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Extending Safety and Hospitality With Gospel-Centered Hope

Co-founder of Naomi’s House, Simone Halpin M.A. ’25, is pursuing her Doctor of Ministry degree at the Wheaton College Graduate School. Through the flexible learning program, she is gaining valuable theology and leadership skills to continue serving Chicagoland women who are survivors of sex trafficking.

Words: Grace Kenyon ’22

Wheaton College IL Graduate School Portrait of Simone Halpin

“I knew that if we pursued this, God would have to show up and do something big.”

Simone Halpin M.A. ’25

As part of a Moody Church outreach team, Simone Halpin M.A. ’25 walked the Chicago streets at 1 a.m. Equipped with water bottles and bags full of toiletries, they would approach women who were selling their bodies. 

Ninety-nine out of 100 times, Halpin said the women would allow the group to pray for them. She realized that these conversations offered these women a rare chance at dignity. Then, the group often had to watch as the women got into another car with a buyer.

“Everything in me knew what was happening was wrong,” Halpin said, recalling those first encounters with the reality of sex trafficking.

Trafficking involves many layers of violence, deception, and manipulation, Halpin said, which means that many women can never just walk away. In order to take a woman off the street, there has to be a robust understanding of her situation and a detailed plan with adequate support systems.

“Our goal with street outreach was just to interrupt that slightly, let women know that they are loved and seen, and speak truth into their lives,” Halpin said. “And at first that was hard for me because it felt like we were not doing anything with lasting impact.”

Just as this street outreach aimed to plant seeds of the gospel in the lives of women who had lost dignity and hope, this experience planted a desire in Halpin to do everything in her power to help them. After four years of research and fundraising, Halpin co-founded Chicago’s first and only residential program for adult women who were survivors of sex trafficking. Naomi’s House aims to provide a safe, gospel-grounded environment for women to recover and escape the cycle of abuse.

“They often have nothing,” Halpin said of the women entering the program. “Not only do they physically have nothing, but their emotional and spiritual sense of self is shattered.”

Halpin has always been drawn to women’s ministry, something she traces back to her experience as a new believer being shepherded by other women. Before coming to Moody Church, she worked at a nonprofit that provided pregnancy resources. Then she worked as Moody Church’s first director of women’s care, a new role that providentially aligned with her passions and interests.

“I gravitated toward the power of women and what it looks like when we’re for one another and we’re serving and loving each other,” Halpin said. “It’s what changed my life. It’s what brought me into a relationship with Jesus.”

Now, as Halpin continues her work with Naomi’s House and Moody Church, she is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) through the Wheaton College Graduate School. She was drawn to the program because of the emphasis on practical theology and leadership training. The program is also designed with a flexible learning course structure and hybrid/modular formats, which was key for Halpin as a working mother of four.

So far, every class has been helpful and relevant to her work in ministry leadership. One such class was on spiritual disciplines, which gave her the theology and Scripture she needed to recognize how important it is to prioritize her spiritual health and walk with the Lord amid the work she does. 

“I cannot lead, I cannot serve, and I cannot give from the place of my own brokenness,” Halpin said.

Over the 11 years since she first dreamed of serving vulnerable women in Chicago, Halpin has seen profound evidence of God’s faithfulness. She said she had no idea what she was doing in the beginning, but that the need was clear, and she knew that God cared for these victims.

“There was this incredible issue of the exploitation of women and girls in our city, where I went to church, and it didn’t add up,” Halpin said. “I knew that if we pursued this, God would have to show up and do something big.”

God has shown up. In 2022, Naomi’s House provided services for 110 women. Halpin says that the impact of women breaking out of the cycle of exploitation reverberates throughout their families and communities.

“It’s a ripple effect. It’s not just the women we’re serving but now it’s their children. And their children are experiencing a different way of life because their moms have experienced healing,” Halpin said. “That just has an impact that was beyond what we could even measure.”

To learn more about the Doctor of Ministry degree at Wheaton, visit wheaton.edu/dmin.