Perhaps you’ve heard the inspirational tale of a young boy diligently throwing starfish back into the ocean after a powerful storm had washed thousands of the echinoderms onto the beach.

An old man observing his attempt to save as many as he possibly could commented, “Why bother. There are too many and you can’t make that much of a difference?”

The young boy responded by picking up one more and simply stating “I can make a difference for this one!” as he hurled it back into the ocean.

Sally Cook and her husband, Chuck, are the founders of Hope Refuge, a Goleta-based nonprofit organization working to assist with the developmental needs of girls affected by sex trafficking. (Hope Refuge photo)
Sally Cook and her husband, Chuck, are the founders of Hope Refuge, a Goleta-based nonprofit organization working to assist with the developmental needs of girls affected by sex trafficking. (Hope Refuge photo)

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sally Cook, co-founder of Goleta-based Hope Refuge, and I was almost instantly reminded of this often-repeated tale.

Cook will honor us as keynote speaker for our 64th annual Santa Barbara Community Prayer Breakfast on Aug. 31. She will be sharing her amazing story to more than 400 guests in attendance.

Some years back, Cook and her husband, Chuck, left lucrative careers in Hollywood to pursue God’s call and take a leap of faith in launching the nonprofit Hope Refuge in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Much like Abram and his wife, Sarai, left their homeland in Haran, the Cooks pitched their tent in obedience to the Lord’s call not knowing what might lay ahead.

According to Cook, it all started at a church service where the couple first became aware of the dramatic growth of sex trafficking in America. It’s difficult to even imagine innocent 12-year-olds being enticed by sexual predators.

These statistics hit a chord that still resonates in Cook today.

The Cooks started the challenging process of developing an existing secluded retreat property perfect for impacting the lives of a handful of these traumatized teenage girls

Just like that little boy with the starfish, Hope Refuge is now making a difference and rescuing a few young ladies at least.

Let’s not tell the whole story of the Cook family’s calling. We’ll allow Cook to share the details at our upcoming breakfast.

Instead, let’s talk about God’s calling us. That’s right, we are being called by God as well.

I have no way of knowing how God speaks to you, but He’s certainly speaks to my heart frequently. Like young Samuel, I needed to learn to listen to His voice.

There’s nothing more exciting in life than being in God’s will and seeing Him at work! Certainly, the Cooks experienced His presence and His will for this season of their life as a couple.

And, they’ve been blessed and I’m certain those young girls will be blessed eternally.

As followers of Christ, we may well be confronted by the Holy Spirit. You see, there’s so much more to accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord than simply receiving a “free pass” to Heaven!

Our duty is to draw near to Him and watch for His presence in our midst. He is calling you to something greater than your salvation.

We are all His instruments awaiting opportunities to be used by Him as He sees fit.

Let me close with these words of Jesus to His disciples, from Mark 4:9: “Then Jesus said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”

Please listen with your heart!


The 64th annual Santa Barbara Community Prayer Breakfast will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Aug. 31 at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

Click here to register, or for more information.

Passages to Ponder

Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at for more information. The opinions expressed are his own.