Volunteer Spotlight: Devin Payne

amanns112716140In 2007, my senior year of high school, my 20-year-old sister, Jordan, passed away in a car accident. She was so passionate about helping and loving “the least of these” – the homeless, the orphans, the widows, the babies, the hurting. On more than one occasion, if she saw a homeless person or someone in need, she would pull over, ask if she could give them a ride, buy them food, and several times let them look through her clothes (and oftentimes mine, too) that she kept in a box in the back of her car and she would let them choose an outfit to keep. Even at her young age, and even if it took her to some of the roughest places in Knoxville; male or female, she took them where they needed to go and without an ounce of fear. Her heart was so sensitive to those in need.

Jordan’s desire and love for the lost and hurting inspired me. After she passed away, I knew I too had an overwhelming desire to pour into others in need and to show the love of Christ to them. I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life as a vocation, to have purpose for whatever I am working toward; I just didn’t know what that looked like yet. In 2012, I was a sophomore in college and I attended the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of the conference was White Flag, and this is where they launched the End It Movement to shine a light on modern-day human slave trade and sex trafficking. They told us about the 27+ million people trapped in modern-day slavery and how it wasn’t just happening in other countries, but HERE in America. But not just in America, it was happening in my own hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. I was immediately devastated, and a spark to be part of the counter-trafficking movement was lit in me.

That following summer I lived in Salama, Kenya at Salama Baptist Church and Orphanage as a missionary – sharing the gospel, but also providing medical care to others and loving on orphans. It was in Kenya that I felt called to work in the nonprofit world. I came home, changed my major and began pursuing a degree where I could do just that. In the meantime, I was really excited because I was informed by someone on the counter-trafficking task force that there would be an Executive Director coming to CCAHT in Knoxville and that she was going to begin making huge strides in the counter-trafficking movement. The remainder of college I had the privilege to intern at places like HealthCare 21 and Helen Ross McNabb. As a result, I was offered a job as the project coordinator at Metro Drug Coalition over the “Born-Drug Free TN Campaign,” which focuses on raising awareness about NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) and decreasing the amount of babies born dependent on drugs in TN. In 2015, I became the Youth Initiatives Director and now focus on providing prevention and education for youth and parents in Knox County – including the middle and high schools, and also juvenile court. I also oversee the Youth Metro Drug Coalition, which consists of youth from across Knox County high schools who have been affected by substance abuse in their own families and lives, or who have a passion for prevention. The correlation between drugs and sex trafficking has lead to my having a great relationship with CCAHT and has allowed me to get involved with the counter-trafficking movement like I have always desired to do.

I am so thankful for my relationship with CCAHT, and for the work the are doing and the strides they are making with the counter-trafficking movement in Knox County. Because of CCAHT, so many women are now offered freedom and hope that they may have never been offered before. I am so blessed to be able to volunteer with CCAHT and be a small part of their efforts here in Knox County!

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