The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

Rahab Refuge continues work on women’s shelter

- By Roger Seibert rseibert@oneidadisp­

ONEIDA, N.Y. >> Staff at Rahab Refuge Ministries are continuing to seek funding and a location for House of Hope, a shelter for women who were once trafficked and who need a fresh start in life. The House of Hope will help these women reclaim their lives through counseling, therapy and job training.

Rahab Refuge Ministries founder and president Christine Carpenter’s vision for House of Hope includes five bedrooms and a separate room for counseling sessions. It will be a safe environmen­t and will include multiple acres for horseback riding and other activities that promote healing. The faith-based outreach will be headquarte­red in House of Hope, a building that will be located in Oneida or somewhere that has adequate space in Madison County.

“We are in the process of finding a property for “House of Hope” that has the potential for growth,” Executive Assistant Manager Lindsey Kitchens said. “We are looking for inventors and donors who believe in our mission and want to help support the purchase of a property. Please reach out to christine@rahabrefug­eministrie­ if you would like to know more about supporting the purchase of a property.”

Rahab Rescue staff are raising money through a series of fundraiser­s.

“Our three main fundraiser­s this year are, our Second Annual Golf Tournament in May, our Third Annual Freedom Walk in September and our Second Annual Festival of Trees in December,” Kitchen said. “We welcome volunteers, sponsors and donors for all of these events. You can find updates about these events on our Facebook page and website.”

Informatio­n on Rahab Refuge Ministries can be found at www.rahabrefug­eministrie­ or by calling 315-725-2273.

The ministry is continuing to develop its staff in anticipati­on of House of Hope’s opening.

“We have many great things coming in 2023!” Kitchens said. “We currently have three open internship positions available for Marketing and Communicat­ions Developmen­t, Program and Operations Developmen­t and Youth Education Developmen­t. You can apply for these internship­s on our website on the Employment tab.”

Carpenter founded Rahab Refuge Ministries in November 2020 after retiring from her job investigat­ing white-collar crime with the treasury department. The faith-based outreach will combine education, rehabilita­tion, and a safe place to help victims of sexual crime recover and rebuild their lives.

“Rahab Refuge Ministries will combine holistic avenues of healing, including recovery, counseling, and spiritual help,” Carpenter, the president of the group, said in a previous interview with the Dispatch.

Carpenter’s work is a continuati­on of what her late husband, Jeffery, who ran youth ministry and later pastored Friendship Baptist Church, reflected in his life. She is a Christian and said her faith has influenced her decision to help human traffickin­g victims.

“When I retired I thought I would help lead Bible studies and do bake sales,” she said. “God kept telling me to get involved with these women, he would not let me go, and so I started this ministry.”

Rahab Refuge is named after the biblical Rahab, a prostitute who hid Jewish spies before the Battle of Jericho.

“Rahab was someone who was trafficked,” Carpenter said. “She lived in the wall surroundin­g the city with other prostitute­s and was taken advantage of. She chose to listen to the right voice, and her life turned around. She went on to become part of Israel, part of the lineage of Christ.”

Along with housing Rahab ministries will focus on three areas of education: outreaches to the homeless, youth groups, and churches. That education includes ways to spot potential human traffickin­g.

Carpenter wants women to hear the right voices. House of Hope, when built, will provide these voices. “The first step is to give them time to recover,” she said. “Then we will provide them with counselors, and later give them vocational training so they can move on with their lives.”

Carpenter is learning all she can through Wellspring, an establishe­d women’s shelter in Georgia. “I am being mentored by the Wellspring staff, and I send them all my press releases, fundraisin­g, educationa­l plans to them for their feedback,” she said. “It helps prepare for our ministry.”

“Human traffickin­g is a travesty, and America is the biggest consumer of it,” she said. “Too many people are unaware of the problem or are willfully ignorant of it. They don’t want to face it because it means they would have to do something about it.”

Pornograph­y, Carpenter said, is the driving force behind sex crimes. “People watch something, and then it gets in their heads, and then they think about it and then they use underage girls to do it,” she said.

New York State has the fourth-largest number of trafficked women in the country.

“There are drug trafficker­s and human trafficker­s. Human beings are different from drugs. Drugs can only be used once, while women can be used over and over.”

 ?? PHOTO PROVIDED/FILE ?? Christine Carpenter
PHOTO PROVIDED/FILE Christine Carpenter

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