Sometimes grassroots activists feel like they aren’t having a huge impact. Let me share two stories that may motivate you to keep on keeping on!
In 2009 there was a presentation on sex trafficking at the WA state criminal justice training center – a relatively new topic to the general public at the time. The leader from a local church security team attended as a matter of continuing his education on the threats against the youth in his church. After the first general session, he called one of his pastors and said, “You need to come down here and hear this. Our kids are at risk and we know nothing about this!” Clearing her schedule, the pastor arrived just in time to attend the community advocates workshop with Shared Hope International’s project manager. Following that workshop, the Renting Lacy book was distributed to each attendee.
The pastor took home the book and couldn’t put it down; becoming convinced she had to do something. That pastor was me (Jo Lembo). Today I work full-time for Shared Hope International and my husband’s life is also dedicated to fighting sex trafficking. Our head of security had no idea he was introducing me to my life’s calling. And that presenter had no idea that her presentation would completely alter the course of our lives. You never know the impact of the conversation you’re having. Who have you talked to?
Shortly after reading the book Renting Lacy, my husband and I met Linda Smith and her husband, Vern. I was passionate about making a difference, but felt I had no skills to truly make an impact. I said to her, “I’m not really making a difference. All I do is talk. I talk to my hairdresser, to my neighbors, to our friends (we could bring down a dinner party in two minutes by sharing ‘what is happening right now just a few miles from this restaurant…’) But I don’t want to be just be a talking head!”
Linda’s response is now the byline for the Ambassadors nationwide. She said, “Never underestimate the power of educating others. The more people who know the signs of trafficking, the smaller the world becomes for those who buy and sell our children.”
Since that encounter, I have learned to share the message with hope and not stop at telling about the issue, but to share what you can DO about it. As the National Outreach Manager, it is my privilege to empower and equip the nearly 1000 Ambassadors nationwide who are ‘talking’ about the issue everywhere they go.
So if you feel ordinary, that’s exactly what we need! People like you to know the signs and what to do to prevent sex trafficking.
Become a trained Ambassador of Hope and make a difference!
This blog is the first in a Shared Hope Blog Series for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Stop back throughout the month to our New & Events page to read them all!