Julie Blankenship Meranda ’17

Assistant Director/Director at Redeem Project Ministries/Captive Grace Serving Mid-Missouri

Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Please describe your position and what you enjoy most about it.

I am the Assistant Director of Redeem Project Ministries. We have multiple programs and ministries that are aimed at helping people who fall in between the cracks. We facilitate a Family Self Sufficiency Program through HUD that teaches individuals how to get off government assistance. We have a Hope For Christmas Program that helps families that have suffered a tragedy over the previous year. Most recently Redeem has allowed me to found a ministry which I have named Captive Grace. This is the calling I am most passionate about. Through this ministry we reach individuals who are victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation, tell them about the love and grace of Jesus, then walk alongside them as they navigate their path into walking in freedom.

What aspects of your HLGU experience helped you prepare for your career?

Through the Adult Degree Completion program, I was able to participate in an internship with Exodus Cry out of Kansas City. Working with them has given me the experience and foundation to start Captive Grace. Without that internship opportunity, I wouldn’t have the knowledge and experience to do this ministry.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

I was recently asked to join the Missouri Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force. I am very excited to see how the Lord uses Captive Grace to reach through Missouri and partner with other organizations.

What HLGU professors played a part in your success? How did your relationship with faculty help you succeed?

Tish Hodges was an adjunct teacher for the Degree Completion Program. Any time I questioned myself or a situation, she pushed me, challenged me and encouraged me. She taught from real life experience in the social work and mental health realm. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from her.

Do you have any tips to share with students interested in this field?

Volunteer! Don’t listen to trends that talk about human trafficking on social media— there is unfortunately an abundance of misinformation about trafficking and exploitation that gets shared. Do your research and follow trusted sources. Working with victims of human trafficking and exploitation is not an easy or quick thing. It will take months or even years to form trusting relationships with victims. Be present. Be consistent. And most importantly, always go with the Gospel message. God is the savior, we aren’t.

HLGU’s motto is “knowledge for service.” What roles have these values played in your life?

Especially working in the field of HT and exploitation, you have to have knowledge of what you are doing before stepping into that world. It can be dangerous and emotionally damaging. You must have a foundation of Christ and proper training to be able to serve this type of capacity. Learn and absorb everything you can before stepping onto the field. We can only serve out of our overflow. Stay prayed up and never stop learning.


Learn about The Redeem Project Here