The Arbor (which grew out of a small group of friends at All Souls) endeavors to create a welcoming home, a community of healing and a peaceful refuge for foreign-born trafficking survivors in Virginia, helping them to regain wholeness, freedom and life. Here is the story:
In the fall of 2011, a small group of people at All Souls met after a church service to discuss specific ways we wanted to participate in God’s work of justice. We listened to one another’s hopes for restoration in Charlottesville. We prayed. We shared our frustrations and sorrows, and then dreamed out loud our longing for shalom. Common threads began to emerge: offering hospitality to strangers among us, working to end violence against women, befriending our neighbors who have been marginalized and exploited. Somewhere in these conversations, we began to talk about a opening home for women who had survived human trafficking.
We had no idea how to begin. But early on, the people of All Souls began to pray for this work. And over and over, we were surprised at the ways God showed up, connecting us with the very people who could show us the next step. When we contacted an anti-trafficking organization in New York City and spoke with a staff member who happened to be moving to Charlottesville, we laughed. When All Souls gave the first donation to our nameless organization, we were hushed with gratitude. When our rag-tag group became a board of directors and received our 501(c)3 status in record time, we could not stop smiling.
We have watched the seeds of our conversation grow roots and become The Arbor, and we are grateful for the continued presence of All Souls in this work. The prayers, encouragement and support of this congregation are water and sunlight to us. You extend hope when our stores are running low. You have become community for our staff and directors. You remind us of the God who made his home with those who felt invisible and forgotten. God’s healing in our own stories gives us the courage to believe healing is possible for all. For all the ways that you point us to this, we thank you.