When I first became involved with Shared Hope one thing that truly affected me was the faith of its founders, Vern and Linda Smith. I knew these were like-minded believers who put their confidence in an Almighty God to change this nation. I understood that only through Christ would lasting restoration come to the lives of the trafficked individuals I was reading about.
As God once led the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt so many centuries ago, He continues today to lead us in breaking the bonds of this seemingly unconquerable evil—an evil that binds not only the victim of sex trafficking, but the perpetrator as well. The more I hear of the terrible abuses endured by victims, and the more I know of the black and broken hearts of those that prey on them, I realize the restoration that is needed must come from a higher source. Jesus Christ is the only One who can truly change hearts and lead our nation in this battle.
I could not illustrate this truth as well as five who survived, and now thrive, by His power. They share the stories of their transformation in an upcoming film called Blind Eyes Opened that will be shown in select theaters for one night on January 23.
When you read Shared Hope’s statement of faith, and our mission and values, you’ll understand how important this firm foundation of Christ is to our organization. We align ourselves with this One who not only heals survivors, but also teaches us how to join in the work He is doing. This joining is described succinctly by Florida Pasco County Sheriff Alan Wilkett in the closing segment of Blind Eyes Opened, “(as law enforcement)…we’re ordained by God to become His ministers to society, it is our job to go into chaotic situations, into disorder, and to bring order and restore peace to bad situations. What I don’t have is the ability to change lives and that is where the church, that is where the faith-based communities, must come in because they’ve been ordained by God to bring change where lives have been bruised and battered.”
Our Board of Directors is firmly planted in this belief. We understand we must be the hands and feet and touch of Christ through demonstrating His unconditional love for every person. We are not called to judge; rather we are called to love by offering assistance to all that are in need, regardless of demographics, beliefs or even ideologies held contrary to our own. We believe Jesus gave His life for ALL mankind and not just a few. Therefore, our Christian faith compels us to offer this hope to all those who come across our path.
Nick Lembo, Shared Hope International Board Member