Human sex trafficking is not just an international problem — it’s a domestic problem as well. The city of Houston is one of the largest hubs of human trafficking in the United States. The commercial sex trade operates inconspicuously throughout our community in places you would least expect. Among those trapped in this dark world are young American girls, minors as young as 12 years old. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children, there are an estimated 6,000 runaways in Houston. One out of every three of these children is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of being on the streets. Once they are trafficked, these unfortunate young victims lose all remaining remnants of childhood innocence — one rape at a time.
Those fortunate enough to be rescued from sex slavery need a safe place where they can begin the process of healing and rehabilitation. While there are federal funds set aside to assist internationally trafficked women and children, little or no funds exist to help the young victims of domestic trafficking. To make matters worse, there are fewer than 100 beds available nationwide in rehabilitative safe houses for victims of domestic child sex trafficking, making it difficult to give these children the specialized kind of care that they require after they are rescued. Fortunately, this sad scenario is beginning to change. Freedom Place, a Christ-centered safe house for the victims of domestic trafficking, recently opened its doors. Situated on a 110-acre wooded campus on the outskirts of Houston, Freedom Place is the state’s first privately run safe house that provides long-term housing for American girls who are victims of sex trafficking. It is a safe haven where girls are not considered offenders but regarded as victims.
A few months ago, my friend Nikki Richnow, the Church and Community Liaison for Freedom Place, asked if Kingsland’s missions ministry would create a prayer garden at Freedom Place — a tranquil oasis where their residents can spend quiet moments with God. Jon Davis, our Missions Associate, agreed to serve as our point man for this project and recruited the help of Kingsland member Fred Abbot. Jon and Fred visited the site and sketched out the plans for a beautiful garden on a napkin! The plans include a large central gazebo with decks that lead to two additional seating areas. Once the decks and gazebos are completed we will add a water feature and some beautiful plants.
Over the past weeks, Jon and Fred and a number of Kingsland volunteers have made great progress on the garden. Now that I am back in town, I had the opportunity to join our men this past Saturday. Things are taking shape and should be completed within a few weeks as our weekend warriors continue their labor of love. I am grateful to Jon and Fred and all of the men who have invested their time in turning this dream into a reality. The young women who reside at Freedom Place absolutely deserve to be surrounded by beautiful things, especially after being rescued from the hell created by unprincipled and unscrupulous individuals.
Please pray for the work of Freedom Place and consider making a donation. Freedom Place receives no government funding but instead depends totally on private donations. Learn more by visiting their website at FreedomPlaceUS.org. Let’s make sure that the girls rescued from sex trafficking will always be able to find hope and to make a new start at Freedom Place.