By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
CORAL SPRINGS, FL, June 5, 2013 – Justin Wassel, author of the blog, Crossover at Eagles Point is an anti-human trafficking abolitionist. Today he spoke with us about his philosophy and his mission.
Justin, what would you say is your personal mission statement?
To pour the love and grace of God into the garden of every heart, and defend and protect those who are vulnerable and exploited in any way.
How did you get involved with anti-human trafficking advocacy?
Many years ago, I first heard of trafficking in third world countries. But a few years ago through a church leadership email, I saw an advertised need of a street outreach van driver for a local organization. I thought it was a wonderful idea, but little did I know it was an anti-trafficking organization. I quickly found that not only was trafficking very pervasive in the US, but it was in my city, and there were several local organizations fighting it. God immediately vice-gripped my heart and I have been studying and involving myself in every front of abolition that I can since. It’s something that I can’t help but keep centric to any ministry and effort I will ever be a part of going forward.
What specific topics do you speak about and to which audiences do you prefer?
Honestly, I have a passion for every front of abolition and anti-trafficking, and that desire carries over into speaking to any type of audience, whether professional, general public, or specific groups. The topics vary depending on the audience and purpose of the speaking engagement, but I keep to a few common threads in everything, especially staying true to our sisters who have endured.
What sets you apart from other speakers on similar topics?
I am not sure what makes me different from others. There are so many incredible advocates and service providers, some known and many unknown, some of them survivors of exploitation and some simply with genuine hearts for the cause, all far greater than myself. So many of them are credentialed by their firsthand experience and/or educational and service background, and I am humbled to be numbered among them.
Are you working on any current projects?
Among a few other things, I am currently helping admin an anti-trafficking themed music compilation for Price of Life NYC, due to be complete in the fall. They will sell it while touring several colleges around the NYC area to educate and inform students and adults. All of the sales will go specifically towards the care for survivors and at-risk mothers and children served by Nomi Network and Restore NYC.
I am also assisting in the reach to men who have been abused; this program is through Overcoming Abuse God’s Way. They began centered around ministering to women but are expanding into efforts to serve men, and eventually teens and children. I am helping them with a curriculum that can be used for trainers as well as directly with those being served.
Please share any upcoming events or honors.
I had the opportunity to travel to see some more colleagues and organizations in person I have been networking and collaborating with, and speak to a group of service providers and first responders.
What has been your greatest achievement or most meaningful moment?
One of the most special things to me, besides some rescue and placement coordination, has been the utmost privilege of connecting on a professional level with several amazing people, women and men, who have survived exploitation, and furthermore, that a few of them consider me their friend. They have no idea how honored I am.
What message about human trafficking or human rights do you most want to communicate?
These are our sisters, our sons and daughters, our children. It not only can happen to anyone, it already has happened to so many. We have the basic civil responsibility to be aware and to report questionable behavior to 911 or 888-3737-888 (national hotline). We have a human responsibility to keep our heart tender towards the issue, and to live in a way that does not support or reinforce it.
I also want to especially speak to men’s and young men’s hearts. We are at our greatest as servant-leaders and protectors and defenders of dignity and honor for women and children. This brings out the very best in us, and it reaffirms the way we were made to be. If we men could focus more on caring for others with more availability to them instead of living self-serving lives where our partners and children are accessories to be fit in where they can, we would find lasting peace and satisfaction we seek in those other things, and our world would look a whole lot different.
Have you created an organization or do you work for an anti-human trafficking organization?
I have networked with and assisted or served with several from a distance and local to where I’ve lived, and I still support them in whatever ways I can. But now, in addition to the two projects previously mentioned, the couple I’m probably closest to are:
Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking: www.lcaht.org
Art 4 Abolition: www.art4abolition.org
How can people reach you or your organization for questions or more information?
People may message me through messaging my Facebook page, mentioning me on Twitter, or by commenting on my blog. I am very willing to answer questions or get answers for people, as well as serve or network within the anti-trafficking community and other adjacent areas of service if someone feels I can be of assistance to their effort.