By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
WASHINGTON, DC, March 28, 2013 – My path crossed with Candace Wheeler, Executive Director for Restoration Ministries, at a Shared Hope International (SHI) event in San Antonio, Texas, in 2011. I happened to meet Candace over pastries one morning. This gave me a chance to learn more about her ministry, including her work with juveniles in detention centers and psychiatric hospitals
As a survivor of child sex trafficking, I was both honored and overwhelmed by the experience and hope to meet with Candace in Washington, DC to join her in outreach with juveniles in detention centers and psychiatric hospitals.
I sat down with Candance to learn more about Restoration Ministries:
Restoration Ministries seeks to bring healing to men, women, and children who have been caught in the trap of sex trafficking and lead them into the freedom of Jesus Christ
What inspired the creation of your anti-human trafficking organization (or the anti-human trafficking program within your organization)?
I encountered several divine outpourings from the Holy Spirit telling me to start a ministry to sex trafficking survivors. He usually spoke in reference to the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15.
How has your faith has played a role in the success of your organization?
We are a Christ-centered organization not faith-based. The Lord is our leader and guide and therefore we stay on our knees to hear His voice.
Who are your board members and/or co-founders?
Board members: Jim Alexander, LCSW, Chair; Mitch Wheeler, Larry Drake, and Candace Wheeler, Executive Dir. Candace is the founder.
Are your efforts geared towards advocacy, prevention, education, awareness, victim services, legislation, etc.? Please describe. We are excited to learn more about you!
We are geared towards intervention and healing. We are one of the few organizations that can give a clinical diagnosis and write a clinical treatment plan. We do some prevention work with high-risk girls placed at the youth detention center and psychiatric hospital. We just launched our Ambassadors of Restoration Program (ARP) to educate the community on the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking.
Where are your headquarters based, and where are your efforts based?
Washington, DC, DC Metro Area, including southern Maryland and N. VA.
Please share any recent awards, accomplishments, or experiences associated with your organization.
In 2008, the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (youth detention center) gave us an award for outstanding programs and services to detained youth.
Please share any upcoming events or honors.
We will be honoring Rachel Lloyd for her pioneering work in this field at our 10th Anniversary Celebration on Sep 26th.
What has been the greatest achievement or most meaningful recognition or experience for your organization?
Being a part of the girls lives. It is an honor to be invited in and help them grow.
Where do you hope to see your organization in the future?
Being financially stable, a recognized leader in the community, offering real help and hope to the survivors.
What do you want the public to know about human trafficking, or specifically about your anti-human trafficking organization/program?
We want the public to be in reality of what sex trafficking looks like in DC and not shun away from it because it doesn’t follow the format of what Hollywood usually portrays in their films. If the community is going to offer real help then people need to be consistent and be there for the long haul. The main reason many of the girls are in this predicament is because no one has been there for them.
There is no lasting or permanent healing without Christ.
How can the public help you with your plight?
Financial giving, mostly monthly gifts are needed for sustainability, joining or creating an ARP small group to understand the issue more clearly.
How can people reach you or your organization for questions or more information?
Thanks for sharing with us, Candace!
Click here to find Restoration Ministries on Facebook!