Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project is an outreach ministry of Wedgwood Christian Services dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young men and young women in West Michigan. Through community education and collaboration, and Wedgwood's Manasseh Project Trauma Recovery Center, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project provides support and specialized residential treatment services for victims of sex trafficking and empowers the people of West Michigan to end modern day slavery.
In Our Neighborhoods
Sex trafficking is defined as an act of recruiting, transporting, harboring or receiving a person through force or coercion for the purpose of sexually exploiting them into forced prostitution. Children are sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and sexual entertainment which is not limited by gender, race or socio-economics.
The primary factor of vulnerability for sex trafficking of minors is the child’s age; 13 years old is the average age of entry into prostitution. Children are especially susceptible due to the deception and manipulation of traffickers who recruit at schools, malls, and parks. At least 100,000 American children are being exploited through pornography or prostitution every year.
As believers in Christ, we recognize His call to justice. This means not only loving what God loves, but eradicating the things he Hates – among these are injustice, torture, and slavery. To answer the prophet’s call to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, we have begun to craft a structure to embrace both the things God loves – healing, community, and diligence – as well as combating those things He detests.
Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project began shortly after professional staff at Wedgwood Christian Services helplessly watched as a child they knew and had cared for was trafficked and exploited in Grand Rapids. Despite all their efforts to find her and offer aid, they were unable and ill equipped at the time to address her needs and trauma.
Unwilling to have this happen again, they began to research the issue of Sex Trafficking, both globally and locally, while developing relationships with anti-trafficking organizations and law enforcement agencies in West Michigan, and from there, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project began.
To address this growing trend in West Michigan, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project was developed to both aid victims and to educate the community on human trafficking.
A public awareness campaign is essential and is played out on these three fronts:
- We educate social workers, and educators, and members of the judicial system (judges, probation officers, police officers, etc.), on this issue. We see these public servants as first responders.
- We empower our youth to recognize sex trafficking in their community through education on this issue, thus reducing their risk for victimization. We also focus on educating high-risk populations through special groups.
- We invite churches, local social groups, organizations, institutions of higher learning, and businesses to raise awareness and funding for anti-sex trafficking programming and we collaborate with these groups to find solutions for our community.
Many of us were introduced to sex trafficking in Kindergarten by way of flannel graph. When Joseph’s older brothers sold him into slavery, he became the first well-documented trafficking victim. His story winds from slavery, to prison, to power with the ever-present hand of God leading him through his torture. As a young man in slavery, Joseph would have no doubt been exposed to forced labor, beatings, and perhaps even sexual abuse. So, when Joseph is finally rescued from the prisons of Egypt and brought into power, he reflects upon the grace of God as he named his children. As he gazed upon his first son, he was filled with joy. When he considered what to name his first born, he thought of the present and of a future that held wonders. Joseph’s son was named Manasseh meaning, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’ Rescue and restoration. The Lord had given him a present and future despite the horrors of his past. We named our mission Wedgwood's Manasseh Project because we believe in a new creation. We believe in rescue and restoration. We believe, like Joseph, that God can rescue the victims of slavery and cause them to forget their captors. They too can live as survivors – lifted from misery, resurrected to new life.