A “Nhu” Life

“For I  know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans for peace and not for evil, to bring you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

nhu1“We are yards away from a brothel,” says Carl Ralston, an Alliance layperson who founded Remember Nhu, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter for girls who are at risk for being sold into a life of degradation, abuse and disease through sex slave trafficking. “One million children are sold each year,” Ralston says, “1,740 a day, 110 per hour.” Currently, Remember Nhu’s Agape Beauty Salon in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is providing cosmetology training and work for seven girls who are seeking refuge from forced prostitution.

Standing in the Gap

The idea for Remember Nhu came to Ralston when he heard the story of a little girl, Nhu, who lived on the banks of the Mekong River in Cambodia and had attended an Alliance school for Vietnamese refugees who were forbidden to attend Cambodian schools. When she was 12, Nhu trusted in Jesus and was baptized. Shortly after that, Nhu’s grandmother sold her to a man who, in turn, sold her to a sex broker.

Searches for Nhu by Alliance workers proved fruitless over the next several years. But Ralston, after hearing Nhu’s story, could not get her out of his mind. He believed the Holy Spirit was telling him to “Remember Nhu.” Sensing God’s call on their lives to stand in the gap for girls like Nhu, Ralston and his wife, Laurie, gave up a lucrative business and are in the process of giving up their home in Ohio to move to Southeast Asia, where child sex slavery is rampant. “This is our home now,” says Ralston. “This is where our heart is.”

nhu2Trusting in God’s provision, the Ralstons opened the first home for young girls in January 2007 in Cambodia. Today, there are homes for girls in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand, with C&MA partners in Cambodia and Thailand. The girls receive an education, are taught practical skills, and learn that God loves them. The beauty salon in Phnom Penh provides income for older girls while building their confidence and self-esteem.

“We started this ministry because of Nhu,” says Ralston, who continued looking for her. Finally, Nhu was located by Beth Drummond, now-retired Alliance worker who, along with her husband, Rick, founded the NewHope Evangelical School and Church in Phnom Penh, where Nhu had been baptized several years before. When Ralston met Nhu, he discovered that she had not forsaken her relationship with Jesus.

A Way Out

“When Nhu’s grandmother sold her to a broker for the third time,” Ralston explains, “Nhu talked her grandmother into splitting the payment with her so that she could go to cosmetology school. Nhu made sure that she stayed busy with school 24/7 so that her grandmother could not sell her again.

“I offered Nhu a job at our first children’s home in September 2007, and God used her as spiritual catalyst, reaching other girls with the hope of deliverance from a shame-filled life.”

Ralston knew it was inevitable that he would meet Nhu’s grandmother. “I didn’t know what I would do,” he says. “Part of me wanted to be mad at her. But God laid it on my heart as I shook her hand that she would know the fear of the living God. She was an arrogant woman and believed it was a boost for her to have visiting foreigners.

“As I shook her hand, her demeanor changed. It seemed as though Jesus did make her realize the fear of the Living God. I was kind, brought her fruit, and smiled.  I visited her half a dozen times in next year. Her home was filled with shrines, evil and darkness.”

Wanting Nhu to move out of her grandmother’s house, Ralston gave her a raise. But Nhu would not leave her grandmother, so the two women moved to a secure facility in July 2007. When Ralston visited, he saw a cross on the wall with Jesus’ name and a dove that says peace. There were no idols. “I want to compliment you on your house,” he told Nhu’s grandmother. “I don’t see your idols.”

Won by Love

“She told me she knew that the real God was working in Nhu’s life and that the love that I showed her was from the Living God. She had become a Christian because of the love that her granddaughter had shown her when Nhu insisted that her grandmother move with her.”

The grandmother’s newfound faith is bearing fruit. She goes to church, smiles a lot, and operates a sandwich stand to earn income. “Also, she referred a girl to us who was going to be sold to the sex trade,” says Ralston. “That girl now works in the salon with Nhu.”

Nhu’s story continues to impact lives for Christ. Ralston plans to open a second beauty salon, where Nhu will train more young girls in cosmetology-but more importantly, she will offer them hope for the future through new life in Jesus.

Learn more

Read more about about sex trafficking in Southeast Asia in alife.

Visit Remember Nhu’s Web site.

Read more about  Alliance work in the Asia/Pacific region.

What you can do . . .

  • Praise God for rescuing Nhu and saving her grandmother. Pray for continued spiritual growth for both.
  • Pray for good health, strength and provision for the Ralstons and their teams in each country.


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