch it! -

It is about the work (time lapse photography on of an artist named Louie Schwartzberg, where he goes deeper to explore how we can fall in love with life and find happiness. No easy feat! But he begins to explore the topic through beautiful imagery and a new project he is working on, introducing it from the view point of a little girl and an old man.

Truly beautiful! Do yourself a favour and watch this! :)


Ronell x

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” {Psalm 19:1-4}

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Mission, Testimony and Other Musings...

Recently, I have been doing a lot of research about mission work, as I believe that this is what God is calling me to in whatever capacity, in the immediate future. I have found some interesting articles about short term mission placements and things to be aware of that have made me think and I decided to share them here, along with my testimony in this area. 

Here are a couple of interesting articles for you to read:

  • Things No One Tells You About Going on Short-Term Mission Trip: A few ways to make sure your mission trip is effective 
  • The Good Missionary: An African orphan on what he loves (and doesn't) about short-term mission teams

  • So here goes with my testimony about being called to mission! As it stands, I have 3 weeks left in my current teaching post, and then I will be moving on to where God sends me!

    I have known that God has a calling on my life since I was a teenager and a few years back, He began to really stir that in me again. I remember standing in the big top at Soul Survivor in tears as God showed me images of the children that He wanted me to rescue and care for, and there and then, I just surrendered and prayed: “God, here I am, use me…”. 

    Last summer, I spent several weeks developing and changing the indoor and outdoor areas for my class at school. It was a huge process and when I finally got to the end of it, I was so relieved and excited! Literally in that moment as I looked around at the finished areas, God asked me: “If I asked, would you be willing to give it up?”.  After the initial shock and horror passed, I replied’ “You know I will” and He responded, “good, I’m asking…”. I didn’t know when, where or how, but I knew it was finally happening.

    In September 2013, God began to make my calling clearer. I had prayed for my ‘Schindler’s List moment’ of seeing the need He wanted me to tend to and He did. He also reminded me of the prayer I had prayed at Soul Survivor and the promise I had made in that garden a month before. 

    At that point, I had not shared this calling with any of my friends yet, but that night, God used 3 of them to speak to me about it independently: My friend Hannah stood at the front in the middle of worship and said, “I believe God is calling someone to leave their job… you’re thinking ‘I can’t afford to do that!’, but God is saying, ‘can you really afford not to…?’”. I knew it was me and I went up for prayer. 

    My friend Cassie prayed for me and after she said, “I don’t know if this is right, but I got the words ‘children’ and ‘abused’ for you” – another confirmation as this lined up with what God had stirred in my heart. 

    I wanted to know if God had shown Hannah anything else with the original word, so I went to speak to her. She said He had not shared any more, but she asked if she could pray for me. As she prayed, she named my worries spot on and at the end, she said, “I don’t know if this goes with what God has been saying to you, but I got that you are supposed to work with children”. So I’m thinking ‘I DO work with children’ and God says to both of us at the same time (I was thinking it and she said it out loud), “Yes, you work with children, but they’re the wrong children”.

    After church, I told my friend (and accountability partner) Anne-Marie, and she just smiled and said that she knew in that moment that Hannah’s word was for me, but she knew she had to be the confirmation, not the catalyst. 

    By February of this year, God confirmed to me that it was time and I knew I had to tell my Head Teacher. I also began to have California impressed on my heart. When I went to my Head Teacher, she told me that God had prepared her heart that weekend for the news and she knew that I was coming to speak to her that week– what a blessing!

    In praying for direction, God has brought the a specific organisation, based in Los Angeles, into my life through my friend who is currently their summer mission program. Everything that I have heard and read about it over the past month has worked together to confirm that I believe that this is in fact where God wants me in this next season and so I have applied!

    I would very much appreciate your prayers that God will help to clarify whether I am on the right track with this and for favour for the placement that I have applied to already.


    Ronell x

    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    Who Should I Vote For..? // European Election 2014

    Today is Election Day in the UK (22nd May). And as usual, I have a vague yet unclear idea of who to vote for! I know that things are not going as I necessarily want them to go, but I am not quite sure who would do a better job... Today, I found the answer to my previously somewhat uneducated voting!

    I found a VERY useful website!

    You simply do a very quick survey of where you stand on the big issues. They will then give you your top 3 party matches and some further choices. They give very good summaries of each party’s top 4 policies, candidates and links to party websites and news and information about them. I also found out from this site that there is a Christian’s People Alliance running (shows how little I know about politics!).

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful! Remember to vote today if you are in the UK or Netherlands (see below for further dates)! :)


    Ronell x

    “Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” {Abraham Lincoln}

    Saturday, 10 May 2014

    Keep Saving the Bees!

    Unfortunately, this is a very serious issue that is being casually overlooked or grossly misunderstood by the vast majority of people!

    Here is a good article that helps to explain why we need to save the bees: and an older post from this blog:

    To buy gorgeous beauty products that support saving the bees, go to NYR Organics' Bee Lovely range, mentioned here in the 10 best pollen-inspired beauty products.

    Sign a petition to help save the bees- read about who is involved and why in this email that I received from



    Bees are dying off around the world in record numbers -- but big retailers are still selling the poison that is killing them.

    Last season, 37 million bees (!) died on a Canadian farm. Scientists now know why – study after study shows that deadly pesticides called "neonics", manufactured by Bayer, are killing them. 

    Giant retail stores around the world like Home Depot, Bunnings, and Lowe's are still selling the deadly pesticides, but pressure is mounting. If one of the stores commits to stop carrying the pesticides, it could start a snowball effect that sees other stores drop the bee-killing chemicals too.

    In just two weeks, SumOfUs' activist beekeepers will travel to deliver our petition on the corporations' home turf. Can you add your name now, so the retailers see the tide of public opinion and commit to stop selling bee-killing pesticides?

    Tell giant retail stores to stop selling bee-killing pesticides.

    Earlier this year, SumOfUs supporters called on these retail giants to stop selling neonics, with thousands flooding their phone lines and speaking out in store. Now, we've learnt that North American based Home Depot could be on the cusp of doing the right thing and taking the bee-killing chemicals off its shelves. We need to send a message to tip Home Depot over the edge, and pressure other stores to act as well.

    The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack -- and sold in garden stores around the world, too. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics -- so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits. 

    History shows that consumer pressure on retailers works. Europe's partial ban on neonics was caused by a huge movement that pushed some of the biggest retailers in the EU to voluntarily remove neonics from their shelves. But there is not a moment to lose. Please take action now to keep the pressure on the big retail giants so we can protect our bees and our planet's future

    Call on retail giants to get rid of the bee-killing neonics.

    SumOfUs has been right at the front of the global campaign to save our bees. We came together to fight Bayer at a huge independent garden store show in Chicago, where the German chemical maker was out in force. We're taking legal action in Europe to defend the EU's ban against Bayer, and just last week spoke out at Bayer's annual shareholder meeting in Germany. But to win this fight, we need to push the retailers to drop these bee-killing pesticides now.

    Thank you for being one of us,

    Taren, Paul, Angus and the team at

    More information:



    Ronell x

    Monday, 31 March 2014

    Lent: Day 12 // #nofilter


    {Lent} Day 11:

    40 acts // #nofilter // Young children have no filter a lot of the time: they say the first thing that pops into their heads, without worrying about how it will sound first. They also crucially lack the preconceptions, judgements and assumptions that most adults default to. Over time, they’ll learn discernment; but is there something we can learn from them today? Can we, for one day, try to disentangle our discernment from our small-minded, preconceived ideas about people? Today your challenge is to treat people as equals – to assume nothing about their lives, but to show them love and generosity and friendship regardless.

    {photo credit:}

    This is so true! I love seeing a child's unspoilt innocence in action- the ones who have
    not been corrupted by judging others and forming opinions of their peers based on 
    shallow things like weight, wealth or possessions. Conversely, it disturbs and pains
    me to see children as young as FOUR (I am a Reception Teacher) making harsh 
    snap-judgements of their friends based on these irrelevant qualities. What are they 
    being exposed to that has already awakened that awareness in them?? Very 
    disturbing indeed...

    As a side note to this, I have also realised how quickly and easily we can make
    judgements of other's lifestyle choices, even on a professional level. God has
    specifically been sharing with me a lot about not judging others without even
    knowing their situation or their story. What has led them to this point..? How
    have they been abandoned/hurt/disappointed/judged/failed to get to this point..?
    You can never see the whole person unless you can know their whole journey,
    and for that to happen, you have got to get along side them and actually build
    a true friendship. So before you make a snap judgment on the way someone
    dresses, speaks, carries themself, provides for their family, or reacts to a
    comment / criticism, remember: you have not walked in their shoes and
    you will never know what they have suffered to become who they are.

    Have grace.

    Live Free // Go through your possessions and give the stuff you no longer need to your local charity shop. Furniture, gadgets, DVDs, and books; give those things you’re never going to use again #BeFree #LiveFree.

    Hope your Lent efforts are still going strong!


    Ronell x

    "“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

    {Wayne W. Dyer}