HEY!

HEY continues to transform lives

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If you've been attending Deep Water church over the past few months, you've most likely heard the pastors speak about our partnership with the Open Door Centre, and their Helping Exploited Youth (HEY) program. This week we were sent an update of the powerful work that has been happening through them. This month the Centre is helping three women who are being sexually exploited. These women are being supported as they make the choice to get out of the sex industry. The Open Door Centre asks that we pray for these brave women as they make life changing decisions in the face of danger.

In November, HEY reached seven schools through presentations on trafficking. 1052 students were taught what trafficking is and how to spot it among friends. HEY plans to continue to educate teens so they don’t fall into the traffickers' hands.

As people gain knowledge about sex-trafficking the community is better able to take a stand against it. Keep praying for the team at the Open Door Centre as they pursue  this important work in Halifax.

Over here you can learn more information on HEY, book a community presentation, or learn how to get involved.

Thanks Deep Water!

HEY is in our schools! And some other updates...

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In Pastor AJ's sermon on Sunday (Nov.12) we were encouraged to hear the great things that are happening through HEY. Here's what the month of October looked like for them:

1. HEY is in the schools! Over 600 students have seen their presentation and 8 more schools are already booked before Christmas.
2. Awareness is growing. Christina Wheeler, the Program Development Coordinator for Open Door Centre, had the honour of sitting on a panel for Inspire Justice Halifax where more than 50 community members came out to learn how they can play their part to end sex trafficking. Pray for real action and initiatives to come from the event!
3. HEY is getting to help frontline workers. School guidance counsellors, from a local school that's been greatly affected by trafficking, sought HEY out to educate themselves on serving trafficked youth for their PD day. What an honour to resource the people working so hard to serve youth every day!
4. Victims and survivors are reaching out. Pray for those who have already reached out to the Open Door Centre. Perhaps even more pressing, pray for those who need help but must overcome great fear and danger in order to reach out for help!

 

Christina Wheeler had generous words for the Centre's Mission Partnership Team, of which Deep Water is a part: "THANK YOU. I've been in awe lately about what a privilege it is to have this incredible team standing firm behind me as I persevere in the mission God has put on all our hearts! Your faithful investment and prayers enable me to work opposing sex trafficking every day and, for that, I am grateful."

 

Let's continue to support and prayer for the Open Door Centre as they bring hope to Halifax (you can find a few specific prayer requests at the bottom of this post).

HEY has exciting news!

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On Thursday, October 5, Westin Hotel hosted a dinner to support one of the most urgent matters in our city. The large hotel ballroom bordered with floor-to-ceiling windows was filled with guest in formal attire — women in dresses and high heels and men with colourful pocket-squares and bow-ties. In groups of ten or so, pastors, church-goers, and business representatives sat and mingled around white cloth-covered tables. A silent auction was set up at the back of room for guests to participate in before the dinner began. Volunteers were stationed around the room holding large bunches of gold balloons: single balloons could be bought for $20, with two balloons containing the grand prize of either a pair of diamond earrings or a diamond necklace valued at $1000.

This was the 3rd annual Door of Hope Dinner, organized to raise funding to support the work of the Open Door Centre in Halifax. Heather Harman, the executive director of the centre, walked onstage in a long black dress and welcomed guests with a warm smile. She acknowledged that the topic of the night may be uncomfortable — guests would be served a delicious three course dinner while also being educated on the centre’s work in trying to eliminate sex trafficking and helping young people make critical decisions around pregnancy and abortions. Harman’s speech was gentle but powerful. Guests heard personal stories of women who have found help, hope and healing through the programs the centre offers.

“It is so easy to imagine that sex trafficking only happens in places so far away from our homes and that perhaps, it is not our problem,” reads the Open Door Centre’s website, “Yet, the vice is a growing criminal industry in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimates the number of sex trafficking victims to be in the thousands and that 90% of these thousands are Canadians. This is proof that sex trafficking is indeed our problem. It is happening in our backyard. From our interactions with different professionals who have worked in the area of sex trafficking over the years, we learnt that Nova Scotia is a recruitment hub.”

The division of the Open Door Centre that focuses on sex trafficking, entitled HEY (Helping Exploited Youth), is a ministry that Deep Water supports financially through it's ReachOut program. HEY was excited to announce that their Prevention strategy is well underway. Their focus for this coming Fall will be to educate teens about how human trafficking happens here in Halifax.

Earlier this year HEY gave presentations to guidance counsellors across the HRM, which helped to build connections and trust between Open Door Centre and local schools. The centre has now met with every junior high in the HRSB to discuss the possibility of making presentations to students throughout the school year. The presentations are free and include information about what sex trafficking is and how it works, Canadian laws about sex workers and trafficking, how to recognize the signs if someone is being recruited, and how students can help stop local exploitation.

“18 schools have expressed interest in our presentations so far and as of now we have 7 booked,” says Heather. “Some schools are already asking us to come back and make a presentation each year.” Most schools are requesting presentations for their Grade 6 students.

So what can we, the members of Deep Water Church, do to support the volunteers and staff at the Open Door Centre? They have asked for us to focus our prayers in these 3 areas:

  1. That HEY would be equipped to carry out it's mandate — preventing teens who would have otherwise been trafficked from being exploited.
  2. That the volunteers who are giving school presentations would have the wisdom, courage, and passion to engage these youth in an impactful way.
  3. That any exploited youth would see the presentation and come to the centre for help.

Thanks for joining with us in supporting the life-changing work that is happening in our city!

 

Sex Trafficking in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, a province known for caring people and communities, is not immune from the recruitment and trafficking of sex workers. Sex trafficking is modern day slavery and IMG_7699it affects the youth of our neighbourhoods. Young women are targeted at school or at popular hangouts. They are groomed in Halifax by young men acting as boyfriends; then the girls are taken from their homes and moved throughout the country. We often think that trafficking is something that only happens overseas, but two years ago, a meeting was held by a group of concerned Christians who had learned that this practice had been occurring in Nova Scotia. At this meeting, volunteers signed up for three teams: research, proposal and prayer. The teams worked hard to explore a faith based response to sex trafficking in the Maritimes. As a result of these volunteer efforts, in 2016 Open Door Centre launched a new initiative called Helping Exploited Youth. (HEY) HEY uses a three-prong strategy: Prevention, Protection and Partnership.

1. Prevention: this involves working in the community, visiting schools and churches and educating them on the early signs of trafficking.

2. Protection: victims of sex trafficking can come directly to the centre, have a safe place to meet and, if needed, access safe houses.

3. Partnership: HEY works with community groups and establishes relationships with churches and non-faith-based organizations.

Volunteers at HEY do many different tasks, from counselling, financial advising, social work, stuffing newsletters or stocking shelves at the client boutique. Currently HEY is in need of volunteer receptionists.

If you are interested in volunteering with HEY, step one is to visit Open Door Centre, located at 5991 Spring Garden Rd #630, and pick up an application! It is not necessary to commit to a specific amount of time, and people from all walks of life or beliefs are welcome!