Tag: abolitionist

Feature #2 of our New “How To” Series

“How to” …make a difference: fund-raise while tailoring to your interests!

As RJI has been extending our reach, we have been making plans to build our staff and bolster our annual curriculum updates. This type of organizational development allows us to provide excellent prevention materials to schools that are relevant and poignant, able to offer real prevention and lasting change. Here is the hard truth: we cannot do any of this growing without funding! In this season especially, we are encouraging everyone who wants to protect our nation’s youth to join our fund development effort.

Fundraising is not arbitrarily asking for money through gritted teeth, but rather inviting people into something they can be proud to be a part of. You are the bridge between donors and the good/meaningful work they want to put their dollar to.

No matter your experience in fundraising, you can be a part of our effort to garner support for RJI’s work! Dig deep into your background and your interests and pinpoint what it is you are good at, and what makes your heart skip a little faster with excitement. These passions and talents allow you to offer something unique to the mission- do not let them go to waste! Below are a couple of examples, but feel free to create your own, with all proceeds going to RJI. -If you love to cook, host a dinner party! Invite your friends and let them know that the proceeds benefit the Prevention Project program for teens! Charge for entry: only 15 friends at $30 a head raises a quick $450!

-If your passion is “DIY” crafts, buy some art supplies or old curious and repurpose it into something beautiful to sell to others!

-Do we have any exercise guru’s? Plan a day to lead a large group exercise class,  and advertise the Prevention Project to friends and community, accepting a donation of any type for class admittance.

-Have a special event coming up?  Celebrate your special occasion with us! We’re launching a new opportunity where you can invite others to celebrate with you by donating to RJI for your special occasion – your birthday, anniversary, holiday gift, graduation, mother’s day, father’s day, etc.! EVERY gift makes a huge impact in the lives of students! The image above is yours to use (or email us if you would like a larger size image), if you so choose, and you can link directly to our website in your ask: https://richmondjusticeinitiative.com/donate/

Thank you for helping us reach more students by raising funds in a way only YOU can!

Pictured above: Use the graphic above (or email us if you would like a larger size image) on your special occasion to raise awareness and funds for the Prevention Project!  Creativity is endless – how will you make a difference?

Feature #1 of our New “How To” Series

“How to”…give to the mission of justice, even if you have no funds to contribute.

When fighting human trafficking, giving monetary support to organizations that already have the structure, the strategy, the connections and the “know-how” is a huge way to be an agent of change, but it is most certainly not the only way. While it is of paramount importance for nonprofits to receive donations to stay alive and strong, there are other ways to contribute to that nonprofit’s work without doing so financially.

  1. Spreading awareness is one of the most important keys to preventing trafficking situations. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all valuable tools in warning about potential dangers posed by traffickers as well as exposing that slavery still exists.  These platforms also can help connect people who want to donate to the organizations that could use their dollar for good.
  2. Becoming a Prevention Project Ambassador. We at RJI provide trainings for those wanting to bring life-saving information about human trafficking to middle and high schools, church youth groups, and youth programs. Trainings cover everything from important facts about human trafficking to the Prevention Project curriculum itself, how to implement the program and the impact it is having on students. Contact joell@rvaji.com if this sparks your interest!
  3. Prayer is the strongest force against human trafficking. Please remember to keep RJI and the work that we are doing with the Prevention Project® program in your prayers. If you are interested in becoming more active in preventing human trafficking, click here to sign up on our volunteer interest form and to receive our prayer updates.

Education Unlocks Freedom

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” -George Washington Carver

I never knew about human trafficking.” “Knowing that people my age, people younger are the target for all of this, it hurts”. These and many other similar sentiments are echoed in the classroom as teenage students learn about the facts and lures of teen human trafficking through RJI’s Prevention Project program.

Many ask how we can prevent human trafficking. As many survivors of human trafficking have said, it is so important to understand how traffickers lure teens into trafficking situations, because once you know the signs, you can help yourself and others in your school, church, and community not fall prey and know what to do when trafficking does occur in our communities. The purpose of the Prevention Project is to prevent trafficking from occurring and to help those who are currently in a trafficking situation. By equipping students, teachers, and counselors with the educational tools needed to understand, identify, and safely report trafficking situations, we use education as the tool to ‘unlock the golden door of freedom’.

We celebrate as many schools will be teaching the Prevention Project at their schools this fall: Hermitage High School, Godwin High School, Goochland High School, to name a few local schools. RJI is also in process of working with and reaching out to many other local schools as well as schools in multiple states. To find out more information and to get the Prevention Project program into schools in your community, please contact Jessica at Jessica@prevention-project.org.

I don’t know where I would be now without The Prevention Project! The Prevention Project is probably the most life-altering thing that has happened to me so far.” –Prevention Project student

Written by: Jessica Willis
Richmond Justice Initiative Prevention Project Manager

Prevention Project Classroom
{Above pictures © A Girl Named Leney, Prevention Project year three students}

Fundraising: Partner Spotlight

Shopping and Making a Difference. Though these two concepts aren’t always found side by side – they are when talking about Fair Trade and this fundraiser!

This past month, Ten Thousand Villages hosted a two-hour fundraising shopping event, with a total of 20% of the proceeds donated to Richmond Justice Initiative. Thank you Ten Thousand Villages! While at this event, RJI staff and volunteers shared with shoppers about RJI, human trafficking facts and prevention, and how to get actively involved in the prevention and eradication of human trafficking!

One of the shoppers that day was a pre-teen named Grace. She asked us what RJI was raising awareness about. I quickly but carefully crafted an age-appropriate response, as I wanted it to resonate with her, but not frighten her. I briefly explained to her what trafficking is and about some of the methods that traffickers use to lure teens (as the average age of entry is 11-14 years old); she responded with the most impactful and touching question of the day: “I only have $.75 in my bag; can I donate it all to help?”

Humbled and inspired, I told her that her money would be going to help a very important cause. She smiled and hugged the Vicuna stuffed animal that had just been bought for her at the store.

Richmond Justice Initiative has partnered with Ten Thousand Villages Richmond, a Fair Trade Retailer, for several events in the past years. Our two organizations share many purposes in common, including anti-human trafficking. One of the principles of Fair Trade Certification is to ensure that no child or forced labor is used in producing goods. This means that whenever you shop Fair Trade, you can be certain that the source company went through a rigorous certification process that reflects 10 different principles. Because of this, RJI commends Fair Trade certification standards and other ways that businesses go to lengths to ensure no forced labor is used to produce any part of their products. This is why staff from both RJI and Ten Thousand Villages, among other organizations, also serve on the steering committee for Fair Trade RVA, a movement to get retailers and organizations in Richmond to carry Fair Trade products so that Richmond can be recognized as a ‘Fair Trade Town’.

The truth is, we can all make a difference. If you are inspired by Grace’s story and would like to make a difference as well, donate here to make an impact and write “Inspired by Grace” in the notes to seller section.

Written by: Jessica Willis
Richmond Justice Initiative Prevention Project Manager
Fair Trade RVA Steering Committee Member

Partnerships & Giving to a Cause

Richmond Justice Initiative is a faith-based organization. We value prayer as our recognition of our complete dependence on God. We believe in His provision, making way for all of our needs, in order to do the work of justice He has called us to. We are thankful for many individuals, organizations, and companies in our community and around the state of Virginia and beyond who have stepped up and supported RJI’s efforts in donating their time, energy, fundraising, or donating directly to our organization! This month we want to spotlight two organizations that have used their creativity to fund-raise on their own for RJI.

New Creation, a partner organization that fights human trafficking in the Shenandoah Valley, partnered with a local high school student to create the Light the Night 5K for his senior project to help raise funds for RJI’s signature teen anti-trafficking curriculum, Prevention Project program to be in schools in his area! The student led event had around 125 participants that enjoyed a walk/run around the beautiful campus, along with prizes donated by local businesses, giveaways, and a DJ dance party. The event was very successful and they have already had multiple students offer to lead the project next year. When raising awareness and funds in your community, Sabrina Dorman of New Creation says, “I would encourage youth to get involved, their passion and energy is contagious.

Ashley Topping, of Wells Fargo Advisors, Innslake Office, had personally been aware of and involved in the fight against human trafficking. When she became part of a group at Wells Fargo Advisors called IMPACT, she used the opportunity to educate her co-workers about human trafficking and the work RJI was doing in the community. When she made her team aware of the issue, there was an abundance of support to get RJI as the approved charity for their Spring Basket Fundraiser. Ashley said, “The topic may be uncomfortable to talk about, but if people don’t understand what is going on, how can they stand up to fight against it? The amount of people I was able to inform during our fundraiser week simply blew me away. There are so many who just have no idea what is happening, not just all over the world, but right here in our city.

During the Spring Basket Fundraiser, each department selected a basket theme and put the baskets on display for one week. Team members were able to purchase tickets for $1.00 to place in the basket of their choice that they would like to be eligible to win. At the end of the week, one name from each basket is drawn and the baskets are delivered to the winners. All the money raised from the raffle ticket sale is given to the chosen charity. RJI is honored to be the charity they chose this spring.

We have heard from and trust many of you would like to start your own funding campaign to support RJI. The power to help end human trafficking is in your hands and this is a great way to be creative and use your talents make a difference, and above all to serve the Lord. Please contact us at info@rvaji.com or check out or Action Menu for more ways you can raise awareness and funds at the same time to fight human trafficking in your city! You can also be a part of fundraisers that are currently being planned:

Hope Thrift Fundraiser, August 9, 10am-5:30pm

Chipotle, Eat for Change, August 11, 4-8pm

Amazing Raise, September 17-18

Broad Street Mile, September 20, 11:30am

Be sure to check out future features about fundraisers and donations, as we highlight them in upcoming newsletters!

By: Alisa Feliciano | RJI Volunteer

Intern Testimonies

Here at RJI we greatly appreciate our interns. We could not do the work we do without hard-working passionate interns on our team. Below read about two of our recent interns and what they had to say about working with us:

 

KylieKylie: Advocacy Intern

My advocacy internship with the Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI) was an absolutely amazing experience. During my internship, I learned how to work in a professional environment and take on the responsibilities of being a part of a team. I left my advocacy internship more knowledgeable about public policy and the political inter-working of local, state, and federal governments. I was exposed to a network of organizations and contacts that will prove to be beneficial in my future professional endeavors. I was so grateful for the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. twice to observe how one of RJI’s partners, the International Justice Mission (IJM) works to fight human trafficking on a global level and to lobby with them at their annual Advocacy Summit. The most influential part of my internship was experiencing a work place that is grounded in the love and hope that God provides. Dealing with something as unjust as human trafficking is very difficult and the fact that RJI believes that God is the only source of strength that can combat this was very impacting. My co-workers learned to put their hope in God so that they would not become discouraged in this challenging work. RJI’s reliance on God sets it apart from other organizations in that it taps into a never-ending source of strength and energy. RJI’s work environment was extremely friendly and supportive. The staff took time to understand my personality so that I could excel. My internship with RJI has given me so much that I will take into my professional life after college, but more importantly it has helped me to understand how to take on the challenges of life, and that is through the strength of God. I am so thankful for the opportunity they gave to me and would highly recommend RJI to any person looking for a great internship experience.

 

MelissaMelissa: Prevention Project Intern

When God moves your heart and tugs at your soul, the only thing to do is follow Him. The thing I love about interning with Richmond Justice Initiative in the Prevention Project department is seeing a spark light up in other people, especially students. The best part is seeing people be moved to change the lives of people affected by human trafficking because you know difference makers are arising. Even in the day to day office tasks, whether it is answering emails, creating documents, or organizing paperwork, as an intern you are making a difference in the fight against human trafficking. There is soul satisfaction in doing God’s work to bring justice. When I finish my days after working for RJI, I always feel that I made a difference in some way that day. Some days are tougher than others because of the heart wrenching subject matter that we research, but the best thing is having a supporting staff that is always there to share the sorrows and pray for the justice. I feel like I have grown in so many areas of my life through interning with RJI, for example learning to rely on God solely, understanding how to be a business professional, learning the importance of lawmaking, learning the potential that I have personally to help change the world, and so much more. Through it all I learned you can do anything with God and amazing people who continuously support you.

 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people  light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Sundays: A Message to Church & Worship Leaders (and anyone else who wants to read this and be challenged)

Did you know that the life that Christ has called us to live is not easy or safe? In fact it is quite the opposite. The life that God is calling us to live, and the life He NEEDS us to live requires great courage, and can often feel dangerous. Doing God’s will in a fallen world IS inherently dangerous.

God has called us to 1. Tell the truth and 2. Love hurting people and neither are easy or safe.

So glad you started reading this right? I promise I am not stating these facts to be a Debby Downer, but to make a point and ask some questions that I hope provoke a sense of purpose when we walk into our corporate gatherings and to state that:

Somehow…
The God we name…
The music we sing…
The prayers we offer…
The scripture we read and preach…
HAS to call us deeper into God’s heart and deeper into the world for which Christ died.

Because if we are called to live dangerously and to love hurting people our services should be equipping rooms that accomplish more than the “post-church buzz” from good worship, but our worship must move the people in the congregation to courageous action that is set to take place most often outside of the Church walls.

Matthew 23:23-34 Challenges us to look at what we are offering, and how so often we “forget the weightier matters like Justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Question for consideration: Aside from the coffee, bagels, snazzy sermon illustrations and new vamp on that worship song, are we remembering that we are ministering to a group of people with a calling to be doers of justice, mercy and faithfulness to love hurting people, and are we equipping them for that task?

So many of us have been devastated by the situation in Nigeria and have shown our support with a hashtag, mostly because aside from praying the situation feels pretty helpless. Here is the reality. This is just one horrifying example of the Locust Effect of every day violence and injustice that is happening around the world. We are awake to this one because of the enormous attention it has received from the media.

Challenge: After we have parked our cards, dropped kids off at the nursery and rushed into rehearsal or your office for last minute prep, what are you thinking about?

What do we have as a reminder of the sufferings in the world which reveals the urgency of the need for hearing and living out the Gospel and sacrificial living in the name of Christ?

Those reminders are what remind us of the need to be attentive to the people in front of us and to lead them in trans-formative worship

In the last 5 years I have been working against the injustice of human trafficking and violent oppression, I have heard countless stories of injustice, and I have heard stories of God bringing freedom to so many lives. I have met precious survivors that demonstrate more love and bravery than I will ever have and on Sundays, whether I am on stage or in my seat and we begin to worship and sing of Gods love, freedom and our need for more of Him, my experience is no longer just for me or just about me, it is always with them in mind. 

I can’t help but keep in mind those around the world who are also having Church, but their Sundays look quite different from ours. That there are those who are having Church in a brothel, praying for their freedom day. Some are having church in their new home after being sold for $12 and are praying that God will come to their rescue.

I also keep in mind the incredible stories of hope like Griselda’s, who was freed from her abuser and is now free to live our her dreams, and countless stories similar to hers where the goodness and faithfulness of the God of Justice comes to life, and worship and praise always abounds from the reality of the freedom that IS available in Christ when we come to Him and ask for His help.

To wrap this up, as I could continue for quite some time on this subject, here are a few questions for personal or group discussion:

1. Are people leaving that service, and actually giving their lives away for the poor and oppressed in a tangible way?

2. How do we measure whether this has been accomplished? What is the criteria?

3. What/who do we have our mind set on during our Sunday morning prep time?

4. How are you leading in worship with integrity?

5. Will God’s people wake up to worshiping God in such a way that we demonstrate we are awake by loving our neighbor in God’s name?

6. Will we demonstrate faithful worship by “Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly?

* Excepts from Mark Labberton’s book “Dangerous Act of Worship” (So if this blog offends you, it’s his fault.)

Faith and Photo Booth

The following is a blog report back from Sara’s trip in January 2014 with IJM to Guatemala:

The Invitation:

When I received an invitation to go to Guatemala City with IJM, feelings of elation and inadequacy came over me all at the same time. Elation because I have so much respect for IJM and considered it a great privilege to have been invited, but also feelings of inadequacy as I was not sure how I could add value by going on this trip. I was mainly a team of Pastor’s, most of them given a specific sermon project to work on, while I was still seeking to understand by purpose and significance in going. Nevertheless I trusted God had a plan, and I packed my bags.

The Arrival:

After arriving in Guatemala City with International Justice Mission, and getting our schedule for our first day, I was so glad I brought my Ipad with me. Our first outing was to take part in a “Day of Joy” with some of IJM’s clients and their families. Day’s of Joy are times when IJM’s clients, who have all suffered from Child Sexual Abuse,  get to quite literally experience joy in the midst of recovering from the tragedy of every day violence that is plaguing the words 4 Billion poorest and most vulnerable in our world today, including these little ones that I was saying “Hola” to.

We were encouraged to find a family and visit with them before we took them on a tour of the zoo in Guatemala City. When I sat down, I was introduced to “A”, an 11 year old had recently given birth to the baby that her aunt “R” was holding, and “A” had her 2 brothers with her as well.

This scenario felt all too familiar to me, as I had the opportunity to pre-read a book that was recently released called The Locust Effect written by IJM’s Founder, Gary Haugen. Page 49 of the book tells the story of Gary’s trip to Guatemala City and that page quickly went from black and white to colorful reality as I held the newborn with his 11 yr old mother sitting next to me.

For those of us that did not speak a lot of Spanish, like myself, I used an app on my iPad called Photo Booth. Children in the developing world love to see their faces on camera, but photo booth takes it to another level by allowing them to see themselves in X-ray vision or some distorted way and before I knew it I had these little ones laughing and pointing and laughing some more. So much so the IJM Aftercare director came over to see what was happening.

That day I was overtaken with feelings of great pain and joy at the same time. Pain, because I knew the circumstances that led to the birth of this precious baby I was holding, and his 10 year old mother that sat next to me with her Aunt. Joy, because after I pulled out my Photo Booth App, these kids were laughing like they never have before, and in that moment, they were happy.

The Reality:

As we continued our trip, the reality of the everyday violence that happens to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable smacked me in the face. The statistics are staggering, and the sheer amount of corruption and abuse that takes place in this country alone is enough to discourage the strongest of believers in change, but it did not discourage the IJM Staff there.  Out of over 36,000 cases of child sexual abuse between 2008-2012, over 95% of those cases are still waiting for justice after an average wait of 6 years. The locusts of violence that has swept over the country was clear, but so was the plan for its defeat.

The Strategy:

The Violence and corruption in Guatemala is real, but the plan to change the landscape of this country and its response to the violence is strategic, prayerful, and it will work.

We may not be able to wipe out violence completely, but I met an army of people that are raised up, and the locust effect of violence will not stop them from trying.

Renee, IJM’s Fellow, laid out a clear strategic plan for educating, equipping and encouraging the once silent Church on how to biblically seek justice on behalf of those who are being abused, including the development of a curriculum that will be instituted and offered at prominent seminary in Guatemala City!

We were encouraged by the dedication the IJM staff has to spending time in daily prayer together as a team. As strategic as any plan can be, they realize that NO battle against injustice can be won unless we are fighting it on our knees in prayer.

We were blessed to hear the sound of laughter coming from several of IJM’s clients that were at the office one day for a pinning ceremony, as these clients have gone through the brave process of testifying against their perpetrator. They were all presenting with a pin that staid “Soy Un Heroe” (You’re a Hero),  and I had the privilege of giving one of the pins to a client and encouraging her for what she did, then they all colored pictures of super hero’s! For them and for the IJM Aftercare team, it was a celebration of their bravery, and also a celebration of the face that justice was coming for those kids. At the end of the day I was able to snag one of those pins, as I had a plan to present it to someone that was going to be a different kind of hero to these kids.

2014-01-27 15.04.22 (2){coloring pictures of super hero’s}

The Conclusion:

Needless to say this was a VERY full trip filled with so many emotions. Our team shared feelings of pain over the sheer corruption in the Government, the amount of violence that is taking place, and the silence of the Church when they should be the ones crying out for justice and protecting the poor. We also shared in great joy with IJM’s clients at the zoo, and also joy when they received their hero pin for their bravery in testifying against their perpetrator. We also shared feelings of hope, knowing that justice was soon coming for them. I felt hopeful for the baby I was holding in my arms the day we arrived, that because of IJM’s strategic determination and commitment to prayer, that he would grow up in an environment of safety from violence. Lastly for me, personally, I was filled with a feeling of determination, as I was tasked with asking my Senator to sign on to a key piece of legislation that would provide Guatemala with a team of investigators to specifically handle cases of sex crimes, a desperate need that was so apparent to us by the end of our trip. I had my marching orders and with a hero pin in hand, I made my way back to the states.

The Celebration:

I have been a part of the IJM Advocacy team for about 3 years now, and it has been SO rewarding to be able to advocate for legislation on behalf of those who experience injustice, and I was ready for my next task the minute I hit the ground. I had scheduled a Call-In day for that week, sent emails and facebook messages urging everyone to take a minute and all, and as I emailed Senator Kaine’s office I felt urgency and determination like I never have before. Something was different about this request, as I had a face and a name in mind. I had the baby that I help in my arms at the zoo in mind. This was for his future. And no was not an option. After not hearing back for a few days, I was literally ready to drive to Washington, DC and WAIT outside his door until he was ready to see me because I had something to share. The very next day, I received an email, THE email from IJM’s staff that Senator Kaine had signed the letter to sec. Kerry urging the State Department to provide funding for the special unit in Guatemala City. Tears of joy came to my eyes and I IMMEDIATELY emailed the IJM Guatemala office to share the good news, and messages came back that they were celebrating with me, and I am awaiting my meeting with the Senator to present him with his hero pin.

The Call:

God is good, He is faithful and He cares about those who are oppressed and He calls His people to do our part in seeking justice for those who are oppressed. I used my voice, and my voice was heard. Your voice matters in this fight against injustice and my prayer is that you will use it. It might not make a difference for all 4 billion people that are outside of the reach of safety, but it could make a difference for one. It will make a difference for the baby I help in my arms at the Guatemala City zoo, so use your voice for him.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless;  plead the case of the widow.”  Isaiah 1:17

 

 

The Locust Effect Book Giveaway!

We are giving away 1 copy of The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros this week! The deadline to enter this giveaway is Friday, February 7th by 11:59PM (EST). We will announce the winner on Saturday, February 8th via Facebook & Twitter.

The main point of The Locust Effect is that while the world works towards ending poverty in regards to hunger, water, provision, medicine, etc. it is ignoring the violence that comes right along to steal all of that and it makes matters worse for the people. They lose all ground on getting out of poverty, and it actually makes the “Locusts” stronger along the way since as they grow with supplies, confidence, etc. because of no law enforcement system in place.

While the read is tough and raw detailing various accounts of these examples happening, it is necessary to read and take seriously the effect that’s taking place for so many people in need. It’s time to start rethinking poverty and time to address the violence. We need to teach others the truth of what’s happening and address these real needs by loving others and sharing the Gospel where Jesus can bring healing and restoration.

5 Ways To Enter this Giveaway:

  • Retweet about the Giveaway by clicking HERE (Each RT earns 2 entries, 1 per day limit).
  • Comment below and tell us why you’d like to win this book (Each comment earns 1 entry, 1 per day limit).
  • Share our post on Facebook pinned to the top of our page about the giveaway (Each share earns 1 entry, 1 per day limit).
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  • *For the most entries – Sign Up for our E-mails on our homepage (Each sign up earns 5 entries).