Back to Top

Community and Connection

Like many around the globe, my ministry, my family, and I have had to make changes to our way of life in light of COVID-19. This spring, Restorations had been looking forward to completing the renovations of our home where we hope to launch our residential program for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation later this year. COVID-19 has brought disappointments – like turning away a large group of volunteers from local CRC churches who had been eagerly waiting to help paint the house.

We were spurred to action. 

We have also felt God’s prompting to be bold and courageous this season. For the past year, I have been discerning launching a peer support group for survivors, a place where they could share with and lean on one another. When the realities of COVID-19 hit, it was apparent that those who were already the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society experienced heightened impacts of isolation, and we were spurred to action. 

We reached out to survivors, to hear first-hand what they were experiencing this season. Here are some of the words they shared and gave permission to share with others. 

Survivors already have histories of disrupted education and professional development. Many of the women I work with have been pursuing educational and professional opportunities, but this season has caused further discouraging disruptions.

One survivor said:  

“I was supposed to start a job in March. But that’s when everything started. The job was supposed to pay me well and help me expand my resume. Then I could start paying off my overwhelming debts. But now, I have no income coming in. I’m falling behind on everything.”

Another shared, 

“It’s hard knowing that this has put me behind on my next chapter of life.”

Like many of us, survivors are bored! They miss going out, seeing friends, and participating in activities. But for survivors who already have histories of trauma, boredom and isolation can have harmful effects on mental health. 

One survivor told me, 

“I’m unbelievably bored. I’m losing my mind: stress, crippling boredom, on top of everything else I was experiencing before. I think that’s what I need in my life: a feeling of busyness and accomplishment.”

Many survivors rely on counselling and mental health services to help them cope with trauma and histories of exploitation. One survivor shared with us, 

“Services that are able to help with maintaining wellness would be really beneficial to me right now. Sitting in the quiet all of the time can make it harder to sit with some of my experiences.” 

Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help.”

This verse always reminds me that Jesus, our divine Christ, has also experienced hardships like us. We can turn to Jesus because we know he can empathize with sadness, hurt, pain, betrayal, isolation, and pain.

Together, we’ve been able to lean on each other.

In this season of being bold, Restorations launched a peer support group. Though it looks different than we first imagined last year, we have been able to host online activities like a movie night, games night, and this month we are starting a book club! We’ve heard from the women we serve that these opportunities help them feel less alone and gives them something to look forward to. 

God created us to be in community with one another, and while “community” looks a little different this season, Restorations has been put in a position where we can still connect with those we serve. Together, we’ve been able to lean on each other, share some of the burdens we’ve been facing, and even laugh together. 

This season has also increased my own capacity for empathy. I am getting a small glimpse of what it looks like to be isolated from others, to have to navigate new systems and policies that I am unfamiliar with, and the uncertainty of what the future might look like. I recognize that what I am experiencing is nothing compared to what exploited women and girls face around the world, but it’s giving me a glimpse and increasing my empathy. So just as we are able to turn to Christ knowing that he has experienced what it is to be human, I am better able to respond to the women I serve because of what I am experiencing through this season.  

What is God revealing to you?  How is this season stretching and expanding your capacity to better empathize with those on the margins and those who are most vulnerable in our societies? 

Hear from Jennifer directly in this video intended to share with church and individuals for a ministry update.

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.