By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
MONROE, La. (LBM) – Lindsey Crawford had not realized how prevalent sex trafficking was in her community until she met a young mother who was a former victim.
For several weeks, Crawford could not forget the incident and asked God how she could be a part of the fight to end human trafficking in her hometown and beyond. What resulted was the creation of “Freedom13,” a jail ministry that focuses on outreach to formerly trafficked people in northeast Louisiana with the intentions of rebuilding their dignity.
The ministry’s name is based on Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
“At ‘Freedom13’ we want to provide opportunities for women to start over,” Crawford said. “But more than that, we want women to know how important they are to the Lord, to us, and to the Body of Christ. We hope they will find or be reminded of their Gospel-centered, God-given purpose and walk it out, every day.”
Since its founding, “Freedom13” has helped rescue more than 20 women and children from the sex trafficking industry and offers them resources to gain a new life through a 12-month trauma-informed program. The ministry is part of the network “Purchased: Not For Sale,” which has other locations in Lafayette, Shreveport and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Additionally, through its jail ministry in Lincoln and Ouachita parishes, “Freedom13” staff and volunteers have counseled more than 10 women who have accepted Christ, distributed 250 Bibles, taught Bible study, life skills, and trauma-based classes to 200 women and helped six women transition out of incarceration into a life of independence.
Looking to the future, Crawford is excited about continued opportunities to help women and children who are rescued from the sex trafficking industry, and he thanked Louisiana Baptists for their support through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering.
“Our partnership with the LBC has been an answer to prayer. We are so thankful for the church partnerships made possible because of Georgia Barnette and give all the praise to the Lord for what He will do through this state-wide offering,” Crawford said. “Please pray the Lord will bring women for us to minister to in His timing and for wisdom as we seek creative ways to serve our community during this unique time in our culture. Pray we keep the Gospel at the center of all we do. Without Jesus, we can do nothing worth doing.”
Sept. 12-19 was set aside as the Week of Prayer for state missions and ministries. More information about the offering is available online. This year’s offering goal is $1.7 million.