SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Generally, people do not understand how easy it is to be prey or fall victim to it. Our focus is awareness, education, rescue, and restoration of human trafficking.
– Erica Smith Executive Director
GOD’S CALLING ON OUR HEARTS
Our mission began from humble beginnings; simple talks with our Lord and Savior led to big things.
For each of us, there is usually a moment, or a few, that you can look back and know that it was a life-changer; one of mine was In 2008. I remember praying that God would break my heart with the things that break His heart. Little did I know He was going to answer my prayer in a big way. I had recently attended a women’s conference, and one of the presenters, Christine Cane, brought up modern-day slavery and how it exists today. She explained that it is thriving under the modern name of human trafficking.
That night, God stirred in my heart to research, and that’s when I spent hours upon hours learning all I could about the topic. The results were sobering, to say the least. I never thought I lived a sheltered life until I began reading statistic after statistic and watching awareness videos one after another of stories right here in America. I thought to myself, how could that be? Aren’t we the land of the free? I felt brokenness, sadness, and helplessness – I could only imagine how my savior feels. Though I asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His, I didn’t know where this prayer was going to take me.
Fast forward a few years on this journey, and by 2011, I had met a woman through church who worked with a safe house for victims of human trafficking. I was eager to learn more and soon was involved as a prayer partner and leading a Bible study group, but this wasn’t enough. God pushed me to do more, bring awareness to others, and show them that this is happening, right here in Florida! Throughout this journey, He has continued to lead the way, lighting the path and equipping me with the resources I would need to continue.
In 2014, God presented an opportunity to open my eyes to human trafficking on a global level. He allowed me to participate in a mission trip to Greece that was partnered with the A21, an international nonprofit organization abolishing injustice in the 21st century. During this trip, I learned the backside of this atrocity and how it is done. I learned how traffickers lure their victims. Scary, right?
After that mission trip, I came back to the states on fire to make a change. As I put to paper my thoughts, gather resources, and shared the facts with others, God was opening doors.
One evening in 2018, I was sitting in my living room and so clearly remember listening to a graphic spoken word about Human Trafficking. It was one of those moments that led to “ugly crying,” and I asked God what He would do about this? I began to hear the lyrics of “Do Something,” a Matthew West’s song, and the lyrics “I did do something, I created you” played in my head. That day, God gave me the vision for “Hope is Restored.” God answered my prayer and has equipped me with the tools to do something about it. I don’t always have the answer, but He has guided this process, opened doors, and continues to provide to make the changes needed that will lead to ending modern-day slavery.