Redemption Stories

Regina Lang, missionary associate with Breaking Chains Network, said that a common phrase she often hears from women working in the red-light district in Antwerp, Belgium, is "This life has stolen my beautiful." The statement speaks to the profound ways that sexual exploitation harms a woman’s soul. The psychological and emotional damage enslaves a woman as strongly as any pimp or trafficker.

In this short video, we captured the spirit of the Belgium mural project, which was to create imagery that invited women to see themselves differently and offered hope for a better ending to the story.

Click here for more photos of the finished mural in Antwerp.

RS founder Heather Ebert, artist Caitlin Beidler, and RS board member Renee Crosby in front of the finished mural for the Destiny Home, located in southern Belgium The finished mural at the Destiny Home This mural scene features women in fellowship, supporting each other during the harder seasons they may endure. An image of being in supportive community with others The mural depicts various scenes, including a winter scene with women in fellowship, a group in community, and time to say farewell. The ultimate hope of every aftercare program is to restore a woman's dignity and prepare her for reentry into the world. RS founder Heather Ebert, artist Caitlin Beidler, RS board member Renee Crosby, and local missionary Regina Lang in front of the finished mural for the Destiny Home in southern Belgium The path that winds beneath the various mural scenes quotes Jeremiah 29:11:  For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, not for harm, but to give you a hope and a future.

The finished mural in the Destiny Home, Breaking Chains Network's residential facility, is an intricate and vibrant work of art. Caitlin Beidler of Redemption Art partnered with Redemption Stories to produce this mural and the one we painted in Antwerp.

Aftercare programs exist to restore a woman’s dignity and prepare her for successful reentry into the world. The winding path beneath the scenes of the mural quotes Jeremiah 29:11, the scripture that inspired the mural design for the Destiny Home.

…for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, not for harm, but to give you a hope and a future.

Click on each photo for more details on the mural’s imagery. See this post for more on the making of the Destiny Home mural.

The making of the Destiny Home mural

With a completed design, the Redemption Stories team started on the mural for the Destiny Home, the second and final mural of the Belgium mission project that took place this past June.

The Destiny Home is a long-term residential facility in southern Belgium managed by Breaking Chains Network, which the ministry had just opened a few days before we arrived in country. The purpose of the home is to provide survivors of sex trafficking a safe and nurturing place to live while they heal and prepare for a new life.

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A fresh wall, a blank canvas, patched and primed and ready for paint

The mural took up a main wall in the living room, where residents, staff and volunteers would be encouraged by imagery depicting scenes of warmth and fellowship.

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RS founder Heather Ebert blocks in first colors. Photo by Renee Crosby

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Caitlin and a faithful helper sketch and paint different scenes. Photo by Renee Crosby

The Redemption Stories team had a different group of helpers on the second mural. Among them was Renee Crosby, RS secretary (and good friend), who flew in to support the project’s second week efforts. Breaking Chains Network staff and two house residents also actively painted the week of the project.

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Renee and Heather met in 2008 volunteering for Passion Conferences in Kampala, Uganda. Renee now serves as secretary on the RS board of directors.

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Caitlin’s design for the second mural was even more intricate than the first. The details and complexity made this new mural vibrant, filled with life and movement.

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Renee, local host Regina Lang, and a faithful helper team up on the big project. Photo by Renee Crosby

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Caitlin, mural artist, filling in color and details

Up next … final photos of the finished mural.

Welcome to Waterloo

After the Redemption Stories team finished the first mural for Breaking Chains Network (BCN) in Antwerp, Belgium, Caitlin and Heather headed south to Waterloo, near Brussels, to begin the process on the second mural for the ministry.

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Lion’s Mound monument to the 1815 Battle of Waterloo

BCN recently opened a beautiful home near Waterloo where rescued women can live long-term. A revamped team of staff and volunteers associated with the residential facility met together to follow Caitlin through the brainstorming process.

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Caitlin, mural artist, sketches as staff and volunteers share ideas.

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Caitlin captured ideas on the whiteboard, including a rough sketch.

The first mural in Antwerp was designed to communicate the peace and hope that the Oasis Center offered to women working in the red-light district. The second mural design would communicate to residents and visitors that the Destiny Home is a place of rest, healing, and preparation for a better future.

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Final sketch of the second mural concept

The mural design showed women in friendship and community in a warm, comfortable and supportive environment. During the months or years that they may spend here, they will be loved, experience healing, and grow stronger. The Destiny Home is a resting place that will equip trafficking survivors to go on to lead full lives.

Up next … the making of the Destiny Home mural.

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium Victor Hugo once lived here, in the Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium Manneken Pis, proof the Belgians have a sense of humor Countries around the world send the Manneken Pis costumes to wear to commemorate special occasions. This garb was, I believe, from Croatia in honor of Statehood Day. View of Brussels from atop the Atomium Erik was only with us for the Antwerp mural, but he got to tour Brussels during his stay. Here he's  photographing the Atomium: http://www.atomium.be/?lang=en Belgium is famous for its chocolate and other treats.

Highlights from Brussels

After the Redemption Stories team finished the first mural in Antwerp, Caitlin and Heather said good-bye to Erik (who flew home to his family) and headed south to Waterloo, where Breaking Chains Network has a residential facility. During our stay in Belgium, we saw the sights of Brussels a number of times. These are a few highlights.

For more photos of Brussels, visit Redemption Stories’ Belgium photo set on Flickr.

High-res halftheskymovement:

Lauren Hersh of New York’s Equality Now argues that the legalization of prostitution is a failed strategy. 
“When governments fail to tackle the demand side of the commercial sex industry, they not only fail to protect people in prostitution, they also financially benefit through the increased tax income generated from the exploitation of people.”
Read more at The CNN Freedom Project.

halftheskymovement:

Lauren Hersh of New York’s Equality Now argues that the legalization of prostitution is a failed strategy.

“When governments fail to tackle the demand side of the commercial sex industry, they not only fail to protect people in prostitution, they also financially benefit through the increased tax income generated from the exploitation of people.”

Read more at The CNN Freedom Project.

Who Doesn't Like To Watch Half-Naked Girls Dancing? These Guys, After They See Why It's Happening.

So many men in the red-light districts around the world have no idea why or how those women ended up in the windows in the first place. This PSA is a powerful, creative way to demonstrate the truth behind the facade.

(via humantraffickingexists)

The Redemption Stories team--Heather (team lead), Caitlin (mural artist) and Erik (videographer)--in front of the Antwerp mural Heather, Regina--our local ministry host, and Caitlin Regina and Heather, wearing the celebratory tiara Final mural, captured in panorama

Photos of the completed mural for Breaking Chains Network's Oasis Center in Antwerp, Belgium.

The imagery in this mural represents the purpose of the Oasis Center: a place of rest, fellowship and hope. The oak tree in the center of the lush, vibrant landscape was inspired by Isaiah 61:3:

to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified

Two young women in fellowship sit beneath the tree, reading promises from the scriptures—truths about who they are—that they may be given hope and healing. This new creation is symbolized by the vision of a radiant woman emerging.

See this post for more details about the making of the mural.