Free the Captives (FTC) Newsletter, November 26, 2014
Free the Captives has so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! We appreciate our volunteers, prayer partners and supporters
. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the teen trafficking victims that we serve in Houston!Christmas Market Success
Christmas Market, held at Crosspoint Church, was a HUGE success! We
raised over $17,000 to benefit our victims of human trafficking.
We appreciate our many wonderful vendors and shoppers! Thank you for braving the weather. Your purchases blessed our girls!
are incredibly grateful to Amy Pickett, our Christmas Market chair.
This amazing woman and her team work all year long in finding the best
and most unique vendors. She works tirelessly in organizing and running
this market so that shoppers and vendors have a fantastic experience. We appreciate you so very much, Amy!
Thank you to Crosspoint Church
for hosting the market. We appreciate your support and many wonderful
volunteers. Thank you for your hard work and time. Your congregation has
been fantastic in getting involved in combating human trafficking on so
many levels!Thanksgiving Meal
are thankful to everyone who helped our families for Thanksgiving!
Above is Karen Christian, a volunteer, and her son delivering a
Thanksgiving meal to one of our girls. We also appreciate Houston's
First Baptist's High Altitude class for providing Thanksgiving
groceries!Webster Presbyterian Church
thanks to Anya Ezhevskaya and Webster Presbyterian Church for the
theatrical production of "Lost Voyages of the Bagel!" We appreciate your
time, hard work, and funds that you raised. Thank you for helping us to
increase awareness about trafficking for families and children!Fantastic Volunteers
couldn't do our work without our amazing and wonderful volunteers! Here
are the ladies going through our intensive volunteer training.
We also have our energetic Freedom Fest and 5K
volunteers. They are working hard for our huge festival and run/walk on
April 11. Our next volunteer meeting is January 11 at 4pm at
Bridgepoint Bible Church. Join us! Register for the 5K run/walk here
.Officer Appreciation Luncheon
are thankful to the women's ministry of Bering Drive Church of Christ
for providing a wonderful meal and gift bags for the officers of the
vice division at the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Thank you for
helping us to honor the men and women who rescue the girls and put away
the bad guys!#GivingTuesday
truly appreciate everyone who has given of their time, hearts, and
finances. You have blessed Free the Captives. The Tuesday after
Thanksgiving is another opportunity to give! You can donate to Free the
Captives here: http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/contact-us-and-donations.php
and then share on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #GivingTuesday. All donations are tax deductible.
Free the Captives (FTC) Newsletter, November 9, 2014From the Field
usual, there is never a dull moment in fighting human trafficking. We
have been referred our first teen male trafficking victim. Yes, boys are
trafficked. In fact, during the London Olympics a local 15 year old boy
was trafficked from Houston to London. As for our trafficking victim,
his situation is complicated; please be praying for him and his family.
Pray that God provides for all of his needs. There are very few
resources for boys.
We started our intensive volunteer training
this past week. What a great group of ladies who are willing to invest
their time and hearts into this training and Free the Captives! We are
very blessed by them. Our volunteer philosophy is to help them discover
and use their God given gifts and talents to make a difference. Will you
pray for these ladies? Pray that God leads and guides our time
this weekend I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at the
Sharpstown International High School Model UN. Students from five
schools gathered to debate and discuss current issues, including human
trafficking. It was impressive to hear the students' excellent speeches.
Also, several of these students have been volunteering their time with Free the Captives' Freedom Fest and 5K
we have our Christmas Market coming up in less than two weeks! If you
want to get your Christmas shopping done in one place and
fight human trafficking, this is your chance. Our Christmas Market
chair, Amy Pickett, and her team have worked extremely hard to bring you
only the best vendors! They spend all year at different markets and
festivals scouting out the most interesting and unique vendors. Invite
your friends for a fun shopping event on Nov. 21-22!
need artists to help create our human trafficking display for Freedom
Fest. This display will be the centerpiece of Freedom Fest. If you are
creative and artistic or would like to financially support this display,
please reply to this email. Thank you!
Stay tuned for our next newsletter....we have an exciting announcement!
Director, Free the CaptivesChristmas Market, Nov. 21-22
Join us for Free the Captives' 2nd Annual Christmas Market
on November 21-22, 2014, in less than two weeks!
year we have hand-selected exceptional vendors that offer unique and
fantastic Christmas gifts for everyone on your list - from babies to
grannies. Vendors will donate 15% of your purchase to Free the Captives.
Check out our vendors!
Join us on November 21 from 1pm to 8pm and on November 22 from 10am to
4pm at Crosspoint Church, 4601 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401 and
invite your friends!Become a Freedom Fest Corporate Sponsor
We need corporate sponsors to keep Freedom Fest FREE for families! Free the Captives' Freedom Fest and 5K
is our major human trafficking awareness festival and 5K run for adults
and kids. Freedom Fest is completely free while the 5K has a fee. We
will have tons of free food, games, music and speakers.
If you or
your business would like to become a sponsor, email
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Your financial
sponsorship would help us raise awareness about human trafficking while
highlighting your business on our 5K t-shirts, program guide, website,
All donations are tax deductible because Free the
Captives is a 501(c)3 non-profit. This is a great way to show that your
business is helping to fight human trafficking in Houston! Sign up for Prayer Requests via Text
To sign up, text 832-781-0916 with the message @49c18,
we will send you real time prayer requests. We have seen many prayers
answered and would love for you to join our prayer team!
i. Type in the “To” field: 832-781-0916
ii. Type in the “Message” field or body of the text: @49c18
iii. Hit send.
Free the Captives (FTC) Newsletter, October 2, 2014
Free the Captives' Backpage Research confirms Houston as Hub for Trafficking; Presentation on Oct. 4
Free the Captives' research revealed patterns that validate Houston as a hub for trafficking, mainly due to high demand from buyers/Johns. You are invited to learn more about this study at Free the Captives' public presentation on Saturday, October 4 at 10am at Second Baptist Church (main campus), The Hall in Woodway Village, 6400 Woodway, Houston, TX, 77057. Julie Waters, director of Free the Captives, will present the findings while Captain Mike Koteras will discuss law enforcement's response to this study. The study can be downloaded here. Media coverage of the research is noted below.
What Online Sex Trafficking Ads Say About Houston
KUHF Houston Public Media: http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news/houston-a-leader-in-online-sex-trafficking
Experts say Houston's size, ethnic diversity and port location contributes to the thriving sex trade.
Attorney Julie Waters is founder of Free the Captives, an anti-trafficking organization here in Houston. An analysis she did, found that nearly 30,000 ads were posted on BackPage.com. But a new study also found that it outpaces Manhattan and New Jersey combined in online sex trafficking ads.
"Houston on an average day, had 65% more ads that Manhattan, and 347% more ads than North Jersey. So this clearly shows, that we are a major city for trafficking and prostitution," said Waters.
Not every ad on BackPage is for sex trafficking. But Waters found that traffickers use the web page as a main vehicle to traffic teenagers and women here and abroad.
She says a high number of Houston ads were posted on Tuesdays compared to other days of the week. That indicates sex traffickers are targeting business travelers who fly into the city.
"When we looked at areas of Houston, the Galleria was mentioned the most, followed by Hobby Airport, that really correlates to business travelers coming in and out of Houston, Baytown, Katy, the Woodlands, and then Reliant Stadium, the Medical Center and Alief," said Waters.
The ads showed the most frequently mentioned location in Houston was Interstate 10, which the Department of Justice calls a major human trafficking corridor.
Waters says the large supply in Houston is being fueled by demand.
Law enforcement is hoping to reduce that demand by going after the buyers as well as the victims and traffickers.
More media coverage: http://www.chron.com/houston/article/Houston-outpaces-New-York-City-North-Jersey-in-5791000.php
Free the Captives’ Annual Volunteer Training: Nov. 3
Free the Captives is gearing up to launch several new volunteer intensive projects in 2015! Possible volunteer opportunities include outreach work, working with Free the Captives’ girls, Johns and at risk boys, public policy work, research and a prayer project. To participate in these projects, we will provide training for both male and female volunteers over the age of 18 years old.
Our annual training will be 6 Mondays, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm in West Houston/Energy Corridor on Nov. 3, 10, 17, Dec. 1, 8, and 15. You will need to read and write book reports on "Mending the Soul" by Steven Tracy, "Renting Lacy" by Linda Smith, and "Understanding a Framework for Poverty" by Ruby Payne. The book reports should be two pages double spaced and describe what you learned from the book. This will be the only training until next fall. Successful completion of our volunteer training requires attending five of the six training sessions listed. Please purchase the books and have them read by the dates below.
Nov. 3: “Renting Lacy”
Nov. 17: “Mending the Soul”
Dec. 8: “Understanding a Framework for Poverty”
In order to be considered as a volunteer to work with Free the Captives’ teenaged girls, volunteers who successfully complete the training must serve in a different capacity on another project for two to four months.
To participate in the training, you must complete Free the Captives’ volunteer application and postmark it by Oct. 24, 2014. Please email email@example.com to request an application.
Lost Voyages of the Bagel, Oct. 4
Why does the snurlie like to sleep in soup? Why are the chibrie ants never studied in scientific circles? What happens when the Schmukerel boils water in the oceans where it swims? And what do they all have to do with fighting human trafficking in Houston? All of the answers can be found in stories that Anya Ezhevskaya, with a team of talented performers, will bring to life in her full-length show happening at 7pm on Saturday, October 4th in Webster Presbyterian Church, 201 W. Nasa Parkway, Webster, TX. Enjoy storytelling, spoken word poetry and live painting with the whole family. All proceeds from ticket ($10 per adult, $5 per child) and merchandise sales will be donated to Free the Captives.
Free the Captives' Christmas Market, Save the Date: Nov. 21-22
Your Christmas shopping can fight human trafficking in Houston! Get ready for Free the Captives' 2nd Annual Christmas Market on November 21-22, 2014! This year we have hand-selected exceptional vendors that offer unique and wonderful Christmas gifts for everyone on your list. Vendors will donate 15% of your purchase to Free the Captives. Check out our vendors! Join us on November 21-22 at Crosspoint Church, 4601 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401 and invite your friends!
Free the Captives (FTC) Newsletter, June 23, 2014Portrait of Hope from a Teen Sex Trafficking Victim
as I walked into a room, I expected to find a severe teen trafficking
victim dejected, angry at the world, and in immense pain. Born into a
world of neglect and abuse, she was trafficked by the age of 12 in
Houston. Free the Captives started working with her when she was 15
years old. The heart wrenching stories this girl could tell would make
your jaw drop to the floor.
When you look into her eyes, you see
the ferociousness that helped her survive on the streets. You see a keen
intelligence like no other. You see a sharp mind that plans and
prepares for the next step; all in the name of survival.
see the anger that fills her heart, and she is afraid that she can’t
control it. Even as this anger is directed towards all of those around
her, to hear her describe it is something else. She feels the anger
rising, and she uses that anger to survive because that is all she has
known. In her world, there is no fight or flight. It is just fight.
But while the outside world only sees the anger, on the inside, all she can talk about is the fear
Palpable fear. Fear so strong it overrides her senses. Her heart beats
faster. It gets harder to breathe. She can’t concentrate on anything
else. Her mind is consumed with fear. She is so afraid. For all the
toughness she displays, she is just a scared little girl. She is afraid
of being hurt, physically and emotionally. She is tired and worn out.
But most of all, she is afraid.
She is only a young girl after
all, made to live lifetimes of the most traumatic and depraved abuse
imaginable. She should be enjoying music, doing her hair, and wearing
the latest trends like other 15 and 16 year old girls in Houston.
Instead she has to fend off pimps, who are chasing her down notorious
Bissonnet Street trying to kill her.
So, of course, she is angry
and hard. And she runs. And runs. And runs. Until she is finally too
tired to run. And the only thing that is left is fear, anger, and open
wounds from the past.
At first, our talks are about the anger and
she shares how every little thing sets her off. One wrong look and she
is convinced you are out to get her. The all consuming anger that
cleverly hides the fear is what most people see. And this makes them
want to write her off - to say she is beyond help. But I see past the
anger and into the fear that paralyzes her.
Then slowly, by the
grace of God and through the healing words found in Scripture, she
begins to have hope. Shining, glimmering rays of hope that peek out
behind dark clouds after a stormy morning. As each verse sinks into her
heart, the chains of anger and fear begin to fall off. It is
unexplainable, and I suppose that is how God works.
As I work
with her and we search for next steps, we wait. At first, the waiting
scares her. The uncertainty of the future is hard for her heart. But she
is safe. And now she has time to face her past. So we wait together.
we wait, we look at verses about anger, fear, worry, peace and hope.
Like a newborn baby craving milk, she soaks up the word of God. And
slowly it begins to transform her. It soothes her soul. It brings peace
to her heart. Words of anger are replaced by laughter. Enemies become
friends. Indifference becomes caring. Her smile lights up the room. As
God’s Word heals the broken places, she in turn begins to heal other
girls around her. She points them to God. She is a natural born leader
and others follow her lead. They find solace in God and in the Bible.
She brings them peace and hope. Yes, this once tormented girl is now the
bearer of peace to those being tormented.
Because of God’s
faithfulness, goodness, and a multitude of people praying, I walked into
a room to find the complete opposite of what I had been expecting.
Anger had been replaced with peace. Will she still struggle from time to
time? Of course, but now she knows that she is not alone and she has
experienced God’s true peace. She has hope
I know that God has incredible plans for her life. And Free the Captives will walk alongside her the entire way.
pray for specific prayer requests for teenaged victims of sex
trafficking in Houston that Free the Captives serves, please go to http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/pray.php.Written
by Julie Waters, JD, Founder and Director of Free the Captives, an
anti-human trafficking 501(c) 3 nonprofit in Houston, TX that focuses on
the exploitation and trafficking of teenagers.T-Shirt and Logo Design Contest for Freedom Fest: Due June 30
Are you creative? Use your talents to fight human trafficking! We are seeking designers to create a logo and T-shirt design
for Free the Captives' 2015 Freedom Fest and 5K
by June 30, 2014
people think of human trafficking, dark and sordid images usually come
to mind. Though this is definitely a reality, we want your design to
celebrate the freedom
hope that survivors of sex trafficking experience when they are freed
from this bondage! Imagine the transformation, renewal, and promise of a
future these survivors will be able to enjoy.
designer will get a $100 Amazon.com gift card, and your design will be
prominently displayed on all of our promotional materials, widely
distributed online and in print, and worn for years to come by many
people! This is a great way to fight trafficking while enhancing your
professional art portfolio. Your work and time will really help to raise
awareness about human trafficking in Houston. For details and
guidelines, go to http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/design-contest.php
. Please forward this email to artists or designers who may be interested!
an artist? There are still many ways to get involved with Freedom Fest.
Volunteer today for our human trafficking 5K and festival: http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/freedom-fest-and-houston-human-trafficking-5k-run.php
. Fall Internship Positions Available – Apply by August 1, 2014
the Captives is seeking undergraduate interns for the Fall 2014
semester. Interns will need to commit between 7 to 10 hours per week.
They will be involved in a variety of Free the Captives’
anti-trafficking activities, from awareness projects to New Creations to
public policy work. Responsibilities in this unpaid internship include
assisting on major projects, research, writing, clerical work, working
with volunteers, and attending anti-trafficking meetings and events.
will need to have reliable transportation, be prompt and responsible,
respond to email quickly, and be detail oriented. This internship can be
used to fulfill college credits, if needed. Request an application by
. Completed applications, including college transcripts, must be postmarked by August 1.