On March 21 in the Gentile Gallery, the on-campus Friendship Room Ministry hosted Molly McGovern to share her experiences working with the poor in Steubenville in the midst of an opioid and sex trafficking epidemic.
“Right under our noses, right in our churches, right in our grocery stores, there’s a whole subculture of people screaming for help. And once you face it, you can’t turn away,” said McGovern, founder of the Steubenville Friendship Room, in her talk, “Lost in America.”
McGovern explained that Jefferson County is facing a crisis of drug addiction and prostitution, yet has no rehabilitation centers to address the issue.
Friendship Room responds to Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 to serve “the least of these” by meeting immediate needs of people in the city through meals, various supplies and a loving community. McGovern told students, “If you want third world conditions, we have them right here. …This is mission territory.”
These problems are not based in education or socioeconomic status, she said, but rather a “lack of hope. We have everybody telling us in our culture that we need to live devoid of God, and people are just craving, craving, craving to fill up what’s been taken.”
McGovern emphasized to students the dire need to serve and love people right where they are.
“We all have apostolic marching orders,” she said. “It’s not about fixing anybody. You don’t have to be an expert in anything to have a cup of coffee with somebody, to look somebody in the eye.”
McGovern shared several stories of the people she has met through Friendship Room and the recently-opened safe house for trafficked women. She also has a podcast called “Lost in America” that hosts women who have been stuck in prostitution and drug addiction.
“Part of the difficulty in working with the marginalized and the disenfranchised is you have to be willing to sit in that discomfort and to get to know and see yourself reflected back and to realize these people are no different than you are,” said McGovern.
William Davis, a graduate student studying education, said, “It’s not something that in my mind should really shock me. … It’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed, the opioid crisis and human trafficking. We just need to ask God for the courage and the grace to step up and fight against that monstrosity.”
Anyone interested in becoming involved can contact co-leader Katie Davis.