– 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.
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.
Recently 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the same time, we are honored to welcome Kelly Mitchinson into a new role as CVJC Assistant Director!
Kelly 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