"Women don’t just come for the cause, they come to champion other women in knowing their full value in Christ. Their impact then reaches far beyond the shop’s walls to aid other women in being fully removed from the trafficking system once and for all. It is a ripple effect, and one that I am beyond blessed to be a part of."
It’s amazing to see the connection between the survivors and our sweet horses. One survivor said to our severely abused horse, Sonny, ”I get what it’s like to be hurt.” [...] That is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned though this process. It’s not my journey. I don’t get to decide how fast and how far someone should be along their journey.
Heroes can come in the unlikeliest of places, and they don't always announce themselves as heroes (or even know that they are). But the woman who extended forgiveness to her son after years of bitterness, the high schooler who vowed to change the way he treats women, and the teenager who defied the nagging voices of insecurity to summit a waterfall---they are our heroes this year, and it's been a gift to be a small part of the journey each one is traveling. These are the stories from each of our models so far this year that stand out and make us listen closely to how God is transforming lives through the united service of the Church.
"It couldn't happen to my child or anyone I know, because they're good kids."
If we are to combat human trafficking and exploitation in our community, we also must fight against the myths that numb us to the real scope of the issue. A recent conversation with a Gresham law enforcement officer sheds some much needed light on the local situation, as well as how Adorned In Grace plays a valuable role in anti-trafficking efforts.
We are blessed to call the Adorned In Grace Bridal & Formalwear Shop part of our anti-human trafficking model. Proceeds from sales of the gorgeous gowns and accessories are put towards prevention, education, aftercare for survivors, and more. The store does so much good but we knew we had to take it to the next level to continue fighting trafficking and aiding women affected by sexual exploitation. We went searching for the right person to manage the store, and we knew our hunt was over when we met Lucinda.
How do you help someone scarred by trauma? How do you step into their life, knowing nothing of the pain they've experienced, and reach so deep as to pluck out a little bit of healing? How do you even begin to relate or offer comfort? If you know someone who has endured a traumatic event, you may have grappled with these questions. At Abolition Now's Hands of Hope mentor training, attendees learned strategies to effectively counsel individuals haunted by the horror of sexual exploitation.
We have all heard stories about young, vulnerable children who were abandoned or abused, those who lack positive role models and models of hope. We are aware of the gaps in their lives and we try our best to find ways to fill them. The problem is that sometimes we hear these stories so often that we become numb to the fact that each story is an individual’s life. These individuals don't refer to them as stories, but realities. We need to stop listening so much and start acting.
How can we be mentors TODAY?
"It is estimated that there are over 25,000 women working in prostitution in the Netherlands. Many of them are victims of human trafficking. Many of them can be found in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. When I think of these beautiful women, sitting behind the windows while gawking tourists stroll past, it’s hard not to see the image of a caged bird in my mind."
At the beginning of this year, I joined two vice squad Portland police officers on their night shift. Beyond observations from my first blog, “Night Ride,” this journal outlines additional impressions from that night and from further research into the seamy world of human trafficking.