We Are The Light

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prayer

 

Last year was a really great year at FREE.  We focused our attention on educating youth in our community on what human trafficking is and ways to spot it.  Since we know the average age a child enters the sex trafficking industry is 12 years old, we wanted to do everything we could to prevent our children from being trafficked or sexually exploited.  We had the opportunity to visit several youth groups and even went to one after-school program.  It was great to see the youth in our communities actively engaged and listening.  Our focus was to educate, equip and empower them to take action against human trafficking and be advocates in their own schools, churches and neighborhoods.  This will always be a big focus at FREE, and we look forward to educating more youth this coming year.  But as 2016 was coming to an end, we started to feel a shift.  At FREE, we have our mission, which is simply to raise awareness, advocate for the enslaved and shine light in the darkness in an effort to end human trafficking.  But we started asking God if there was any other ways He wanted us to move forward as an organization fighting human trafficking.  We prayed if there was anything specifically He wanted us to do that we weren’t doing, that He would make that clear to us.  As time went on, a few of us started to feel the Lord calling us to outreach.  It came up in several different conversations with different people.  We realized outreach was something the Lord was calling us to.  From the beginning, Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved (FREE) has been an advocacy group.  FREE’s main focus through the years has been education and raising awareness about human trafficking.  So outreach is a new endeavor for us.  Since January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, what better time to start outreach?  So this month we begin.  We have chosen to focus our attention for now on Franklin Street in Reading.  Why Franklin Street?  Franklin Street is known by many to be a high “prostitution” street.  And why do I put the word prostitution in quotation marks you may ask? Because statistics tell us 9 out of 10 “prostitutes” are actually sex trafficking victims.  That’s 90%!  When we hear the word prostitute, we think it’s a profession that’s chosen by these ladies, and more often than not, that’s not the case at all.  These women and youth are victims.  They are being sex trafficked and sexually exploited.  EVEN IF it’s something these ladies are willingly choosing to do on their own, they are still being exploited.  EVEN IF they choose this life, their brokenness and vulnerabilities are being exploited.  Any way you look at it, it’s sexual exploitation.  Period.  

So what can we at FREE offer any of these ladies or youth we encounter on our outreach?  That’s easy.  Jesus.  We can offer them Jesus; the love of Jesus.  We can offer them prayer, whether it’s praying with them, or just walking up and down the street interceding in prayer on their behalf.  We will also have with us bags of toiletries and feminine products to hand out as the Holy Spirit directs.  Toiletries and feminine products.  Basic things we all use every day without giving it any thought at all.  But think about it.  Think about not having a toothbrush and toothpaste.  Think about not having deodorant, chap stick or hand cream.   It’s winter.  The air is cold, and our skin has the tendency to get so dry and cracked.  Just chap stick and hand cream alone I apply more times in the day than I can count in the winter months.  As a woman, imagine not having feminine products on a monthly basis.  Can you imagine, ladies?  I can’t.  How about underwear?  Can you imagine not having underwear?  Who thinks about underwear?  Think about that though.  Underwear conceals our most intimate parts.  And these ladies and youth may not even have underwear or clean underwear for that matter.  It’s not just a matter of basic needs!  It’s a matter of dignity and value and worth!!  We are not just trying to hand out basic necessities for the heck of it.  We are handing out toiletries and feminine products as a peace-offering, a way of saying we are sorry you have been hurt and overlooked.  As a way of saying WE SEE YOU AND YOU MATTER IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD!  As a way of saying you are not defined by your circumstances and there is One who wants to come into your life and free you.  We want them to know there are many organizations not only in this country but around the world fighting for them to be physically set free.  Praise God!   But we also want them to know Jesus is the One who will bring emotional and spiritual freedom.  That’s why we are starting outreach.  We have to!  They need to know Jesus loves them!!  We have to pray with them and for them.  We have to give them these items because they are worth it.  We have to build relationships.  It’s all about building relationships.  It’s about love.  We have to let them know through words and actions that Jesus sees them.  And He weeps for them.  And that darkness does not win! (John 1:5)  We have to, Church!  We are called to be the light.  WE.  ARE.  THE.  LIGHT.   (Matthew 5:14)  Jesus tells us, Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:31-46)  

So our outreach begins.  We will be heading down Franklin Street this weekend, and we look forward to what the Lord will bring this year both within us and through us.  We plan on being out there on a monthly basis.  Can you pray for us as we embark on this journey?  Prayer is so powerful.  And continue to pray for all enslaved and trapped in the bondage that comes with human trafficking.  Pray for the victims. The traffickers/pimps.  The one’s fueling the demand.  Continue to pray they not only experience physical and emotional freedom, but full spiritual freedom that only Jesus can provide.  As I write this blog today, it happens to be National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  I was sitting and thinking about what it would take for human trafficking to literally be eradicated from the world.  What would that look like?  How does that happen?  The answer is Jesus.  It cannot happen apart from Jesus.  It’s impossible without Jesus.  Why pray for the traffickers and one’s fueling the demand?  Why pray for them??  Because if and when they truly come to know Jesus, THAT’S when human trafficking ends!  That’s how we end human trafficking.  We spread the Gospel of Jesus and make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20)     

We have lots of exciting things planned for this new year and awesome stuff in the works.  You can visit our website at www.freefromht.org or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FREEnslaved to see a list of our upcoming events and outreach days.  If you’d like to join us, let us know.  We’d love to have you volunteer with us.  If you’d like to donate toiletries or feminine products, we’d love that too!  Just email me at andrea@freefromht.org and let me know.  You can also call me at 610-451-0491.  We have a time of prayer the first Tuesday of every month.  You can also find those details on our website.  We would love for you to come pray with us.

While we are so grateful to be in this fight to end slavery, and we are grateful for all the organizations working to end it, we truly believe this fight is not just for one or two or tons of organizations.  This fight needs for ALL of us to come together in unity to say human trafficking is a horrible crime against human beings that have been created in the image of God, and we won’t stand for it any longer.  Together we can make a difference.  Light always shines in the darkness.  

 

Blessings,

Andrea McHenry

Director of Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved

 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  John 1:5