When 22-year-old Aaron Newcomb first picked up a hammer to get a job in construction, he had no idea that some 30 years later he’d pick up a hammer again, this time to remodel a safe house for women being rescued from sex trafficking.
After meeting and marrying his wife, Lea, on the mission field, Aaron had plans to attend seminary upon returning to the U.S. But, as he puts it, “babies came, bills came, so I got a job in construction,” eventually owning his own remodeling business while he and Lea raised their four children.
But at the time his children were transitioning to adulthood and leaving home, Aaron read the horrifying story of Robert Pickton who raped and murdered more than 45 women, all prostitutes. “Most of these women weren’t even reported missing because no one cared,” Aaron recalled. The horror of that event propelled him on a journey to get involved and to make a difference, rescuing women from the desperation of sex trafficking.
In 2010 he and Lea quit their jobs, put their house up for sale and committed themselves to finding a solution for victim care. In 2012, Engedi Refuge Ministries was launched providing a safe house and rehabilitation services for women rescued from sex trafficking. Located in Whatcom Country, Engedi provides housing, food, counseling and emotional healing, life skills and employment readiness, and rehabilitation for substance abuse, all with the goal of providing a new opportunity to live a new life.
Newcomb will share his story and Engedi’s transformative ministry when he joins with 3 other Pacific Northwest rescue organizations to present a very special social justice panel discussion at the 2017 Higher Ground Men’s Conference: Being Jesus: Rescuing Women and Children from Sexual Slavery.
“For our purposes at Higher Ground, we like to think of social justice not in terms of being political, but in terms of being Jesus. In a world filled with exploitation of humanity, God wants his people to step up through every day compassion and care right where we are, right where we live. This is in addition to speaking up through political, social, and organized channels,” said Chris Goldman (Lead Pastor, Northwest Church). “What these non-profits are doing to rescue and rehabilitate women and teenagers who are being exploited right here on the streets of King County is the very definition of servanthood and grace.” Goldman will be facilitating the social justice panel discussion at Higher Ground 2017.
Also participating on the panel:
Andy Connor, Executive Director of The Genesis Project. A former police officer, Connor launched TGP in 2011 as a drop-in center that serves as a safe-haven and rehabilitation rescue for women and girls who have been involved in commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. Genesis recently launched a new paid internship program which provides women transitioning out of “the life” with legitimate employment to make sure they have the resources they need, so they don’t feel stuck and fall back on exploitation as a means to provide for themselves or their families. “We have one intern who is about to enter the halfway point of her 6 month internship and she is thriving!” Connor said. “She came from a life of prostitution, and is now employed by GP, serving the Lord, and engaged to be married.”
Brenda Boback, Director of Juvenile Justice, Tacoma Youth for Christ. As a part of their Juvenile Justice Ministry, in 2016 TYC launched A*New, a service which offers girls who are affected by sex trafficking or at high risk for being trafficked, by helping them to “write their story a new” with support and resources provided through loving, mentoring relationships.
Jay Russo, Leadership Development Officer, World Concern. Based in North Seattle, World Concern is active around the globe in its mission to alleviate poverty and serve at-risk people groups for human trafficking. For several years, World Concern has sponsored the Free Them 5K fundraiser to help end human trafficking around the globe.
Faith in Action
“The focus of our panel discussion will not be to merely educate attendees on the amazing work of these organizations,” Goldman said. “But to truly paint a picture of the many, do-able ways we as individuals, and as faith communities, and come alongside and engage with them and participate as agents of change and redemption in our community.”
Attendees can choose from more than 20 in-depth breakout sessions facilitated by leading psychologists, pastors and thought leaders on topics of sexual brokenness and recovery, fatherhood and parenting, spiritual authenticity, biblical manhood, and being agents of social justice in regard to poverty and the sex trade.
Special tracts available for teens and young adult men. Ticket discounts available for groups, active military/first responders and Fathers & Sons.