By Cathy Huffman
Pillars…upholding and strong, creating a foundation for doorways and for protection overhead. Strengthened by the touching and molding of many hands. Not just one, can a pillar make, and not by just one pillar can a support be effective. It requires a multitude of committed souls to create the support needed to protect the multitudes. Debra, being just one, can place the first stone upon which the pillar will grow, but it is with the resources of those who find their hearts being softened by the perils of the trafficked and hardened by the atrocities they endure at the hands of others, that the pillars will rise and upon those pillars, there is hope.
It was September 17th of the year 2010, just over a year after Debra’s experience of hovering over her body and being a witness to medical personnel fervently forcing life back into her body; her encounter with the spiritual presence of God through His son, Jesus; her imploring commands falling upon what she thought were unhearing senses, begging for a chance, at last, to be free from mortal pain. This ordinary late summer day was the day that she came face to face with God’s passion for her; her first step along the path God was creating for her. A beautiful morning it was and Debra lay in her hot tub in her backyard soothing her sore muscles. Songbirds serenaded her as she savored the comforting aroma of her favorite morning beverage. She allowed herself to absorb the peacefulness. A communion with calmness, she felt embraced by serenity.
As lightning strikes so did her vision…not in a visual sense, but audibly. Foreign sentences, not of her own making, saturated her mind…”you are to facilitate the opening of a safe house for women and children caught in the web of human trafficking…people around you will join in your journey, but not to worry because God will provide…many will come to know Him through this.” Even the floor plan of the future facility was thrust into her head, full of fascinating details that were not comprehensible to her flooded mind.
That day, Debra stepped into the suffocating atmosphere of human trafficking. Since that day, she has been walking, one step after another, to pioneer a trail for others to join her on…to follow…and at times to take their place up front. She barely knew what human trafficking was when the audible visions were placed upon her heart. She did understand that one communicates with God in a place where the only stimuli is the love one feels for God, and the silent connection that exists becomes the voice that cannot be ignored.
Currently, Pillars of Hope’s status is one of new and encouraging growth. One of their main priorities is to have a safe place where women and children can live while they heal and gain the ability to become independent from the hideous grip of trafficking. A house is currently being considered for them to lease, and Pillars of Hope will have that initial safe house. But remember, this is just the start and much more will need to be done in order to obtain this safe haven and to keep it going…not to mention the addition of more safe houses when God’s timing is right.
Pillars of Hope has grown from a few too many…people coming on board with different talents and ideas to help them go in the right direction. The more they get the mission and needs of Pillars of Hope out to the public, the more they find people that are willing to jump aboard and to help in whatever ways they can. Debra hopes that you too will find in yourself the desire and ability to help them achieve their goals.
This inspirational woman is Debra Brown, and she is the one, on that September day, that God chose to navigate the murkiness of human trafficking that leaves no country untouched. She is but one that He has chosen. She knows that with God’s blessings, Pillars of Hope will make a difference. They are one more voice in the abyss of apathy and ignorance, an echo that can forever snake its way through the land to compose a symphony to be heard by the world.
The pathway is full of unknowns…boulders of ignorance…landslides of deterring thoughts…potholes of frustrations…but through perseverance, Debra, along with the encouragement and prayers of an ever increasing number of individuals, is wearing down the obstacles and paving pathways to the front doors of safe houses. But she can’t do it alone. God put a voice in her…a passion…one she never would have thought possible. He put it there for her to speak so that others would join with her in this powerful movement.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Oh Lord, Save Me!”
Psalm 116:3 &4
What we do
- We are available 24/7 for a victim to reach out to us through email, text, phone, or our website. When a victim calls, we talk to them extensively to determine their situation and what their needs are. We keep a nationwide list of active safe houses, long-term rescue houses, and other programs so that we can connect each victim to suitable resources. We work closely with the Contra Costa County DA’s office victim advocacy program as well.
- Community awareness is an important component in rescuing victims. We have continuously offered training for the community at large to bring awareness regarding all aspects of human trafficking. Since 2013 we have trained more than 300 people. .
- Our website is maintained to bring relevant information and resources, such as books and movies, to the attention of those looking to learn how they can join the fight.
- Through speaking engagements at churches, schools, associations, and business groups, we have brought awareness of human trafficking to more than 3,600 people by presenting information on human trafficking and how to join in the fight to end it.
- We plan and organize fundraising activities throughout the year to fund our victim assistance program. These funds go to provide victims with necessities such as shelter, clothing, personal care items, gift cards for food, and travel expenses to get them to a rescue house or back to their family.
Our future goal
The great need in the Contra Costa/Bay Area is for a safe Rescue House. There are currently no residential safe houses here in this area. There have been in the past, but due to government regulations and financial hardship, these have had to close. As mentioned above, we had a transition home for 2 years, but came to realize that the girls actually needed a safe long-term, rescue house to prepare them for a transition home. What is the difference? When a woman (or man, or child) is rescued from the unspeakable conditions of human trafficking, they need time and therapy to prepare them for getting back into the world of school or work. A long-term rescue house gives them that time and therapy. Once a person has worked through this process, then they are prepared to go to a transition home where they are prepared to get a job or return to a regular classroom. Maybe they need to get a drivers’ license. Perhaps they need job training. Or maybe they need to get caught up on their education so they are ready to fit in where they should have been. All this is done in a transition home.
Debra’s vision is for a lovely property that will serve as both a rescue house as well as a transition home all in one for up to 36 women. Her plan even includes a place for mothers with children (yes, that happens). This needs to be in a location that is relatively remote and can have extensive security (because human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar per year business and, unlike drugs, women can be sold over and over again each day)
Hope House Restoration Center
Below is a rendering of the property we are envisioning for ourHope House Restoration Center. We need a property and funds to build and run this facility. There are no long-term safe houses in the Contra Costa Area and the need is great.