At midnight on a cold Friday in January, Loree Becton stands on a street corner along Jefferson Davis Highway in Richmond, Va. — an area notoriously known for prostitution and crime.
She’s come a long way. Until a few months ago, Becton — wife of Mark Becton, pastor of Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond — had to whisper the word, “prostitute,” and would turn red-faced when she did. Now, she is here among them, praying for an opportunity to tell the women of the streets how much they are loved.
For Becton, a ministry to human trafficking victims in Richmond began in June 2011 with a simple prayer of surrender. “Lord, I give up!” Becton prayed. “I surrender to whatever it is you want me to do.” Becton’s first step involved gathering a group of women together for prayer. The small group began meeting regularly, praying that God would show them the specific steps He wanted them to take. Soon, the “Precious to God” ministry — based on Psalm 72:14 — was born. “Psalm 72:14 in the Holman Bible says, ‘He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious in His sight,'” Becton says. “That verse is a powerful promise of what God wants to do among trafficked women.”
Becton and her team also began talking with law enforcement and researching the work of others involved in the fight against exploitation in the city. She soon learned that a number of churches and organizations are involved in pieces of the fight against human trafficking — prevention, intervention and aftercare — but no single organization is tying it all together. “We don’t want to duplicate what others are doing,” Becton says. “I see Grove Avenue as somehow playing a role in linking these organizations together.”
“Ministry is messy,” she explains. “I want a concrete plan, but that is not how the Lord has been leading us.” So, for now, Becton and her team continue to pray.
Learn more at Ann Lovell’s Baptist Press article: Overcoming fears, volunteer leads sex-trafficking ministry.