The world of human trafficking is a subject few people want to discuss and even fewer would care to see. But for Liz Alston, the process of learning about the world of human trafficking during her senior year at Crossroads College led her to uncover a passion for helping the victims of sex trafficking. Upon graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Youth and Family Studies, Liz moved to Portland, Oregon.
“I knew that this city has a major trafficking problem and that the population of victims is enormous,” Liz said.
Liz immediately became involved with a number of different organizations that reached out to areas where sex trafficking was rampant. These experiences led Liz to become an instrumental person in the creation of Senate Bill 673 in the state of Oregon. Signed into law August 2013, the bill significantly increases penalties for those individuals found guilty of trafficking children for purposes of commercial sex acts.
Currently, Liz is the House Director for House of Engedi: a ministry that offers holistic restoration for victims of sex trafficking. She has also started her own organization: Hope 82. Members of this group station themselves on 82nd Avenue in Portland to offer assistance to women working the street at night. The group offers support in various forms including hot meals, birthday celebrations, baby showers, and helping women finish high school or earn their GED.
There are many challenges when ministering to the needs of sex trafficking victims, including safety. Liz and the volunteers of Hope 82 are routinely putting themselves in areas of the city many members of law enforcement would rather not go. Yet the threat of danger has not deterred Liz.
“Jesus never commanded us to the safest thing-he commanded us to love and to serve and if that means we do unsafe things to make it happen, well, so be it.”
Though Liz has traveled many miles from her time at Crossroads, she credits the personal care provided by the professors as a key element in her current ministry. “Their personal approach shaped me and was exactly the foundation that I needed to be able to do something like this.”
To learn more about Liz’s current ministries please visit www.houseofengedi.org and www.facebook/Portlandhope82