Houston Organization Featured in Hope-filled Documentary
More and more Texans across the conference are realizing that human trafficking is happening in our own backyard in plain sight. To increase awareness, several TAC churches are hosting a movie night to show members and guests the powerful and hope-centered documentary, “In Plain Sight,” featuring Redeemed Ministries’ Director of Survivor Care Bobbie Mark. Read how your church can have an impact via ‘edu-tainment’ events -- and other opportunities.
While the phrase ‘human trafficking’ may conjure images of desperate illegal immigrants being forced into prostitution by human smugglers, the fact is that over 80 percent of victims in 2011 confirmed sex trafficking cases in this country were American citizens. It’s happening everywhere -- in plain sight -- and most don’t even realize it.
Desirie Dougall, the chairperson of the missions committee at Good Shepherd UMC cannot stand idly by and let this injustice establish roots in her Houston/Cypress community. She has been in leadership for over three years with Redeemed Ministries, an organization that Good Shepherd supports monthly as a mission partner. “In my volunteer work over the past several years,” Desirie shares, “it’s been quite obvious just how big a problem human trafficking is, not just globally, but locally as well. Our women’s ministry has done several fundraisers for Redeemed Ministries, and we’ve had several awareness presentations, just to shed light on the issue.”
Movie Provides Ideal Outreach Opportunity
Adds Desirie, “When I learned of the Houston premier of In Plain Sight, a documentary featuring six modern-day abolitionists, including Redeemed Ministries’ Director of Survivor Care, Bobbie Mark, I requested that Good Shepherd be one of the sites. I’m really excited about this premier, which we’ve been promoting through social media, with a Facebook event and postings of the preview video to build interest. We’ve also had flyers made and put them up in local businesses. At our annual gift market, we had a table set up selling coasters that the women in our Redeemed safe house make, and had a preview of the film playing throughout the day.”
Bernadette Cano, Resident Advisor with Redeemed Ministries loves the fact that the documentary is hope-driven. “Human trafficking is an intense injustice, but it is exciting to learn and hear how God’s redemption shines through in this movie,” she says. “In Plain Sight has a 31-day devotional study guide we are offering to provide individuals or small groups the chance to seek God’s direction on how they should get involved.” She encourages churches to request a premier or the curriculum via firstname.lastname@example.org. The website inplainsightfilm.com also has a “How to Host” screening link, at church, workplace or school. Each premier will have coasters created by our Sparrows (rescued victims) available to purchase. This provides a great opportunity to celebrate the Sparrows redemptive creativity as you pray for them. We love offering a tangible item that our beloved Sparrows created.” There will also be Redeemed Ministries representatives at each premier providing additional insight and they will be available for Q&A. “Redeemed Ministries invites anyone or any congregation to journey with us at any level. We are very flexible with respect to the church calendar. She urges us all to remember that it takes a church to serve, pray and show the love of Christ to these women.”
Other UMCs Joining the Effort
“Bellaire UMC is one of the churches requesting a panel of experts be available for Q&A following their documentary premier in January,” she adds. The panel might include someone from the local task force or FBI and a Redeemed staff member-sharing insight on how the safe house operates and how to engage at many levels with this critical need.
Strawbridge UMC will show the documentary on October 26 in Humble, TX. "We have decided to host the viewing of this documentary due to the enormous injustice which human trafficking presents,” shares Rev. Todd Jordan. “One of the reasons why it has been allowed to flourish to horrific proportions is because so few dare to shine a light on it. It is time to put a stop to that. So we are taking the first step to do our part to shine the light on the human suffering of slavery and the sex traffic industry. In the future, we will follow the event up with opportunities at our church to continue the fight against this egregious violation of basic human rights. We invite churches and Christians everywhere to join us."
“I think this film will be a great way to connect with the community because it’s different than any other documentary they’ve seen on trafficking before,” adds Desirie. “So often trafficking is presented with paralyzing statistics and brutal reenactments of violence, but In Plain Sight will convey hope in this fight! Yes, it is a terrible tragedy and the problem is big, but there are people fighting and there are stories of lives changed. I think this will go a long way toward helping people see the problem and a solution, rather than just becoming shell-shocked by the statistics and violence.”
Why Does the TAC Have a Human Trafficking Committee?
TAC Missional Excellence Director Diane McGehee says, “Jesus came to set all captives free and to loose the bonds of oppression. Every church can help do just that for the victims of human trafficking by bearing witness to the dignity and worth of every human being, holding prayer vigils and regular prayer groups, educating themselves about this heinous form of human slavery, and working with law enforcement and non-profits, to help bring it to an end. Many of our churches are involved, but it is going to take all of us, partnering with others in our communities, to bring down this stronghold.”
Another group working very closely with TAC churches is Love146, an international human rights organization that was founded in 2002. Asbury alum, Kylie Abegg is regional coordinator for Texas and has provided speakers at The Woodlands UMC and been in partnership with Faithbridge UMC and Grace Fellowship UMC. See www.love146.org
and the Abolitionist Curriculum for more information on getting involved.
How Can You Help?
Opportunities to volunteer with human trafficking are many and varied, and new opportunities arise with each rescued victim or “sparrow.” We encourage you to look at your gifts and interests, and find a place where you can serve.
Organize an information night at your church or for a small group. Learn how to present information to churches and organizations. Tell your family, friends and co-workers about the issue. Organize a 10-10-10 event. For more information, click for the FreeOurCity.org campaign.
- Promote a movie showing at your church to begin the education process. The feature-length documentary was produced and narrated by Christian musician Natalie Grant and features six modern-day abolitionists as they fight sex trafficking across America. The film opens the viewer’s eyes to what’s happening down the street “in plain sight” through engaging interviews with numerous victims of sex trafficking. In the midst of the darkness, stories of hope and freedom emerge as each survivor shares how she was impacted through the work of a sex trafficking aftercare home.
- Join an outreach team and seek victims.
- Build relationships with women currently being exploited. Build relationships with local churches that want to engage. Build relationships with local businesses that can contribute to the fight or aftercare. Build relationships with lawmakers and law enforcement officers.
- Connect with therapists, doctors, attorneys and other professional service providers to arrange for pro bono services to be made available to survivors. Research available resources survivors can use to integrate back into society. Help organize fundraisers. Collect various gifts cards to use in the Aftercare Incentive Program.
- Join the prayer team.
- Become a mentor.
- Lead a Bible Study.
Participate in an event on this citywide events calendar or attend one of the premiers this weekend:
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church - October 25th at 6pm: 20155 Cypresswood Dr, Cypress, TX 77433 (281-373-2273) See Website
Strawbridge United Methodist Church - October 26th at 5629 Kingwood Dr, Houston, TX 77345; 281-360-4500; Event time: 5 pm. Website: http://www.strawbridge-umc.org/calendar.html
Houston’s Chapelwood UMC Mission director Marilyn Green adds, “The most important hands-on action a church can take on the issue of human trafficking is to build stronger children, and not just 'our' children, but all children. By sharing the love of Christ through action, we can help children to be less vulnerable: increase their self esteem, help them stay in school, and protect them from abuse. When we take the additional step of educating them about the tactics of traffickers and of the harmful effects of pornography, they are much less likely to fall prey to pimps and traffickers.”
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