Many reading this will be intimately familiar with the depravity that survivors of human trafficking have endured. Whether an individual has had just one brush with evil, a lifetime of countless abuses, or even somewhere in between, any story with this subject is nothing less than tragic and devastating. It is said that 85% of prostitutes report a history of sexual abuse in childhood and 70% report incest; This staggering statistic accurately depicts that sex trafficking victims suffer from this very plight at the same alarming rate. And that is where my story begins…
Long before I was ever sold for money…
I WAS HOPELESS AND HELPLESS
Long before I was ever pimped out…
I WAS A VICTIM AND A SEX SLAVE
At the age of 3 a series of experiences began that would forever stamp my past, present and future. More damaging for me than the sexual trauma of 8yrs of incest, was the oppressive shame and silence. It was through shame that I was conditioned to believe that I existed without a voice or a choice. The insurmountable shame and humiliation; the oppressive guilt had made me afraid of my own voice. My trafficker, later would use that same shame that paralyzed me, to manipulate and control me. My trafficker was an expert at identifying those deficiencies and inadequacies and he used those same vulnerabilities from my childhood to bait and entrap me.
Upon exiting the sex industry and nearly a decade with my trafficker, I was completely emotionally, spiritually, and physically destitute. I was a walking hovel barely fit to house the human spirit much less the holy spirit. In therapy, I found myself in a suffocating prison of silence. Words could not express the magnitude of my pain. I began to use art as way to process over 30 years of continuous abuse.
The first piece I did was a self-portrait, a representation of my childhood sexual abuse.
The second piece I created for my therapist was symbolic of myself with my trafficker as well as the experience of therapy.
That is but one of the many faces of human trafficking. There is another…And that is the face of hope. People can and do recover from human trafficking. But there is so much more to recovering from human trafficking than just getting out, and they can’t do it alone. To promote change in but one person is a feat few can claim victory. Redeemed Ministries has touched many, many lives and I want to take the time out to thank them and acknowledge their incredible work. I also want to thank everyone taking action. Whether that action is fighting human trafficking or providing hope and restoration for the survivors of human trafficking; Action requires sacrifice. It is through the sacrifices and generosity of individuals like you that have helped provide me and countless others the ability to reclaim our lives. It was when people appreciated my humanity and were present in my own darkness that I began to grasp glimpses of hope.
The sparrow that I chose to represent these beautiful creatures that Redeemed serves has a deep underlying meaning. This sparrow is standing upright and proud. These women have been exploited, objectified, their hopes and dream stolen. I wanted to represent them in a way that allows them to live beyond their stories, empowered and embolden. The cherry blossom symbolizes a time of renewal. This is exactly what Redeemed Ministries provides… a safe place for these women to heal, rekindle their love for life… a place where they can find themselves valuable, worthy of respect, and deserving of support and love.
Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb. He said “TAKE OFF THE GRAVE CLOTHES. LET HIM GO”. As a “child of GOD” my past no longer has authority over me and I am free to be the woman GOD intended me to be. This sparrow reflects the hope that we all have for these women. That in this safe place, this place of renewal that they will find themselves worthy of change and that they will no longer allow their or other people to define them.
So if you don't know endyō yet, you need to; endyō is a Christian company that sells clothing inspired by scripture. They believe a t-shirt can change lives, and donate 100% of their profit to faith-based organizations. They recently released their Summer 2017 collection, with all the proceeds benefiting Redeemed Ministries, our parent organization. We sat down and asked co-founder Travis Scott some questions about the company and his experiences with starting a social enterprise.
What was the impetus behind starting this enterprise?
Over many years, God kept placing Colossians 3:12 in my life at very important moments.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
After praying through the significance, God led me to the idea to start a clothing company with my wife. We created endyō in 2016 out of this idea to bring the virtues of Colossians 3:12 into a world that so desperately needs them. Partnering with organizations like Redeemed Ministries made sense because we are all focused on the same goal.
What does endyō mean and how do you pronounce it?
endyō is the Greek transliteration for "clothe yourself" found in Colossians 3:12. It's a funny name, but we fell in love with the meaning behind it. We pronounce it "en-dee-o."
How has this journey been for you and your family?
For us, endyō has become an act of obedience to what we feel is a God-given calling. It hasn't been easy, but over the past year we have met some extraordinary people and organizations. Our hope is to inspire others to receive their calling and be part of God's plan for their lives.
What are some of the struggles you’ve had?
endyō is not our full-time job, so between raising a young family and our careers, it can be hard to find time to grow the vision. Selling t-shirts to strangers over the internet might be even harder. It's easy to get fixated on the numbers and start to believe you aren't making much of an impact. God has used all our struggles to stretch us in new ways.
What are your goals for endyo?
Selling t-shirts and donating money have never been the primary goals of endyō. Our main focus is to spark faith-based conversations and see lives transformed. When you put on endyō, you are giving God permission to work through you. I have found wearing endyō makes me more confident to share my faith, which is great, because people will always ask about my t-shirt. It can be a powerful conversation starter, and there is no better opportunity to share your story and be a disciple for the Kingdom.
We're so grateful for partners like Travis! Thank you for being willing to share your experiences with us as begin our journey with our own social enterprise.
Click here learn more about endyō and the collection benefiting Redeemed Ministries!