by Katie Bergman, Director of Operations and Communications with Kevin Austin, Director Set Free Movement
A “home” bears different meanings, different emotions for different people. For many of the people the Set Free Movement serves, “home” is a street corner, a shack in the ghetto, a shady motel. Often, it harbors abuse and even enslavement.
The vision and mission of the Set Free Movement is to create new futures for people in these kinds of circumstances by wrapping community around them to bring holistic healing and freedom to their lives. We strive to make a home for them, whether it’s a physical or emotional space, through relationship-centered, collaborative partnerships and community-based action to repair individual, group and institutional brokenness.
In Illinois, an antiquated house, once in dire need of repairs and renovations, has grown into a home for women who have survived trafficking. It’s more than a place to sleep and eat: it’s a place of restoration and transformation. It’s a sacred place of refuge away from the manipulation, exploitation and trauma from their bodies being used and sold for the profit of others. It’s a ministry of love called Eden’s Glory, where survivors of human trafficking are restored to thrive for the praise and glory of God.
When the women began moving into Eden’s Glory in September 2015 and started getting acquainted with each other through group counseling sessions and housemate camaraderie, some of their initial reactions were: “I’m feeling determined,” “I can finally see some of the things I want out of life,” and gleeful exclamations of “There’s so much food in this house!” One of the women could hardly contain her elation about having a dresser — and this was only the beginning.
Here is home. Here is where healing begins through Christ-centered, strengths-based, trauma-informed treatment plans that are co-developed lovingly with each woman. Here is where dreams are reborn — all within the warm embrace of a caring community of sisterhood.
Tucked away in the heart of Athens, Greece, in a neo-Nazi stronghold and dumping grounds for refugees and immigrants is a different kind of home. Amid the chaos — the rent-by-the-hour motels, the cheap and accessible drugs, the cultural displacement and ethnic conflict — is a drop-in center for women in prostitution. The Set Free Movement and its partner, the Salvation Army, launched and dedicated this building — called the Green Light Project — in October 2015 with the vision of transforming both individual souls and the wider community from a state of surviving to thriving.
This home-away-from-home provides the first stepping-stone in the path to exiting prostitution. Rescue begins by cultivating a secure, comfortable, loving environment where basic needs are met; legal, spiritual, vocational and psychological support is given; and healthy, loving relationships abound.
Protecting and Preventing
One of the best ways to combat human trafficking is by working to prevent it from happening in the first place. Our team of missionaries in Bulgaria is doing exactly that for young teen Roma girls, who are often forced into arranged marriages or prostitution in their bleak slum. Look for information about this third home, one for vulnerable Roma girls, on Freedom Sunday, February 21, 2016.
The Set Free Movement isn’t just working to end modern slavery. Stopping the evil isn’t enough. Community must be built. Homes are needed in every community. Find out more at: www.setfreemovement.org and www.edensglory.com.