Freedom’s Bridge helps survivors of human trafficking in Kansas City

How a local church ministry partners with the Kansas City Police Department to provide assistance for human trafficking survivors.
Human Trafficking, Kansas City, City for Hope
Photo by Nikola Markelov on Unsplash
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Kansas City is a hub for human trafficking. As a central location in the United States, many modes of transportation are routed through the city daily, increasing human trafficking crime.

Joy Marie Chamberland, the founder of Freedom’s Bridge, recently spoke with Faith Horizons about her church ministry and its partnership with the Kansas City Police Department.

Kansas City Prayer Walks

Joy Marie Chamberland moved to KC in 2016 to pursue ministry in anti-human trafficking efforts, but during the first years she found many doors closed. She often went on prayer walks around KC to seek God’s direction.

One day God told her to be praying for the Kansas City Police, and minutes later she came across a mounted KC policeman. Chamberland asked him if she could pray for him and his horse, which the officer agreed to. After three days with similar encounters, Chamberland realized God wanted her to start ministering to the KCPD. 

Family Union Insurance Kansas City

The Kansas City Police Department

Chamberland integrated into the KCPD by doing ride-alongs, where she was able to pray and get to know the officers. The relationships she built in the department led to her undergoing further training, including the KC Citizen Police Academy and the Homeland Security Citizen Academy. In each of these settings, she learned more about the human trafficking crisis in Kansas City.

“They [the officers] began to take me aside and asked me to pray for cases they were working on,” Chamberland told Faith Horizons. “They divulged nothing that was compromising, but they were giving me names of trafficking victims.” 

KCPD on Horseback, Human Trafficking, Kansas City
Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Bridging the 72 hours

Chamberland learned from officers that the 72 hours after rescue are when a victim is most vulnerable. During these hours, long-term shelters are not immediately available, and the police cannot provide lodging for legal reasons. This leaves a gap of time where a survivor may be without essential resources.

Chamberland went to her church to ask if they could help finance the lodging for survivors. Colonial Presbyterian Church agreed for Chamberland to establish Freedom’s Bridge as a functioning ministry of the church, and it was launched in February 2020. Freedom’s Bridge serves as a resource for KCPD to call after a rescue, and the ministry provides bus passes or hotel lodging until long-term aid can be secured.

Freedom’s Bridge and KCPD

Freedom’s Bridge continues a close partnership with KCPD and has had the opportunity to connect with other institutions as well, opening more doors for the ministry. Chamberland shared about one of those opportunities, “They actually set up a meeting to introduce Freedom’s Bridge to all law enforcement. I met for the first time, not just with KCPD, but with homeland security, FBI, the state of Missouri Attorney General’s office, and state highway patrol.”

The round table meeting led to involvement in three separate human trafficking stings, which took place in 2021. Freedom’s Bridge was onsite to offer resources and aid to survivors during each sting. Chamberland estimates that Freedom’s Bridge has helped 22 survivors so far, and she has personally prayed for hundreds of officers and other law enforcement personnel. 

You can support Freedom’s Bridge through prayer and/or financial support. Check donations can be made directly to Colonial Presbyterian Church (9500 Wornall Rd, Kansas City MO, 64114) and include Freedom’s Bridge in the memo line.

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