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by jessica pittman, founder

This is the time of year that I love because we intentionally slow down our presentations and classes and do what only a certain type of person likes to do…PLAN!!! (Color coded excel sheets make this type of person happy…) This year we find ourselves in a unique season.

If you haven’t heard…as we enter a new decade in 2020, our Coalition is turning 10! We will soon be in the double digits! (The awkward pre-teen years…)

It’s a bit confusing at times, so quick history lesson. In 2006, I began planning a trip to Prague and Amsterdam with some women at my church to visit one of my favorite leaders ever – Lauran Bethell, Global Human Rights Consultant. As we planned, we looked locally to ask what was happening in Fresno in regard to this global pandemic of human trafficking. From 2006-2009, we prayed, researched, and invited experts to speak to us at ‘justice focus groups’. We led Bible studies, read International Justice Mission books together, and led round table discussions in the community and at churches. By 2010, we had a core group of passionate people who had volunteered quite a bit of time seeking to understand human trafficking in our region. But we didn’t want to just understand it – from the beginning we were action driven. We were inspired by our freedom, and distraught at the exploitation we were seeing and hearing about from people in our own neighborhoods. We could not ignore it or let it be a phase of our focus. So, we named ourselves the Central Valley Justice Coalition and began planning our first major community event, We Are One, for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on 1/11/2011. (THROWBACK: You know you want to see this one minute video of Ryan Townsend giving you directions to the event!

We are One, 1.11.11
Artwork for our first event courtesy of Jarod Rocker

So here we are, about to enter our second decade. Ryan is on a sabbatical for a few months and we are so thankful he has this opporunity to take a breath and a break. Earlier this year, we spent a good amount of time envisioning the next five years for the Coalition. We created the first draft of document that we may eventually release publicly, sharing our bold ambitions, our hopes and our plans for 2020-2025.

By God’s grace and provision, the Coalition has been on a growth trajectory since we began. But for the first time ever, we didn’t make our $50,000 #FreedomFund19 goal. And, not by just a little….by a pretty LOUD $13,000. This will have an impact on what we can do in 2020, depending on how our year ends financially. (You can help on this one, by the way!)

“We may make our plans, but God has the last word.” (Proverbs 16:1, GNB)

We had the most speaker requests, the most students go through our programs, and great momentum in almost every area of our work, but the funding didn’t all show up like we planned, hoped, timed and prayed this October. We heard a few more no’s than we’ve heard in the past. But we heard many, many more yeses, and we are so thankful. So we’re not stopping yet, because there are over one million people in Fresno County alone who need to be empowered through education and given tools to prevent exploitation. Will you join us? Those one million people were created to be free.

As we’ve planned, prayed and listened to what we discern God to be saying for next year, we received an unexpected word.

We think it’s counter cultueral. It’s even Christ-like. Going small doesn’t mean our impact is necessarily small. It means our work is deeply rooted, sometimes it may be a bit harder to see, especially at first.

I’m thinking about a man I know with a not-so-small impact who focused on the smaller number of twelve. He changed the world.

It’s with anticipation and curiousity that I am embracing this idea. Our Coalition will shift our focus to smaller events with some new themes and activities we haven’t done yet. We’ll do some things we have done for years. But one thing we won’t do is dream small.

I hope you join us!

  • Not getting paid for their labor
  • Not free to change employers
  • Being controlled by someone else
  • Being forced to do something they don’t want to do
  • Has been cheated into payment of debt upon arrival

You, he, or she may be a victim of human trafficking and eligible for free assistance.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888 for more information. Or, text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733)

Contact us at 559.725.1865 for support, resources, and consultation. You can also contact the Fresno Police Tip Line at 559. 621.5950