Answering God's call
Alabama couple dedicates their lives to helping others
Jason Green, BNI News Service
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a two-part story. The second part will be published in the next issue.
An Alabama-based couple is devoting their Christian mission and their lives to dealing with the root origins of present-day, worldwide trafficking in sex-driven slavery that involves children.
The problem they address has drawn considerable recent attention in broadcast and print. But Milton and Kimberly Smith have devoted several years of their lives, massive energy and put their family's personal safety at risk as they have worked to make a difference in this problem and in the lives of those victimized.
Currently, the couple lives in Shelby County in the Chelsea community near Birmingham. The Smith family includes two teenage daughters, Whitney and Olivia, who have lived recent years abroad with their parents but are now in Alabama schools.
But their ministry and their mission go forward from Chelsea, will continue to grow, provided they get their story told to enough people willing to give money and/or time. Both money and time have come to Make Way Partners, the formal name for the Smith's mission and ministry. But the need is continuous and grows.
Carrying on the work of Make Way Partners now means that Milton will go back to Europe alone, spend much of his time there. Kimberly will remain in Chelsea, concentrate on communicating the Make Way Partners story and needs and in caring for their daughters.
She makes regular visits with numerous groups and churches in the area and has drawn strong and dedicated support to the Make Way Partners mission. Kimberly and other volunteers are available to meet with interested groups.
The Smiths say coming years will be difficult with Milton spending major time in Europe while Kimberly and their daughters remain in Alabama. But they believe that "God has placed a call" on their lives, and they have resolved to fulfill the call. They do what is necessary to make a difference – including encountering death threats as they work to expose the European corruption that enables the world sex-slave trade to flourish.
After serving together to now, this is a major change for the Smith family.
Slavery is illegal in the United States and worldwide. But slavery is practiced in various forms in some cultures throughout the world, the Smiths say, and illegally enters the United States via the sexual exploitation route.
A major segment of the world's slavery problem relates to women and children being sold for sexual exploitation, or more appropriately labeled as sex-slaves. This is the part of the world problem on which Milton and Kimberly have focused their mission and lives.
Originally, the Smiths' service was in Spain as student ministers/missionaries. After a year there, they learned of the plight of a Christian children's home in a nearby country. The Smiths visited the home, made repeated weekend visits there and spent a week there attempting to grasp what the home offered and why there seemed to be trouble.
The trouble, they discovered, was that the home was not at all what it was portrayed to be. It became evident, they said, that the home's operator was using the home's stated Christian purpose as a means of drawing financial support from local churches. The Smiths believe that the operator would then use the donated money for other purposes while failing to provide the children in the home's care with food, clothing or proper housing – or proper protection.
"There was a hole I could have stuck my head through in the room where the boys were staying," Kimberly said. But, the real problem at the home came to light when a small boy living in the home came to Kimberly and told her that "his bottom was bleeding." Kimberly then asked a worker at the home to examine the child after the operator had left because the child told her his "uncle" had told him not to tell anyone about his problem.
"When the worker examined the boy and asked me to witness the child's injuries, " Kimberly said, "there was no doubt what had happened. The boy had been sexually abused, and we believe that children in the home were being sexually abused and used to create pornography," she said.
Milton went to authorities to begin the process of getting the child removed from the home and to bring charges against the operator. After several days of working with authorities, Milton succeeded in getting the child removed from the home, examined and treated in a hospital. Ultimately, the child was placed in protective custody.
Currently, Make Way Partners is working with two other agencies, one of which is in Washington, D.C. and the other in Europe, to bring charges on the matter and to place the remaining children elsewhere. Unfortunately, children still remain in the home as the country's court system addresses the case.
That incident, the Smiths believe, is the tip of the iceberg.
For those who have interest in Make Way Partners, its mission and in helping Milton and Kimberly Smith, Kimberly says she should like to communicate with you. They have a web site at www.makewaypartners.com or you can contact Kimberly direct by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 205-240-8597.
Donations to Make Way Partners are tax deductible, according to the Smiths, and they offer to confirm deductibility to those needing confirmation. A recently established board sets policies of Make Way Partners.
Recent months have seen substantial financial support come to Make Way Partners – in weekly or monthly amounts from interested people, regular support from churches and organizations and some major gifts from individuals in the five-figure range. Donations can be mailed to Make Way Partners, P. O. Box 2347, Tuscaloosa, Ala. 35403 or to telephone 205-366-4017.
NEXT ISSUE: The slavery problem is widespread, worldwide. Read about it in our next issue.