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Bringing Healing to Victims of Human Trafficking

After learning the horrific prevalence of human trafficking in the United States, a group of leaders from the Rocky Mountain Ministry Network decided to do something to help.

Several years ago, women’s ministry leaders from the Assemblies of God Rocky Mountain Ministry Network participated in overseas mission trips where they became aware of the horrors of human trafficking in many countries.

With new insight gained from those experiences, however, they realized trafficking was at epidemic proportions in the U.S. as well, second only to illicit drugs in terms of the dollar amount of illegal trade.

Their concern led to founding Sarah’s Home for girls rescued from sex trafficking. A building was acquired and remodeled with help from district women’s groups and U.S. Missions Church Mobilization RV Volunteers; and the district tapped Vicki Proffit’s many years of experience with Adult & Teen Challenge to direct the ministry.

Some sex trafficking is familial, when a parent or guardian sells a son or daughter; other times, an older “boyfriend” targets an at-risk girl with attention and gifts. The most common point of entry, however, is through unsupervised relationships online.

Girls come to Sarah’s Home from all over the U.S., referred through the FBI, the court system, and concerned families. Sarah’s Home has, to date, helped 36 girls rebuild their lives.

Since many trafficked young people have not finished high school, the ministry has an accredited school with dual-credit opportunities, the chance to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant license, and other job-prep skills. Sarah’s Home partners with U.S. missionary with Chaplaincy Ministries Linda Scholtz for equine therapy. Additionally, generous donors, including church women’s groups across the network, have assisted with scholarship funds.

District leadership, along with Vicki Proffit, felt it was advisable to establish revenue streams and a donor base that did not utilize government funding, so Sarah’s Home became a separate nonprofit in 2013. Yet as a district-approved ministry, the Women’s Ministries department continues to support Sarah’s Home through special events and designated giving.

Even as Sarah’s Home has progressed, the ministry team has been aware that, while more girls’ homes are still needed, facilities are even more desperately needed nationwide for boys and young men — there are currently none. But that situation is about to change through God’s amazing provision.

In 2019, a Lutheran woman gave a $10,000 donation, specifying the funds be used for “a new home,” even before the Sarah’s Home team knew God was working on bringing one about. A Chicago couple, Peter and Laurie Zeman, had served as foster parents and knew that many kids in the foster system have been trafficked.

“We knew there was a huge need for a facility for boys,” says Laurie Zeman. “But we thought a location farther from a huge city like Chicago would be much better for taking action to provide one.”

In 2020, the Zemans purchased a 2,000-acre Colorado ranch, with the intention of making the property available for ministry. They sought advice from an attorney with expertise in social issues, who happened to be familiar with Proffit and Sarah’s Home. After a 5-hour meeting, it became clear God was at work, connecting Proffit’s experience with the Zemans’ land and ministry vision, to add a boys’ home under the Sarah’s Home nonprofit.

The meeting led to the Zemans donating what Proffit calls “the perfect place,” a 40-acre tract, and creating a foundation, J146, to help with funding. The foundation name is based on John 14:6, reflecting that true rescue is only through Jesus.

For about two and a half years, not much seemed to be accomplished, as they worked through county regulations and other legalities. Momentum picked up in 2023, however, due in part to the box-office success of the movie Sound of Freedom, which brought more visibility to the trafficking problem. People began calling local government, law enforcement, and nonprofits, asking what could be done.

In July of 2023, a 20-acre tract of land adjacent to the 40-acre donation became available, with a house already on it. The original AG donor base has grown to include churches of several denominations, businesses, and individuals, as they hear about lives being changed.

A local secular lending company hosted a fundraising gala and donated two 4-wheelers and a canoe for ministry use. With such generosity, in September 2023, the ministry was able to close the deal, paying cash.

“That wonderful woman’s original $10,000 gift, God multiplied to $499,000,” says Proffit.

“The testimonies shared at the fundraising galas are so very moving,” says Pastor Jim Brummett of Southwest Assembly of God in Lakewood, where Proffit attended prior to relocating to serve at Sarah’s Home. “We’ve seen the impact and want to stay involved.”

Proffit was initially hesitant about leaving Adult & Teen Challenge several years ago. “But then, God reminded me about Daniel,” she says. “He was uprooted from his homeland, but still accomplished great things.”

That reminder has stayed with her through the growth of Sarah’s Home and led to the name of the new boys facility: Daniel Academy.

The Zemans have hired a building contractor and are developing a timeline to address immediate short-term solutions, taking into consideration family safety and security concerns. Peter Zeman is obtaining a pilot’s license, which will help with the actual logistics of transporting rescued youth to safety. Additional bedrooms and bathrooms are in process on the existing house.

A barn/shop combo is planned next, with room to house an accredited school plus other programs including equine therapy. Ranch employees for these undertakings will be funded by the J146 Foundation.

Laurie Zeman says the vision for Daniel Academy also includes transitional-living cabins for graduates, to help avoid the pitfalls many former foster children encounter upon turning 18. The Zemans plan to host other ministry retreats at their property, and academy graduates will be able to assist employees with those duties.

The Zemans, Vicki Proffit, and ministry board members are thankful for God’s direction and favor in this undertaking. Daniel Academy will soon join Sarah’s Home in helping young people to escape some terrible experiences, turn things around, and reach their full potential in serving Him.

Cynthia J Thomas

Cynthia J. Thomas worked for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions for six years before becoming primary caregiver for her father, a World War II veteran. She has served as a counselor for victims of domestic violence and women facing crisis pregnancies. Cindy and her husband, Phil, a schoolteacher, volunteer in youth outreach and have three adult children and one granddaughter.