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By Nate Beaird

When I was about to turn 30 years old five years ago I decided I did not want birthday presents. I wanted people to help me change lives for my birthday, so I launched a campaign called “Happy Birthday, Nate.” I partnered with World Vision and raised money for mosquito nets to combat malaria in at-risk parts of the world. By the time the seven-month campaign was over, we raised almost $34,000 and bought nets to protect 11,236 kids from malaria.

Over the next couple years I kept my mind and heart open but never really felt led to partner with another organization for my birthdays again. My wife and I were blessed with a daughter and we were enjoying our time with her. Then a couple years ago I was speaking with a staff member of an organization called Wings of Refuge, an organization that takes in victims from all over the U.S. who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

The Need

I had just seen a news report of a large sex trafficking bust, so I asked the staff member if she was excited that so many people had been rescued. She said she was, but she then proceeded to tell me that even if we were to rescue all the victims of sex trafficking, there would not be enough places for them to live. Without safety and shelter, most of them would be forced back into the sex trade either through coercion or need. When she made that statement, I felt like the Lord told me to partner with Wings of Refuge.

You might think that sex trafficking is something that happens only in other places – not here in Iowa. The truth is that Des Moines is the intersection for the two main Interstates that run from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, I-80 and I-35. Imagine the amount of sex slaves that are trucked through Iowa every day.

The Iowa Department of Transportation website says that every year in Iowa there are an average of 8,000,000 cars on Iowa highways. Even if only one percent of those cars contain traffickers, that means that 80,000 cars traveling through Iowa every year are transporting human slaves.

The Solution

Very practically, the solution is for these victims to have a place to go to learn life skills that make it possible for them to live an independent and confident life. Most victims are forced into the sex trade between the ages of 11 and 14. Because of their ages, they may not know how to do things as simple as balancing a checking account or scheduling a dentist appointment. Think of all the things you learned between the years of 11 and 20. Without that knowledge, could you fit into society seamlessly?

Providing professionally trained staff to come alongside these participants is invaluable; it’s the only way to help them create a life of self sufficiency. Wings of Refuge takes in girls from anywhere in the U.S., from Los Angeles to New York City. It is not a thirty-, sixty-, or ninety-day facility. The participants are welcome to stay until they are ready to make it on their own.

The Ask

Wings of Refuge operates out of a small Iowa town where participants are able to sort of “detox” from their lifestyle. This quiet town provides a sanctuary from would-be traffickers and few distractions, making it ideal for recovery. At some point, however, participants are ready to get a job or continue their education. This creates a challenge because there are no public means of transportation or taxis or services like Uber or Lyft in the small town. Participants’ opportunities to grow are limited by the location of the place that once saved their life.

The board of Wings of Refuge has proposed a second location in or around the greater Des Moines area that could be a next step in participants’ growth. With widespread services like Uber and Lyft, good jobs and education don’t appear as far away. This will allow the participants to be more independent and start living the life that was nearly robbed from them.

My goal is to raise $750,000 for Wings of Refuge to purchase a spacious home with enough privacy for security reasons in or around the greater Des Moines area for that second location. While the location may be here in Iowa, the benefit is nationwide. A place like this could be a blueprint for victim restoration across the nation.

Wings of Refuge is now listed on the Open Bible giving platform, Mission Venture Plan, for the duration of the campaign.

How Can You Help?

1.For my Christmas gift this year I’m asking anyone who is able to donate on the following link. My goal, $750,000, is a large goal but together we can meet it. Wings of Refuge is listed as an MVP ministry venture on the Open Bible website during the time of the campaign. A couple churches are already asking to partner with me to present this opportunity to their church as a church Christmas project. Also, please visit www.MerryChristmasNate.com to learn more!

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2.Please help me reach my goal by sharing this page, the video, and any updates on Facebook. Spread the word to your friends, family, church, workplace, and total strangers. Tell news stations, newspaper reporters, radio hosts, and any person of influence you can think of in your personal circle. We need everyone!



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3.Follow “Merry Christmas, Nate” and Wings of Refuge on Facebook to raise awareness (did I mention you should share?) and see updates as we go!

Wings of Refuge Website

Why Christmas?

The entire story of Christmas is about a man who came to Earth to set the captives free. I believe He not only sets them free spiritually, but He also works through those who love Him to help free them physically as well. Won’t you join me this Christmas in giving just a little gift so that exploitation can end for one more girl?

About The Author

Nate Beaird
Digital Media Manager

Nate Beaird is the digital media manager for Open Bible Churches. He has spent the past 15 years teaching churches how to leverage technology and design and to learn to view their church from a visitor’s perspective. Nate usually writes about technology and social media, but occasionally wanders out of his lane to add perspective in different areas of church life. Nate has training in graphic design and video editing and is self taught in website and social media engagement. As a break from all things digital, Nate enjoys woodworking and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Niki, have two young children.