What If Christians Got There First?
two-part blog series
Rhonda Sciortino is a friend and Royal Family KIDS alliance. She is passionate about many programs and initiatives surrounding children who are victims of neglect and abuse. One of her initiatives in particular, left an indelible impression on me.
Rhonda poses the question, “What if Christians got there first?”
The first time I heard her sentiments on the idea of such, I thought perhaps this is the missing perspective—one that requires even more visibility. Indeed, she’s on to something. It makes good sense, and with all of the advocates out there making noise and launching NGO’s across the nation to address our human trafficking crises, even more so.
Thank you Rhonda, as it was just a few months after I heard your words, that an opportunity presented itself.
Recently, my husband and I were enjoying a leisurely walk in an Orange County (CA) community. Along the way, we ordered take-out sandwiches and had lunch in the town park. A girl emerged from a bench nearby. We hadn’t noticed the girl when we first sat down, as she had apparently been lying down and there were shrubs blocking our view. The girl looked to be approximately fifteen years old, and it appeared as though she had taken up residency from the previous night, on the park bench.
My husband and I exchanged glances and commented on whether or not we thought she might be homeless? She had an over-size purse and a jacket in her possession. I revisited in my head, Rhonda Sciortino’s idea of “getting there first.” As I was about to share the concept with my husband, he looked at me and with concern in his eyes said, “we need to buy her lunch.”
I walked over to the girl and asked if we could buy her a sandwich? She nodded without hesitation. I asked her if she had a preference—not sure what I was thinking, but nevertheless proceeded to list a few options. She responded almost immediately with “I eat anything.” My heart sank as she looked away. Her look was not one of shame, but rather of relief to have placed her food order. It was a need of the moment that was being addressed. She was hungry and this was an opportunity to eat.
We took off back down the street and got her a sandwich, side dish, beverage, water, and a bunch of napkins—not wanting to leave anything out of the mix. While walking back to the park, we discussed a few options that might potentially be of assistance to the girl.
At this time, I reiterated Rhonda Sciortino’s message of “What if Christians got there first” to my husband, and how the concept was applicable to the girl on the park bench in what appeared to be a minor in a homeless situation.
Rhonda’s message is one that educates us on the fact that both children and teens typically get approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of being homeless. Further, by the third or fourth time the trafficker approaches the homeless—usually with a burger and fries or some other type of meal, the hungry child or teen goes with the trafficker. Rhonda suggests, “What if Christians—possessing the same dedication and tenacity exhibited by the trafficker, were the ones to cross paths with these children and teens before the trafficker got there?” By offering acts of kindness in various ways, we will potentially demonstrate to these children and teens, that they are valuable and worth it—a meal, or anything else for that matter. Rhonda exclaims, “The simple act of getting out ahead of this known predatory evil offers a real chance of avoiding the soul-killing experience of being bought and sold.”
When we got back to the park, my husband and I gave the lunch items to the girl. She thanked us. Not wanting to be too pushy and feeling as though we might be overstepping, we asked if there was someone we could call on her behalf? She shook her head. We had heard of homeless awareness teams that are part of the local police force within some communities and that these groups assist the homeless in various ways. With that in mind, we asked if she had a phone to receive calls, as we would have a local group contact her to see if she needed assistance? She once again shook her head and said that, “she was waiting for a friend.” That was all we got.
The next business day, my husband stopped by the local police station in that area and gave them a description of the girl. He requested that their homeless awareness team look for her in the area to see if they could provide any type of assistance, providing of course, she was still around.
I often think about the exchange we had with the girl that day in the park. We speculated as to whether or not she ran away from home, a foster home, or a foster group home?
Is it human nature for the most part, to want to help a fellow citizen? Are we more inclined to help or buy lunch for someone who is in a safe community park as opposed to on the streets of L.A., NYC, or Chicago? Offering inner-city help comes with a degree of trepidation and many times, we opt to pass by without engagement.
If enough people “get there first” perhaps together, we can make a difference.
Maryann Somma Rousseau
Christians getting there first is part of larger wish—one that Rhonda Sciortino champions with the Faith In Motion group (Orange County, CA). She conveys “when regular people like you and me help—on their own or through faith-based organizations and businesses, families are healed, children and teens are mentored, and tragedy is averted. Through the national Love Is Action Community Initiative, Christians ARE getting there first!” Rhonda Sciortino is a successful business person, author, speaker, and former foster child. She serves as a national spokesperson for Royal Family KIDS.
Royal Family KIDS (RFK) continues to be an effective and preventative source in the fight against human trafficking as it relates to the foster community. RFK and its volunteers across the nation, play an integral role in changing the sex trafficking ‘victim’ storyline by PREVENTION and RECOVERY. When foster children experience RFK camp and mentoring programs, there’s an opportunity to redirect the likelihood of them being potential trafficking victims. Our programs strike-out trafficking, because risk factors such as neglect, abuse, and abandonment are minimized and sometimes eliminated altogether.