Kay Duffield had no idea what God had in store for her when she decided to go on a brief mission trip to Thailand. But her life would never be the same after ministering in a red light district to the sexually exploited and human trafficking victims.
“I had not really even heard of human trafficking, sex trafficking or labor trafficking until 2011,” Duffield says. “My friend, who leads her own ministry, invited me to go to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to work with the girls, the women and the lady-boys who were being sold through the open-air bars and brothels on the street, so it was full immersion. And God wrecked my heart.”
Duffield returned and was asked to join a local grassroots movement that five churches had started. In 2014, this former nurse and ordained minister became executive director of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative (NOVA-HTI).
“In the beginning, we were really about educating the community,” she says. “And as we started serving on the regional task force, law enforcement asked us if we would start a victim services team so they would have a place to refer the victims to when they were recovered.”
Taking time to pray and fast, Duffield and her team believed God had opened a door for them to start such a program.
“To date, we’ve served about 180 survivors but realized we couldn’t provide adequate service without the housing piece,” she says. “These survivors were falling through the cracks. And so we realized that that had to be our next step: to open a shelter.”
Now Duffield is part of the three-year shelter mentoring program offered by The Samaritan Women’s Institute for Shelter Care. Although her nonprofit has been operating for several years, she has found the training to be extremely helpful. This year, NOVA-HTI plans to acquire property for a shelter and begin accepting trafficking victim referrals in 2021.
Calvin Fanning, the institute’s director of shelter mentoring, has been privileged to see those who are called to this work come with humble hearts to learn from the institute and from others seeking their next step.
Most importantly, those engaged in shelter planting are encouraged to acknowledge God in every way in the work.
“We can be extremely educated and have all the knowledge, but it’s the Holy Spirit that has to show us how and when to apply it,” Duffield says. “He loves these survivors so much, and He knows exactly what they need.”
Both Fanning and Duffield say there’s room for everyone to help in some way.
“Anyone can be involved, whether it’s being a forerunner and starting a shelter or supporting the local shelter in your area,” Fanning says. “This is a community effort. And it’s one person with a loud voice, but they’re surrounded by so many people of support, whether that’s through finances or prayer. It’s a huge effort, but because it’s so huge and so diverse, anyone can get involved.”
Duffield values the intercessors who are “called to pray from home for the survivors or those who are on the front lines or the traffickers or the buyers,” she says. “You can make such a difference. And don’t hesitate to look up and reach out to the local human trafficking organization in your area to see what their needs are, just to see how you could start serving, helping, praying [and] doing what God’s calling you to do to make a difference in the world around you.”
Discover whether you are called to this ministry. Take advantage of the many resources available at sheltercareusa.org.
Listen as Fanning and Duffield share more about how to start a shelter. Click here to learn more.