September 2020 – For most any woman, a wedding dress is of utmost significance. That dress is worn on the day she transforms from “Miss” to “Mrs.” For one ministry, wedding dresses have become more than just an important outfit. They are used to change lives one by one.
After being transformed by Christ, one sex trafficking survivor met the man of her dreams. But as it came time to fund their wedding, she needed more than a dress; she needed an entire wedding ceremony.
With no time to waste, she began planning her day with a small budget. She was stunned at what happened next.
Linda Tribbett and Compassion Connect (CC), a ministry normally devoted to helping churches strive for unity, raised funds to create a beautiful day with decorations, a venue, and even a repurposed wedding gown.
“It was an incredible ceremony,” Tribbett told AFA Journal.
Then the community began to recognize CC’s desire to help hurting individuals as well as unify the church. Donors soon came forward with over 400 new and used wedding dresses to donate to the ministry.
Shocked with an overload of wedding dresses, CC was unsure of the next steps.
But God wasn’t.
“It soon became obvious that all those wedding dresses being stored in our spare bedrooms were given to raise money and awareness for the prevention of exploitation and the restoration of victims,” Tribbett said. Thus, Adorned in Grace (AIG) was born as an outreach of CC.
A future with freedom
There are now three AIG bridal and formal wear shops in Oregon and Washingtonoperating under the leadership of CC.
“Since that beginning, we have seen the impact of those first few hundred wedding dresses multiplied in ways we could never have imagined,” said Tribbett.
With a home full of wedding dresses and an opportunity to help victims, Tribbett and CC knew these events were not by happenstance, but by God’s grace.
AIG is now a vital CC outreach dedicated to helping each bride find her perfect dress while assisting victims of human trafficking. The stores stock hundreds of gowns to assure any bride an ideal dress.
But AIG does more than sell dresses. The ministry ensures victims get the best possible financial help. Even though gowns are marked down by 50% of the suggested retail price, AIG stretches the dollar to do more.
“All new and used products sold at AIG bridal and formal wear shops are donated from individuals, businesses, or designers,” Tribbett said. “Retail shop space is also donated, and sales associates are volunteers so that the majority of proceeds can raise awareness, support victims, and prevent exploitation.”
Besides wedding dress sales, AIG ministers to brides and others through counseling, resources, and raising awareness of trafficking. AIG shops are not only altering dresses but also impacting eternity.
Three thousand brides
“We have been privileged to see how just one dress can truly change a life,” CC’s Linda Tribbett said. But after 10 years, AIG has sold over 3,000 gowns. That’s more than five brides a week.
Tribett shared the story of one survivor who was blown away by the ministry and said, “All this from selling wedding dresses? Now that’s a cool hustle!”
Learn more about AIG ministry and resources at adornedingrace.org or call CC at 971.231.4823.