CHICAGO, IL (November 4, 2010) – Ruth and Brad Hill donated most of their furniture as they moved from their recently sold house into a condominium that will serve as transitional housing until she retires from her position as executive minister of the Department of Women Ministries next year and moves to Seattle.
They had no idea that their move would help a human trafficking survivor make her own transition to a new life.
A moving crew from Jesus People USA Covenant Church, an intentional community in inner city Chicago that serves the poor, arrived at the Hills’ home on Friday to accept the furniture. They were accompanied by a woman who is originally from Burkina Faso.
The woman was shocked when she learned the Hills had been to her native country – and equally surprised when Brad spoke with her in her native French. She then learned there was an even deeper connection.
Ruth originated Women Ministries’ three-year Break the Chains anti-trafficking project that has raised more than $400,000 since 2007 and has spurred many congregations to become involved in fighting slavery.
The Hills learned the woman had owned a thriving hair salon in Burkina Faso and did intricate braiding. A visitor to the shop enticed her to the United States with promises that he could help her make much more money if she opened her own shop here.
When she arrived, however, the woman discovered she had been tricked and was forced to work in a salon with 14 other French-speaking women who had suffered the same fate. Because they knew no English and were frightened, the women could not tell customers of their plight.
Eventually, the woman was able to escape the situation, but more harsh times awaited her when she married an abusive husband. A friend helped her travel to Chicago and introduced her to Jesus People.
She has lived at the church’s shelter since January and has been going through a rehabilitation process. Before the Hills called Jesus People to offer their furniture, the church had been preparing to move the woman into her own apartment the very weekend the couple was moving. The woman needed furniture, however.
“It was just amazing,” says Ruth of the unforeseen connection. Hill will complete her responsibilities as head of the Department of Women Ministries on August 31, 2011.