This is Part Two or an extended article on an organization called Rapha House.  To read Part One, click here.

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After visiting the main building of Rapha House, with my head still reeling from all that I had heard, Director S. took me down the street to a nearby house.  There, under the care of a wonderful couple, live six “graduated” girls who have no families to go back to.

The girls live fairly normal lives.  They ride bikes to school each day, they eat meals with their house parents and “sisters,” and help out with household chores.  Their house parents do their best to give the girls a safe and loving home.

In fact, for most of the girls living there, this is the first time they have ever lived with a truly safe family…

The Story

As we entered the gate to the property, I was excited to meet the house parents.  It was their story we had come to hear.  We sat down under the shade of a tree and they told me how they met.

For many of the girls in the house, a safe home is a new concept.

The house father, we’ll call him Touyou, used to be part of the security team at Rapha House.  He worked shifts at the gate, patrolled the yard and kept a watchful eye on new visitors.  Every Sunday, 17 year-old Touyou would play the keyboard at church.

Some of the girls from the Rapha House program, rescued from sex trafficking and slowly healing from years of terrible pain, would join Touyou on stage to perform graceful dances as part of the worship service.  One of those girls, also 17 years-old, was Sitaa.

It didn’t take long for Touyou to notice Sitaa (she really is quite stunning!). Her dancing was so graceful that Touyou was immediately captivated.

Every week he would play the keyboard and every week she would dance.  After a few months of this, Touyou fell madly in love with Sitaa.  And as it turns out, the feeling was mutual.

Cambodia is such a beautiful country. It’s hard to believe it is home to so much pain.

But what to do?  The rules of Rapha House were quite clear.  There was no way a security guard could court one of the girls in the program.  The only option was to wait.

So, wait they did. For five years.

Married

By the time Sitaa was ready to graduate from the program, everybody knew how much she and Touyou loved each other.  And everybody approved of the match.  Touyou was a fine, upstanding young man and Sitaa was a gracious and tender young woman.

So, at 22 years of age, Sitaa and Touyou were married.

It was a huge celebration.  There was music, dancing, food… It was a party to remember.

All of the girls from Rapha House attended, and it was a hugely significant moment for them.  Through Sitaa’s example they saw that their lives are not over… that they are still worthy of love.

The wedding of Sitaa and Touyou is something the Rapha House girls will remember forever.

Sitaa, walking down the aisle in a beautiful flowing gown, encapsulated the concept of new life.  Touyou, standing there nervous but proud, captured the concept of grace.

Girls may be white cloth, as the proverb goes, and they can get dirty.  But on the day that Touyou married Sitaa, the Rapha House girls saw that there is a God of love who can wash them white as snow.

House Parents

After the wedding, Touyou and Sitaa moved into a new house and became the house parents they still are today.  For two years now they have demonstrated the concept of grace to their “daughters” through simple acts of love and compassion.

Sitaa, once desperate and broken in a brothel far from home, is now a living and breathing demonstration of hope.  Touyou, overcoming the prejudices his culture has imposed, daily demonstrates that there are good men in the world.

Oh, and there is something else.  Nine months ago, Touyou and Sitaa brought into this world a little bundle of life. Nine months ago, they had a baby.

As they told me their story in the fading afternoon light, little baby Rachel stood bouncing on her mother’s lap.  Locking eyes with this precious little girl, it was all I could do not to just burst into tears.

In every way I could think of, this baby was a symbol of the kingdom.  Redemption, grace, hope, love…

I’ll never forget baby Rachel!

Baby Rachel is here because of Rapha House.  She is here because of grace.  She is here because her mother found a new identity in Christ.  And she is here because her father chose to love selflessly.

That wiggly, giggly bundle of joy is proof that in this dark world the kingdom of God is at work…

——

As I left Rapha House that day, I struggled under the heavy weight of awareness I had taken on.  Seeing a whole community of girls victimized by an evil injustice was almost too much to process emotionally.

But as we drove away that evening, I held on to a deep inner hope by plastering a single image all over the walls of my heart:  little baby Rachel and her beautiful, care-free smile.

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Next Steps
    • Visit Rapha House’s website to learn more about this amazing organization.
    • The website for Rapha House has a great list of resources if you want to learn more about the issues and facts surrounding sex trafficking. Click here to take a look.
    • Consider getting more involved with Rapha House through their website. Hosting events, starting an awareness “task-force,” prayer teams… There are plenty of great ideas to pursue!
    • Pray for Sitaa and Touyou. Pray that their lives would continue to be powerful examples of the kingdom to the girls of Rapha House!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Kevin Law said... 

    Reply

    December 30th, 2010 at 10:25 am  

    In our instant-on, gotta-have-it-now world, 5 years seems like an eternity. This is a true testament of love and obedience, and look at the fruits that flow from it.

  2. Mindy Irish said... 

    Reply

    December 31st, 2010 at 3:26 pm  

    What a great story of hope. Baby Rachel is a beautiful reminder to her family, those in her life, and each of us reading this story that God’s plan and timing are perfect!

  3. Amy Sorrells said... 

    Reply

    January 1st, 2011 at 4:33 am  

    This is one of my favorite articles ever! I’m particularly smitten with Touyou and his sacrificial love. Reminds me of the novel Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It’s a fiction book, but it so accurately depicts the patient love of a husband, as well as the hurting heart of someone “dirty,” and the process she goes through to allow God to wash her clean. (The story of how Rivers came to write the novel is pretty cool, too.) Praises for Touyou, Sitaa, Rachel, Rapha House and our awesome, redeeming God!

    • Emily Lehman said... 

      Reply

      January 9th, 2013 at 5:05 pm  

      This book is definitely what I was thinking of the whole entire time! Glad to see someone else was too :)

  4. Kyle Huffman said... 

    Reply

    January 1st, 2011 at 12:28 pm  

    So often I am wrecked by these stories. Many times my eyes are full of tears but my heart is hopeful. Hopeful because the light of Jesus is being shown in some of the darkest places. Places I might not be aware of if not for the work you are doing. Thank you for bringing these stories of grace, redemption and the kingdom to us.

  5. Jane VanOsdol said... 

    Reply

    January 4th, 2011 at 6:45 am  

    Thank you for sharing the story of Touyou and Sitaa. It is such a picture of Christ’s redemptive love. I was so drawn in by the stories of Rapha House. It’s hard to fathom the evil these girls have lived through. Thank you, God, for giving these girls a real, live example of love and healing and hope in the story of Touyou and Sitaa. Thank you, Barry, for sharing it with us.

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