This bold act of love and acceptance helped Iryna to begin the long journey of leaving her pimp’s coercive control. A vibrant church in Brooklyn welcomed Iryna, speaking truth to her about her identity and worth.

Though years recovering from her victimization weren’t easy, Iryna recalls that a sense of hope came into her life soon after the woman did. Rather than re-exploiting her or treating her with judgment or exclusion, they jumped to include her.

In 2008 Iryna, a 19-year-old girl living in New York City, was approached by a charismatic young man at a subway station.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates that more than 4,000 cases of sex trafficking were reported in 2016 across the country.

Raleigh Sadler, founder and director of Let My People Go (LMPG), moved to New York City with an anti-trafficking mission.

He exerted his control by setting her up with partners, pimping her out of a no-frills motel in Brooklyn. Iryna’s life was changed when a woman who lived beside the Brooklyn motel noticed her vulnerability and befriended her.

The neighbor—a professing Christian—waved at Iryna each time she passed the motel, acknowledging her humanity and dignity.

LMPG aims to show Christians in the city that human trafficking is happening in their neighborhoods, and to empower them with the skills and know-how to combat it where they live.

In September LMPG hosted a panel discussion on sexual exploitation in the city, “Collaboration for Change,” and invited anti-trafficking non-governmental organizations, NYPD detectives, and various religious leaders.

In her church community, she learned why and how to depend on Jesus Christ.

Only the power of the gospel can give churches the desire and ability to do the hard things needed to fight for freedom in our communities.

Although teenage girls are especially susceptible to traffickers’ wiles, the victims are diverse and widespread.

In New York City, human trafficking cases and trafficking-related arrests are up more than 50 percent from this time last year.

“We need motivation to love those most vulnerable, just as Christ loved us.” Iryna, now 26, experienced this love and wants to share it.