January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and just minutes from the Lancaster Bible College campus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is North Star Initiative (NSI), which operates with a mission to support women who are survivors of domestic sex trafficking by providing physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual care through a Christ-centered focus. NSI’s 24×7 restoration home and program for domestic sex-trafficking survivors is called The Harbor. “Our goal,” NSI states, “is for every survivor to leave The Harbor fully restored so she can return to the community and enjoy a life of sustained independence.”
Several LBC | Capital students and alumnae have volunteered, interned or worked for The Harbor since it opened its doors to the first residents in December 2017. Today, three Women in Ministry Leadership majors share why they currently serve North Star Initiative and the brave survivors seeking restoration.
Hannah Greineder (’22)
“For the longest time, I have had a heart for helping survivors of human trafficking. North Star has provided opportunities to learn more about trafficking and the needs of survivors, as well as learning how to advocate and support women coming out of this lifestyle.”
Ashlyn Fabrick (’20)
“I serve at North Star because I believe every woman should be free. Healing from trauma is a long and exhausting process. Everyone deserves a friend who says, ‘I see you and I am here for you.’ When I am serving at North Star, I get to be that friend. Honestly, it is the highlight of my week to share a meal and be with the strongest women I have ever known. I learn so much from them and feel honored that I get to see God at work.”
Becky Rupp (’21)
“Four years ago when I began my journey at LBC, my goal was to pursue Christian higher education to become better equipped to serve God through serving others, in particular those who are often overlooked or even discarded by the world and, at times, the Church. My life up to that point had been a rocky road, marked with addiction, homelessness, single-motherhood and many other hardships. I wanted to learn more so that God could use me in unique ways to reach people with similar life stories. I first learned about North Star during my third semester at LBC and immediately fell in love with the mission and work they were doing. Fast-forward to this past summer. I was scrambling to find an organization that would take me on to complete my practicum in the midst of a pandemic, and my academic advisor gave me a list of people to contact. On the list was North Star Initiative. I contacted (North Star Executive Director) Alicia Corrado, we met, and the rest is history. I began my practicum in the fall and almost immediately felt that this was the place for me. In December, I was offered a position as a Restoration Coach, which I enthusiastically accepted. I have only officially been coaching for a short time, but I feel very strongly that God has led me to The Harbor. It is like a dream come true, and I am loving every minute of it. Spending time, doing everyday things like grocery shopping and going to appointments, eating meals and having devotions together has given me many opportunities to speak into the lives of these incredible survivors, but more than that, they have spoken into mine and they bless me beyond words! Their strength, determination, willingness to learn and grow, passion for the Lord and amazing personalities give me hope for this world to know that God is always working! It is often in the small thing—things that are easily overlooked—but I believe in this season God is calling us to look harder and to thank Him for the work He is doing in our lives and the lives around us.”
NSI posted on its Instagram account in January 2020 that “a shocking reality is that the average age of a trafficked victim is 13 years old.” Additionally, these facts are from the 2019 Data Report by Polaris, which operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- 22,326 victims and survivors identified (sex trafficking 14,597; labor trafficking 4,934; sex and labor 1,048; not specified 1,747)
- 11,500 trafficking situations identified
- 4,384 traffickers identified
- 1,912 suspicious businesses identified
According to North Star’s “Awareness through Education“ webpage: “Many Lancaster County residents are unaware of the extent of sex trafficking in our area. NSI provides speakers and hosts community events to help educate the public about trafficking, including how to recognize trafficking activity in local neighborhoods. We also maintain partnerships with national, state and local agencies and law-enforcement to stay informed about trafficking activity and recruitment methods. Because of their personal experience, survivors at The Harbor are able to provide details and insights on how traffickers target vulnerable women and young girls and boys.”
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 and North Star Initiative to aid them in the restoration process.