The Establishment of Project Moses
by Allison Tucker, Sunwest Communications
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me.""
- Isaiah 6:8
In 2015, Terry and Mark Demler volunteered as ushers for a symposium about local Dallas issues surrounding human trafficking hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. What they didn’t realize at the time, was that volunteering at this event would change the course of their lives and positively impact countless people in the DFW area.
“We were deeply moved by what we heard and stunned to hear that trafficking issues of such magnitude were happening so close to home,” said the Demlers. “The symposium message stayed heavy on our hearts, and we realized that something needed to be done to help those affected by trafficking who were underserved and in need of resources. We were unaware of how exactly to help but felt a calling to step up for the community and started thinking about ways we could make a difference. Our brainstorming led to the 2016 establishment of Project Moses, a local outreach ministry of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.” The Demlers will be the first to say they did not start this ministry alone. Given the Demlers were still learning about the pressing and ongoing trafficking issues, they reached out for a variety of support to identify the role they could play to decrease the prevalence of trafficking in Dallas.
“We began our outreach by inviting all members of the Saint Michael congregation to attend Project Moses meetings,” explained Mark and Terry. “During these meetings, members listened to trafficking survivors and those who have dedicated their time and lives toward helping people on the path toward recovery. Through these efforts, we met Rebekah Charleston, a survivor of sex trafficking, a noted national speaker, and advocate for survivor rights, Rebekah became an invaluable resource. Kim Robinson, former CEO of New Friends New Life, became another key person who has supported our efforts since the beginning.”
Once congregation members became aware of this new ministry and had a stronger grasp on the trafficking issues in Dallas, Mark and Terry were ready to identify the missional areas of Project Moses. Project Moses now focuses on three areas of human trafficking: education, advocacy and community partners.
Project Moses hosts meetings to spotlight educational speakers and those who have knowledge and experience helping people whose lives have been affected by trafficking. In 2018, Project Moses hosted their first symposium bringing national, regional, and local experts in the field of human trafficking together to provide information on research, law enforcement and legislative fronts. A panel of trafficking survivors also provided a unique perspective into this horrific crime and the trauma caused by its existence. The Rev. Becca Stevens, author, social entrepreneur, and founder of Thistle Farms was the keynote speaker for the event. On January 11, in honor of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Project Moses hosted a forum titled, “Fighting for Freedom: Understanding Sex Trafficking” featuring an outstanding panel of experts on human trafficking. During this forum, the current outlook of sex trafficking in our country, state and community were discussed. Recordings of these symposiums can be found on the Saint Michael website here.
Another pillar of Project Moses focuses on advocacy. Ministry members are encouraged to write letters to local legislators to improve laws and enforcement that support victims. During the 2019 legislative session, a group from the ministry attended the Human Trafficking Awareness rally in Austin to raise awareness about child sex trafficking issues. Project Moses is also an Executive Committee member and Membership Committee member of the North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Relative to community partners, members of the Project Moses ministry actively coordinate with other organizations dedicated to helping trafficking survivors. In this capacity, the ministry is involved in preparing monthly boxed lunches to 30 survivors at New Friends New Life as well as delivering special gifts such as Easter baskets, personal hygiene products, and Valentine's Day roses. Through the North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Project Moses sponsors a Survivor Scholarship to give survivors assistance on their road to recovery. Other proactive efforts include the formation of an exploratory committee within the ministry to pursue opening a residence for the rehabilitation of trafficking victims.
“One question we continue to receive is how to help,” said Mark and Terry. “There are many ways to get involved, and the first way is to attend a Project Moses meeting. For those short on time but eager to make a difference, we ask people to consider donating needed goods to support the rehabilitation of trafficking survivors. Some of the items needed include new clothes (with tags), new socks, bottled water, chips, granola bars, pop tarts and various snack items. Additionally, financial support through donations to Project Moses to assist agencies such as Treasured Vessels, Rescue Her, Alive At Last, Mosaic Family Services, New Friends New Life, Valiant Hearts or Restored Hope Ministries is also a way to help.”
The Demlers are grateful for the opportunity to serve their community and are extremely proud to have had Project Moses recently honored by the Children at Risk organization with their inaugural Speaking Up + Speaking Out award. They encourage all to help in this fight against human trafficking. Project Moses is always looking for new members and hope to see some new faces at the next meeting! If you would like to get involved, please email them at [email protected].
**This article was written by Allison Tucker and was featured in the 2022 Spring Archangel.
Learn More About Project Moses...
Project Moses is a ministry founded by parishioners in 2016 with a mission to highlight the truths of human trafficking and share the Light of Christ with its survivors.
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