“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.”
― Pearl S. Buck
The unexpected death of Jennifer last week (Thursday, May 18) continues to have a rather devastating impact on me. We have lost a courageous warrior in the fight against human trafficking. These past several days have found me dwelling on her tragic loss with a swirling emotional mix of sadness, grief, and anger. But somehow through all of that, I have also been reinvigorated to carry on with our abolition work, finally attending to two dormant rebranding tasks that have awaited my attention: creating a social media presence on FaceBook for the North Central Ohio Justice Coalition and a weekly blog on WordPress (linked to the FB page). And yep… this is the FIRST of what will now become weekly posts!
Although only in existence a few short years, I had become enamored by Survivors INK and its creator, Jennifer Kempton, showing the YouTube video posted by the U.K. publication, The Guardian, to every group I could. What a brilliant and inspired way to assist survivors in their recovery (herself included)… replacing the tattooed reminder of their enslavement each time they looked into a mirror, with an aesthetically reimagined declaration of their freedom… oftentimes replacing the pimp’s name with their own.
And then last Tuesday (May 16) it was SUCH a privilege to finally meet her and hear her present her story to the juniors and seniors at Perkins High School here in Sandusky. What a remarkable woman… I was SO incredibly impressed, both by her message, but also by her energy and passion. And those of our group who were present were excited to continue our conversation with her, planning for her return to Erie County in what we hoped would be the near future.
Hers was a passionate voice for justice. And that only compounds our profound sense of shock at her death. Her brokenness at the hands of the pimps and johns that abused her… her addiction, first as a coercion tool by her pimp, but then as a means to numb the pain of her circumstance… in the end snuffed out her burning desire to be instrumental in helping others currently trapped in the nightmare of sex trafficking.
So with a heart that is broken, I wish to express my farewell, “God bless you, Jennifer… our love for you will never diminish. Now be at peace in God, you, our warrior for justice. We will remain determined to continue on with your fight as best as we are able.”