It is a horrendous statistic. Two hundred years after the Civil War, more than 300,000 U.S. children are enslaved in sexual human trafficking — and Houston leads the nation with 20% of the victims.
The average age is 13, and the life expectancy is only seven years. According to reports, these children are abused between 20 and 40 times every day.
Some manage to escape, but where can they turn? In the world’s most prosperous nation, only a few organizations are prepared to offer care. A mere 500 beds are available in the entire country; just 25 in Texas.
That statistic, at least, will change soon if Rodney Daniels and his team at Home of Hope have their way. Rodney and wife Rhonda set out in 2012 to refurbish a large house with surrounding wooded acreage into a vibrant center where lives destroyed by the sex trade can be redeemed, restored — and relaunched.
“The Bible tells us to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed” (Prov. 31:8, NLT), Rodney says. “These kids are slaves with no way of defending themselves. If we don’t help them, who will?”
So, he and his team have rolled up their sleeves. After purchasing an out-of-the-way property, Home of Hope has worked diligently to bring the house up to fire code. “Another month and we should be ready for licensing,” Rodney says.
The house has space for 13 girls, and plans are to build up to a dozen additional units — for 150 victims — on the same property. “We will offer these girls a place of safety, an accredited education, and psychological, medical and therapeutic treatment.”
Rodney, who directs the operation, says plans are to open later this spring with a “full house” between ages 8 and 17. They will arrive from the FBI, Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Juvenile Probation, and other sources.
“Houston alone has about 6,000 runaways every year,” the director says. “Three-fourths of these are pulled into human trafficking within 48 hours after they leave home.”
Home of Hope is putting together a team of highly trained staff and volunteers to minister to the needs of victims “24/7.” These oversee the children’s safety, education and therapy, and teach life skills.
The biggest hurdle, to be sure, is funding. No federal or state funding exists. As Rodney explains it. “All funding comes from private donations — individuals, churches and businesses. Right now, about 50 local churches and individuals are contributing on a regular basis, but clearly we need much more. Our monthly operating budget is $50,000.”
So, he says, as soon as the center opens this spring, he will begin raising funds to build the other homes on the property, including a multi-purpose center for education and counseling. “We will help these girls get into college or work with them to get a job. The goal is to restore the lives of each so they can live a normal life.”
Missionary C.T. Studd once wrote, “Some yearn to live within the sound of a church bell. I’d rather run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.”
Our community has a rescue mission, inscribed with the name “Home of Hope.”
To learn more, write Rodney at firstname.lastname@example.org.