The Holiness Movement Mobilizes to Confront White Slavery
My dad worked as a freight conductor for the Rock Island railroad. I have memories from fifty years ago when I would accompany him to the depot on the far southeastern side of Little Rock, Arkansas. Located right next to the railroad property was the Union Rescue Mission. We had an active teen ministry at Little Rock First Church of the Nazarene. One evening our teen group held a service at the Union Rescue Mission with an audience comprised primarily of men. In those years I was not aware that Nazarenes once supported several rescue ministries devoted to women and their children in an attempt to combat what was known then as “white slavery” or now as human trafficking. In the 1890s and early 1900s these missions were normally called Rescue Missions or Rest Cottages.
In the 1890s and early 1900s, holiness people grew concerned about the plight of women caught in the web of white slavery. For example, in 1894, The Beulah Christian, the holiness magazine of eastern holiness churches, reported that the Mission Church of Lynn, Mass. had opened a rescue home for fallen women. In 1903, J.P. Roberts established a Rest Cottage in Pilot Point, Texas. Stan Ingersol, Nazarene archivist, has put together a resource pamphlet containing bibliographical materials and a limited selection of some of the early materials written by holiness writers on this subject: Rescue the Perishing, Care for the Dying. Within the early Church of the Nazarene the teens and early twenties seem to be the high point of focus on this issue until recently. However, in 1938 a twenty page information pamphlet on the Frist Church of the Nazarene in Little Rock carried a short article on the Rest Cottage ministry with focus on, and a picture of, the Rest Cottage at Pilot Point, Texas. Early holiness magazines and later the Herald of Holiness publicized these early attempts at ministry to women and also challenged how the men and women engaged in these activities where often judged by a double standard. Early rescue centers were established to provide a positive environment to help women to break away from prostitution and to care for children. Societal and church views towards women trapped in the cycle of prostitution and poverty necessitated an organization outside of, but supported by, local churches.