Winda was raised an orphan on an island near Haiti. There, in a faith-based orphanage, she was groomed for a life of exploitation. At age 15, Winda was adopted and brought to America, where, despite her hopes for a family, the exploitation continued. When telling her story, Winda recounts how the opportunity to escape aligned perfectly when her wealthy pimp and perpetrators were all inebriated beyond coherence; she took the opportunity and ran, never looking back.
The first time I met Winda face to face, she was stepping off a bus in St. Louis, ready to begin a journey of healing most would fail to have the courage to take.
Winda reminds us that healing is not easy, nor something we can force people to do before they are ready. It’s the hardest, most vulnerable way to move into the pain, let others in, face the past and hope for a future.
The first graduate of Eden’s Glory, Winda says many of her victories have sprung from her relationships with those she encountered within the church. Even though “church people” started her exploitation, church people helped her heal. Winda remembers her first encounter with Ella Peters, “This church lady hugged me the first time she met me, she whispered into my ear, ‘Jesus loves you, and so do I.’” Winda notes it was evident she wasn’t judged at her church. This acceptance helped her keep going. She encourages us now, “We can’t judge or reject others; if we do, there’s no room for healing or faith to come in.”
Recently Winda told me, “Having people believe in you is really helpful. Eden’s Glory saw things in me I couldn’t see for myself. Now I am beginning to see, and I am celebrating!”
Now 32 years old, Winda is still healing while helping others heal. Every time I meet with her, she sharpens my faith. Winda faces a world in need of healing with courageous faith tethered by the Word of God and a close-knit relationship with the Savior. And she chooses every day to live in step with the One who rescued her.
Eden’s Glory is a Christ-centered residential program for adult women who are survivors of human trafficking.