Academic News

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) becomes executive director of safe houseWaxahachie, Texas - June 27, 2012 - Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna Crystal Sprague is the executive director of My Refuge House (MRH), a safe house for Philippine survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Since April 2010, Sprague has developed and overseen operations in Cebu as the program director. In May 2012, she was promoted as executive director and moved to Southern California. She now oversees MRH's marketing and public relations as well as supporter partnerships.

"I speak at churches and with individuals who are interested in getting involved. I also still oversee the program in Cebu, and visit often, working directly with the staff there to ensure that our programs are adhering to best practices for anti-trafficking aftercare work," Sprague shared.

After high school in North Dakota, Sprague spent five months in Cambodia as a missionary assistant teaching English and then two years in Cebu working at a children's home called Happy Horizons Children's Ranch. Having become a Christian at an Assembly of God church, she wanted to attend an AG college, preferably one in a warmer climate.

"It’s very warm in Cambodia and the Philippines, and after being in that region for a few years, I had no desire to go back to the northern cold," Sprague said. "SAGU's reputable counseling/psychology program was a natural fit for me."

Sprague graduated from SAGU in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in church ministries with a specialization in counseling/psychology. She went on to complete her Master of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2009. While in school, she spent 3 years working for ACH, a home in Fort Worth for children with minor to severe behavior challenges.

She continued, "I could not do this work without an understanding of how trauma affects a person, and tools with which to assist our girls to work through the trauma they have been through."

"I always encourage those who are interested in anti-trafficking work to pick an area they would like to be involved, and then find a way to get the skills necessary to make a difference in that area."

After graduate school, she applied for a fellowship with the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency that rescues victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression, in Cebu, Philippines. Because of her background, IJM assigned her to work with their partner, My Refuge House.

"MRH provides immediate aftercare to survivors of trafficking who are typically referred by local law enforcement and IJM."

"I assisted with their staff training and developing policies and procedures, so when the director position became available, it was a clear fit," Sprague shared.

"I have a unique job that allows me to see his hand at work in the lives of trauma survivors," she continued.

"But no less importantly, I also have the privilege of talking to individuals in the US who desperately want to see justice upheld, and assist them with ways in which they can do that."

"I believe that God’s calling on our lives is not the sum of a career choice, but the daily decisions that we make to glorify him. If we seek to glorify God in the small, seemingly insignificant decisions of our lives, then the bigger things will line up as well."

My Refuge House (MRH) is a faith-based 501(c)3 California non-profit organization established to provide safety and rehabilitation to survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. Currently, MRH has a home set up in Cebu, Philippines. To read more about the girls who have been rescued, or find out more information about My Refuge House, visit www.myrefughouse.com.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The University was established in 1927 and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.