When did Ascent 121 begin and why? The ministry began several years ago when God began working on the hearts of a number of initial patrons of Ascent 121. God brought together this small group of faithfuls from different paths. The common thread was their increasing burden for action against the atrocities of sexual slavery.
In July 2013, the organization was officially launched to gather a community of those who are called to combat the ravages of this heinous exploitation of our young daughters. The main focus was to provide a safe haven of healing and restoration with a residential facility – serving Indiana and the Midwest surrounding states.
What is the mission and aim of Ascent 121? Our mission statement is to restore and empower young women affected by sexual exploitation to wholeness and to healthy, productive lives. Our aim would be that through Christ, Ascent 121 would work toward the eradication of Domestic Minor Sex trafficking. Ascent 121 is engaging the problem through the development of clinical victim services, advocacy and awareness, street outreach, prevention, and spiritual formation.
Has the vision changed as you've grown and expanded? We are still in our early stages of development but a constant has been our determination to provide comprehensive treatment for adolescents who have been commercially sexually exploited. This will be done through a growing continuum of care that will include residential and home-based treatment. Recognizing that this barbarity is undergirded by a number of social ills, we elected to partner with others to raise awareness of the vastness of this problem. It became important to work with and support these groups and ministries who are supporting the family social integrity in those areas most vulnerable.
One of the more recent changes was the decision to develop a branch of clinical services for those who are purchasing sex (commonly referred to as “John’s”). We view the sex industry as a societal problem, one that is driven by the media and pop culture and increasing social callous. In our experience, the patrons of these services are often filling voids in their own lives, sometimes stemming from their own personal trauma, and they live with immense shame. Shaming tactics are not a successful motivator for change. In order to eradicate trafficking, we must work on addressing the demand. It is our hope to provide education and restoration for the buyers and their families as well, under the supervision of the courts, so that hearts can be transformed and powerful testimonies can be created for God’s glory.
What resistance have you met, and how have you handled it? The Lord continues to pave the way for us and we have been blown away as one door after another opens. And it always happens in accordance with His timing. That said, we recognized that there are dark forces (and its many faces) at play. We remain strong and faithfully bolstered by the power of the Gospel – the most preeminent force in the universe.
Can you give us a story of Kingdom impact that Ascent 121 has recently seen? We currently facilitate a prevention group for at-risk inner city youth. In this group, we focus on: awareness, healthy relationships, sexual health, decision-making skills, self-regulation, and discipleship. It has been incredible to watch the scales fall from the eyes of these young women, as they begin to sort through the pain and trauma of their pasts and recognize the dangerous situations that they continue to find themselves in. Several of the girls have reported being actively pursued by pimps and other exploiters without realizing it. They are slowly learning what warning signs they should be aware of and the differences between someone who loves them for who they are vs. someone who only loves what they can do. By examining the heart of Christ, they are beginning to understand what real love looks like. A few of the girls have taken some major faith steps recently and are seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord. We are currently working with one youth in particular on the meaning of salvation, as she has expressed an interest in dedicating her life to Christ and getting baptized.
What encouragement can you give others who have a vision to begin their own ministry but don't know where to start? John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. It is that simple. If you are a part of a community of the called (ie. the church) you will bear much fruit for the Father’s glory. We are here to testify that these words are a solid truth that can be relied upon and remain foundational. This reminds me of Corrie Ten Booms words which ring loud and clear:
Faith sees the invisible
Believes the unbelievable
And receives the impossible