Our Story

Leveraging the right tools, something broken can be reassembled into something beautiful.  At The Joseph Project, we believe that the law is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to help reassemble the broken pieces of a life shattered by exploitation.

Play@2x

Watch Relief, the story behind The Joseph Project’s founding

Joseph’s Story

In the ancient book of Genesis, a boy named Joseph had dreams of leadership. Those dreams were shattered, however, when his brothers stole his colored coat and trafficked him into Egyptian slavery. Consigned to domestic servitude and later imprisoned on false charges, Joseph’s circumstances seemed hopeless. Yet, with God’s help, the broken pieces of his life were reassembled.

By order of the pharaoh, Joseph was later released from prison and appointed prime minister of the Egyptian empire, leading the country through famine and living the dreams he envisioned years before.
 
Joseph’s story is one of the earliest recorded instances of human trafficking in history. His journey from exploitation to empowerment is a testament to the enduring power of faith and perseverance.
Icon1@3x
Hieroglyph 1 — DREAM

Joseph said to his brothers, 'Listen to this dream I had...'. (Genesis 37:6). Joseph's story begins with a dream. He envisions a future in which he becomes a leader and his presence is respectfully acknowledged. Symbolized by images of wheat and heavenly bodies that bow down to him, Joseph's dream instills the belief that he was made for more. Were you ever a dreamer? Did you ever believe that your life was meant for something greater? If so, you and Joseph have something in common.

Icon2@3x
Hieroglyph 2 — COAT

“Now Israel loved Joseph... and he made him a coat of many colors." (Genesis 37:3). In his early years, Joseph experienced affirmation at home. Israel, his father, favored Joseph by giving him a colored coat. This now-famous gift was a symbol of approval that none of his other brothers received. Have you ever felt affirmed in your calling - like you were moving steadily in the direction of your dreams? Joseph did, too.

Icon3@3x
Hieroglyph 3 — SLAVE

"What will we gain if we kill our brother?... Come, let's sell him." (Genesis 37:26-27). Joseph's brothers hated him. Jealous of his dreams and his colored coat, they devised a plan to rid him from their lives. One day, while working in a remote area, they forcibly sold Joseph to a passing caravan of slave traders, who trafficked him to Egypt. Have you ever experienced the pain of a broken dream? Were you ever exploited, abused, or hurt by someone else? Joseph knew what that felt like.

Icon4@3x
Hieroglyph 4 — SERVANT

“Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” (Genesis 37:36). Sold into slavery, Joseph became a domestic servant in the house of an Egyptian captain named Potiphar. Joseph served Potiphar faithfully and was eventually given charge over the entire residence, honing his work ethic and developing leadership skills. Have you ever found yourself in a place you never wanted to be? Is it possible that the detour was preparing you for the future of your dreams? Joseph could relate.

Icon5@3x
Hieroglyph 5 — PRISON

“Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.”
(Genesis 39:20). In the course of his domestic servitude, Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife. Deprived of all due process, Joseph was incarcerated in the pharaoh’s cell block, where he supervised fellow inmates and interpreted their dreams. Have you ever felt like your circumstances were beyond your ability to endure? Could it be that your character was being refined in preparation for promotion? Joseph faced this kind of test.

Icon6@3x
Hieroglyph 6 — THRONE

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ (Genesis 41:39-40). During his incarceration, Joseph’s wisdom became well-known throughout the prison. Years later, Pharaoh himself had dreams of economic turmoil that he did not fully understand. Advised of a prisoner with keen interpretive abilities, Pharaoh summoned Joseph, who predicted a famine and proposed a food conservation strategy. Impressed by Joseph’s insight, Pharaoh appointed him second-in-command of the entire Egyptian empire, charging him with the administration of the country’s food supply. Joseph skillfully led Egypt through the famine - forgiving his brothers and fulfilling his dreams along the way. Have you ever experienced the joy of a dream come true? Could you trace its fulfillment back to the moments you demonstrated faith and perseverance when circumstances seemed hopeless? That’s how Joseph interpreted his life.

Icons Colorlockup

D’Lynn’s Story

Like Joseph, many have endured various forms of commercial exploitation through the years. D’Lynn was one of them.

For years, D’Lynn was commercially exploited for sexual services on the streets of Detroit. Her trafficking experience culminated in a monetary dispute in which her pimp violently assaulted her and left her to die on a bathroom floor. D’Lynn was later driven to a local hospital, where she recovered from her injuries.
 
Years later, D’Lynn’s life intersected with Nate Knapper – an attorney, a federal law enforcement officer, and a believer in the Joseph story. This meeting was the beginning of a special friendship. As time passed, it became clear to Nate that D’Lynn needed legal counsel. The medical debt D’Lynn accumulated as a result of her hospitalization totaled over $4,000. The hospital had referred these bills to a collection agency, which began coordinating with a law firm to seek payments from D’Lynn.
Believing that D’Lynn should not be forced to pay the medical bills associated with her own assault, Nate and a fellow law enforcement officer helped D’Lynn seek victim compensation through a state fund. D’Lynn was then connected to an attorney specializing in medical debt collection. Working with counsel on a pro bono basis, D’Lynn was compensated for the payments she made to the collection agency, her credit report was repaired, and the hospital was fully reimbursed for services rendered.
 
Like Joseph, D’Lynn transitioned from exploitation to empowerment. Leveraging the law, she is no longer enslaved to debt. Her exploiter has been arrested, and she has begun formal study to become a counselor. She is now married and looks forward to a bright future.
Our Story Icon

Our Story

In November, 2018, Nate Knapper founded The Joseph Project, a nonprofit organization committed to addressing the legal consequences that result from human trafficking situations. In coordination with a growing network of attorneys equipped to service the needs of survivors on a pro bono basis, we help others like D’Lynn transition from exploitation to empowerment.
 
Why? Because as Joseph’s story demonstrates, broken dreams can be reassembled into a beautiful future. It just takes a little leverage – and a little faith.