Be Inspired

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We are now entering into our fourth year of ministry and I am feeling compelled to revisit what inspired me to begin, to take this step of faith into a world of darkness where there is a huge need  for hope. What compels someone to say “Here I am Lord, use me”? What place in life, in your faith journey do you need to be at, spiritually, emotionally and physically to say “wherever you want me to go Lord, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it”? I want to focus my life again with complete and unrelenting trust in God and continually pray those prayers. But to get to that point in life, I was pretty broken and had been shaken to the core with some tough challenges in my life but had found healing through Christ, and only through Him.

I am humbly sharing this because God took me through some really hard times in my life to get me to a place of total reliance and trust in Him. I don’t know if I would have prayed those prayers had I not gone through many fiery trials and learned through it all that my only hope was Jesus.

But even now, four years later, I am asking myself, would I still lay down my life, so completely, for God to use in whatever fashion He desires? Here’s the truth of the matter: I am broken, poor and needy and I am nothing without Christ. Nothing I do is apart from Him and all I do is for Him. And this is a glorious thing! Entirely opposite of what the world may say. Complete dependence, humble reliance and unrelenting trust in God to lead me, to take care of me, because I don’t want to do this on my own. I do not want to rely on my own strength because, frankly, it just doesn’t work. I am too weak. But Jesus said “my power is made perfect in your weakness” and that is what I have experienced, time and time again.

So this year I want to be inspired again. Not inspiration that comes from seeing a need and trying to fill it, but inspiration from looking at God and His glorious creation and wanting to be a part of what He is doing. My desire is to have a closer relationship with Him. Jesus reminds me that his, “yoke is easy and [His] burden is light.” I take that to heart because this ministry is challenging and the enemy attacks all of us. But if our focus is on God, it will be a wonderful journey and the enemy will flee! I think we should all ask ourselves often what inspires us and then pursue that inspiration. Not because we have all the answers but because we have The Answer, Jesus, and we can do all things through Him, no matter what that might be. I had no clue how to start a non-profit, how to connect with victims of human trafficking or how to run a ministry. But God does and I see Him changing lives every day, and not just the girl’s lives but everyone who is a part of Restore Innocence.The bigger picture is that He longs to restore all of us back to Him. 

Be encouraged. Be challenged. Be Inspired!

To hear more inspiring stories, including “A’s”, please join us at this year’s benefit dinner,             Be Inspired. She will be sharing her story of rescue and healing alongside the detective who rescued her.

Be Inspired

Let’s Inspire one another to action, to truth and to love!

With Love, Michelle Korth

Freedom

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Freedom comes at a cost, whether you’re fighting for someone’s freedom or your own. It is a constant battle, one that we can never give up on. As the 40th President of the United States once said:

Ronald Reagan quote

Not only do we fight for freedom for victims of human trafficking in America but we fight for the bigger picture, of what freedom means and what it means to our country, to our belief system, to us as Christians. It’s about doing what is right, even when it’s hard; even when there seems to be no end in sight. We press on and persevere; we fight the good fight because if we don’t, who will?

If we don’t, the enemy wins.

If we don’t, there is not hope.

We have to stand united, together, as one, no matter how impossible the challenge before us is. We’re not only fighting for freedom, but we’re fighting for hope, in a world where darkness is trying to saturate our country in every conceivable way.

Take a stand. Take a step of faith. And remember that Freedom is about sacrifice and choice.

4th Annual Benefit Dinner

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4th Annual Benefit Dinner

Put on your best black and white attire for this evening and come be inspired at Restore Innocence’s 4th Annual Benefit Dinner as we look at our past accomplishments, current programs and future plans! God has continued to grow and bless this ministry and we are excited to share with you about the girls who have lived at the Cinderella House, the girls who have been blessed by the Mentor Program and the ever expanding borders of the Restoration Bag Initiative. Together, we have made tremendous progress in the past four years and we are looking forward to the next many years ahead! We hope you are inspired this year as you see God’s hand at work in changing, transforming and redeeming lives!

Tickets are limited, so get yours today!

Early bird pricing starts at $65 per seat, or $500 for a table of eight. Prices go up to $75 per seat starting September 1st.

To purchase tickets, follow this link to the event signup form:
http://www.eventbrite.com/o/restore-innocence-4201654129?s=26627971

Sponsorships Available!

The benefit dinner is a great opportunity for corporations and individuals to get positive recognition for a good cause. If you are interested in the sponsorship opportunities available, you can read our brochure or email Lisa at lisa@restoreinnocence.org

New Beginnings

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What would you do if someone took your world and flipped it on its axis? Would you quickly and seamlessly adapt to your new surroundings, or would it take a while to get your bearings?

For the girls we work with at the Cinderella House and in our Mentor Program, their world has just been shaken. Granted their world before was not a healthy one, one that we are all thankful for they are not a part of anymore, but however dysfunctional it was, it was still their world. A place where they knew their role and they knew the people around them.

JoyBut now they have been put in this new world and are starting over in a situation they are not familiar with and with people they don’t know if they can trust. For some of our girls, this is a welcomed change and they embrace us with open arms. For others, it is a hard transition, one that takes months, if not years, to accept.

The process of beginning anew is a slow and consistent one. It is something all of us at Restore Innocence are aware of and we meet each girl and her situation right where she is at, not forcing her to conform to our ways, not pushing her into a program because we know it’s what she needs, but instead gently coming along side her, holding her hand or keeping a comfortable distance, to say we’re here, we support you . To let her know we are here for you, not just for today, not just until you complete a program, but always, for the long term, no matter what.

Would you pray with us, for the girls we love and serve? We are building relationships as we enter into these new beginnings and it’s exciting but it takes a village, a community, to not only support Restore Innocence and our programs, but to support the girls in the long term, in the day to day of everyday life. Because although new beginnings are exciting and sometimes take a while to get going, it is in the long term, the everyday, where relationships flourish and healing continues.

Buying Fair Trade Products

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hope-logo

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of preparing quite a few Restoration Bags. As a woman, I find shopping fun, even (and maybe especially) when it’s for someone else! But the more I learn about human trafficking, the harder I work at making sure those Restoration Bags are filled with fair trade products. I want to be part of the solution and that requires making sure the actions I’m taking aren’t actually fueling the problem.

As we fill these Restoration Bags, we love the idea that we are one step in the process to helping a victim become restored. But there are other victims we may not be thinking about.

stuffed-animals

For example, many of the stuffed animals imported into the USA come from factories where the workers are not treated much better than slaves. And chocolate is in fact the biggest slave industry in the world. A quick Google search will reveal the horrors common in the chocolate industry. The workers are often purchased from their families, live on the cocoa farms for months and even years at a time, work long hours, are not paid and face extreme physical abuse. Their treatment is really no different from that of US slaves in the 18th and 19th century with one huge exception – most of these slaves are children.

As another example, in 2012, the average hourly wage for a Chinese factory worker was $1.36. And this number is hard to quantify since many factories pay their employees a lump sum each month then work their employees 6 days a week, often for longer than 11 hours a day.

If we are filling the Restoration Bags with products made in third world countries, we become part of the cycle of enslaving others in order to offer hope to these human trafficking victims. In many ways, this defeats the purpose. I know that it’s not cheap to fill a Restoration Bag. Looking for deals and trying to stay within our budget is important. If you find you’re not able to fill a restoration bag with products made in the USA or that are certified fair trade, you might see if you can involve others – maybe your church, Bible Study group, or just a group of friends could come together to fill a bag (or a few bags).

Another great idea is to buy in bulk when you see a deal. For example, if you find socks made in the USA, maybe buy all the socks in stock and donate them to Restore Innocence, so they can take “socks” off their request list for a while, freeing up others trying to fill restoration bags. You may even ask about getting a discount with a company for buying in bulk. Mention “human trafficking” and see if the company is willing to help!

If you are contemplating filling a Restoration Bag, that already means you want to be part of the solution. Congratulations! And thank you! Now you get the opportunity to help more than just one victim.

By buying products made in the USA and/or products that are certified fair trade, you are not only helping the victim receiving the bag, you are helping ensure that no worker was victimized while producing the products that filled the bag.

bag-drive-2014

Sincerely,
Amanda Vinton
Restore Innocence Board Member

FBI DCLA 2013 Winner

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fbi

Restore Innocence has won the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award! The Denver field office can present this prestigious award to only one individual or organization per year, and Restore Innocence was chosen as the winner for 2013.

Restore Innocence has a wonderful, on-going relationship with the FBI. As of November 25, 2013, we have shipped over 900 Restoration Bags to the FBI and Homeland Security in 37 states, as well has hundreds of stockings and special Christmas presents. These bags go a long way in helping the agents in the filed build rapport with victims.

Here’s what FBI Agents and Victim Specialists are saying about Restoration Bags from all around the country (names and locations hidden for security purposes):

“The day after I received the items, we recovered a 16 year old girl with no socks or coat. She was so excited to have socks and a warm blanket, but most of all, she loved the stuffed animal in the bag. She held on to the stuffed animal throughout the interview and in all of our follow-up meetings she was holding it next to her face. I just wanted to let you know how important these items are, and how thankful our task force is to have received them from your agency!” – J.

“A tremendous help for me when serving our victims” – J.S.

“Your organization does an amazing job with gathering a plethora of items designed to meet the needs of and bring comfort to victims” – Denver

“The items are impressive. You are truly helping victims” – A.M.

“Very helpful and much appreciated by the victim” – C.R.

In the Press:
Denver Post: Colorado Springs non-profit honored for aiding sex trafficking victims
Wall Street Journal: FBI honors Colo. group that helps trafficked teens
Ch9 News: FBI honors Colorado group that helps trafficked teens
KOAA: FBI honors Colo. group that helps trafficked teens
Colorado Springsg Business Journal: FBI lauds Springs nonprofit, Restore Innocence

The Restore Innocence Story

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Restore Innocence – Aiding Victims of Sex Trafficking in Colorado.

I have somebody that will always speak light into whatever darkness surrounds me.”

What an incredible girl! All of our girls are amazing, talented and gifted in so many areas! We are honored and blessed by them and feel privileged to get to know them and journey through life with them.

Restore Innocence’s mission is to aid victims of human trafficking in the rescue, restoration and reintegration process by providing for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We do this through our nationwide Restoration Bag program, our Mentor Program and the Cinderella House.

The Restoration Bag program was birthed out of a meeting we had with local law enforcement agents. Seeing the lack of resources available to them and the response we were getting from the community to get involved, an easy decision was made to fill the gap. We started locally, giving Restoration Bags to local law enforcement agencies who would give the bags to rescued victims. As donations kept piling in, we quickly branched out to surrounding states. We are currently meeting the need for over half the country! The need is great and we are bridging the gap, one bag at a time.

Our Mentor Program started with three girls. Within four months of starting Restore Innocence, we were introduced to three girls who were all at various stages of their healing journey. One girl, “S”, had been out of the life for a while, was rescued by a detective, and now was offering peer mentoring to victims when they were first rescued. “T” was the second girl we were introduced to. She was rescued months before our first meeting and was still struggling with addictions and her true identity. She is the young lady featured on the video. And finally “J”, who had been rescued seven years prior to our meeting, was still struggling with self-worth and PTSD in various forms. We journeyed with all three girls as they navigated their way through life and found hope and healing. Our relationship continues to this day and will for life. They are close to our hearts and have found a place in our family.

Eventually we were introduced to more and more girls and the Mentor Program was born. The Mentor Program is about relationships, community and acceptance. As we get referrals from law enforcement agencies and treatment centers for our mentor program, we prayerfully pair each girl with a mentor. Our mentors are continuously trained and equipped to be effective, understanding and life-giving. It has been incredible to watch these relationships grow and blossom into lifelong friendships. The program is a yearlong program but the friendship lasts a lifetime!

The Cinderella House is where everything comes together. It is a transitional home for girls transitioning from a treatment center to independent living. It is a beautiful place to live where she can find healing, restoration and a chance to start again. Cinderella’s story is one of redemption, restoration and grace and one that applies directly to our girls. They are treasured and adored and there is an incredible hope for them. For “T”, her goal was to live in the Cinderella House and she reached that goal! She had the hope of something better and set a goal of achieving that! Living at the Cinderella House has brought her from a place of despair to a place of restoration. From the darkness of life on the streets, addicted to drugs and struggling to survive, to the light of a future that was full of hope and promise. She is working, going to school, building lifelong relationships and is successfully reintegrating into her new, beautiful life. Her story has just begun and we are blessed to journey with her!

Devotional & Prayer: As Long As It Is Called Today

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sun

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” -Hebrews 3:12-15

Thankfully, we have a Great High Priest, who has gone before us and knows what it is to be tempted and tried. He knows our hearts, too, and knows that we need faith, even to Believe sometimes. In the book of Hebrews, we are reminded, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

And as was written, let us encourage one another daily. Jesus said that the world would know His followers by their love for one another. How are we doing with this? Are we loving our brothers and sisters? Are we encouraging one another and spurring one another on in this tiring world and work? In what way might God be calling you today to encourage and pray for your Holy-Spirit-family?

I pray for each one of you reading this, that you would be encouraged by our God’s huge love for you, that you would sense His rejoicing over you with singing (Zeph 3:17), and that you would be inspired to encourage another today. We are in this battle together, and as Jesus prayed, His heart is that we would be one

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.”

Please Pray:

~That each precious child around the world who has experienced pain and loss and suffering would be encouraged today–through someone, through a song, through God’s voice and presence in their lives…that they would know deep down somehow, that they are deeply loved.
~For “T” as she is applying for jobs–that she would end up at the place God would have her–a place where she could thrive!
~For “C” as she’s in school and working, for peace in the struggle of balancing a lot of responsibilities, for trust and perseverance.
~For “J” as she prepares to speak her testimony at the banquet on Sept. 22nd. That God would protect her heart, give her peace and protection, and that she would share only what she wants to and feels good about sharing. That her story would allow for healing for her and many others!
~For the people who will become involved as a result of our banquet–that God would raise up an army to fight on behalf of our girls! That He would make a way to provide for all the programs and dreams we have for them!
~For our awesome volunteers, mentors, leadership, board members, donors, and all those who have in one way or another made a difference in a life (or lives!) of these girls. That God would remind each of them of their importance and value, and would encourage and equip them for all He has in store!
~For ALL the seats to be filled at the RI benefit dinner coming up!!!!

“You Are More”

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hands

“You Are More”

by Michelle Korth, Founder of Restore Innocence

Today I got to meet five girls who’ve been recently rescued from Human Trafficking. They received a Restoration Bag from our program when they were first rescued and have been placed in a secured treatment center. They are absolutely amazing!

Walking into a room with five teenage girls can be a little intimidating. Because of the life the girls have lead and the abuse they have experienced, they have learned to put up a front. Sometimes, that comes in the form of indifference, an I-don’t-care-about-nothin’ attitude. Sometimes, it is overly joyful, too perfect, too nice. Both extremes are real. Both are coping mechanisms to hide what is going on. The pain, rejection, heartache that they feel; the fear of the future and the struggle of facing those fears.

But there is something else. There is always a lingering feeling of hope hanging in the air. A feeling that maybe, just maybe, life will turn around and won’t be so hard. Maybe there really are people out there who care, who are kind, who want to help.

It is such a privilege to come in and be a part of that hope. To not only give gifts, but to say, “I see you, and you are beautiful.”

Sitting in this room with these five girls, I am just blown away. They are all different: background, race, personality. Yet they are all the same: longing for love, acceptance, hope. What a blessing to be used by God, to shine a small ray of hope, to show them there are people who love and care for them without knowing their names.

Last month I put out a request asking people to “adopt” one of these girls and help provide for some very specific needs they had. All five were quickly adopted, and when I was sharing with the girls today about the people who adopted them, they girls were blown away. Why would someone, who doesn’t even know me, adopt me? (“Wait a minute…I’m adopted?!” was one girls response. “Not like they are going to take you home to live with them,” I explained, laughing as she sighed loudly!)

 I took a picture of them wearing their “You Are More” bracelets. I got to tell them about one of the girls in our program who designed the bracelets and shared some of her story. Knowing that there were others out there who were doing well gave them hope.

They were so grateful for everything, so amazed that all of the items were for them, and said, “Christmas came early!” Today I played Santa and it was an incredible feeling. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

 

Devotional & Prayer: Costly Grace

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money

“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time–pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, He will honor you. Grace is behind, and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.”  -2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (The Message)

Yes, He has given freely–but not without cost.

I love the words from Bonhoeffer when he addresses this idea:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

We are grateful for those of you who pray for this ministry, for the girls, for the children across the US and the world who suffer things we don’t even want to imagine. We are grateful because we know it is costly. It costs us to think about these things, to be involved, to pray, to cry, and beg on behalf of these children and people around the world. Living a life after Jesus requires a cost but it also is the only way to the Only True Life.

Please pray:

~For each of the girls to be called by Jesus–and that each would have ears to hear and hearts opened to respond to His lavishing love. May He open their hearts to be able to accept grace and love like no other! 
~For wisdom as the staff and volunteers continue to work with each girl, that they would be sensitive to the Spirit’s voice on how to love and encourage, equip and challenge in a good way! 
~For a volunteer coordinator–someone who can manage our wonderful volunteers; and please pray for our last coordinator as she settles back into home in Loveland! 
~For a special team of people who will be the house directors of the Cinderella House–please pray for them to rise up and for us to know how to train and equip and encourage well. 
~For the brokenness that each girl faces and feels–that Jesus would be their true healer and ‘repairer of broken walls.’
~For continued big Vision from God. This is how He’s started this all, and we want to be sensitive to His calling as we continue moving forward! That He would show up and do huge things in the lives of the girls!!