I am honored to serve on the board of Make Way Partners because of their willingness to “risk it all” for the sake of “the least of these”. They have passion and unwavering commitment to serve in the most dangerous and difficult places in the world. Their focus on the leadership development of local individuals is good missiology. Through offering an education to children, they are providing a path of Hope where there would otherwise be hopelessness. They work to provide a safe environment to women and children who have experienced much trauma and insecurity, therefore, offering a way toward healing. But most importantly, they know that it is in Christ that we find our ultimate Hope, Peace and Security–and so their message of Christ’s Love and redemption is at the core of all they do. I hope that many others will join us as a Make Way Partner, as together, we shine the Light of God’s Love into the dark corners of our world.
International Consultant at International Ministries ABC/USA
Lauran Bethell, M.Div, D.D., has been working for more than two decades on behalf of and caring for women who have been exploited and abused. Most recently, she serves as a consultant with grassroots organizations, encouraging the development of new projects dealing with the issues of prostitution, trafficking in persons and other forms of abuse and exploitation. While based in The Netherlands, she travels extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, teaching, training and consulting.
As the first Director of the New Life Center in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand (1987), Lauran pioneered projects in Southeast Asia that specifically addressed the issue of child prostitution and trafficking of women and children. The Center was started with 18 residents in an effort to offer young tribal women an opportunity to receive an education and vocational training which provided alternatives to prostitution and other forms of exploitation. Rev. Bethell directed the Center for 14 years; at various times, there have been as many as 200 girls and young women in the Center’s houses in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The Center also sponsors at-risk girls who are attending schools in their villages or living in hostels. Though the work primarily focuses on preventing girls with high-risk factors from being exploited, the Center also offers rehabilitation and life alternatives to women who have come out of labor and sexual exploitation.
The New Life Center has received international recognition and awards for its work, and has been the subject of many television documentaries (60 Minutes, BBC, Dutch National TV) as well as newspaper and magazine articles. In 1995, Lauran received an award on behalf of the New Life Center from the Prime Minister of Thailand. The Center also hosted former U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
In January 2001, Lauran began working full-time as an international consultant. Her main goal is to initiate and encourage new grass- roots projects addressing the exploitation and abuse of women and children, many of whom are victims of trafficking. In August 2004, Lauran directed the first “International Consultation on Ministry with Women in Prostitution” (ICCP) bringing together the leaders of faith-based organizations from 25 countries which are involved in this work. Second and third similar conferences were held in April 2006 and September, 2008 with representatives from more than 35 countries. From the ICCP has come the “International Christian Alliance on Prostitution” (ICAP) an organization whose purpose is “Networking for Transformation and Hope”.
Lauran was honored in 2005 with the Human Rights Award of the Baptist World Alliance, which was presented to her by President Jimmy Carter. She serves on the Anti-Trafficking Committee of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), providing resources to EBF churches in an effort to both prevent trafficking and offer restitution to victims. She also serves on the Board of “Make Way Partners”. In 2004, she initiated “Project Hope” in Prague, working with Bulgarian Roma women involved in prostitution, many of whom are trafficked.
Lauran has collaborated with governmental agencies and non-government organizations, and a broad spectrum of faith-based groups and organizations. Because of her personal contact with hundreds of women involved in prostitution and victims of trafficking and her experience of pioneering new projects, Lauran has been invited to testify before U.S. House of Representatives (2003) and Senate (2000) committees, as they drafted and revised the U.S. anti-trafficking legislation.
The Rev. Dr. Lauran Bethell is originally from California, USA. After graduating with a B.A. in psychology, religion and education from the University of Redlands, she taught elementary school in Central California (6 years) and then at the Hong Kong International School (4 years). She returned to the U.S. to complete a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) from the American Baptist Seminary of the West, from which she was later awarded a Doctor of Divinity for her pioneering work with women in Southeast Asia. In 2009, she was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Palmer Seminary for her “longstanding and focused ministry of justice and compassion”.