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.
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.
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.
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.
RS founder Heather Ebert blocks in first colors. Photo by Renee Crosby
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.
Renee and Heather met in 2008 volunteering for Passion Conferences in Kampala, Uganda. Renee now serves as secretary on the RS board of directors.
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.
Renee, local host Regina Lang, and a faithful helper team up on the big project. Photo by Renee Crosby
Caitlin, mural artist, filling in color and details
Up next … final photos of the finished mural.
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.
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.
Caitlin, mural artist, sketches as staff and volunteers share ideas.
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.
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.
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.
No one on the street knew the dance performance they were watching would hit them so hard.
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.
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.