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 😀 *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.
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) –
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.
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!
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