By B.N.

Read 1 Colossians 1:1-23, 2 Cor. 5:14-21
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”
Spend some time in Colossians 1:1-23. Savor all that it says. Consider the reality of Christ, creating and sustaining all things.
Jesus came to proclaim, in word and in action, the good news of the Kingdom of God. (Luke 4:43)
The good news of His superior justice. The good news that He was sent to make things right. The good news of His work of reconciliation that is currently going on.
He was sent to reconcile all things to Himself, for the glory of God. All things includes all people, creation, systems, communities, and every other created thing.
In his ministry of reconciliation, things that were broken are made new, whole, and heal, and what they were made to be.
Within the world of human trafficking is much that is not right. There is, within, brokenness in relationships with one another, with the community, with God, and a brokenness of how each person sees themselves.
We are called to that ministry of reconciliation, according to 2 Corinthians 5:14- 21.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (vs. 18-19)
We have the extraordinary opportunity to partner in Jesus’ work of reconciliation in the lives of victims/survivors, buys, sellers, and the communities that support or promote the work of oppression. We partner in His work of healing and mending the brokenness of the community, of individuals, of relationships, so that they came be healthy, thriving, and all they were made to be. We partner in His work to reconcile the church to the relationships it was made for in its community and bring His justice so that the church and its members live fully in all we are called to be. We partner with different groups in the community, including law enforcement, to make this possible, respecting their authority and roles, recognizing their part in God’s work of justice.
This is an expression of the good news and the work of ambassadors of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation.

Central Valley Justice Coalition is honored to be supporters of the local ministry Beauty For Ashes, founded by Gina Loera.
Beauty For Ashes reaches out to women, boys, and girls trapped in prostitution and human trafficking* with the love of Christ. For most, if not all sexually exploited persons, there is no one they feel they can trust. The people in their lives have manipulated, used, and physically, emotionally, sexually abused them for their own gain. According to a recent survey of prostituted women throughout the U.S., most prostituted women surveyed said they would like to leave, if they felt they could. So what keeps them from leaving? For many or most, they have a seller or sellers (commonly called a pimp) who uses threats, control, and violence to control them. I have seen how these sellers has gone as far as tattooing those they came to own with their own name, so the women/girls know who they belong to. For all the victims, there is the the problem of not having another way to support themselves and any children they may have and, again, not having anyone they can trust.
Notice how I’ve mentioned girls and boys among the victims. The average age in which females are brought into commercial sexual exploitation is 12 to 14. Most of those being sold out on the streets either are or started off as children. There are also boys, and men, that are being sexually exploitation.

Beauty For Ashes’ approach to those they serve is simple, yet calls for great commitment and love: Every Friday night, they go out to tracks in Fresno, areas where commercial sexual exploitation occurs, give gifts bags to women (girls and boys) they encounter, and offer prayer. And then they return the next week. That regular presence has helped form relationships in which trust can be built, where openness to the gospel can be given a door, and where the women can seek help to leave, if they wish.

We want to invite you all to consider getting involved in supporting Beauty For Ashes. We will have a “Gift Bag Party” on Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fresno First Baptist Church campus.
This will be an opportunity to help make the gift bags for the month, but also to here from Gina about the ministry and their needs. Gina will be going on maternity leave at the end of July.

Among the greatest needs of the ministry are regular volunteers to commit to go out on Friday nights, both men and women. Volunteers do not have to go out every week, but we do ask that they commit to a regular schedule, such as twice a month, the first Friday of the month, etc.
We also need:
Volunteers to get donations of gift bags items or donate themselves (see Gift Bag Items)
Volunteers to prepare gift bags once a month
Volunteers for the Prayer Team

Gift Bags Items Needed:
Items such as lotions, candy, body wash, hand soap, nail polish or make-up, body spray, hair accessories, small Bibles or devotional books.

*What is the difference between prostitution and human trafficking? By federal definition, human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor service or sex acts (from adult victims) for financial gain. If the women being sold for sex is doing so without use of force, fraud, or coercion, by federal definition they are not human trafficking victims. HOWEVER, both prostitution and sex trafficking is considered commercial sexual exploitation. Any as noted before, women that may continue to be prostituted without the force, fraud, or coercion of a seller, started off as children who were sold, and thus were human trafficking victims.