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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

The Long Road to Real Freedom

During the month of October, we are facilitating a series of discussions about the issue of human trafficking. In this episode, we went behind the scenes of the Orange County Rescue Mission, a ministry that does full wrap-around service to help those coming out of human trafficking to heal and hopefully find ultimate freedom in the Gospel.


Conversation with Derrick Burton from OCRM

**Part 1 of the series on Human Trafficking**

Derrick Burton serves as the Chief Ministry Officer at the Orange County Rescue Mission. He oversees the transitional facilities and low-income housing, as well as an emergency shelter.

The OCRM is unique in that it is a "Step 1 Program", meaning the Mission will take people right off the street who are ready to be rescued out of trafficking and begin the road to healing.

How are people rescued?

The OCRM has relationships with outreach ministries that regularly go into "The Track" where the victims are located/working. Relationships are built over time and when the timing is right, the women are given the option to leave the life of trafficking (with many precautions put into place for their safe removal).

How do people get pulled in to trafficking?

--NOT typically kidnapped/snatched off the street

--Often recruited out of the foster care system

--Parents/guardians are/were using substances and then sought out to traffic their child(ren) in order to continue getting a supply of drugs

--Coerced/manipulated into believing it to be a good opportunity

--Many victims don't even realize they are or have been trafficked; the trauma is deep and the victims believe this is "normal life"

**Definitely a need for ministries to rescue and serve boys & men who are trafficked, but there are not many resources/programs available to serve the male population.**

What motivates people to leave trafficking?

--It takes numerous encounters (with rescuers) before victims are ready to consider leaving the life of trafficking

--Victims may come into the program at OCRM and then leave after a week or two because they are not fully ready to give up the lifestyle; unfortunately, this happens often

What are a person's biggest needs when they first enter the facility at OCRM (90-day emergency shelter)?

--Time: to rest, gather their thoughts and determine needs & next steps

--Wrap-around services: counseling, group classes, case manager meetings to heal & discuss resources available and choices they have (encouraging PERSONAL CHOICE is important because they have been used to being controlled by others)

--After the initial emergency program, the participants can move into transitional housing and begin learning long-term skills such as job training, budgeting, keeping a home, and so much more (18-24 month program)

What about the spiritual aspect of OCRM?

--Many victims coming in are mad at God (ie "Where was God when I was being trafficked?")

--Sharing the Gospel is CRITICAL and is presented from DAY ONE!

--Devotions, chapel services, Sunday morning services are part of the program

What are the long-term impacts of trafficking?

--Challenges of "just living life"; some individuals have been in the life of trafficking for so long, they don't understand true freedom

--PTSD and trauma has to be worked through

Connect with the Guest:

Make sure to check out the fantastic work happening at the Orange County Rescue Mission!

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