Thursday, February 14, 2013

Learning to Work with Girls at Risk

This guest post was written by Carrie Ngangnang, Justice Advocate, International Justice Mission.

When Frederick Douglass said slavery "has been called by a great many names, and it will call itself by yet another, and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume," he knew what he was talking about.

Modern-day slavery looks different than it did during the nineteenth century when Douglass spoke those words. Today, slavery is not bound by borders, race, religion, economic status or social class. At its core, slavery is the exploitation of the most vulnerable. 

Orange County, CA has one of the highest populations per capita of homelessness in the U.S., with only 3,400 temporary shelter beds available. An individual needs to work 141 hours per week at minimum wage in order to afford average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment. It should come as no surprise then that hundreds of homeless families find themselves residing in motels. This working homeless population is a socially neglected, ignored and an extremely vulnerable population. 

Thirteen years ago, before I was familiar with slavery, I worked with the motel population through my local church. We created opportunities for families from the church to be in relationship with families living at a particular motel in Costa Mesa. I saw trafficking at the motel during that time; however, I couldn't identify it. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Throughout the past 5 years, my understanding of slavery has grown and I have learned from hundreds of experts on the matter. 

Recently, I’ve gotten reacquainted with the motel population in an exciting way. A few weeks ago, we started a small group, designed for the teen girls who live at the motel. These girls are incredibly vulnerable. They live in an environment that breeds all types of addictions and unrelenting cycles of brokenness swirl around them constantly. We plan to share with the girls that their circumstances do not define who they are; their Creator does. We want them to know and believe that they have choices in life that don't depend on their motel room number. We want them to understand that God created them out of unrelenting love and with great purpose. We hope to crush the potential for a life in bondage to another and usher in the confidence, security and freedom that Jesus brings through a relationship with Him. 

The girls were excited about starting their group. We talk about who God is and how He created us. They ask thought provoking questions that greatly encourage us. 

It’s true. Jesus is the hope of the world. He’s the hope for these girls. He’s the hope for all of us.

How wonderful would it be for this generation of homeless children to find their value and their worth in Jesus Christ and ultimately extinguish the possibility of a life of bondage to a trafficker? What I learned from hundreds prepared me for a few. We can step in front of this modern-day form of the old monster slavery and bring it to a screeching halt once and for all. We are doing it, and we’re starting with a few silly beautiful teenaged girls living in a motel

See Carrie's recent article, "Modern Day Slavery and the Biblical Call for Justice," for Dharma Deepika: A South Asian Journal of Missiological Research on Transform LA's web site.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing, Patti,

    We appreciate your help in providing expertise on Trafficking. It certainly is a part of the ministries of CCHF and LACHC, as we provide health care to the poor in a Christian movement. Christian Community Health Fellowship ( the Los Angeles Christian Health Centers, ( ) work with Christian Medical & Dental Associations ( to promote health care missions in the US and around the world.

    More to your point, lately, I’ve also been helping with Mission Preborn ( ) to try to increase the visibility and effectiveness of the local Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). This ministry is hoping to host a CPC conference for Southern California later in the year. The goal is to connect women enduring a crisis pregnancy with supportive communities that will help them escape their oppressive environments. As you can imagine these oppressive environments may be in their marriage or from parents or due to human trafficking.

    Your resourcefulness at becoming an authority on Human Trafficking is truly a blessing. So much of the other Trafficking movements are raising awareness of their foreign missions, while the subject trafficking, in isolation, is only discussed in politics, law enforcement or as a side note to a CPC or health ministry.

    One more resource for you. The Dream Center has started a ministry also. They are serving in rehabilitation of those escaping Human Trafficking.
    P: 213.273.7000
    Focus: Prevention, Restoration
    Countries: United States (California)
    Rebuilding lives, returning hope, in the fight against human trafficking

    I’ve been providing dental care for their young ladies, and can attest that they are really making progress. The Dream Center is well positioned near Hollywood to rescue these women.

    I hope this helps. And, again, thanks.