AUSTIN, Texas – Where exactly is the mission field? It’s wherever there is a need. It may be in India, or it may be in Indiana. It might be in Thailand or it might be in Texas. It could be in Asia, or it could be in Austin.
According to a study from the University of Texas at Austin, there are tens of thousands of victims of human trafficking in Texas. The investigation revealed that there are an estimated
- 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas
- 79,000 minors and youths who are victims of human trafficking in Texas
The mission field has been identified. The question is now, “Who will go?” The president and CEO of Allies Against Slavery, John Nehme, said in the University of Texas press release that he hopes “the report will be a significant resource . . . as we work together to end human trafficking.”
At least two faith-based, Christ-centered organizations are endeavoring to reach the thousands in this mission field.
Freedom Place is a Christ-centered care and recovery center for underage female victims of sex trafficking. Following a comprehensive, year-long recovery program, Freedom Place arranges for foster care for the victims within a network of Christian families. However, until now, Freedom Place has been one of only a few adequately staffed and qualified facilities in the United States – and the only one in the state of Texas – for this mission field.
Soon, The Refuge will open its new facility, the Refuge Ranch in Bastrop, to provide trauma-informed, long-term restoration shelter and services for girls, minors through age 19, who have been exploited through sex trafficking. The $6 million facilities will house up to 48 young girls when it opens in mid-2018.
“Brooke Crowder is the “mind” behind the Refuge. After working with survivors internationally, she came to Austin in 2010 and was amazed to find no organization that was focused on child survivors. “I kept saying, ‘why are we not doing this?'” she told CBN News, “and then it became ‘why am I not doing this?'”
“Each survivor at the Refuge will receive a customized care plan provided by a staff that’s committed to Christ. Cottage chapels will be offered for survivors to have personal time to reflect and pray but the Refuge says it will not force religious beliefs on anyone and will welcome all survivors, regardless of their faith background.”
If the Refuge Ranch can succeed in Austin, the organizers hope to expand to other cities across the state of Texas and into other states.
The University of Texas at Austin, Study Estimates More Than 300,000 Victims of Human Trafficking in Texas, Press Release 2017
Arrow Child & Family Ministries, Child Sex Trafficking Recovery / Freedom Place