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Agents of Hope, Help, and Healing

Jan 27, 2023

Destiny Rescue, an international nonprofit Christian organization with a primary focus on rescuing children out of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, became a cooperating ministry of the Charis Fellowship in early 2022. They have been a vendor at both Access National Conference and Momentum Youth Conference for several years.

In addition to rescuing children, Destiny Rescue also helps rescued children reintegrate back into their communities and stay free. “Our desire is not just to set kids free, but to empower them through job training and discipleship to stay free and become God-honoring leaders in their communities,” said Chris Russell, Destiny Rescue’s director of engagement.

The organization was founded in 2001 by Tony Kirwan, following a trip to Thailand where he was staggered by the prominence and magnitude of human trafficking. According to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is $150 billion per year industry, with $99 billion of that linked to the sex trade. Globally there are one million kids trapped in the commercial sex trade, 74% of that happening in Asia-Pacific. Destiny Rescue is currently rescuing in 10 countries with an additional two pilot countries started this year. Chris says their goal is to be in 30 countries and to have rescued 100,000 individuals by the end of 2030. 

There are four primary methods of rescue that the organization utilizes:

  • Covert: Undercover agents enter establishments based on a tip and pretend to be customers to gain intel
  • Raid: Wearing undercover body cameras, agents gather intel with the goal of setting up a raid of an establishment
  • Border: Check points at the border where youth are stopped and interviewed to determine if they are being trafficked unaware
  • Survival: Field agents discover children selling themselves and intervene to offer what is needed to make that unnecessary for survival

Covert: Undercover agents enter establishments based on a tip and pretend to be customers to gain intel

After a child is rescued, a care team works with them to create an individualized “Freedom Plan” that provides counseling, coaching, training, and support as they reintegrate into their communities. Support can include housing, medical, education, discipleship, food, and job training.

Before working for Destiny Rescue, Chris was a lead pastor in Goshen, Ind., where he introduced the organization to his church family. “It was a game changer for us. Our people were upset as they got a clear picture of this reality of how so many children were being abused around the world,” Chris said. “But that anger turned in to action and they wanted to learn how to best use their voices and influence to set kids free. As a pastor, I got to be the biggest cheerleader for my church family as together we engaged in this fight and made a difference in the lives of these precious children.” 
After partnering with Destiny Rescue starting in 2015 and serving on the U.S. board starting in 2017, Chris felt God’s calling to move to Destiny Rescue full-time at the beginning of 2019. Chris said, “My greatest joy now is coming alongside pastors and helping them engage their church families in this issue. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world. It is the Church’s responsibility to step up and step out in faith and action to change this reality.”

“I get the privilege of helping pastors lead that charge in their churches,” Chris said. “When the things that matter the most and are the nearest and dearest to the heart of God become the same things that matter the most and are the nearest and dearest to the hearts of His kids…it simply doesn’t get any better than that!” 
Chris said, “All of us who follow Jesus have a rescue story. Every one of those rescue stories is worth celebrating. It’s amazing that God takes broken, imperfect, messed up people like you and me, and invites us to join Him in His rescue efforts around the world. We get to be His agents of help, hope, and healing in the lives of those around us, both locally and around the globe.” 
Find out more information about Destiny Rescue on their website here. Connect with Chris here to take the first step in exploring what partnering with Destiny Rescue could look like for your church family.