Houston is one of the biggest hubs for human trafficking in our nation. Because of the position of the city and the I-10 corridor that passes Houston, it makes it a prime location for human trafficking. According to Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, "There are more brothels than we have Starbucks in our city." (Houston Chronicle, January 22, 2018). Thankfully, many people and anti human trafficking organizations are rising up to fight this heinous crime. One of these organizations is Elijah Rising.
We had the honor to do a written interview with Samantha Hernandez, the Mobilization Director of Elijah Rising, and asked her to share a little bit about their work to fight human trafficking :
Q: Could you tell us what sparked the birth of this organization?
A: Elijah Rising was founded in 2012 as a prayer gathering that focused on ending sex trafficking in Houston. Across Houston women and girls were being sold for sex, but there was little outcry, so Elijah Rising began hosting Van Tours and showing the public that sex trafficking is happening across our city.
Q: Could you tell us what are the ways in which Elijah Rising is combatting human trafficking?
A: Elijah Rising is ending sex trafficking through prayer, awareness, intervention, and restoration. We are focused currently on opening our restoration campus that will house and help recover women who have survived sex trafficking. The Elijah Rising Restoration Campus was created as a safe haven for survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation to heal; a place for women to learn, to create, and to develop the skills they will need to thrive as healthy, independent leaders in our communities! Residents of the ERRC will have the opportunity to focus wholly on their journey to healing, at a trauma-informed, holistic program… at absolutely no cost. We at Elijah Rising are a community of faith, and we live out that faith by serving exploited women with the love of Christ. We want our campus to be a sanctuary where survivors can feel safe, and begin to heal from their trauma as we simply provide them with tools that they need to become whole and healthy. That is our mission.
Elijah Rising operates on a foundation of prayer. We believe that sex trafficking and sexual exploitation are spiritual issues. Our staff hosts two informal prayer meetings a week as well as musician-led prayer at every outreach. We encourage churches and worship teams to engage this issue in individual and corporate prayer.
Injustice thrives in the darkness. We aim to drive the reality of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation into the conscience of our society through van tours and our Museum of Modern-Day Slavery, an exhibit that combines information and artifacts to tell the story of sex trafficking in our city. Our staff is also available for speaking engagements, documentary screenings, and Q&A panels.
Elijah Rising fights sex trafficking by training people to reach men and women trapped in sexual exploitation. We host open interventions twice a month, and offer training to anyone wanting to get involved with hands on intervention.
Q: From your experience in the life of Elijah Rising, what would you say is the toughest challenge(s) in helping and caring for trafficking survivors?
A: The hardest part about caring for survivors is holistically supporting the drastic need for trauma-informed care. It takes all the gifts and talents of the body of Christ to surround and encourage women who have survived this evil.
Q: Could you share with us a favorite story of victory Elijah Rising has witnessed?
A: I have seen multiple women who have survived to trafficking not only be rescued and begin the restoration, but also we have seen them restored to their families. Specifically, we have seen women reunite with their children. That moment for us is so special to see them renewed in their sense of self as a person and a mother.
As an organization, we are all parents. We all have little ones. So this is our greatest joy to see not only one healed but a generation.
Q: What are the current needs of Elijah Rising? How can we, the everyday person, support you in fighting human trafficking?
A: We need prayer warriors, volunteers, donors and especially in this season.... customers! We have a small social enterprise that supports the income of survivors and we appreciate everyone who buys our goods! We want to see sex trafficking end in our generation, but most people don’t know where to start or what to do when they face this issue. We’ve provided a simple way for you to make an impact. When you purchase our products, you become a social advocate in the fight to end sex trafficking by empowering women who are transitioning out of commercial sexual exploitation. To shop Elijah Rising Goods — https://shop.elijahrising.org/
You can also support Elijah Rising by purchasing 139MADE's shirts and products, while sharing the word about the wonderful work this organization is doing in the fight against human trafficking. 10% of all our sales until NOVEMBER 26 will be donated to Elijah Rising. CLICK HERE TO SHOP