STEPHANIE GARMAN FREED
Stephanie Garman Freed leads a global organization, Rapha House, to love, rescue, and heal child victims of modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation. Human trafficking continues to enslave millions of people, mostly women and children, around the world. Rapha House provides safe houses in Haiti and southeast Asia for girls who have been rescued from trafficking.
These safe houses provide aftercare (food, medical care, counseling, life skills, and vocational training) to hundreds of rescued girls. Additionally, Rapha House seeks to identify and attack the root causes of exploitation by sponsoring the education of more than 800 children in the countries where they serve and providing social services to their families.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Before starting Rapha House, Freed was a “soccer mom” who knew nothing about human trafficking. She began researching this horrific reality when prompted by her father, a Christian leader who had visited Cambodia to train Christian pastors and saw girls being trafficked on the streets.
Freed spent six months researching the issue and began to see how widespread it was. She felt sorrow for the children caught up in it.
One night as she was praying over her sleeping young daughters, she said that God spoke to her and said that her girls were no different from the little girls being trafficked in karaoke bars, massage parlors, and other places. “I said, ‘OK God, I’m completely unqualified, but if you open the doors, I’ll walk through those doors,’” Freed said.
After this prompting from God, Freed visited Cambodia and met with local church leaders to find out what they could do to combat human trafficking. They visited a local junkyard where Freed met a young girl who had been bought and sold twice into forced labor and sexual abuse. Freed said, “I will never forget the pain in my heart, meeting the eyes of that little girl and fully realizing the hopelessness she faced in her prison of slavery. During our visit, she begged me repeatedly, ‘Please don’t leave me here; please help me.’ The Lord used that experience to change the trajectory of my life.”
When Freed returned to the US, she founded Rapha House. “Rapha” is a Hebrew word meaning “healing.” Freed said that her own freedom and healing in Christ drive her to do more, one child at a time.
“In that moment [in the junkyard in Cambodia], it became real what Christ had done for me,” Freed said, “We were slaves in a junkyard, and Christ walks us into freedom, to live out his destiny and his calling.”