At the end of 2017, and as we entered 2018, I kept hearing Isaiah 43:18-19—God is doing a new thing, and we can certainly say with confidence He started a new thing in 2018 at Rescue Houston! In the midst of receiving 188 victim hotline calls and rescuing 74 of those victims, 2018 was a year of refining the vision and building for expansion.
Early in 2018, the Lord gave us laser-focused vision to build an emergency assessment program that holistically addresses the most common variables that cause victims to return to a life of sexual exploitation. We knew our mandate was to seek the Lord for the creative solutions that assess and effectively address the immediate physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of survivors.
With the vision in our hearts, we watched God supernaturally bring each piece of the program to us. It started with Project Flourish, a “gospel-minded shark tank” within First Presbyterian Church of Houston that forced us to dig deep for three months, pull down the vision and get it on paper. Out of 90 applicants, Rescue Houston was one of five winners, resulting in the initial seed investment of $45,000 to launch the emergency assessment program — the first grant and glass ceiling to shatter in 2018!
We are thrilled to report that 54% of all the clients who entered the program in Phase I completed the program. However, Phase I was just the beginning. One could say we were building the sailboat in the midst of sailing it, depending on God for the resources, tools, water, wind, and crew along the way! He provided for every need and surpassed our expectations as the program continued to take shape — divine appointments, learning of innovative therapies, and answers to radical prayers became a weekly experience for our team.
In July, we launched the Rescue Houston Community Board with 35 individuals who contribute their influence, intellectual capital, and investment, raising over $65,000 and gathering like-minded peers to help advance our anti-sex trafficking work on the front line. Just one month later, we were honored to receive $67,000 from The Houston 20 toward our emergency assessment program! The following three months, the Lord provided us with a new front line team of Exit Strategists, a Survivor Advocate, and professional program providers, all strategically positioned to bring freedom to the enslaved.
Then finally, the day before Thanksgiving, we received notice that we’d been awarded our first ever Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) government grant of $377,000. When God said it was a “new” thing He was doing, we truly never imagined His plans — His faithfulness and the fixed determination of Houstonians to end sex-trafficking in our community are both astounding and humbling to behold.
As 2018 came to close, the momentum did not slow. The Lord continued with His lavish provision, raising $80,000 to expand our program through the incredibly generous year-end giving of our partners like you. Because of your fierce love and investment this year, we are thrilled to report that Phase II of our 60 day emergency assessment program launched on January 2, 2019, with capacity to serve eight program participants at a time.
It is incredible to look back and see all that God orchestrated in 2018, providing our blueprint for national expansion in the year to come. We could not have done it without you, our generous donors, volunteers and strategic partners. Words cannot express our gratitude for your support—thank you.
In 2019, our footprint is expanding and our hearts are expectant. We are seeing and will continue to see miracles of freedom occuring on a daily basis in Houston and beyond.