Jaunyce Priester: Fighting Sex Trafficking One Step at a Time
Jaunyce Priester makes the most genuine statement to all “I call you beautiful,” with the best intent of helping women cope with their imperfections.
Jaunyce believes that we should give up on trying to be perfect! Her foundation is rooted in love and faith in God and her goal is to see the abolishment of sex trafficking.
Explore the inhibitions of Jauynce and her current journey to starting a non-profit organization to aid the end of sex trafficking. Join her journey and current relevant battles against the world!
What experiences from childhood shaped you into the woman you are today?
My time in kid’s church set the foundation for my relationship with God. I do not believe I would be as rooted in Christ as I am today were it not for the foundation that was set during that time. I have had some very real moments of questioning whether or not I wanted to continue with my relationship with God. I attribute my still being in relationship with God to the seeds that were planted way back then. They have definitely kept me rooted. I am so very grateful that my mom, dad, and kids pastors sowed those seeds when they did.
What made you start a non-profit for sex trafficking? Tell us more about your company.
In 2014, I started volunteering with a ministry called The Porch Light. They are an anti-sex trafficking organization that serves girls from the ages of 12 to 17, who have been victims of sex trafficking.
When I first joined the team, I was required to take a three-day FAAST (Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking). Prior to the training I wasn’t very knowledgeable on the issue of sex trafficking. I learned so much during those three days.
I was…I don’t even know the word. I couldn’t understand how there could be an issue this big, with so little awareness. As I began to learn about what these victims experience, I was angry. I was not ok learning all that I did and doing nothing about it. So I made a commitment to dedicate my life to advocating for every life at risk, fighting for the freedom of every life enslaved, and restoring the lives of all who have been rescued.
I actually got a red x tattooed on my wrist to help raise awareness. The red is the logo for the End It Movement, which is focused on eradicating all forms of Human Trafficking.
As I continued learning about the issue and what was needed to end it, I decided that I would start a non-profit focused just on sex trafficking victims in the United States.
Right now it is very much so in the infant stages. Over the last year, I have been working on the things needed to make it a legitimate non-profit. I have been doing research on the area that I want to start the organization. Finding the areas with the most activity, finding what other organizations are in the area, and finding the gaps in services.
The more research I do and the more vision God gives me for this organization, the more I see that I cannot do this on my own. So while researching and doing the groundwork, I am praying for a team.
I am praying that God would connect me with people who have His heart to see freedom and restoration in the lives of everyone affected by sex trafficking.
What are some obstacles you've had to overcome in your career and how did you overcome them?
I am not active in my career field yet, but an obstacle that I have encountered on multiple occasions on my journey to getting there has actually been my habit of striving. I guess I would define striving as working in a way to be seen.
God has recently been showing me the root of my striving, which is a distorted view of my self-worth. I have not seen that I am worthy, so I have tried to earn it. I don’t have to do that. I am worthy, I am innately worthy because Jesus says I am. There is nothing I can do to add or subtract from my worthiness.
So over the last couple of months I have been asking the question, “What does Jesus think of Jaunyce?” For a little while, it was very hard for me to believe what I actually found Him saying. After His consistent reminders, I found that I started believing Him.
What He says about me went from being simply what I knew, to what I believed, and now it is becoming what I embrace.
I read something from Mr. Rogers the other day that made my heart smile. I knew it was a message from Jesus to me. It said,
“I know how important it is to give up our expectations of perfection in any arena of our lives. I know I’ve tried hard; and yet, every once in a while I’ll entertain the old longing: ‘Maybe if I could make at least one perfect segment of a program…’ and I find myself in the trap again. That doesn’t mean we can’t produce some highly satisfying moments for both ourselves and others, but it’s important to give up –maybe daily – the longing to be perfect. Of course, I think we want it so strongly because we reason that if we are perfect (if we do a perfect job), we will be perfectly lovable. What a heavy burden! Thank God we do not have to earn every bit of love that comes our way.”
That last line moves me so very much. “Thank God we do not have to earn every bit of love that comes our way.” I can be imperfectly me, as I am continually refined by His love and grace. That is enough. That is what I remind myself of in moments where I find myself, again, striving.
Who are some people you look up to and why?
My grandmother Maria is someone I look up to, I don’t think she knows it though. Let’s keep that a secret!
But seriously, I look at her life and her story and it is amazing to see the things she has accomplished and where she is now. Statistics say she should not be where she is, but she is there and she worked so hard to get there. She inspires me. Her story motivates me.
When I think about it, the same can be said for my grandmother Sharon as well.
Outside of my family, Ms. Jessica Felix-Jager is someone I look up to. She was one of my professors at Southeastern. She has an amazing spirit. I don’t know that I have ever seen her have a bad day.
I have seen her tired and sick, but even then she was still full of life. She has such a passion for people, such a huge heart for people.
I was able to work for her at Repurposed Art Studios, where they focus on teaching homeless women how to make jewelry or art that they can sell to have an income. I really miss working there and my time in her class. She has made a tremendous impact on my life.
There are honestly so many other people I look up to. Radhika Cruz, Ericka Porter, Christine Caine, Priscilla Shrirer, Kayla Turner, Michele Newsome, so many of my friends and mentors. The list is long. Some of these people have no idea who I am, and others I have been able to do life with. I am very blessed when it comes to relationships and role models.
What can we expect from you in the next year?
This year my main focus is learning, networking, and putting myself out there. This year is kind of me saying, “Hello world! My name is Jaunyce.”
I am being mentored by someone I consider an anti-sex trafficking guru. I am learning a lot from her and I have the opportunity to get lots of hands on experience, which is so dope. I have many networking opportunities through that.
I am getting my writing out there. I have a personal blog called Just A Thought, that I will be publishing some new work on.
Two things I want to do this year are guest blog and speak. I am looking for opportunities to do so.
In addition to all of that I have a project that I am working on that launched in September. It is called I Call You Beautiful.
So if you can’t tell, God has been teaching me a lot over the last few months. This has really been a year of healing and growth for me.
My beauty has been one of those places of healing. Beauty has been something I have struggled with for most of my life. A recent break up brought all of that pain, shame, insecurity, and brokenness to the surface. Jesus met me in the midst of that.
He began showing me that my beauty does not lie in how I look but in who I am. My physical appearance is what makes me attractive to some and unattractive to others, my heart and soul are what make me beautiful. I didn’t understand this for most of my life, and I am not the only one.
And so I began the conception of I Call You Beautiful. At this time, it will be a website where I will post the stories of other women’s journey of beauty. I believe God is going to not only begin (or continue) healing this area of the lives of the women who read the stories, I believe He is going to do the same exact thing in the lives of those who tell their stories.
I really do believe God is going to do something through this. The launch was September 1st. Over the next month I will be gathering stories, finishing up the website, and preparing for whatever happens next.
To learn more about Jaunyce Priester, Visit her on Instagram: Jaunycenichole.