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Monthly archive: November 2017

Richmont Alumna Brings Healing to Human Trafficking Survivors

Emily Aikins makes the world a better place every day. She works with human trafficking survivors at Second Life Chattanooga.

Emily Aikins

Emily, director of survivor services, and her team at Second Life create spaces of trust and security for survivors to process and heal. “These women and men have been through a lot, and healing does not happen overnight,” Emily said.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, minors are the most frequent victims of human trafficking in the state. Victims need access to trauma specialists.

There is a vacuum of services for victims of human trafficking, and Emily is on the frontlines. Never in her dreams, though, would she have thought she would be working with society’s most vulnerable.

Emily’s journey to Second Life began years ago as a whisper when she discovered her heart for teenagers.

While at college in Indiana, Emily worked with local high schoolers through Campus Life. She loved befriending these students and meeting them where they were at–brokenness and all. “These kids instantaneously stole my heart,” Emily said.

She found much of her time filled with these kids amidst laughter and tears, sharing their joys and their sorrows. Emily walked with teenagers through the best of times and, in some cases, the worst of times.

“These kids were funny, fearless and asked questions I didn’t have answers to,” Emily began. “I was honored to become the person in their lives with whom they felt safe. I found that I wanted to develop a professional toolset to help guide other students like the ones I got to know.”

She decided to pursue a graduate degree in counseling.

The spring semester before she graduated, Emily went to Preview Day at Richmont Graduate University’s campuses in Atlanta and Chattanooga. She liked the small class-size and the real-world counseling experience from on-site internships.

She chose to relocate to the Chattanooga campus. Emily began classes in the Scenic City where she learned a wide variety of psychological theories and perspectives, including human sexuality, which would later inform her work with human trafficking victims.

After graduating from Richmont with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, Emily worked as a counselor at Georgia HOPE and then the Bradley County Juvenile Court, working with teens.

“While in the juvenile court system, there were lots of hard moments,” Emily said. “The kids I worked with in the juvenile justice system look like problems to the rest of society. The focus was on the punishment for their behaviors. Instead, I was driven to discover the motive behind these behaviors. There was a larger story at play. They have been dealing with trauma their entire lives.”

She saw firsthand the results of lifelong trauma. Luckily, Emily was equipped to care for them well.

“I learned from classes at Richmont how to look survivors in the eyes and let them know they are a person, not a problem to figure out what to do with,” Emily said. “Everyone has a story. These were individuals who have lived really hard lives. And I was able to see and hear the humanity in the situations, and help them rewrite their stories moving forward.”

These experiences caused Emily to look more deeply into trauma-related fields. She remembered the CEO of Second Life Chattanooga speaking at a class while in grad school about the prevalence and devastating trauma of human trafficking.

She pursued work with Second Life Chattanooga, and she was hired.

“As part of a statewide network, Second Life Chattanooga has helped to position Tennessee as the leading state in the country in the fight against human trafficking,” Emily said. “We do our work every day guided by hope, passion, and an unshakeable belief that we can and will see human trafficking defeated. I’m thankful for Richmont’s emphasis on working with survivors of trauma, because this has been the primary work of my career.”

Emily changes lives every day. She makes the world a better place today and for generations to come. It began with the decision to go to Richmont.

Come and find out how you could change the lives of individuals forever. Learn how a degree in counseling will equip you to better love and minister to the hurting and broken. Take your first step. Contact Richmont.

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Dr. Rice: How to discern your calling

Dr. Josh Rice

Does God still call people? Is this calling just for church work?

What are you called to do? And how would you know?

Dr. Josh Rice is the Dean of the School of Ministry for Richmont Graduate University. He has spent his life walking the tightrope between pastoring a church, executive leadership and academia. All of these stations have been avenues for ministry.

“American Christians have separated the sacred and the secular to our detriment,” Dr. Rice said. “The Protestant Reformation renewed interest in the Biblical idea of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ I believe we live out our priesthood in our vocations–whether as a garbage collector, a lawyer or as a pastor.”

We recently sat down with Dr. Rice to gain a better understanding of Christian vocation. In seven concise answers, he briefly illuminates the idea of calling in the everyday lives of believers.

What is a “calling”?

Calling might also be defined as Christian vocation. It includes elements of one’s profession, of course, but also of the giftedness of each person to uniquely accomplish God’s work in the world.

How might someone determine what his or her calling is?

I believe that we listen to God in many ways. One way, in the words of Frederich Buechner, is to “listen to your life.” When we truly contemplate our unique history, experience, personality and mix of strengths, God begins to make our vocation clearer over time.

Are there practical steps a person might take to discern their calling?

Meeting with a spiritual director is an immediate practical step that can help a person discern the voice of God. Participating in a spiritual gifts test alongside a personality profile may also be helpful.

Is calling just limited to church work?

Emphatically, no! As we celebrate the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, we must re-energize Luther’s call for “the priesthood of all believers.” There is a “traditional” call for ministry. Others, however, have been called to serve and bring the Kingdom to the marketplace.

For instance, there are marketplace leaders from the business world in our Masters in Ministry program. They learn how to use their business acumen to minister through a 9-to-5 context

Why should we care about the idea of calling and vocation?

Younger generations especially want to get involved in living out their faith in the public sphere, not just the private. Christian vocation is the unique theological category that can help an individual to embrace this path holistically.

Which books or essays might you recommend delving into this topic further?

A few that have meant a lot to me are Terry Cross, Answering the Call in the Spirit, and The New Reformation by Greg Ogden. However, one need only look to the literature of the Reformation and the Ignatian exercises to discern much!

How does Richmont’s Masters of Arts in Ministry or Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepare students to live/workout their calling?

The Masters in Ministry truly prepares individuals either for vocational ministry in a local church or Christian nonprofit, or leads to a Doctorate of Ministry for those already practicing. The Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepares students to help future clients or church members to discern their own callings.

The Masters in Ministry and the Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction bring clarity to your call to help others. Contact Richmont today and begin your journey.