Announcing the PLNU Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund

By Dr. Jamie Gates, Director, PLNU Center for Justice & Reconciliation

We have been working at PLNU since 2005 to engage the issue of human trafficking locally, nationally and internationally. Our students, faculty and staff have hosted awareness events, prayer vigils, run workshops, seminars, concerts and fund raising efforts. We’ve volunteered at local and international social service agencies working with victims. Students have engaged in professional internships in law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, social service agencies, schools and the child welfare system. We’ve developed an awareness website that now hosts the human trafficking events calendar for the county of San Diego, www.abolishhumantrafficking.com. But when survivors of human trafficking started to ask us if they could attend PLNU as part of their recovery, and counselors at regional victims service agencies started telling us of this desire and need, it was time to act institutionally. In June 2014 the PLNU administration gave us permission to start the Beauty for Ashes Fund to help fund the education of survivors of human trafficking!Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 10.08.31 PM

Aside from a deep faith in Christ and a loving Christian congregation to surround them, there may be no more important long-term intervention for the rehabilitation of survivors of human trafficking than the loving, academically challenging and carefully mentored environment of a Christian university education. We are reminded by the prophet Isaiah that God heals even the deepest wounds, and “will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61.3). PLNU’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation is deeply involved in the social movement against human trafficking both locally and nationally. The CJR provides leadership in research, community organizing and the development of non-profit organizations and congregations to respond. The Beauty for Ashes Fund reinforces PLNU’s primary mission, i.e. to provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service becomes an expression of faith.

Interviews with local survivors, on-the-ground social service providers and key research literature point to the deep desire and need for an education that enables survivors to successfully move from surviving to thriving. At the same time, most survivors could not have been rescued or led on a path to recovery without many others who are vocationally called and well-trained to engage this dark world with the deep knowledge, passion and wisdom that PLNU provides.

The Beauty for Ashes Fund has been established to:
1) support the education of survivors of human trafficking,
2) launch many passionate young people into meaningful careers that tackle modern slavery with wisdom and mentorship, and
3) to strengthen the university’s infrastructure to support this level of mentoring.

Our work places PLNU as an educational leader in the global movement to end modern slavery. Through this fund PLNU will be seen as a place of higher learning that stands behind its mission statement, not just for the privileged youth of our culture, but also for the most vulnerable. We are a university for those who were once captives, as well as for those who want to set the captives free.

Note: If you want to give to the Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund, your tax deductible donation can be given here: Beauty for Ashes Fund.

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Dr. Jamie Gates, cultural anthropologist and director of Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation, co-leads the NIJ project “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region”. He co-chairs the Research and Data Committee of the San Diego County Advisory Council on Human Trafficking and CSEC. He mentors campus organizers against human trafficking. An ordained minister, he also serves as faith-based organizer with the following national and local organizations: Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking, Churches Against Trafficking, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice and the Wesleyan-Holiness Consortium Freedom Network. Jamie is the lead consultant to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, USA/Canada on human trafficking.