It’s been 20 months since I heard the news. It was early one weekday morning in July 2008, and I had just finished a spin class at Capital Athletic Club. Unlike most other days, I had few minutes to watch TV in the Jacuzzi before getting ready for work. That morning CNN was reporting on U.S. cities with the highest incidences of sex trafficking. My city ranked very high on the list. I remember being surprised; thinking perhaps I hadn’t heard the facts correctly. Sacramento? Sex trafficking? That happens in cities like New York. Miami. Bangkok. Not in my city.
I went into work that day and shared the news with anyone at my office who would listen. “Someone has to do something,” I said! “If no one else does, I will.” Fortunately for little ol’ me (since I had no experience in this area) someone else had the same stirring on her heart.
The next day, an article came out in the Sacramento Bee discussing sex trafficking in the area. In the piece, a woman named Jenny Williamson said she was starting conversation with local law officials and the FBI. Immediately, I knew I wanted to meet her.
After finishing the article, I emailed the reporter asking for Jenny’s contact information. A few days later, bubbly Jenny arrived at my office wearing a bright green jacket—her signature color—and a big confident smile on her face that confirmed what I already knew. She, with God’s guidance, was going to change this city for so many young women.
As it stands today, children who are either caught or rescued from sex trafficking on our city streets are usually sent to Juvenile Hall. After a slap on the wrist, they return to the streets where they enter back into a cycle of abuse. Most girls are running from broken families. They have little money, and they’re searching for a way to survive. What they need is a true home—a place that cares for their souls, their bodies and their futures. Jenny has a vision to build such a home in our area.
I have been lucky to be a very small part of Jenny’s journey in the last year. My company allowed me do pro-bono work for Courage House in 2009 (cool, right?) Jonathan and I have watched the organization’s progress over the last year as they’ve created a benefit CD, held awareness concerts and fought for a voice with law enforcement and the local media. As a result, over $800,000 was raised in 2009. (Watch this KCRA clip about trafficking in the Sacramento area.)
Tonight, we attended a celebration worship night to give God glory for the work He is doing to rescue girls in trafficking. As it stands today, less than two years after Jenny received a calling on her life, Courage House has a property of land in Placer County.
At church last weekend, and again at tonight’s event, I was reminded of this: faith requires action. James 2:14-26 says “… what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone’s soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you I hope you’ll keep warm and find enough to eat”, and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like – useless and dead. If we only “have faith” a man could easily challenge us by saying, “you say that you have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have faith as well.”
As Jenny has said, “Pay attention to what breaks your heart.” And then—simply—act. Go. Be the hands and feet. Stretch yourself. Love big. Ask to be used. I don’t do these things often enough. In fact, most days I am too absorbed in my own life to think about people other than myself. Jenny’s big faith, and big action, remind me that our world has great needs. We can each be a tiny part of a greater plan for healing.
For more information about Courage House, click here.