Ruby Greers may be a grandma but she doesn’t shy away from a hard fight. And, perhaps it is because she is a grandmother that she works so hard to help eliminate and educate others about sex trafficking.
This is how Ruby does mercy:
I’m especially passionate about educating young people because I saw a quote from a 17-year-old survivor of sex trafficking who said, “How did I not know about this? Why didn’t someone warn me? Had I known, I would have never fallen into this.”
Whether it’s sex trafficking or labor trafficking, most people simply don’t know much about it or realize how prevalent it is, not to mention how evil it is. It makes me angry that traffickers seek out the most vulnerable people and exploit them. Many people do not realize that pornography fuels sex trafficking and that some of the people “acting” in those videos may actually be victims of sex trafficking who are being forced to perform.
I got angrier when I attended an all-day seminar titled Sex Trafficking in Schools in Florida (How crazy is it that there was a NEED for that seminar?) and learned that traffickers are putting “recruiters” in schools to befriend the most vulnerable, unhappy kids and that the porn industry is targeting six to 10-year-old children by putting “click here” buttons on gaming sites. Many of our 12 grandchildren are in or near that age range and I could just envision the younger ones sounding out “click here” thinking they were going to get more jewels or swords or whatever, and instead getting a pornographic pop-up. It’s just a click away on any device.
So maybe my efforts to educate people about human trafficking are self-serving in that I’m using some of the energy God gave me to burn off that anger. Or maybe I am trying to protect young people like the grands I love so much. Or maybe the Holy Spirit has hit me on the head enough times to realize that we are ALL vulnerable when we trust the wrong people and those wrong people see us as money in their pocket. Whatever the reason, I can’t not do it… I can’t just walk away from the subject unless traffickers miraculously realize it’s terrible to take advantage of other people. Because as long as there’s a demand for paid sex and for cheap goods and labor, there will be human trafficking. But, God willing, there will also be this grandma educating anyone who is willing to stand still long enough to listen.
Note from me: One of the reasons I wrote my new book, Simple Mercies, is because oftentimes we fail to recognize the way small acts of kindness can make a difference. For the next few weeks, I’m highlighting simple ways that others are sharing mercy as an organic part of their daily life. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this series, please email me at [email protected] to share your own story of mercy. If you would like to learn more about the ways that mercy can bring peace and fulfillment to your life while answering God’s call to serve, preorder Simple Mercies, at this Amazonlinkor San Marco book store http://Bit.ly/PatanganSMB ~ love, Lara
Latasha and I attended Bishop Kenny High School together. I didn’t really know her well. This wasn’t because she’s black and I’m white. It’s because she was smart and athletic and in different classes and social circles than me. She was the girl who ran towards the ball and I was the one who ran away from it. As the Captain of the 1990 Girls’ Basketball State Championship Team, Latasha did plenty of running towards the ball.
These were not differences based on race but just on who we are as individuals. Admittedly, I didn’t think much about race back then. I could tell you this was because I was thinking about boys or passing algebra but it’s just as much because I didn’t see how it affected me. And, no matter your skin color, racial injustice affects us all. Mostly, it goes against Jesus’s message to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
In her volunteer role as the Chair of the Task Force on Diversity at Bishop Kenny High School, she works with the school to deepen the level of understanding of racial diversity and inclusion that reflects the tenets of our Christian faith. “Bishop Kenny is in a unique position to combat this hatred and promote diversity and inclusion because it is educating the next generation of leaders. We must ensure that our children understand the history that created barriers for people of color and the need for intentionality when addressing issues around race,” Latasha said. “We cannot be afraid to tackle this issue head-on. We are all charged with standing on our Christian principles and truly trying to figure out how to make an impact in our daily lives. Our children are listening to and watching us.” Read more →
Devon Larkin works in ministry. Not in a sanctuary but with sexual assault survivors. Devon is a sexual assault forensic nurse examiner for the Women’s Center of Jacksonville. Devon meets with survivors of sexual assault, both women and men, within five days of their assault to collect possible evidence from their bodies, regardless if they are reporting it to law enforcement.
These are her words. I really have nothing to add to them. They are mercy.
It can be such a hard job, witnessing what one human is capable of doing to another. When I first started, I remember calling my dad, wondering what the point of it all was, knowing most would never receive the justice they deserved and desired. It was through that conversation that I came to realize, the biggest part of my job was being present. I would never be able to control how the investigation or prosecution would go, but I could be present. I could perform my part with compassion and excellence. I could listen to someone’s painful experience, let them know they were believed, listen without judgment, treat them with dignity, and let them know this experience does not define them.
I may be one of the first and only persons they ever speak of about their experience and I have the opportunity to start the healing process by being compassionate while conducting my exam. WCJ is a non-profit and the Rape Recovery Team which I am a part of, is one small component of their services. I am grateful, God put me here and I truly receive more than give from my work. As I remind my children, to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). This life is a stepping stone and not permanent. We are all called to serve others as much as possible. Read more →
It started with a few men, a few down on their luck families, a few small acts of mercy that 40 years later is making a big impact on the hungry.
In 2018, Carolyn Chesser established the Jim Dotson Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida in memory of her father who was one of the men that started the outreach program that now operates out of Fort Caroline Presbyterian Church. It has grown from feeding church members families in need to operating a twice-monthly food pantry that feeds more than 2,000 people, hosts a monthly hot breakfast, and includes a clothing and toy ministry.
Carolyn said they are able to do this with the help of donors like Louis Joseph, who is the business of feeding people himself at his restaurant, The Mudville Grill. The beloved neighborhood institution, like most restaurants, was hit hard by COVID. Still, it hasn’t stopped him from using his restaurant as a platform to give back.
Louis and I went to grade school together at Christ the King and high school at Bishop Kenny. While we learned about serving the poor at school as part of our Catholic faith, Louis also recognizes the role his parents played in teaching him to give back. “I was raised by two wonderful parents who taught me at a young age to live my life with a warm heart. We live in a caring community. I try to support it in any way I can.”
Keeping a 55-gallon drum at the restaurant to collect canned food items for the foundation seems like the perfect way to honor the legacy of Jim Dotson. A few people doing what they can to help –and collectively making a difference for many. Read more →