It’s Front Line Friday and today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mel Meyer. She is the Residential Direction of Solomon House for Out of Darkness.
While you’ve met the founder of Out of Darkness, Jeff Shaw, I wanted you to meet the rest of the staff. You never know who you’ll connect with and who you’ll see yourself in, thus showing you how you can plug into the fight.
I know you’re going to love Mel as much as I do, You’ll want to be a part of what she’s doing to transform lives as she helps lead women out of darkness into the lives they were meant to have. She’s contagious.
When did you first hear about sex trafficking in America?
I was working for the Juvenile Justice Florida assigned to cases for young girls. I noticed there were 106 cases of girls between 12-18 arrested for something . I met a girl or two who had run away from home and worked as prostitutes for survival. I was blown away by this. That’s when it hit home, this isn’t just happening in other countries. It’s happening here.
What lead you to working full time in this fight?
I have always loved serving those in brokenness. When I met those girls, you could say I had my William Wilberforce moment. I couldn’t look the other way.
Mel is referencing a famous quote by William Wilberforce that says:
You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
What books did you read that helped influence you?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and Not For Sale by David Batstone, who is the founder of Not For Sale, an organization that fights trafficking globally. I learned a lot from Not For Sale. I also watched documentaries looking for statistics on the issue.
When did you take your first step into the fight?
I moved to Georgia a year after learning about the issue, still clueless, and found out about Wellspring Living and began volunteering there. I had to work with women and try and help. I just had to. A friend of mine and I got permission from the director to do a retreat for the women. I was scared to death. I asked God,
What would you have us do right now?
It was crazy. I just prayed to God that we’d bless them. We had the retreat up at Camp Highland. It was in the woods and some of the women were scared. We did whatever we could to make them feel welcome, safe, and loved. It became a sweet time of friendship, just girl talk, painting our own works of art, and sitting around enjoying the peace. Each woman painted a canvas expressing themselves however they wanted. We put everyone’s canvases outside to dry overnight and when we woke up, we realized it had rained and washed their artwork away. I was so crushed until one of the ladies said,
It’s like us. God washed us all and made us clean like the clean canvas.”
I knew that even though we didn’t know what we were doing, God was reaching the women.
What did you do after the retreat to stay involved?
That is when I met Pattie Harrelson who was the state director for Not For Sale at the time. I began to volunteer for them and became part of the core leadership team. That’s when I read Rescuing Hope and Girls Like Us . I volunteered for Not For Sale on their university campus campaigns. It was while I was working with Not For Sale that I learned about Out of Darkness. Pattie joined the staff of Out of Darkness in January 2013 and I knew I wanted to go with her. I was ready to be all in.
In April of 2013, I went to India and met Patrick Palmer and Jeff Shaw, the founder of Out of Darkness. Shortly after that trip, I became the Residential Director of Out of Darkness’s safe house called Solomon House.
What has been the hardest part of your job?
Keeping balance in my life. What I deal with at work is hard, so having healthy relationships outside of work. I’ve asked God to place healthy boundaries for me. I meet with a counselor that our organization provides for our staff. They also provide training for us and we have regular prayer time as a staff.
What is the greatest blessing for you?
Wow, there are so many… too many to share. I love the one on one time to really get to know the women, see their personalities and gifts. I love hearing their honest, raw prayers.
This she tells me as she sits across from me with tears streaming down her cheeks smiling. It is so obvious Mel loves her job and does it well.
My final question for you, Mel, if you met someone new to the fight who like you had their William Wilberforce moment and had to get involved, what would you tell him/her?
God’s timing is so perfect. Intentionally see HIs heart for your involvement in the fight. He’ll show you the way.
If you would like to learn more about Out of Darkness, you may go here. If you would like to support their work financially, you can do so here. And if you’d like to learn about their latest events and see where you can plug in, do so here.
Have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday!
Thanks for sharing Susan. I really ehjoyed this interivew about Mel. it has strike a cord in my heart and like Mel said ‘God’s timing is so perfect’. I love reading about what God is doing in our lives when we are obedient and trust him to lead us into deeper waters and live a life that is dependent on him.
Thanks for sharing again and have a safe weekend!