Some ten years ago, on the campus of Fresno First Baptist Church, a movement began. It was fueled, at first, by a not-yet-informed yet determined passion. We started to see things on the streets and in our neighborhoods with new eyes.

We started listening to stories of real women and men whose lives had taken unforeseen turns.

We saw the pain in the eyes of those who felt they had no options.

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We prayed. We asked questions, often of ourselves. We researched, listened, and asked more questions. We gathered others, and the movement continued to grow.
On 1.1.11 we launched. From the beginning, Fresno First Baptist Church has been integral to our work. Many people have supported us through prayer, giving, advocating and volunteering. Each Pastor that has led FFBC has taken on the charge of calling the Church in the Valley to fight for freedom.

We really can’t express our gratitude for the gifts and grace given to us by this community. From Pastor Willie Nolte and Pastor Bryan Hitch when we first began to our current champions Pastor Manny Collazo and Brooke Ortiz, we truly could not have done it without you! And we will keep doing it with you. This tribute comes with deep sincerity as we now look to the future.173013_10150150548721145_2814810_o

So it is a bittersweet time but we are looking to a future filled with possibilities! As a team, we have prayed for over a year about the potential of moving. We are thankful that our partners at Fresno First and Aspen Public School are growing and there is a shortage of space!

We know we leave them well-trained and equipped to continue as a light and beacon of hope to the people in the neighborhood around 1400 E Saginaw. Now, God has a whole new neighborhood for us to influence less than 2 miles away.

We moved into our new space February 1, 2018. We are grateful for the partnership with Aplos Software who is renting their facility to us.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about this new chapter that is just beginning. Will you help write it?

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Technology plays an essential role in our work to prevent human trafficking. In our fast-paced culture, we are tasked with keeping up with today’s youth in communication and with presenting our message in the best possible context.

So it is with deep gratitude that we thank the Fresno Rotary for a generous donation that allowed us to purchase a brand new laptop and tablet to use for our programs and outreach!

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At the Justice Coalition, we are building for a sustainable future. Our bold vision includes a Central Valley where arrests, rescue, and recovery are not necessary because our area has successfully prevented people from being exploited and enslaved.

Thank you, Fresno Rotary for your generosity and forward thinking!

Four years ago, well before I came to the Justice Coalition, we partnered with True Organic Products Inc. to launch our very first Freedom Fund campaign. Every year since we began with a modest matching goal of $5000, our network of supporters have responded generously to help us reach the goal! Together, we raised over $63,000 in the first three years to fund our prevention work.

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This year, again with the commitment of True Organic, we set our most ambitious goal ever ($40,000) total in our shortest time period ever (20 days) and once again you have come through with $47,171 raised to date. This means that Freedom Fund has a running total of over $110,000 in four short years! We thank God for each and every person who has given sacrificially in order to bring freedom to the captives and to protect the vulnerable from oppression.

I was able to spend last week in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, giving thanks for a year of growth and expansion in this human trafficking prevention ministry. My heart was full of gratitude and thanksgiving as I considered how far we have come since our humble beginnings as a volunteer prayer meeting. Yet, I couldn’t help but also feel the sadness of empty space, the sorrow of knowing that there are young people right now who are in danger of exploitation who don’t know what true freedom feels like. Thanks to all of you, we have the opportunity to reach out to them with the message of hope. This coming year we will do everything we humanly know how to do and believe that God will do the rest!

– Ryan Townsend, executive director

A Little Goes a Long Way!

It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year we have had the opportunity to raise money for our Freedom Fund! Back in 2014, we were just getting started! We had no idea how much we would grow. We began with two part-time staff, lots of awesome volunteers, and the opportunity to raise up to $5,000 that would generously be matched by our partners at True Organic Products.

This time we are aiming to raise $20,000 from Nov. 1 to 20 which will then be matched by True Organic for a total of $40,000!

In the past four years, we have grown in so many ways!  We have solidified our area of focus as a coalition, which I continue to believe is a desperate and urgent need in our community: Prevention. We must PREVENT trafficking from happening by educating everyone we can and surrounding those who are most vulnerable with resources and trusted advocates.

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We have grown from a staff of two part-time employees to employing a full-time Executive Director and three part-time paid staff. We have 10 people trained on our prevention team and numerous other interns and volunteers working on other projects. We are truly growing into a community coalition!

We’re excited this year to launch our Freedom Fund because we know that every dollar given literally changes lives. Every dollar given is part of a movement. We are making the statement that FREEDOM REIGNS. We are backing up that statement with tangible results through sharing our progress towards #JusticeGoals.

We invite you to be part of it this year, whether for the first time or again for the fourth time because every single one of us is needed if we are going to prevent people from being exploited as slaves!

Thank you for catching the vision and running with us! We are deeply grateful to each of you who have given to our Freedom Fund.  And we especially thank True Organic Products, for the fourth year in a row, for leading the way and helping us extend to others the opportunity to invest in freedom for all.

– Jessica Pittman, October 2017

Sometimes people wonder why we, the Justice Coalition, get involved in advocacy in addition to education/direct service. There are many reasons behind our involvement in advocating for change relating to preventing human trafficking. For the sake of not going too far into tl;dr territory, here are the most important reasons.

  1. Scripture calls us to use our voices for those whose voices cannot be heard. Proverbs 31:8 (NIV) says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”  Further, we see that God’s eyes are turned towards those who are oppressed.Psalms: 34: 15 – 18 (NIV) emphasizes that “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”vlcsnap-2016-10-31-15h49m25s319
  2. Systemic oppression requires systemic change. Helping one person at a time is vital work but it won’t prevent someone else from being exploited in the future. One reason why traffickers have thrived is that our laws have been slow to change in order to reflect new realities. New legislation is needed to confront evolving criminal activities that enslave the vulnerable.IMG_0136
  3. In our system, elected officials are supposed to be accountable to the people who voted them into office. I get it, a lot of us don’t want to rely on the government to solve all of our problems. I hope that we all are doing something personally, individually to fight the evil of human trafficking. However, we need more than just individuals to combat modern-day slavery. Cartels and gangs are organized, powerful forces for evil. We need local, state and federal governments to get equally committed to fighting for justice. The reality is that we can’t solve this problem without the government, faith community, businesses, schools and community benefit organizations working together!Coalition-Group-Photo

Advocacy usually involves getting government, business, schools, or some other large institution (also known as Goliath) to correct an unfair or harmful situation affecting people in the community (also known as David, and friends). The situation may be resolved through persuasion, by forcing Goliath to buckle under pressure, by compromise, or through political or legal action. – Prue Breitrose

Learn more from the Community Tool Box, a resource from the University of Kansas