This year we’ve added a new Every Child Initiative partner, Into the Jordan Ministries, and we’ve asked them to introduce themselves to us! Here’s Joann Medinilla, their director, with an important message for us all.
Greetings Summit Church, My name is Joann Medinilla and I am the director of a local ministry here in southwest Florida called Into the Jordan. We are a Christ-centered program and work directly with survivors of human trafficking. We strive to empower our survivors by providing opportunities for healing, education, employment, and stable housing. Our approach is holistic, trauma-informed, Biblically based and free of charge!
Our organization was founded in 2013 by Christa Hicks, a survivor of human trafficking. Since then God has put together a team of talented women who have a deep desire to see survivors overcome.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and while recent movements like #MeToo have begun to shed light on crimes like sexual harassment and assault, the buying and selling of our youth largely remains hidden.
Sex trafficking is spoken of as “the new slavery”, but there’s nothing new about it- it’s as old as time. The new parts, however, are the channels through which buyers partake, and avenues through which traffickers find and lure their victims. Social media, the internet, neighborhood hangouts, the mall, clubs, bars, schools- these are the places traffickers are actively trolling.
Sex trafficking thrives because there is a serious demand. Buyers fuel the market with their money. Traffickers or “pimps” exploit victims for the buyer’s money. Victims include both boys and girls, sold for profit. Eradicating human trafficking starts with acknowledging that it exists. It is a billion dollar industry that enslaves women and men, and Florida ranks third highest in the nation!
The definition of sex trafficking is human trafficking in which someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult, or to cause a minor to commit a commercial sex act. Sex trafficking does not require movement or transporting. Many minors are victimized right out of their own homes without parents or guardians being aware. Commercial sex acts include pornography, prostitution, or sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value-things like money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothing.
The common age a child enters sex trafficking is between 12 and 16 years of age- too young and naive to realize what is happening.
What would God have us do where the needy, oppressed and victimized are concerned? I believe the answer is found in Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
We work daily with survivors to provide a place for them to find healing and promote a sense of self-efficacy. We stand beside them and offer mentorship and advocacy. Through weekly Bible studies and life skill groups our ladies learn that God has a purpose and a plan for each of their lives. Here they find community and a sense of belonging. They can encourage each other and be encouraged by others’ success stories.
I have stood in awe as I have watched the transformation of lives over the past five years. Not only has God grown our meeting space, but He also saw fit to provide an upscale resale boutique that gives survivors an opportunity to learn important skills needed for the workforce. Through a private donor, we are blessed to have a transitional home which houses up to three ladies and their children. Participants live there rent free while saving for a home of their own.
So, what can YOU do to help abolish modern day slavery?
1. You can join us in praying for our ladies and the other women that are still out there. We have weekly prayer times that you can join or you can pray on your own.
2. Educate yourself and your family. Encourage your daughters to be alert and vigilant when using social media and in public places. Teach your sons to respect women and their bodies, and avoid the objectification of women.
3. Get involved. There are lots of opportunities available in our ministry from donating hygiene items to working directly with our ladies. You can checkout a list of opportunities on our website www.intothejordan.org and click on the volunteer tab at the top of the page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to have you partner with us. Together we can end modern day slavery.
If you would like to learn more about our ministry I encourage you to visit us online at www.intothejordan.org or call 239-308-0434.