Because of You

 


 

Samaritan Village is made up of residents, staff, board members, volunteers, community partners, prayer warriors, broken people, healed people, people who need grace, and people who let God use them for His glory. Thank you for being Samaritan Village.

Two brave women wanted to share a bit of their stories with you. Read and be encouraged…

“Before Samaritan Village I belonged to a pimp. I thought there was no way out – my pimp was supplying my drugs, shelter, etc. So not only did I lose myself and my dignity to him, I lost them to the drugs as well. Now being a resident at Samaritan Village I have 14 months clean and I only belong to God. I am free from my pimp – he no longer has any kind of hold on me or my soul. It feels amazing! My support system I have in place here is strong – something I never had in my life. I am so very grateful for this program and for all the volunteers that support/help us. The volunteers are more than just volunteers… They are mentors, life coaches, friends, and family.”

“When I was 18 years old I met someone that I thought was an amazing person. It wasn’t too long after that I realized that I was headed down the wrong path. He taught me so many different things, all of them were wrong and horrible, and all for his own selfish reasons. He started treating me like I was nothing; physically, emotionally and verbally abusing me. I was scared. I believed every lie he ever told me when he said I was good for nothing, that I would amount to nothing and that all I would ever be was garbage. When that relationship ended, I was left broken, scared, lost and I thought I deserved to be treated exactly how he said. I ended up in the drug scene. And it wasn’t long before I thought that I belonged to a few different pimps and the horrible things that came with it. I was too scared to reach out for help’ in fear of what was to come if anyone found out I was trying to leave. Then one day, God sent this amazing woman to me to offer me an awesome gift. All I had to do was accept that gift and I was guaranteed my safety. It is because of Samaritan Village that I am whole again, and finding out who I really am. I no longer live in fear. Samaritan Village has restored my life, my self-worth and my relationship to Christ. Thank you to all who have made this possible.

Because of you, I AM SAMARITAN VILLAGE.”

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.” – Psalm 107:19

THANK YOU to all who support us. We are so, so grateful.

Recipient of God’s Mercy

A few years ago I was asking God where He wanted me to serve. I had switched careers from vocational ministry but I knew that I still wanted to be deeply involved in something. I just wasn’t sure what that something was yet. One morning during a church service, that something became evident when I saw a video and heard Rhonda Stapleton’s story and her vision for Samaritan Village, and that’s when I knew where I was to serve. But like many others, at that point all I knew about prostitution was from Pretty Woman. And all I knew about human trafficking was that it happened far away in South East Asia.

However over the last few years, I’ve realized that prostitution isn’t a lifestyle choice that a woman makes because she wants some extra money for shoes or even for drugs. And while the prevalence of human trafficking overseas is heartbreaking, it is not isolated to developing countries or one area of the world. Rather, the moment a woman, or usually a girl, decides or is tricked into selling her body for money, that moment is oftentimes the last decision that she makes. And that choice is typically rooted in previous abuse and pain. And human trafficking does happen here. In our backyard. And it happens a lot.

But more than anything, I’ve learned that with one different decision in my life, it could have been me that traveled down the same path that the women that Samaritan Village seeks to serve have journeyed down.  Because I know that these young women are no different than I. They have the same hopes and dreams that I do. They long to be loved, to be part of a community, to feel accepted.

So I became part of Samaritan Village. It started with simply offering my time. I helped organize the donations in Transitions and worked the cash register. I’ve mended fences, mowed lawn, pulled a million weeds, painted bedrooms and even assisted with repairs at Ruth’s House. All simple things, yet I know that each item that is sold at Transitions supports the ministry of Samaritan Village, and that Transitions itself is a ministry to the customers that walk through its doors. And that bedroom that I helped paint is now a beautiful, peaceful, and most importantly, safe place that one of our residents slept in just last night.

And while my talents don’t always seem like much, I’ve been able to utilize them to help sustain this organization and plan for its future. And I’ve seen God use my talents and the incredible talents of the board, staff, and volunteers of Samaritan Village in remarkable ways.

Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Oh, how I have been a recipient of God’s mercy, and in turn I want to be a living sacrifice…to give sacrificially…to offer the same grace and mercy to others as God has offered to me.

And this is why I am Samaritan Village.

 

Julie Thomas
Chair, Board of Directors

Warrior for Jesus

I am Samaritan Village.

I’ve thought long and hard lately about what those words mean. I know instinctively that they are true – but it is hard to know just how to explain this newfound identity.

In the year and half I’ve been with this ministry, almost every belief I had about “serving others” has been challenged, turned-on-its-head, or thrown out the window completely. Samaritan Village is a group of sinners bound together in the desperate fight for peoples’ souls. And what has dawned on me in the midst of some of the hardest moments is that it’s not just the souls of the women we serve that we are fighting for. This fight is for myself as well as for others. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in desperate need of the Lord to transform our hearts.

I need God to use these women and this ministry to call me out of my pride and my selfishness just as much as they need someone to walk with them out of their pain. My soul would whither away, wrapped up in my “comfortable” life and absorbed with self, just as surely as theirs would, trapped in the horrors of life on the streets.

I always heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me in church on Sunday mornings. I felt His presence and I felt safe, knowing that He had saved me. In church I heard him whisper – but on this battleground I hear Him cry out for our souls. My eyes have been opened to the very real and very present evil that exists in this world. There are times when I want to close my eyes to it. But then I get to watch in awe as He slays the enemy and pulls a friend out of the darkness – or share in someone’s tears as they realize just how deeply they are loved. I get to see God fight for the lost by using the found – and on rare occasions I am blessed to be the one carrying the sword. I have found God to be a warrior for people’s hearts, wielding Grace and Truth and Love as the powerful weapons they are. It is a brutal but profoundly beautiful battle in a war that is already won.

I don’t believe there is anything selfish in saying that my own heart needs to know that I was put here on this earth for more than singing songs on Sunday morning. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m a worship leader and love singing songs on Sunday morning.) Because I was put here for more… And you were, too. With Samaritan Village I have discovered this part of me that I had neglected for years – I have claimed this part of my identity as a warrior for Jesus. If we don’t engage in this beautiful struggle in some way – we are neglecting the very essence of ourselves. God created us for this purpose – to glorify Him by fighting for His truth to be known in this temporary home. Obviously, Samaritan Village is just one platform for doing so, but I am so blessed to have found a family of fellow warriors here – and we would love to have you join our ranks!

Aubrey Jenkins
Operations Manager at Samaritan Village

I owe all honor to God – I am SVI

I remember when I was a lot younger, I was watching Oprah’s talk show and they happen to mention 441, commonly known to most of us as Orange Blossom trail here in Orlando Florida. I remember them talking about the drug activity and the prostitution etc. Now at that time they didn’t talk about human trafficking. The subject here in America wasn’t well known back then. But even along my personal path in life, I always had a heart for people and wondered how this type of activity could exist right here in my hometown. And I would share with others the stories I had heard on TV and on the news etc. and wonder how we could change this. And then one day many years later I realized that I wasn’t just telling a story anymore-I was now telling my story.

In November 2011 I stepped foot into Samaritan Village. I had no idea where my life was going to go, I was so broken and full of shame. I was an empty vessel. I was a survivor of human sex trafficking here in the United States. I had lost a lot of things over those 10 years that I was sold between Orlando Florida and Chicago.  I have seen things that no human should ever have to see and experienced things that most people do not walk out of with a sane mind. But God knew exactly what He was doing and I am forever grateful.

I could go on and on about the goodness of God and how my life has been restored but I’ll share just a couple blessings. It was May 10 of 2012 that I prosecuted my trafficker and put them behind bars. In that moment my healing went to a whole new level. I finally felt free to live. It wasn’t long after that my trafficker died and my wings really began to grow! Long story short, I graduate college just after Christmas with a degree, my beautiful daughter now knows her mommy, I work as an Advocate to help other women coming out of life and I’ve even recently started my own business with a portion of the proceeds going directly back into advocacy work and restoration. My life is full and my life is blessed.

I owe all honor to God first and foremost and for the doors of Samaritan Village being open when they were so that I could get my life back! I am Samaritan village!

 

Aubree
Former Resident of Samaritan Village
Survivor Advocate