‘We want to see captives set free’

Nonprofit rescues prostitutes, restores dignity

By: Andy Kozlowski | C&G Newspapers | Published July 29, 2015

METRO DETROIT — Prostitution is real in metro Detroit. There are men and women who work the streets out of desperation and become trapped by it. But one group is trying to earn their trust and help them find another way.

All Worthy of Love (AWOL) was founded in Detroit in 2012. The group became a licensed 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2013. The same year, a second chapter opened in Austin, Texas.

The group has no paid staff. Everyone is a volunteer, including the founder, Lindsey Fischer. AWOL averages 40-50 volunteers, with 20-30 volunteers at the Detroit chapter.

“Our official mission statement is restoring broken dwellings,” Fischer said. “We’re an anti-trafficking Christian nonprofit. We’re faith-based. We conduct outreach to both men and women who are entangled in street prostitution.”

Fischer said that prostitution is the second most common form of sex trafficking in the U.S., after pornography, and that Michigan is one of the states where it’s most prevalent.

“It’s definitely a large problem,” Fischer said. “Generally speaking, prostitution has no geographical boundaries or age limits. It’s in every single county in our state of Michigan. There are people who prostitute themselves on their own, and others who are forced to do it. We average 15 outreaches per month, and pray with an average of 50 people per outreach.”

Volunteers bring the prostitutes meals, hygiene kits, and other dignity items like nail polish and flip-flops, or blankets and hand-warmers during the winter. They spend time with them, getting to know them as people.

“We have extremely close relationships with the women we reach out to. They become like family to us,” Fischer said. “A lot of them are moms; a lot of them have families. Some of them ran away from home at a young age; others aged out of the foster system. Many of the women are addicted to drugs. Prostitution and drug addiction go hand in hand.”

Fischer said that the outreach has two main components: relationships and consistency.

“Through consistency, we break down barriers of trust. Once trust is established, they’re more willing to share what’s going on in their lives. Then we can build a friendship, and once we’re friends, the woman can make the decision to be rescued,” Fischer said.

A “rescued” prostitute enrolls in a one-year program that focuses on their healing in a safe environment where they can reconcile themselves with any positive family members they may have. They can recover from their addiction to drugs and learn useful skills for everyday life. They can also obtain a GED if they don’t have one.

In the last 14 months, AWOL has rescued 14 women off the streets.

“We just had our first woman graduate from the one-year program in June,” Fischer said. “She’s making sandwiches for a future outreach. She’s amazing.”

AWOL also tries to rescue the people in charge of the prostitutes.

“The traffickers are also worthy of love,” Fischer said.

AWOL is aided in its efforts by groups such as Central Church in Madison Heights, which lends a hand preparing meals and hygiene kits each month.

“They’re not judgmental. They’re not saying they’re better than them,” said Sam Anderson, pastor at Central Church. “They take a sister-to-sister approach. They want to offer them hope and tell them this doesn’t have to be their outcome in life. They want to get them off the streets so they can begin repairing their lives.” 

Fischer said that trust is the key to making everything work and helping them to heal.

“We want to see captives set free,” Fischer said. “In order to do that, we need trust, and trust is established by being there every single week.

“No matter what they’re going through, I don’t care that they’re prostituting,” she said. “All I care is that they know they’re worthy of love, God has a plan and purpose for their lives, and we will help get them on the right path to encounter the freedom they so rightly deserve.”

To find out how you can get involved, or how to make a donation, visit the All Worthy of Love website at www.allworthyoflove.org. You can also contribute money to the group’s gas fund — one of its biggest expenses — by visiting www.gofundme.com/awolgas.