RICHMOND, VA. (Christian Examiner) — Three Virginia women involved in urban Christian missions, Valerie Carter, Ann Lovell and Loree Becton offer six practical tips in reaching out to exploited women after sharing their story:
1. Pray – "Praying is doing," Becton says. "So many people ask: What can I do? People don't feel like prayer is enough. But I encourage believers to pray for those who are doing the work, because the burnout rate is really high."
2. Be aware – Read your local newspaper. Watch the news. Trafficking may be happening in your community. What's being done to fight it? You might have a victim of trafficking in your own church.
3. Don't be a Lone Ranger – To combat trafficking in your community, seek out like-minded believers. Lovell cautions: "It's too dangerous, for one thing, it's too messy and it's too big [to tackle alone]. It's not like you're going to come in on your white horse and solve this problem. But as you start gathering with people to pray, God begins to make you aware of what's happening and how you can get involved."
4.Give and volunteer – Seek out and contribute to effective organizations that battle trafficking. Join their efforts (see examples in the resources below).
5. Talk about it – Sexual sin hits uncomfortably close to home, even in churches. Especially in churches. Pornography. Promiscuity. Sexual abuse in families. Buying sex. Carter: "Until we started talking about it, it will always have power over us. This stuff has to be talked about. Pornography is the same in the church as out of the church. It's scary."
6. Take a risk – Open your church to women who need unconditional love. "Be a church that allows women to transform," Becton says. "They need to be a part of a church where they can be accepted and loved. Be willing to take a chance with someone who doesn't look like you and doesn't act like you. God's people need to be obedient enough to befriend. These women need opportunity – to get a GED, to get an education, job training, maybe a drivers license. I also pray that churches would give them an opportunity to serve.
"We have a young woman who has been a drug addict since was a teenager. She was prostituting herself and had been exploited. We got connected to her and got her into a treatment facility. As of June, she'll be drug-free for two years. She has been very faithful to Bible study and the Lord has transformed her. But she needs community. We want churches in our city to be willing to embrace someone like her and allow her to come in and serve."
Confronting the Exploiters, a Bible study by Ann Lovell, is designed for churches and small groups to develop a ministry among exploited women in their communities. Available online.
Precious to God is a non-profit ministry based in Richmond, Virginia that serves exploited and trafficked women and seeks to restore them to a healthy life with God.