Getting Married: 32 Weeks – Silent Auction

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for an important announcement. If you don’t know me very well (which, if you are part of Matt’s crew, that is probably pretty true), I would like to share something that is very heavy on my heart with you. I have sought to be involved with the international community since I graduated from high school. I was intending to become a Bible translator and trekking the wilds of Nepal, teaching the Nomadic tribes about the love of Christ. Through a series of events (some felt unfortunate at the time, but the end result, I will not complain about 馃榾 *heart*) God took me through three unlikely countries (for me) before plopping me right back to southwest Ohio and saying that it would be here that I would serve Him. When I came home from China, I thought that God would send me back there at some point. I started offering English lessons to some of the workers in Chinese restaurants in the area. I worked on learning more about the culture and the language. But God decided to use my exposure here to teach me about something else.

Buy it on Amazon!

I got ahold of a book called “Not For Sale” by David Batstone. This book began with an account of a normal man, in a normal suburb, who found out a young Indian woman was found beaten and left wrapped in a carpet on the side of the road a few streets over from him. This woman was kept in debt bondage to a local Indian restaurant and then cast out, left for dead. It amazed this man that something like this was happening in his own backyard. This was my first real exposure to Human Trafficking.

And then it happened in MY own backyard. I discovered that it was happening to people who I had come to know and had spent time with. I was floored and began to investigate even more about this issue. Learning more about Human Trafficking, the various forms it comes in (debt bondage, sex trafficking, slave labor, child slave labor, child sex trafficking), God began to put these people on my heart. He brought a Bible verse to my attention:

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
– Isaiah 58:6 (ESV) –

Yep, we thumbs up.

I was so excited when my dear friend Amy Davis shared that God had been pulling her heart towards this same issue and to these hurting people over the years as well. She has been such a blessing and helped me get beyond just thinking about the problem and raising awareness to actually doing something concrete. We started out by going through the Love146 Task Force curriculum with a group of people at our church and others. We got a Fairfield police officer to come and speak at our church about the issue in our own hometown. Also, Matt has totally come on board to help whenever work permits and that is such a blessing!

This past weekend, we organized a Silent Auction to benefit a ministry reaching out to women in the sex industry in Dayton, OH. There are so many things I could point out about Human Trafficking in Ohio. Ohio is in the top 10 for human trafficking, with Toledo being the number one city in the nation for Child Sex Trafficking recruitment. Kids are regularly taken off the street and transported to other cities and states for the purpose of prostitution and pornography. Many active adult sex workers were forced into the business before they were 18 and most have experienced some form of abuse as a child. It pains me so much to know that there are people and children hurting like this, and that the demand exists at such a high level in our state.

This was our first time ever doing a Silent Auction and I honestly had no idea what to expect on support and amount raised. When we started talking to people about it, the promises for donations came pouring in. We would come into church and someone else would hand us a basket or bag of items they wanted to donate. The women’s ministry group at the church organized all the food and refreshments. And just when I was getting discouraged about not selling enough tickets, we had a few people come up to us that morning to buy some.

Three Citizens…yes, I realize there are four of them. They still sound good.

The week before, we had a bit of music debacle, but it all worked out with finding a new group that is fantastic! [Insert plug here] These are Three Citizens. We are so grateful that they came out to play for us. We had a great time with them.

We raised over $1,000 for Oasis House! It was so good! God definitely was in control of the whole thing. If you would like more information about Human Trafficking and the impact in Butler County, you can check out the Butler County Human Trafficking Awareness Facebook page. We are completely grassroots right now, but who knows what God will do in the future?! He has done crazier things in my own life so I won’t hold Him to any plan of mine.

Here’s a link to Oasis House, as well: http://oasisforwomen.org. I’m looking forward to spending much more time with them in the future!

—————————–

I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on WeddingWire.com

Reflections on the Planning

I love and hate that God asks us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone.聽 My pastor has mentioned often that he is a huge introvert and really doesn’t like getting up in front of people.聽 But God called him to be a pastor and he’s an amazing one!聽 For me, I can’t stand planning things.聽 Even planning a get together with friends drives me nuts!聽 I would much rather someone else make all the decisions and let me know where I need to be when and what I’m supposed to do.聽 And yet, inevitably, I will feel God say to me, “Sarah, I think you could plan such and such.聽 You know, I really want you to plan such and such.聽 It would be great for you if you would plan such and such.”聽 And I start down the fairly stressful path of planning an event.聽

I don’t do this often.聽 It’s really God who has to convince me that it’s something I need to do.聽 But He did so back in November of last year.聽 If you can’t tell, something that weighs heavy on my heart is the atrocity of human trafficking.聽 I’ve been in exposure and awareness mode for the last few years – learning as much as I can, attending various events, getting connected with others who are concerned about it as well.聽 But, as I helped out with a Fall shopping day for Stop Traffick Fashion, I really began to feel like it was something our church needed as well.聽

And I cringed.聽 I would have preferred to tell the ladies in my church about it and then they plan it.聽 I would even have consented to talking about it in front of the church (another thing I’m not a huge fan of doing), but with the words coming out of my mouth, the task was placed in my hands.聽 Our WMU聽leader was really excited about the idea, because she had been reading a couple of articles聽recently about human trafficking in the church women’s literature.聽 God was in this.聽 I’m not saying that I did it all – by no means – Brenda Heckman and Julie Johnson (Christmas tablecloths and all *wink) and Amy Jones and Jo Collas…they are some amazing ladies.聽 I’m so grateful to have them as role models to learn from, especially in regards to unity of kindred women and…the dreaded – hospitality.聽

I am not practiced in hospitality at all.聽 I can’t remember what all is needed to make people feel comfortable.聽 For me, I go to an event to learn something and to network…and I assume everyone else is there for the same reason.聽 Shocking, but that’s not really the case.聽 Thankfully, the ladies mentioned above organized the food and decorating and there wasn’t much for me to do on that part besides being a grunt and moving tables and chairs.聽

My primary task was organizing speakers and getting the word out to the community.聽 I may not have done the last part as well – and really the first part, I’m thinking went exactly as it should have gone, but nothing like I planned.聽 I was anticipating having a speaker share at each hour something in regards to human trafficking.聽 Emily would share about Stop Traffick Fashion and Hagar International.聽 I would talk about the Christian responsibility and upcoming events in the community.聽 And the one I was most excited about, a Hamilton Police Officer would come and share about human trafficking in our community, state and nation.聽

It was awkward trying to figure out how we were going to stop everything and have everyone listen to a speaker for all of 5-10 mins and then go on their way with eating and shopping.聽 The only really solid group of “fresh” people was right between 10:30 and 11:15.聽 So, I asked for Officer Collins to share with everyone what she had been researching.聽 And it was great!

I wasn’t surprised that, as a local police officer, there wouldn’t be much experience with human trafficking.聽 I would be surprised if even the local sheriff’s department had any experience with human trafficking.聽 Our wonderful local sheriff isn’t that keen on the rights of illegals – no matter what condition they are in.聽 So, I wasn’t surprised when she shared that she got wide eyes and remarks of disbelief or discredit from fellow officers when commenting that human trafficking may be an issue in Butler County, OH.聽 She talked about not finding much information within the department to go off of, so she began to broaden her scope to the state of Ohio and then to the US.聽 She was surprised to find that Toledo is #4 in Top Cities of Human Trafficking.聽 Ohio is #7 in the US for human trafficking.聽 It’s an issue in every city (which would include Fairfield and Hamilton…”every” being an all-inclusive term).

I think that about 50 people came to the event.聽 Most of them bought something from STF.聽 But what I’m most excited is how God brought me to a job where I would meet this police officer, who I could then coordinate with and share a concern and a need in our community with.聽 And that she would then become interested in the issue and maybe work on spreading it to the rest of the department.聽

I don’t know what this means for Butler County.聽 I don’t know if we’re on the edge of something starting or if it will take a few more years for anything to get going.聽 I don’t know what my part will be or if I will even have a part in it.聽 But I know that I am available to God – even if it involves more planning – that I will keep going until He stops me.聽

Nat’l Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11th, is the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.聽 If I had been better prepared, I would have had this post ready to publish first thing in the morning, but I did not, so here it is.

You can call 1.888.373.7888 any time, day or night, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year to report a case of human trafficking.聽 Human trafficking can take the form of slave labor (including domestic servitude) or forced sex labor and can involve adults and children alike.聽 The average age of a trafficked child is 12 years old.聽 Victims of trafficking find themselves there by methods of force, fraud, or coercion.聽 They might be paying off “debts” with enormous amount of interest.聽 They may be threatened with violence or abused as well as their families.聽 They can often be taken across national borders to a country where they don’t speak the language – their paperwork could be forged or missing entirely and they often fear the police as much as their captors.聽 This fear is usually justified as when the crime is found, they are lumped in with the criminals instead of treated as a victim – many times they are sent back to their own country to live in their shame and risk being trafficked again.

This modern-day slavery is more heinous and comprehensive than the form of slavery fought over in the Civil War.聽 It is the fastest growing organized crime and second only to drug-trafficking (which is estimated to be surpassed very soon).聽 If you think that the United States is exempt from this, you are sorely mistaken.聽 Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every state.聽 The US has been found to be a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked individuals.

I’m going to list quite a few organizations/people/businesses I follow, either on Twitter or Facebook or whatever.聽 I would really recommend checking them out.聽 This is something that burns in my heart – as children of God we are called to loose the bonds of those who are held captive.聽 Educate yourself and then take up the banner – become an abolitionist.

*and really, these are just a few of the newly blossomed organizations ready to fight human trafficking.聽 If I’ve left out anyone note-worthy, let me know and I’ll see about adding them!聽 Thanks!

Organizations

Beauty From Ashes

(Fort Myers, FL)
website聽聽路聽聽blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: BeautyFrmAshes聽聽聽聽

Cincinnati Union Bethel

Social service agency: early childhood education; the Anna Louise Inn (housing for women) and Off the Steets (services for prostituted women. (Cincinnati, OH) ***Not only for trafficked individuals, but they deal with it enough to be included***
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: cinunionbethel

DACS United

Designers Against Child Slavery
website聽 路聽 facebook聽聽聽路聽 twitter: dacsunited

DNA Foundation

founded by Demi聽Moore and Ashton Kutcher – to eliminate sex slavery worldwide. “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls”
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: dnafoundation

FAIR Fund

Preventing human trafficking of youth worldwide (Washington, DC)
website聽聽路聽 twitter:聽FAIRFund

Free Generation International

committed to eradicating human trafficking in Africa (Africa/US)
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: FreeGeneration

Forsaken Generation

leading a national movement to end youth homelessness and child sex trafficking in the US. (New York)
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter:聽forsakengen

Hagar International

organization restoring exploited women and children’s lives in Cambodia, Vietnam & Afghanistan
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: HagarIntl

Hookers for Jesus

Destiny Houses are a SAFE haven for ladies in sex slavery (Las Vegas, NV)
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: hookersforjesus

International Justice Mission

Head Quarters (Washington, DC)
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: IJMHQ

Justice Campaigns
website聽聽路聽 twitter: IJMcampaigns

International Sanctuary

website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: isanctuary

Love 146

end child sex slavery and exploitation
website聽聽路聽 blog聽聽路聽聽facebook聽 路聽 twitter: OfficialLove146

Rob MorrisPresident and Co-founder
website聽聽路聽 twitter: ROBLOVE146

Adam Young of the Dayton Ohio Love 146 Taskforce
blog聽聽路聽 twitter:聽youngadamc

Made By Survivors

fights human trafficking and slavery with empowerment & education
website聽聽路聽 blogs聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: madebysurvivors

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Not only are they concerned with Cincy’s聽history in the fight against slavery, they are seeking to build up modern-day abolitionists (Cincinnati, OH)
website聽 路聽 blog聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: FreedomCenter

Not For Sale

campaign for all justice seekers, united to fight human trafficking
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: Not_For_Sale

Polaris Project

a leading non-profit organization committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery. (Washington, DC) **They even have an office in Japan now!**
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter:聽Polaris_Project

RedLight Children

website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: RedLightCC

Restavek Freedom

ending child slavery in Haiti
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: RestavekFreedom

She Shall Go Free

To break all these sufferings, all these fetters of slavery.
blog聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: sheshallgofree

Stop Child Trafficking

(New York, NY)
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: SCTNow

Stop Modern Slavery

Washington, DC
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 twitter: DCSMS

Survivors Connect

website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: survivorconnect

Unbound Movement

A Modern Day Movement to end Modern day Slavery – in all it’s forms! (Cincinnati, OH)
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter:聽unboundmovement

Vision Abolition

dedication to prevention, rescue, and restoration (Arizona)
website聽聽路聽聽blog聽聽路 聽twitter: VisionAbolition

Shopping

*Made by Survivors, mentioned above

Night Light Bangkok

business as a mission offering employment to women formerly in the sex industry.
website聽聽路聽 blog聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: NightLightBKK

Nomi Network

leveraging the marketplace, fashion, and film to eradicate sexual slavery (New York)
website聽聽路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: nominetwork

Stop Traffick Fashion

a boutique about restoration and change for survivors of human trafficking. (Cincinnati, OH)
website聽聽路聽 blog聽 路聽 facebook聽 路聽 twitter: stoptrffckfash

Individuals

Amanda Kloer

writer on Change.org
twitter: endhumantraffic

Pepsi Refresh – December *Hot Projects*

I showed you the projects I was supporting last month here.聽

Of those, three projects got their funding!聽 Awesome!聽 You can check which ones won by going to the link above.

Here are the projects that have my vote for this month.聽 Again, you can vote each day for up to 10 projects!

Empowering DC teens to avoid & escape exploitation & human trafficking
by FAIR Fund, Inc. 鈥 $50k (top 10 get funding)

FAIR Fund is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit working to prevent human
trafficking of youth worldwide by building community leadership, providing education and empowerment programs, and offering compassionate intervention services. We have reached over 15,000 young people 11 countries since 2003.

Goals

  • Educate 1,000 at-risk teens to stay safe from trafficking
  • Support teens in danger
  • Provide access to shelter, medical services, and more for teens
  • Build a community that can better assist exploited teens

Rebuild the lives of homeless, throwaway and trafficked youth
by Covenant House 鈥 $250k (top 2 get funding)

Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency in America providing food, shelter, immediate crisis care and other important services to homeless, throwaway, and runaway kids. We strive to move each kid forward toward an independent adulthood free from the risk of future homelessness.

Goals

  • To provide food to 1000 infants & toddlers in our Mother/Child program
  • To help homeless mothers build a future for themselves & their babies
  • To stay open 24/7/365 to any kid who comes to our door

Rehabilitate Victims of HUMAN TRAFFICKING
by International Sanctuary – $250k (top 2 get funding)

International Sanctuary (iSanctuary) empowers survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. iSanctuary is working to ensure survivors receive all the elements necessary for restoration, including education, counseling, vocational training, and mental, emotional healing.

Goals

  • Provide survivors the means to self-sufficiency and reintegration
  • Provide a place and opportunity for survivors to grow professionally
  • The ability for survivors of human trafficking to earn an income

24 Hr Drop-In Center for Human Sex Trafficking Prostitution Victims
by Genesis Project – $250k (top 2 get funding)

I am a Police Officer in Seatac聽Wa, with KCSO. I鈥檝e been in Law Enforcement for 13 yrs and in the last 9 yrs I鈥檝e contacted and or arrested over 500 prostitutes. Many of whom are juveniles between the ages of 12-17. These girls are modern-day slaves forced into the life. We are taking a stand!

Goals

  • Provide Shelter / Safety / Food / & Rehabilitation for these girls

Expose, Fight and End Child Sex Slavery and Exploitation
by Redlight Children – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Redlight聽Children is a human rights based nonprofit organization aimed at generating conscious concern for, and ending the demand for child slavery and exploitation. We use mass media to promote awareness, and our efforts include the K11 project-3 films designed to expose the industry.

Goals

  • Expose the issue of child slavery and exploitation in the US
  • Fight against perpetrators through advocating for stricter legislation
  • Collaborate with other nonprofits, corporations, universities, etc
  • Raise awareness and promote our films in communities nationwide
  • Raise awareness and promote our cause on universities nationwide

Develop the Next Generation of Civic Leaders
by Center for Progressive Leadership 鈥 $250k (top 2 get funding)

Construct an English Language Learning Center in Omaha, Nebraska
by Alee Forsythe – $250k (top 2 get funding)
*I like this because it can be used to help educate and acclimate victims who are trafficked into the US by teaching them the local language*

Restore Outreach Services to the Homeless in Columbus, OH
by The Open Shelter, Inc. – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Provide Suicide Prevention and Education to People in Cincinnati, OH
by Centerpoint Health – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Provide Properly Fitting Shoes to Children in Desperate Need
by Shoes 4 the Shoeless – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Pepsi Refresh – November *Hot Projects*

Thought I’d send you some links to great projects that could use your support this month.聽 You can go each day to Pepsi Refresh and vote for up to 10 projects!聽 Quite a few to fight against Human Trafficking, how exciting!

These are the projects with my vote (for more info and to vote for them, click on their Project Title):

Empowering DC teens to avoid & escape exploitation & human trafficking
by FAIR Fund, Inc. – $50k (top 10 get funding)
*Running again in December!*

FAIR Fund is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit working to prevent human
trafficking of youth worldwide by building community leadership, providing education and empowerment programs, and offering compassionate intervention services. We have reached over 15,000 young people 11 countries since 2003.

Goals

  • Educate 1,000 at-risk teens to stay safe from trafficking
  • Support teens in danger
  • Provide access to shelter, medical services, and more for teens
  • Build a community that can better assist exploited teens

Rebuild the lives of homeless, throwaway and trafficked youth
by Covenant House – $250k (top 2 get funding)
*Running again in December!*

(Also registered for a $50k grant here)

Covenant House is the largest privately-funded agency in America providing food, shelter, immediate crisis care and other important services to homeless, throwaway, and runaway kids. We strive to move each kid forward toward an independent adulthood free from the risk of future homelessness.

Goals

  • To provide food to 1000 infants & toddlers in our Mother/Child program
  • To help homeless mothers build a future for themselves & their babies
  • To stay open 24/7/365 to any kid who comes to our door

Create a SMS: Freedom Helplines to combat trafficking in California!
by Survivors Connect – $50k (top 10 get funding)

I am an anthropologist who has spent the last 5 years studying modern-day slavery around the world. I have worked on the issue in several capacities – from Hill advocacy, victim service and research. My work earned me the Freedom Award in 2008 and since I have launched Survivors Connect.

Goals

  • To create a text-based helpline for people to contact about slavery
  • Train human rights advocates and aid workers about slavery
  • Coordinate a network of first responders to rescue victims
  • Prevent young people from becoming victim to slavery in the US

Fight Against Human Trafficking & Empower Survivors
by She Shall Go Free – $25k (top 10 get funding)
*Yay!聽 They got their funding!*

She Shall Go Free was founded by two USC college students dedicated to fighting against human trafficking, gender based violence, and exploitation of women and girls. We focus on empowering survivors, raising awareness of sex trafficking, and supporting projects that aid at-risk women and survivors.

Goals

  • To purchase 1,000 shirts for our AWARENESS & FUNDRAISING campaign
  • To fund SCHOLARSHIPS for survivors for job training/basic education
  • To purchase requested items for LOCAL SHELTERS aiding women/survivors
  • To provide emergency financial ASSISTANCE to women in need

Teach immigrants English in Philadelphia, PA tended by Project SHINE
by Project SHINE

Develop the Next Generation of Civic Leaders
by Center for Progressive Leadership – $250k (top 2 get funding)
*Running again in December!*

Educate and empower young adults in PA to improve their communities
by Haile B. Johnston
*Yay! They got their funding!*

Teach Hip-Hop and Respect to inner-city youth
by Elementz Youth Center for Hip-Hop and Respect
*Yay! They got their funding!*

Open a home and youth center for teens in downtown Birmingham, AL
by The Village

NightLight

NightLight International.

Check out this great site/organization, rescuing women from exploitation in the brothels and bars of Thailand and giving them skills and industry to maintain a life of freedom.聽 Some of the jewelry is a little expensive, but how much should freedom cost?

鈥淭he people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.鈥 Isaiah 9:2

NightLight is an international organization committed to addressing the complex issues surrounding trafficking and prostitution by catalyzing individual and community transformation. NightLight鈥檚 vision is to offer intervention to sexually exploited women and children, to enable them to discover their dignity, and to provide a program of holistic transformation, empowering them to live and work in their community.

NightLight鈥檚 mission is to build relationships and provide hope, intervention, rescue and assistance to women and children exploited in the sex industry by offering alternative employment, vocational opportunities, life-skills training and physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking freedom. NightLight builds support networks internationally to intervene and assist women, men and children whose lives are negatively impacted by the sex industry.

In Bangkok, Nightlight operates as a business (NightLight Design, Co. Ltd) and a non-profit (NightLight Foundation). In the United States, NightLight operates as a 501c3 with branches in Los Angeles and Atlanta.