World Refugee day

“Our responses to refugees must be grounded in our shared values of responsibility sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights and in international refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Exploitation preys on vulnerability. I see it in the faces of the victims and survivors of human trafficking who come through our office in Fresno, CA. Some of them have been refugees, many have been U.S. citizens. But the struggle is the same, whether we are talking about the risks to foster youth at home or the large numbers of displaced people who are at-risk of being trafficked.

Our faith, actually, just our basic humanity, demands that we speak up and defend those who are vulnerable to exploitation. Will you join us today in prayer but also in action, on behalf of those whose voices are being drowned out by the evil of slavery and violence?

Today’s global observance of WRD comes at a crucial time after a record-breaking 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by the end of 2015, according to a report released by the United Nations on Monday. (source: USA Today)

Ryan Townsend, Executive Director.

This year we are joining with a hundred churches in the Fresno/Clovis area to pray and fast for change and renewal in our cities. Beginning on Jan.11 and ending on Jan. 31 we are committing to devote three weeks to seeking God’s plans for our individual lives and our mutual service. For more information on fasting (what it is, why we do it, what we are praying for, upcoming events) please download the FastingBrochure2016 (courtesy of Northpark and Fresno First Baptist Church).

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From our Executive Director:

Human Trafficking is evil.

It’s morally abhorrent and ethically indefensible on every level.

As people of faith, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the world’s second largest criminal enterprise (U.S. Dept of Justice). It can feel like there is no hope for the people caught in modern day slavery and despair can overtake even the most committed activists.

Trafficking is an evil trade exploiting a weak system. We must act. – Yvette Cooper

This is why prayer is key in the battle to end slavery. This moment we find ourselves in doesn’t just call for prayer, it demands it. Prayer is essential because prayer is AN ACTION that we undertake. It is a conscious choice to do something profoundly counter cultural.

In prayer and fasting, we recognize the limits of our own abilities and plans. We realize that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves and that we are powerless to defeat evil without the help of an all powerful God. This doesn’t mean we are powerless, in fact, it’s the opposite: when we recognize our own weakness and vulnerability then we are in position to see the greater things Jesus was talking about in John 14:12.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

May we never forget that we have the hope of the world on our side.

Ryan Townsend, December 2015.

– by Melissa Gomez and Jessica Pittman

I have had the unique joy of being  a part of Central Valley Justice Coalition since it’s conception in 2007. My husband and I had just moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands as missionaries with Youth with a Mission. Our tiny upstairs studio apartment was nestled in a towering old brick building owned by YWAM called the Samaritan’s Inn, right in front of Centraal Station, a major train hub in Europe. On the building was written in blue lettering  “God Roept U” literally meaning God Calls You and in English was printed God Loves You. Every wayward traveler entering the city gates encountered the phrase and many in a moment of desperation, would be touched by God’s heart to restore. The building was right at the entrance to the Red Light District, which became a second home for me as I served the women who work behind the windows.

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Our first month there, Jessica Pittman, one of my closest childhood friend brought another group of travelers to visit our city. These women from Fresno First Baptist Church came with a heart to understand slavery in Europe.  The impact of seeing and meeting victims and survivors of sexual exploitation first-hand opened their eyes and they returned to Fresno  inspired to pray and act to eradicate injustice in their own community. Phone calls and Skype sessions gave me a glimpse from afar of the grassroots movement that had sparked. When back on furlough I had the chance to speak and encourage the work. After moving to Fresno a year and a half ago, it just made sense that God would call me to get involved again with CVJC in a new capacity.

I count it a privilege to have served alongside Jessica Pittman (my close friend and colleague) as Co-Director this past year. I celebrate all that we have accomplished together, as a whole staff and a greater network! I thank God for the amazing relationships that were built and the churches, advocates, community members, victims and survivors that were educated and resourced.

shoesRecently I was offered and accepted a position with EOC as the Program Manager for Central Valley Against Human Trafficking. We believe that this move is a win for CVJC and will only continue to strengthen partnerships between the public sector and the faith community.  I look forward to providing expertise and encouragement to our region with hope and plans for continued collaboration.

While my role may be changing, my heart for this work has not. I will continue to be an advocate for CVJC; believe in the importance of our vision and hope to work together in new ways over the upcoming years.

Blessings to all you!!!  – Melissa Gomez

It is with great sadness that we say good bye to Melissa as our co-Director, as she has poured her time, energy, gifts and expertise into CVJC and has taken us to new levels in several areas of our work. As a whole team, we have prayed and considered the implications for CVJC, and see God’s hand guiding us all in this turn of events. We affirm that her position with EOC will be a huge asset to CVJC as well as the entire community.  We are excited for God’s way to unfold, which is MUCH HIGHER THAN OURS! Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and patience during this time of transition.

As I continue in my position of Director (on a part time level, as I have been), CVJC is looking for a full time Director. If you are interested in this position email your resume to info@cvjusticecoalition.com.

At the same time, we are honored to welcome Kelly Mitchinson into a new role as CVJC Assistant Director!

Profile picKelly has served with us as a volunteer staff member for the past year and has participated in our trainings and other volunteer opportunities with CVJC before that. Kelly is a tremendous gift to our team and we look forward her furthering our vision as we partner with the church and community to prevent human trafficking.
Additionally, we are thrilled to share that Melissa & Kelly will both be involved in the launching of the first ever My Life My Choice program at Juvenile Justice Campus starting this Saturday, March 21st! This is Melissa’s last session with the team and Kelly will fill parts of her role in the months ahead. Pray for our partners at Youth for Christ, and the girls (ages 12-17) who will go through this first program with us. Pray for breakthroughs as we teach and learn with together! ~ Jessica Pittman, Director

CVJC’s Freedom Dessert on Tuesday, October 7th has been cancelled due to several factors. We apologize for any inconvenience! However, we encourage you to connect with us – there are many awesome ways to do that in the next few weeks, such as….

1. Partner’s Gathering! 

Thursday, Oct 9th, 11:30am-12:30pm (bring your own lunch!)

We are partnering with Central Valley Freedom Coalition for this gathering! Located at: Nielsen Conference Center, 3110 West Nielsen Avenue, Fresno, CA following the Freedom Coalition Gathering at 10am.

You are invited to attend both meetings at 10am and at 11:30am if you are able. CVJC’s meeting at 11:30am will focus on the faith community. We will update you on CVJC developments, exciting new opportunities with our partners, and ways to connect and get involved in preventing human trafficking.

 

2. Pray for Freedom: Saturday, Oct 18th, 7:00a-9:30a at San Pablo Park. (Walk begins at 7:30) This is a focused prayer walk in partnership with Breaking the Chains. Email kelly@cvjusticecoalition.com for information.

 

3. Freedom Sunday Orientation 2015! (and vision casting for Freedom Churches)

Monday, October 20th, 7pm (Dessert provided, MUST RSVP BY OCT 15)

Northpark Church, Room 202

Come to catch the vision for Freedom Sunday 2015, and start planning for your church to be part of it! We will also present Freedom Churches and gather feedback from YOU. There is no cost to attend, but you must RSVP by Oct 15th.

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Join the Central Valley Justice Coalition for a night of focused prayer and worship on behalf of those who are trapped in modern day slavery.  Prayer is central to all we do – God moves and acts when we gather together in his name!

Monday, April 7 from 6:30p-8p at Northpark Church (Youth Room #202)

We will be praying for God’s freedom and justice to flood our Valley, bringing transformation to the lives of all affected by human trafficking. The time will be guided with scripture, media and specific prayer points.