The History of Elijah Rising

In 2011, a small group of people were deeply struck by the wide-spread injustice of sex trafficking filling their city. They grieved the lack of out cry for those being exploited, oppressed, and sold for sex. This group firmly believed that prayer was the most important and most effective response. So, a monthly meeting was organized and opened to the public. The prayer meeting grew rapidly as more and more people joined the movement. Soon, they realized that more had to be done to increase awareness of the issue. Additionally, the group felt compelled to engage in direct outreach to those being exploited.

Photo by Brian Goldman

As a result, Elijah Rising was founded in 2012 as a prayer gathering focused on ending sex trafficking. In an effort to raise the awareness of local citizens, Elijah Rising began hosting Awareness Van Tours to inform the public of the realities of modern-day slavery and that sex trafficking is happening throughout the city. 

In 2013, Elijah Rising negotiated the closure of a brothel (Angela’s Day Spa) and converted it into its former headquarters. Then in 2014 Elijah Rising launched the Museum of Modern-Day Slavery—one of the nation’s few museums dedicated to exposing the brutal realities of sex trafficking and exploitation. The museum allows the public to explore what it looks like inside a brothel, while displaying a collection of artifacts and information from the fieldwork conducted by Elijah Rising staff and volunteers.

Since its inception, Elijah Rising has reached, on average, more than 700 sex trafficking victims each year through direct outreach to women in illicit massage parlors, streets where trafficking and prostitution is commonplace, cantina brothels, truck stops, and women sold through online portals.

As women increasingly exit the oppressive sex industry, Elijah Rising’s mission has expanded to include long-term, trauma informed, residential, restorative care. In 2019, the 84-acre Elijah Rising Restoration Campus officially opened, providing personalized, transitional care for adult women who are survivors of sex trafficking and need support services in order to reintegrate into society. 

The Elijah Rising Restoration Campus

As Houston continues to gain national attention for the issue of sex trafficking, Elijah Rising continues to combat the sex trade by materializing solutions, which reverse the effects of its injustice in society and prevent the proliferation of victims.