My family had the privilege of welcoming Randy and Sandy to our home over the weekend for coffee! They are missionaries in Ensanada, Mexico! My son, Colin actually had the opportunity to go on a missions trip with our local church down to Ensanada in 2019. That is where we heard about The Refuge and Randy and Sandy!
As some of you know, part of all our revenue at the Weigh Down Lifestyle goes to support Randy and Sandy in Mexico. Our goal is to help them fill up their home to capacity!
We know that you are going to love hearing some of these stories from the interview! If you are more of a visual learner, we have also included the video down below. And finally, if you want to learn more about how to support Randy and Sandy, there will be a button at the bottom of this post!
Without further ado, here’s the interview! We hope you really enjoy it 🙂
Welcome Randy and Sandy!
We are so excited that you’re here with us today and that you are willing to do an interview with Kayce and I.
We are so thankful that you are willing to share about the ministry you are involved in, and also to share a little bit about your own journey on how God led you to this particular ministry. As you know, some of the proceeds from the Weigh Down Lifestyle Community helps to support “The Refuge” you each month, and We have shared just a little bit about what you do in our community, but we know that the women are excited to learn from you first hand what your ministry is all about.
So again, welcome here and thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.
First of all, why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about “The Refuge” and what you do there, and maybe how you got started in this ministry?
The Refuge or “El Refugio” is located in Ensenada in Mexico, about two hours south of San Diego, and it is a safe home. It is a home for girls that have been abused or neglected or involved in trafficking, and the whole goal is to provide a family setting where the girls can find healing in Christ. It is a home where the girls can get an education, where they can learn life skills like cooking or money management, or different things like that, where they can also then learn to serve as well. So really… it’s multi-faceted I guess.
So how did we get started?
It just so happens that Randy’s grandfather was an orphan in Russia, and throughout the years, little stories would pop up about his life in Russia and about the difficulties that he had as an orphan, and without parents. During the Russian revolution, there was a family that actually adopted him so that he could leave Russia, and they provided him with a future. So because of this, it was something that was always in our hearts and something that we thought would be kind of neat to help other kids that were in similar situations.
Years later Randy and I got married, and then we had a daughter. One particular Christmas, our daughter decided that she wanted to help support an orphanage. She first wrote a letter to everyone that she knew who was going to give her a present, to her aunts and uncles and her grandmas and grandpas. She asked if they would please just send her money this year, rather than give her a present, so that she could send the money to an orphanage somewhere in the world and help them out. Of course, they gave her money, donations for her to send to an orphanage, and that was the start of our journey.
From there, about two years later when she was in about grade seven, there was an opportunity to go on a bus trip. She said, “I just really want to go on this mission trip.” It was somewhere she just wanted to go and serve.
We were like, “You are a little young to go by yourself; you are not going on a mission trip.” But then Randy ended up with friends of ours who were taking a bus down to Mexico, and it was a school bus, and they’re like… “Yeah Randy, we’d really like you to come!”
To make a long story short, Randy ended up driving the bus. So our daughter and Randy’s mom went along and God just spoke to all three of them. Really! Randy was always saying, “I’m going to go down there and I’m going to change people’s lives.” But God really got a hold of Randy’s heart, yeah and God changed Randy’s heart.
The Lord definitely used our daughter, and the grandfather who passed on a number of years ago, to plant those seeds. Then the seeds blossomed by using our daughter because we wouldn’t have gone down to Mexico if it wasn’t for that opportunity to take her on that mission trip. She could serve the Lord and be part of this mission, and really the Lord ultimately had a much bigger plan for us.
Wow – That’s amazing! The Lord works in mysterious ways – first through your child and now you’re helping so many children too.
At “The Refuge,” how many girls do you have right now that you’re helping, and how do you help them?
We’re working now with approximately 14 girls right now. We’ve had several girls that have gone on to bible school, and we have one of our girls who actually went through YWAM in Mexico city and has now become a leader there, which is a discipleship school. She’s actually taken a team out now and we’re very proud of her; she’s like 20 years old, and she’s taking much older people than her on this mission trip and they’re ending up in Brazil eventually, so we still support her and she comes home every once in a while.
We have another girl that is coming to Canada here in the next month or so, and then her ultimate goal, possibly in January, is to go serve the Lord as a missionary, somewhere next to Thailand.
Besides that, we have girls that are in university, in college, and in high school. We’ll journey with them all the way through school. We’re one of the only homes that will take a girl when she’s 18 and continue on with their education, but many of our girls even when they’re 18, they might be in grade 6, 7, or 8, because they’re years behind in their education. So we will journey with them as far as their education goes.
So you’ve currently got 14 girls and how many could you accommodate at your at your home there?
Sandy: We could probably easily accommodate double that amount, pushing up to 30. Right now, because of a few different circumstances, we can’t accommodate more than we have. Back a few years ago when the oil industry really took a nosedive, and it hasn’t recovered properly, we lost a lot of support. Also, this last year has been very difficult on us because of Covid, so we’ve had to restrict the amount of girls that we can work with.
A long time ago when we first got into this, there were a lot of homes that might have 90 kids or 100 kids. We know one home that has almost 200 kids and each of the kids have a number. They don’t even go by their name! They are a safe place; they’re being fed and taken care of and when they’re 18 years old, they open up the door and they say goodbye to the girls.
Many of those children don’t even know how to use a microwave. They don’t know how to use money; they don’t know how to cook, and so for us… we really felt it was important that we teach them life skills, and to bring Christ into everything that we do. So we’ve decided that the maximum that we can accommodate is around 30 girls at a time.
But like I said, because of the finances we are down in numbers. We have been very blessed though because the Lord has met our needs and we’re very blessed at the home even though it’s been difficult for all of us this last year.
You have a wide range of ages of girls though right? So how young are the girls when they come to you? You have said some of them are in College and University and some of them are 18, but you get them way younger don’t you?
Yeah, the youngest that we’ve had is three and up to 17 that they come, but then if they’re with us at 17, they can stay at 18 and beyond. So then we encourage them to work on their schooling and those kinds of things. One of the difficulties in Mexico, especially in our area, there are other children’s homes but none of them until just recently would take a girl over the age of seven or eight years old. They won’t take them.
When we first got into this ministry, we never understood, but we do know now. So especially a girl that’s 12, 13, or 14 years old, the homeless won’t take them so they end up going to forced rehabs with adult women and drug rehabilitation centers, or there’s a holding facility in Tijuana, one in Mexicali with three to four hundred kids in those units. They’re housed, and when they turn 18 years old, they open up the door and let them go.
When you take a young girl who’s gone through some really hard things in her life, abuse – whatever that abuse may be, plus all the normal things a teenage girl goes through, it’s a lot of work. So the majority of our girls are usually young teens, but like Sandy said, we’ve also accepted some young children.
So how do you normally find these girls or how do they come to you? How do you hear about them or do they have to apply to come to you?
It’s basically three different ways we receive the girls. We are now a certified home by the government, so one way is through the Social Services of Mexico. Generally, they’ll ask us if we’ll take a young teenage girl 14, 15, or 16 years old, but they’re usually high behavior problem girls that they’ve been kicked out of other homes and we are their last resort. If we don’t take them, they get sent to a holding facility. We try to space those girls out because when we bring one of those girls into our home, it stirs up a lot of problems within our home until we can work with them, get them counselling, and God starts working in their lives. So that’s one way.
Another way is called volunteer children, and those are ones that are where an uncle or an aunt or somebody drops them off with us, signs the papers, and we generally never see them again. We’ve had girls that have been dropped off and haven’t seen family in five or six years. They’re just abandoned.
Then the other girls that we receive are girls that we will hear a rumor about, and then generally I’ll go out and start to investigate and follow the rumor up. There are girls that I’ve actually gone out and rescued and have brought into our home, but it’s very complicated and very dangerous. Even if you find a child that’s in human trafficking, you can’t just grab them, especially as a foreigner because then you can be charged with human trafficking or kidnapping. So it’s a very complicated and a very delicate situation. We have rescued quite a few girls over the years.
Wow – it’s amazing.
I know you have some transformational stories from the girls, so why don’t you tell us one or two stories of how that has encouraged you to keep going, and how you see God’s hand in working in these girls.
And I’m curious to hear about these horses we’ve been hearing about… I know we weren’t going to talk about the horses but I couldn’t resist.
Yeah, so well we don’t say names, but one girl, the youngest girl that I’ve actually ever rescued was nine years old, and she was being prostituted out by her grandmother. We heard this rumor and I went looking for her and I did eventually find her. She was in the area reasonably close to where we were living, and she would be playing at night time.
Her grandmother had given her a cell phone, and she would phone her up and she’d jump on her bicycle and pedal over to a drug dealer, get a little brown paper bag, and she would also run drugs. The police in Mexico will not arrest or pull over or stop a child if they’re carrying drugs, so she would deliver drugs.
Then the other thing she would do, they would phone her up and she would pedal over because it’s all she knew, and she would go to men’s houses where they were abusing her. So I found her and I just kept on praying and praying, “Lord, how can we help this girl? How can we get her?”
Eventually I found out where she lived. The problem was, there was one driveway and when you drove in there, there were about eight homes. It was all filled with drug addicts and prostitutes, so as a white person, I couldn’t just go walking in there. So then we talked to a Mexican lady and she went in there and talked to all these moms. There were a lot of kids in there. So this Mexican lady said “there’s these missionaries that are coming in and they’re going to bring school backpacks with school supplies – would you like some?”
They said, “yeah, we need them for our children.”
So two weeks later we bought about 15 or 20 backpacks and we filled them with school supplies. Now that allowed both of us to go in there and see what was going on in these homes. I have a pen that does incredible video and audio. If you click it, it takes pictures, so now I’m filming this. Now I know where the grandmother is. I saw the little girl with the grandmother and I’m just praying….”How are we gonna get this girl? How are we going to take care of this?”
One of the ladies – one of the prostitutes and drug addict – a lady that was really messed up, she was like, “I have no money; my girl’s having a birthday… can you help me? It’s in a week.”
We said “We’d love to come back.” So we came back in a week with food and a pinata, hot dogs and so we could talk to the little nine-year-old and get more information about her. We found out from one of the other ladies there that her mom, whose grandmother had the little girl, her mom had prostituted her out when she was a child and she was violently raped, and the product was this nine-year-old girl. She didn’t want the baby, so she gave the baby to the grandmother, and when she got a little bit older, her grandmother prostituted her out too.
So then we got a name for the mom and we started to look for her in the city of Ensenada. It took quite a while, but we eventually found her and – Praise the Lord – she was willing to sign the papers. So now when she signs the papers, we can grab the girl legally. She said the problem is that the grandmother is very violent. She is not going to let this happen. So we’re praying and praying and we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to put this all together.
Then a few days later – maybe a week later – the mom all of a sudden phones us up. She said she had gone and asked her grandmother if she could take her daughter for ice cream and she said yes! She had her right then and asked if I could come and get her, but she also had another girl.
I was like – okay! So we went over there right away and there was a 9-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl. This is where it gets really sad and crazy because she was the cousin to the mom. The mom tried to get her into prostitution and she wouldn’t do it, so they actually tied her up and they burnt her with cigarettes. They cut her and abused her until she finally gave in to prostitution, but she got pregnant.
The little girl’s mom felt really guilty for doing this to her so that night we actually were able to rescue two girls, and we brought them both to our place. The 15-year-old got reacquainted with a grandmother that she hadn’t seen for many years. The grandmother came over and visited her quite a bit and eventually they got reunited and she moved in with her grandmother to have her baby.
The 9-year-old girl was with us for a couple years and eventually got relocated with other family members and we still see her periodically. She’s now married and she has a couple children and is doing quite well. So that’s just one of the the girls that we rescued, but this last year it’s been a very interesting and difficult year.
There was a girl that we worked with and this is a real transformational testimony. She was actually kidnapped down in Guadalajara, way south of Mexico city and she was kidnapped there. She was actually sold to the Mexican cartel in the Guadalupe valley, about an hour and a half from our place, and they trafficked her all the way up to Baja. They took her to a house with other children and she somehow managed to escape.
Many of the police are very corrupt in our area or they don’t want to get involved because they don’t want the violence to affect them and their family.
So she ran away, but she managed to escape and – Praise the Lord, the Lord directed her to a very good police officer who brought her into a safe place and they went through victim services. Then we got her and they asked her to testify against the people who had kidnapped her. She also gave him information about this house where there were other children, so the Mexican cartel put a hit out to have her killed and have anybody associated with her or holding her to have them killed.
So we hid her for just over a year, no social media, we were very careful when we went out. But we’ve had many girls who have spent years in counseling, allowing God to work in their life and healing, and it takes years for many of these girls. This particular little girl turned her heart totally to the Lord and gave all her hurt, all her pain to God and she had an incredible transformation in her life with healing.
She’s actually got relocated to a different part of Mexico now. She was with us for just over a year. When she would pray, it was so powerful – so deep – and just before she left us, she said, “Randy, could you take me to the Guadalupe valley – I’d like to find those men that abused me so bad, so that I can forgive them and pray for them.
I’m just like, it gives me goosebumps thinking about it now – and I’m like “No – I don’t think we’ll go look for the Mexican cartel, but you can keep praying for them and you can pray that God will put godly people into their life.”
That’s how much this girl was transformed, so it was a miracle. It was definitely because of the Lord. We can’t really imagine that, where we are, like we’re so blessed!
Yeah, we can’t even imagine it and we’re so thankful that God has led you to help save these girls. We just love the fact that God is using you.
I know our time is running short but what can you tell us about the horses?
Yeah…how does this work? Well, Sandy was in Canada this last year. She came down to take care of her mom just before Covid hit and then because of Covid, she ended up having to stay here for about 16 months.
Prior to that, she was starting to take some of our little girls to horse therapy. They had a christian psychologist who was a missionary, and she had a couple horses. They would work with the girls with the horses. Horses have an incredible ability to recognize if you’re sad, then they are sad. If you’re aggressive, they’ll be aggressive. They have this incredible ability to feel what you feel and Sandy was taking them week after week.
I was kind of thinking – nah – it’s just that the girls like going for the little rides and then talking to the psychologist. Then from there, my older girls want to go, and they want to watch. Then the older girls wanted to ride so we put them on the horse and walk them around, and it just kind of grew from there. The lady that we were working with, she says, “you know, I know this lady, she’s 74 years old and she has 20 horses. She was doing a lot of trail rides with cruise ships and her business just died because of Covid.
She was American, so we went and talked to her and she had some incredible horses. She would allow the girls to go there. We would take four girls three to four times a week, to groom the horses for a half hour and go for a riding lesson, and then go for a trail ride. One of the horses, called Sam, would bite and kick. He was just a mean horse!
One of my little girls who we’ve had now for a number of years – when we first got her, she doesn’t have a dad, and she had been taken away from her mom who was a drug addict, a prostitute, and she was taken away and then was put up for adoption. She was actually adopted out and the people changed their minds after about six months. They said they didn’t want her no more and they returned her. It destroyed her. It just destroyed her!
When we got her, she would kick and scream and bite. Oh she would bite and she would kick and if you put her on your lap, she would just bite anything and leave teeth marks. So we’re working with her, and the psychologist. When she rode Sam, and she’s just a little girl, and Sam was a big horse, but Sam would bite all the time. He would fight other horses too, but when she was riding Sam, he wouldn’t bite the other horses. He wouldn’t bite the people grooming them, and he quit kicking.
So when they asked her, “Why do you think Sam kicks and is mean and bites? This little girl takes a deep breath and she says, “You know, I think Sam just wants everybody to understand and Sam just really wants love, and Sam doesn’t get love. He doesn’t get hugs, so by biting – even though he knows he’s going to get in trouble – he gets attention. And if people would just treat him nice and give him hugs, comb his hair and understand them, Sam would probably stop biting and would stop kicking!
That’s where I really saw how the psychologist could pull things out of these girls using the horses as an example. She quit biting; she quit kicking. This little girl is a beautiful girl now and has grown through that working through things with a Christian psychologist and through prayer and healing and helping her to work through things. The amazing thing is the horses quit fighting and that horse quit kicking too.
So it’s kind of a long story, but then I bought my first horse and I gave it to my wife for Christmas – that way I didn’t have to talk to her about it(lol). Then I bought another horse and gave it to my daughter for her birthday so I didn’t have to discuss that. And now we actually have four horses and the girls go horseback riding regularly.
If a girl is having a meltdown or crying and we can’t fight her, she’s with the horses. If they’re having a great day and we can’t find them, they’re with the horses. They talk to the horses and they groom the horses and it’s been really transforming for the girls. It’s been a really big part of their lives.
Thanks for sharing – it’s transformational and such a good story about how horses can help change the girls’ lives.
So we know, like most missionaries, you are dependent on support from people and so we are going to provide the link for our members and for our community if they do want to support you.
So how can we best support you both financially and what do you need currently in terms of finances, or what other needs do you have and how can we pray for you?
We receive basically nothing from the Mexican government. Lots of people think we’re supported by the government. They give us a tremendous amount of rules and regulations that are very expensive to uphold and we presently get about 100 pesos once a month of rice beans and some very basic things, but a lot of that is because it’s an election year. So we might get that for a few months and then it will stop. That’s the only thing we get from the government.
The number one thing without a doubt is we need prayer. We need prayer for safety for the girls; we’ve had people try to kidnap some of our girls in the past. There are so many other stories we could share, obviously you heard the one I shared about the death threats that were coming to the ministry, and that happened twice this year of another girl that we rescued with similar things, where people had paid to have her put on a bus and kill whoever had her.
So we need prayer for safety for the girls and for the ministry. We deal with a lot of strong, strong spiritual demonic things and it’s only through the Lord. Like the girls receiving counseling and seeing the psychologist will help them to deal with things in their life to help them cope better, but only God heals. So we really try to pour a lot of God’s love into the girls and share the word all the time. So prayer is the number one thing.
So how can we pray for the two of you?
Definitely for wisdom, and in knowing the right things to say to the girls. We need the right support that we can give each girl because everyone’s different. When you raise your own children, not all of them respond to the same discipline, not all of them respond because they all have different love gifts and ways that they respond. So yes, we need discernment and wisdom. You could pray for us for sure – absolutely.
We’ve been very blessed this last year, even though our support has been very low, God’s provided. I don’t know how, and oftentimes I’ll ask Sandy – “Where did this money come from or where did this donation come from? The Lord has provided for us and our goal and our vision is to build the ministry back up to get so that we have 25 to 30 girls, but we want to do it on God’s timing. We were anxious to do it, but it’s not our timing, it’s the Lord’s timing, so it’s a step-by-step process. We are still learning patience, absolutely, and I think we all have to learn patience.
We are just so glad that you took the time to do this interview with us, and we shared our hearts with you, and that our goal for the Weigh Down Lifestyle is to help you fill those beds at “The Refuge.” We’re going to continue to pray for you, Randy and Sandy.
Thank you very much for the wonderful work you’re doing and for all those precious girls – you’re saving lives for the kingdom, and that just warms our hearts.
Absolutely and we thank the Lord for the prayers that we’ve received from you and the donations from the different supporters that you have in the Weigh Down Lifestyle. It really means a lot to us knowing that we have people praying for us and supporting us. It gets a little lonely sometimes, so the enemy pokes at you and you’re like… “You know Lord, are we making any difference?” And it’s just the enemy poking at us, and as we keep focused on the Lord, we know we will continue to grow and we see the Lord is changing lives and lives are being transformed. So we thank you very much for your prayers and your support.
Yeah, and thank you so much again for telling us your story because I think we as believers are transformed through stories and through other people’s work. So thank you for being willing to share. And just maybe we can do this again sometime.
We hope you really enjoyed that interview! If you are interested in getting involved with The Refuge and supporting Randy and Sandy, you can go here to learn more about donating!
Blessings to you,
Ruth & Kayce