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By Sara Pomeroy
Sara Pomeroy is the founder of Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), an organization of volunteer modern-day abolitionists who use their gifts and talents in the fight against human trafficking. On September 5, 2013, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced great strides in taking on the problem of human trafficking. Sara and her group celebrated this progress but also emphasized the need for continued action. She agreed to share with us about her experiences as an advocate and how her faith has motivated her in her work.
The Journey Begins
One day, listening to a podcast, I learned that slavery was not only still happening worldwide, but right here in my state. In fact, Virginia was one of the twelve worst states in our nation according to Polaris Project’s ratings on human trafficking laws.
I was convicted and knew that God was calling me to do my part to confront this issue, although I felt unconfident about what role I might be able to play. Before I started RJI, I didn't even know how a bill became a law. But God was good and provided the people (like my friends at IJM and others) who would show me the way and work alongside me, so I put on my suit and heels and set out on my journey of advocating, lobbying, speech writing, speaking, and testifying to raise awareness about this critical issue.
Green in 2013
I am thrilled to report that Virginia is now a “green state,” meaning that we have made huge progress in creating the basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers, and supports survivors. On Polaris Project’s map, we’ve gone from yellow to green, from Tier 2 in 2012, to Tier 1 in 2013.
What does it mean for Virginia to be a green state? It is a ray of hope for us, and a significant mile marker in the work that we and others have done. It is a reflection of the amount of support that has sprung up from amazing places, like our Governor, Attorney General, and an incredible bipartisan group of senators and delegates dedicated to this issue. It is the encouragement we need to keep going.
Further To Go
That I stood in the Governor’s Conference Room, giving a speech in front of the governor and public officials, is a testament that God can use anyone who is willing to be used by Him, and that He equips those He calls. It is also a testament to the power of prayer; God truly is the author of the favor and commitment that has come from our Governor.
I feel that we are at a turning point here in Virginia. It has been a long hard fight to get to where we are. But we are not stopping here. There is still much more to do, and we need all hands on deck: the Government officials, the community, the Church, and YOU!
Image credit: Michaele White, All Rights Reserved.