In front of a pile of cast-aside pink gutters and a matching bathtub laying in the grass, a group of about 50 people crowded around a young couple, praying for them and their ministry.
“We ask that this be consecrated and sacred ground, that all who walk here and … all who drive through this property that are just curious right now, that they would meet you, Jesus, face-to-face,” prayed Tiffany Baker into the microphone, a guitar softly strumming behind her.
The two in the middle of the crowd were Sabrina Dorman-Andrew and her husband, Steven Andrew, and the location was the parking lot of what used to be Pamela’s Secrets, an adult novelty shop painted pink.
In April, the couple purchased the building at 3051 S. Main St. in Harrisonburg to give a home base to New Creation, a ministry they started in May 2013 to fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
“What a beautiful thing that you could take something so ugly and vile and disgusting and turn it into a place of worship and healing and redemption,” Baker continued.
She wrapped up the first worship ceremony at the New Creation headquarters; the service was a simple combination of praise music and prayer — for nonprofits, the church, victims of human trafficking and the traffickers themselves.
“It was going to be just a couple of people coming and praying,” Dorman-Andrew explained after the event ended. “It just kind of grew.”
New Creation, Explained
Dorman-Andrew, of Elkton, said she had her sights set on the former Pamela’s Secrets building before it was even on the market.
Around April 2013, she started pursuing the building. The umbrella nonprofit over New Creation — New Dimensions of Grace — bought it at auction a year later.
Pamela’s Secrets was shut down in June 2012 after police raided the place on two separate occasions, seizing cash and the illegal drug known as bath salts.
“We really felt God specifically say, ‘This is our land,’ ” a message that seemed “kind of interesting at first,” Dorman-Andrew said.
“But God is in the business of redeeming,” she quickly added.
New Dimensions of Grace, which is linked to Grace Covenant Church, includes three separate organizations: a gently-used clothing and baby gear store called New Found Shop, Oasis Preschool & Nursery and New Creation.
“Our mission [at New Dimensions of Grace] essentially is to transform the ’Burg, so we do that through different ministries,” Dorman-Andrew explained.
It’s important for New Creation to have its own space in Harrisonburg, she added, one that will serve as a resource center and a shop selling fair-trade goods created by rescued victims of human trafficking.
New Creation formed out of a partnership with the Zion Project in Uganda, an international nonprofit that offers counseling and education for girls and women caught in the worldwide sex trade and for war-torn communities, according to its website. The local group now partners with several nonprofits.
“What we saw was a lot of the girls who are rescued from sex trafficking have beautiful things to sell, but unfortunately, because of the country they’re in, it doesn’t really do them much good,” Dorman-Andrew said.
So, Grace Covenant members started purchasing handmade items from those girls and women.
“It started very simply,” she said. “God really started laying on our heart that [there’s] more to be done.”
Hitting Close To Home
The local group began to realize that the issue wasn’t so far-removed from their hometown.
“As we were researching, the issue got closer and closer to home,” she said. “What we figured out was, it’s really here in our country, not only in our country, it’s in our state, and even more terrifying, it’s in our city.”
She pointed out that a man — Elin Naun Coello-Ordonez — was just charged with sex trafficking in Harrisonburg earlier this month.
The man, one of four defendants in the most recent local sex trafficking ring case, pleaded guilty June 12, and a judge plans to sentence him to 10 years in prison Oct. 15 as part of a plea deal.
“It’s definitely here,” Dorman-Andrew said. “It’s just, we don’t want to see it, so the community doesn’t know.”
The new shop and resource center on South Main Street could help bring the issue to the community’s attention.
The place has a much different look to it now than when Pamela’s Secrets was still around. Last week, roughly three dozen volunteers swarmed the building — many of them local high school students from RENEW camp, an annual gathering of church youth — and helped to fix it up.
They wrote messages all over the walls of the two-story building, which now boasts a banner reading “REDEEMED” on its roadside sign.
“Jesus is the light in the darkest places,” reads a note written above a light switch.
Another handwritten line reads: “COMPLETE MAKEOVER SOUL EDITION.”
Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or email@example.com