Each January, human trafficking organizations around the world work perhaps just a little more passionately to create awareness about a shameful fact: Over 40 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide. [Source: hopeinspirelove.org/the-problem]
But the reality is that these ministries and organizations work passionately every day of the year—beyond Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January—under the shocking realization that more girls, boys, teenagers and young adults are trapped in slavery than ever before. According to the website for the Lancaster-based Hope Inspire Love human trafficking organization, “They are beaten, raped and exploited for the profit of others.”
As they serve, Lancaster Bible College alumni and students are taking part in creating important awareness about human trafficking—locally, nationally and globally.
Maria Ranck (’21) graduated from LBC as a Social Work and Bible major and Business minor. Today, she serves on the board of Hope Inspire Love and is a Case Management Social Worker at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital. Read on to learn why Maria is passionate about the Hope Inspire Love vision to “provide hope to the hopeless, inspire people to be world-changers and provide an avenue for love and care to victims—so that we can put an end to human trafficking in our lifetime.”
What I do as a Case Management Social Worker at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital:
“I spend my days at the hospital doing discharge planning with patients and their families. This involves coordinating care for hospice patients, helping patients transitioning to facilities or with mental health placements.”
Why I serve on the board of Hope Inspire Love:
“I serve on Hope Inspire Love’s board as I am passionate about offering hope to trafficked survivors within our communities. This foundation also seeks to identify people at risk for trafficking and provide preventative intervention. I believe that action is needed if we truly want to see trafficking stopped. It’s an honor to take action in fighting this injustice through serving on the board of Hope Inspire Love.”
How Hope Inspire Love is making a difference for trafficking survivors:
“Hope Inspire Love is seeking to be a voice for the voiceless in our community and restore trafficking survivors through our mentoring program. Another way Hope Inspire Love is making a difference is by offering education to local professionals so they can identify the signs of trafficking and seek to prevent it. Hope Inspire Love is a bridge of restoration between a survivor being trafficked and that individual being given the tools they need to reintegrate back into society.”
How LBC impacted my career in social work:
“LBC’s social work program gave me a solid educational foundation to then be able to practice social work with excellence and competence in the workplace. I also stay in contact with social work professors and classmates, which provides ongoing networking opportunities both personally and professionally.”
One thing I want people to know about human trafficking:
“Trafficking is a dark, evil injustice that is a thriving business here in Lancaster County. It’s not something that only happens overseas or ‘out there.’ It’s here, in our schools, neighborhoods and county. This may sound hopeless, but—God. Through Him, we have hope, and He invites us to join Him in the work of restoration. If you see something suspicious, speak up. If you want to take action, seek out an organization to volunteer with. Change starts with each of us.”
Hope Inspire Love also reports these alarming statistics pertaining to trafficking cases in the United States [data by Polaris]:
- A person is trafficked every 30 seconds.
- 71% of victims are trafficked for sex.
- 23% of trafficked victims are children.
- 81% of trafficked victims are female.
|Read the moving testimonial from one of the Hope Inspire Love co-founders about the inspiring start of the organization.|
Over the past few years, other Lancaster Bible College students have helped Hope Inspire Love raise awareness about human trafficking. Specifically, several LBC athletic teams, including men’s and women’s basketball most recently, have assisted with set-up and tear-down for the annual Freedom Walk, routinely planned each October at a Lancaster-area park. Student-athletes have also participated in the walk itself. [Watch hopeinspirelove.org/freedomwalk for details on the 2023 event.]
Another local organization making strides against human trafficking is North Star Initiative, which advocates for and supports survivors of sex trafficking by providing physical, psychological, emotional, educational and spiritual development through a Christ-centered focus.
Current LBC | Capital student Grace Campbell (’26), who is enrolled in the 4+1 Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, serves as a Coach at North Star’s survivor residence, The Harbor. As she works toward a career of a trauma-Informed Counselor, see why Grace is committed to helping live out the North Star vision to “advocate for the restoration of women from sex trafficking—For freedom. For life. Forever.”
What I do as a Coach at North Star Initiative:
“As a coach, I help facilitate daily programming for residents at The Harbor. Most importantly, I integrate trauma-informed care within my relationships with North Star’s residents. I aim to cultivate an environment of safety, advocacy and belonging for each survivor.”
Why I’m passionate about serving with North Star:
“I’m passionate about serving with North Star because of the immense support each survivor receives to live a life of independence while in programming. It’s been a blessing to be a part of a program where I can walk alongside and advocate for each resident’s healing process.”
How North Star is making a difference for trafficking survivors:
“Often, people think the solution to human trafficking is ‘rescuing’ survivors out of their situations. However, The Harbor goes beyond to offer holistic healing for each survivor—physical, psychological, emotional, educational and spiritual development. The Harbor empowers the survivor to be a catalyst of change within her family, community and future generations.”
How LBC is impacting my counseling career path:
“LBC’s Counseling & Social Work Department shares a core value of integrating faith in all counseling settings. In addition, I deeply appreciate how all of the counseling professors advocate for the success and self-care of all students. I’m thankful to be a part of a program that champions and foresees the potential in each student.”
One thing I want people to know about human trafficking:
“Amplify the voices of human trafficking survivors. Survivors are not victims; they are resilient, compassionate and dreamers of a better society. Before taking a stand for change, first sit down and listen.”
In 2021-22, North Star Initiative took another major step in its ongoing support of trafficking survivors.
“When we opened the doors to The Harbor in 2017, we had no idea what to expect,” shared North Star Interim Director Janelle Esbenshade. “We prayed the Lord would lead those who needed services to North Star Initiative, and it didn’t take long for our rooms to begin filling up. We soon hired more staff, increased the volunteer count and added new programming opportunities while creating an in-house curriculum.”
Soon, however, North Star was outgrowing its space, and as the organization expanded, The Harbor became less of a home for residents and more of a business filled with distractions and triggers. As a solution, North Star launched a capital campaign in 2021 to build The Survivor Center.
“Our vision in adding this second building to our property would allow The Harbor to return to its original purpose—a home,” Esbenshade added. “Our residents would have a safe space free from the burden of their therapy, programming and administration. We envisioned utilizing this extra space to offer our residents more hands-on and individualized programming while giving staff room to grow and further our outreach and education initiatives.”
Thanks to an outpouring of community support, North Star broke ground on The Survivor Center in January 2022 and opened its doors in January 2023. This expansion will also allow North Star to connect better with partners, donors and the overall community, with additional space to welcome individuals and conduct meetings without compromising the safety of residents.
“Our staff has been working hard these last few weeks to get everything moved in and ready for our residents to experience all the new opportunities this building will provide them,” Esbenshade said. “In the next few months, we will create a beautiful new boutique and install an at-home gym, but we couldn’t be more excited about how everything has come together. We are so grateful for all those who joined us in making this dream a reality, and we can’t wait to see all the ways God uses The Survivor Center for His glory!”
If you suspect you encountered a victim of domestic sex trafficking or witnessed a trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (888.373.7888) or text BeFree (233733). NHTRC will coordinate with local social services to aid them in the restoration process.