Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 23, 2012

Hope at Freedom Place

Human sex trafficking is not just an international problem — it’s a domestic problem as well. The city of Houston is one of the largest hubs of human trafficking in the United States. The commercial sex trade operates inconspicuously throughout our community in places you would least expect. Among those trapped in this dark world are young American girls, minors as young as 12 years old. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children, there are an estimated 6,000 runaways in Houston. One out of every three of these children is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of being on the streets. Once they are trafficked, these unfortunate young victims lose all remaining remnants of childhood innocence — one rape at a time.

Those fortunate enough to be rescued from sex slavery need a safe place where they can begin the process of healing and rehabilitation. While there are federal funds set aside to assist internationally trafficked women and children, little or no funds exist to help the young victims of domestic trafficking. To make matters worse, there are fewer than 100 beds available nationwide in rehabilitative safe houses for victims of domestic child sex trafficking, making it difficult to give these children the specialized kind of care that they require after they are rescued. Fortunately, this sad scenario is beginning to change. Freedom Place, a Christ-centered safe house for the victims of domestic trafficking, recently opened its doors. Situated on a 110-acre wooded campus on the outskirts of Houston, Freedom Place is the state’s first privately run safe house that provides long-term housing for American girls who are victims of sex trafficking. It is a safe haven where girls are not considered offenders but regarded as victims.

A few months ago, my friend Nikki Richnow, the Church and Community Liaison for  Freedom Place, asked if Kingsland’s missions ministry would create a prayer garden at Freedom Place — a tranquil oasis where their residents can spend quiet moments with God. Jon Davis, our Missions Associate, agreed to serve as our point man for this project and recruited the help of Kingsland member Fred Abbot. Jon and Fred visited the site and sketched out the plans for a beautiful garden on a napkin! The plans include a large central gazebo with decks that lead to two additional seating areas. Once the decks and gazebos are completed we will add a water feature and some beautiful plants.

Over the past weeks, Jon and Fred and a number of Kingsland volunteers have made great progress on the garden. Now that I am back in town, I had the opportunity to join our men this past Saturday. Things are taking shape and should be completed within a few weeks as our weekend warriors continue their labor of love. I am grateful to Jon and Fred and all of the men who have invested their time in turning this dream into a reality. The young women who reside at Freedom Place absolutely deserve to be surrounded by beautiful things, especially after being rescued from the hell created by unprincipled and unscrupulous individuals.

Please pray for the work of Freedom Place and consider making a donation. Freedom Place receives no government funding but instead depends totally on private donations. Learn more by visiting their website at FreedomPlaceUS.org. Let’s make sure that the girls rescued from sex trafficking will always be able to find hope and to make a new start at Freedom Place.




Responses

  1. I love this!!!!!

    • It’s pretty cool and will look wonderful when finished.

  2. A very sad situation but with a great response; thank you for all that you and the team do.

    • Safe havens like Freedom Place can and will make a huge difference in the lives of the girls who are rescued. So glad that we can add a touch of beauty to an already beautiful place.

  3. Thank you, Omar, for the years of consistent concern shown for the societal tragedy of women and children caught up in the darkness of human trafficking.

    Best Regards,
    Tammy Swofford

    • It’s a privilege to be engaged in this fight and also to mobilize others to invest in the welfare of the victims of human trafficking.

  4. Omar: You and all the wonderful volunteers from Kingsland Baptist have been an incredible blessing to Freedom Place. We now serve seven residents and are building to our capacity of thirty. Thank you for telling others about Freedom Place!

    I was blessed to be the person to whom God gave the vision for Freedom Place and equally blessed that God led me to Mark Tennant, Founder and CEO of Arrow Child and Family Ministries. Mark and I met two years ago and agreed to collaborate on Freedom Place, which is now part of the Arrow Child & Family Ministries global family of services. All of Arrow’s services are dedicated to helping abused and neglected children achieve their greatest potential through foster care, adoption services and an array of preventative programs for at-risk families.

    Arrow provides all the programs, employees and volunteers at Freedom Place. Anyone who will have personal contact with a resident is required to complete Arrow’s in-depth training of up to 50 hours at their Spring Headquarters as well as a full background check, fingerprinting and drug testing. Freedom Place would not have happened without God’s vision, and God’s excellence would not have occurred without Arrow’s expertise and oversight.

    Opening in March of 2012, Freedom Place is the first long-term, comprehensive care facility in Texas for underage victims of domestic child sex trafficking. It is one of only four such facilities in the United States and we pray there will be many more to follow!

    Thank you, Omar, for your incredible dedication to all those whom you serve in the name of Jesus Christ!

    Blessings always,

    Nikki Richnow
    Chair, Freedom Place Executive Council
    http://www.freedomplaceus.org

    • Thanks for persevering, Nikki, in being a champion for the young victims of human trafficking. Freedom Place is an amazing campus. The ministry that takes place there will be such a game-changer for the girls who are rescued and will have the opportunity to receive the love and care of the staff at Freedom Place. It’s a privilege for us to partner with you on the prayer garden initiative.

  5. Thank you, Kingsland Baptist, for your awesome support of Freedom Place. We love you all so much!

    • It’s really great to see our community making provision for the victims of sex trafficking. Thank you, Lisa, for getting us together around the table to begin dialogue about how to champion the rights of the oppressed. God has honored those early conversations and commitments to do something to help.

  6. The residents at Freedom Place are very excited about the Prayer Garden. Thank you Kingsland Baptist for showing these children that they are loved!

    Kellie Armstrong, Executive Director, Freedom Place

    • Thank you for your good work at Freedom Place, Kellie. It’s a privilege for us to work on creating the Prayer Garden and trust that it will be a sweet place where the girls can enjoy time alone with God.

  7. Thank you Omar and Kingsland brothers and sisters for loving these wounded souls! We know there is celebration in heaven each time one of these dear girls walks through the doors of Freedom Place. Please keep them in your prayers.

    Tim Arnoult
    Freedom Place Council

    • It is a privilege for us, Tim. We will indeed keep the girls in our prayers. Thank you and the Freedom Place Council and all who work to make Freedom Place a safe, secure, and healing place for the girls.


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