CHESTERTON | Tables piled high with bras and cardboard boxes greeted those entering the Duneland Community Church on Tuesday night.
It was all part of Free The Girls, an effort to help women who have been rescued from sex trafficking rebuild their lives.
The church serves as the destination for bras shipped from around the world. Church members sort and pack the bras into boxes that will be shipped to Mozambique, El Salvador and Mexico.
Women rescued from sex trafficking earn a living selling the bras while getting healthy, going to school and caring for their families.
Senior Pastor Greg Arthur said he attended college and seminary with Dave Terpstra, who co-founded Free The Girls.
As a missionary in Mozambique, Terpstra saw firsthand the poverty-driven sex trafficking in Africa.
While there were a number of organizations that rescued women from prostitution, there were limited resources when it came to helping them put their lives back together.
“The question was, how do you help women rebuild their lives?” Arthur said.
Packing coordinator Pam Gumns said volunteers expected to pack between 5,000 and 6,000 bras on Tuesday. The previous truckload the church sent consisted of 84 boxes with 10,000 bras.
The cause has drawn a good response from church members who want to help pack. Volunteers from the community also are welcome, Gumns said.
“Women just embrace it because of what it represents,” Gumns said. “We wear our bras close to our hearts.”
Arthur said he'd eventually like to partner with rescue groups in the United States to help women in this country who are being trafficked.
“This is part of our call and vision,” he said.