“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” – Luke 4:18
DETROIT, MI – “I wish you would have been here the other day!” JJ said, with sadness and guilt flooding her face. JJ (not her real name) is a front desk associate at a hotel in Metro Detroit. Volunteers went there for the first time a few days after a young woman, trapped in the commercial sex industry, visited the establishment. Because of the information they shared about the lifeline that is the National Human Trafficking Hotline, JJ now has the ability to help young women, men, and children who may fall victim to sex trafficking.
FRē Outreach is a sex trafficking ministry of Legacy Church in Novi with the goal to bridge the gap between Church and community, and between victims and allies. They educate hotels in Metro Detroit on how to identify victims of sex trafficking and how to safely intervene. Like JJ, many hotel staff are at a loss of how to deal with this crisis. More than 100,000 children in the United States are sexually exploited every year, and only 0.4% of sex trafficking victims in the Metro Detroit area are ever found or identified. FRē Outreach is currently working with 24 hotels in Novi, Farmington Hills, Commerce, and Wixom to address this crisis within the local community.
Amy Lipovsky is a ministry leader of FRē Outreach at Legacy Church in Novi. She says, “We have gone from hotel staff looking at us like we are crazy, or reacting to us aggressively, to them opening up to us about sex trafficking happening in their establishments and having FRē Outreach resources available at the front desk.”
FRē Outreach provides resources like:
1) A victim indicator card with the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number and explanation to hotel staff what to look for.
2) A discreet wallet-sized card to give potential victims the hotline number and texting hotline number.
3) Pictures of high-risk missing teens in Southeast Michigan with instructions of when to call the police or when to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
FRē Outreach allows volunteers to build relationships with people in the community, and discover that they are not alone. They meet others who care deeply for one another, for victims and their children even if they have never met. The Gospel compels Christians to care, to love, and to meet others’ needs in Jesus’ Name. Liposvsky says, “We are so grateful that we get the opportunity to share God’s mission for everyone to know what it is to be loved and cared for by Him. I sometimes look at this crisis of slavery as if it is impossible to make a difference, and I get discouraged. Then I am reminded that the power and blood of Jesus Christ is greater than slavery and greater than my doubt. God only asks for a willing heart and for His children to put the Gospel of Jesus Christ into action.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Lipovsky is the Ministry Leader of FRē Outreach at Legacy Church in Novi, Michigan. She is a massage therapist and criminal justice student who relies on God’s grace and the support of her family to be successful. You can find out more about FRē Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.