Learn more about Steve on his website, and by checking out the Go Fund Me campaign to publish his book, Grace Is Messy, which will help support The WellHouse, an organization combating sex trafficking in Birmingham, Alabama.
1. What motivated you to write your book, Grace Is Messy?
2. In writing the book, what resources did you draw on: your own experiences, the experiences of others, reflections on the Bible...?
Mandy, thanks so much for the interview. I'm honored to share with you and hope that my story and this new project will inspire others to seek honesty with themselves and the Hope that comes when they give themselves and others a second chance. An encounter with radical grace can truly change the course of one's life.
Growing up, I was molested as a four-year-old, I lived through the experience of my Mom's sister killing herself when I was a young teen and watching my two teenage cousins live through this grief, and lived through my own father's affair when I was in my early twenties. I watched my mother hurt so bad, but I also watched her show my dad grace like I had never experienced before, even though I had grown up as an active church member.
I began to realize that there is much more to life than being a "Sunday morning Christian" and that I wanted to experience this radical, freeing grace.
3. What is The WellHouse, and how will your book help support this organization?
The WellHouse is a faith-based and Christ-centered nonprofit organization offering immediate shelter and transitional housing to women who have been trafficked, are prostituting, or otherwise sexually exploited. Food, clothing, spiritual guidance, Christian counseling, and other necessities are provided, along with assisting with referrals for substance abuse treatment, if needed. Life skills classes, GED preparation, and other enrichment services are part of the experience to help these women become self-sufficient and give them a sense of self-worth. The goal is for women to go on to live full and productive lives.
Few shelters exist for sexually exploited women.
The WellHouse is the only 24-hour shelter offering immediate housing assistance to women being prostituted in the Southeast. Other shelters have entry requirements undermining a woman's access to an immediate, safe environment, such as requiring state identification, proof of homelessness, and other prerequisites, which this population of women may not have. The WellHouse does not require qualifying information. While in the program, residents receive assistance in obtaining the identification and documentation they need to rebuild their lives.
Safety is an ongoing concern. Exploited women cannot experience personal progress and future success, if their safety is in question or jeopardized. The length of time in the program is guided by safety and individual needs, since most residents have no other resources available than those provided by the WellHouse.
50% of the proceeds from each book will go directly to support the mission of The WellHouse, in fighting sex trafficking on the I-20 corridor, from Texas to Atlanta.
4. I think many people hear about sex trafficking but might not realize why it's still so pervasive today. Could you tell us a little bit about why combating sex trafficking is so important?
When you consider that 27 million are trafficked each year, that 80% of those are women and 50% of those are children, it is a crushing statistic. My heart aches for those exploited ones, and I want to see us come together and do something about it. I wanted this book to do more than just sit on a shelf and collect dust.
5. Why did you choose to pursue funding for Grace Is Messy via crowdfunding, and would you tell us a little more about your Go Fund Me campaign?
I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to give back. In this country, we are so blessed. Blessed more than we could ever possibly imagine. I wanted people to be able to to join the fight against human trafficking, whether it's donating $5 or $500, and the GoFundMe Campaign allows people to do just that. My friend Susan said, "With this campaign, a handful of people can change the world." I couldn't have said it better myself.
If anyone wants to join the fight, please go to http://www.gofundme.com/93lbf8 and donate. Every single dollar counts towards our goal of $10,000.
Mandy, again, thanks for your time and for spreading this awareness to more people.
God bless you!