“He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” Isaiah 61.3
Recently, Community Outreach Team Member, Kris Bennett, and I traveled into the heart of Seattle to visit New Horizons and R.E.S.T. (Real Escape from the Sex Trade), two new BelPres Mission partners. Our first stop was in the Rainier Valley at the R.E.S.T. offices to meet with Edward Sumner, Director of Development, and Deborah Masten, Clinical Program Director. Founded in 2009, R.E.S.T. focuses on building pathways to freedom, safety, and hope for victims of sex trafficking, as well as for people involved in the sex trade in King County. They do this through building relationships with sexually exploited young people and responding to their needs, including understanding the barriers that keep them from living a life of freedom.
On any given night in King County, more than 1,000 young women are sold multiple times for sex. It is estimated that an average of 300-500 are underage teenagers. Sadly, the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is between 13 and 14. As such, these girls require specialized, trauma-informed care that addresses the compounded, complex abuse they have typically experienced since childhood. In Joel 2:12 we read, “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” The Lord calls us, the Church, to fast, weep, and mourn over the brokenness in our community, where young women, in what is the most intimate of acts, are robbed of their dignity, value and identity as created in the image of God. (more…)