So I’m excited. First, I’m excited about Lisa & I both having our own new blogs. Each one having its own flair & focus. I will let Lisa explain hers. Mine however is going to be more in diary form. For those of you who are interested in the behind the scenes. The feelings, passions, thoughts of someone getting into rescue work. Kind of a walk together kind of approach.
Second, I’m excited about heading to SE Asia. This Asia trip is so huge for SFE. Cathy has been in China this whole month & in a few days I’m going to meet her in Thailand. We will visit 4 countries in 3 1/2 weeks. Visiting safehouses, networking with other orgs, research & looking for a good place to headquarter will all be among our activities. After all the work we have put into the foundational stages of SFE, its so amazing to come to the point of taking our first trip. God has been good throughout this process!
Finally, I’m thankful for you. Having friends, family & partners who are so supportive makes what we do possible.
Let the diary & journaling begin. Hope you will check back often & follow along!
I caught the final five minutes of the movie “Taken” earlier this week. In short, the movie tells the fictional story of a young woman kidnapped by sex traffickers and her father’s heroic efforts to find and rescue her. In those sweet moments after her father has dispatched the last bad guy and evil has been quelled—at least for the moment—the terrified, exhausted, traumatized girl utters these words, “Daddy, you came for me,” as she collapses into the safe, strong circle of her father’s arms.
I’ve been praying this week for a family I know. The father has just changed jobs a few months ago, but will be taking his one day of accrued vacation time to drive over 500 miles to meet with university officials to help his daughter (who is a senior with a 3.8 GPA) iron out some misunderstandings that have already delayed her graduation one semester. Daddy, you came for me.
I will be attending my daughter’s final State Speech and Drama meet this weekend. I love it. I’ve attended every year she has qualified, plus driven thousands of miles across Montana to cheer her on at her regular season meets. This year, joining me for the tension-packed final day of the meet, will be her father. Honestly, he doesn’t enjoy the variety of events, but he loves his daughter. Daddy, you came for me.
A million years ago, or maybe just thirty-seven, a nervous nine-year-old peaked out from behind the painted cardboard back drop at Skyline Elementary in Great Falls, Montana to discover that the “handsome” dad (as described by her classmate) was her very own dad, Bill Barber. That afternoon, he was neatly dressed in slacks and a sports coat, sitting in the third row center of the little theater awaiting his daughter’s theatrical debut as none other than “Edith Eagle,” a bird who would not become extinct—thanks in part to the efforts of Mrs. Strunk’s fourth graders. That day I was the one exulting: Daddy, you came for me.
St. John Bosco known for his dedication to educating poor street children, said, “It is not enough to love the children, it is necessary that they are aware that they are loved.” It is wonderful to be told that I am loved. Words of affirmation are one of my primary love languages, but when you show up for me, then I truly believe it. If the best moments of life could be likened to glowing pearls on a pearl necklace, I would have ropes and ropes of pearls…because in my life, folks came for me. I was, and still am, loved well. I treasure those pearl moments of sacrifice made on my behalf by family and friends who truly love me enough to show up. But honestly, I almost feel guilty when I consider the extravagant amount of love that has been poured out on me over my lifetime.
Do you know where this is going? I knew the moment I heard that girl utter those words to her father on the TV screen.
There are millions of girls whose dads aren’t coming for them. For many of them, it was their dads that sold them into slavery. Who will love them—truly love them? How will they know that they are loved by God?
Why can’t those enslaved women and children experience the joy of a “Daddy,-you-came-for-me” moment?
Pray. Give. Volunteer. Share.
You know what’s going on. It can’t be ignored…She can’t be ignored.
Please, do your part to make someone’s daughter, somewhere, aware that she really is loved.
So, what’s your resolution? Lose weight? Eat healthier? Exercise daily? Exercise weekly? Take the garbage out without wheezing? Maybe your goals are more spiritual: read the Bible every morning, pray more or be nicer to that “special” person in your life. Most years I don’t even bother to make a resolution; My reasoning is simple: if I don’t make’em, I can’t break’em.
Honestly, that was my thought process for years. Why set myself up to fail? Maybe, just maybe, I was wrong.
Admit it, nobody loves to fail. Some of us are bothered by it even more than others. I found this out about myself in elementary school. I would race to see who could finish their worksheet first. I would race to see who could read the story fastest. I would race to see who could climb the ropes in the gym during P.E. However, I would not race to the end of the playground asphalt. Why? Because I knew I’d get beat. I was smart, strong, flexible—but not fast. So, I didn’t run races. Kinda silly of me. I probably never would have beat all the kids in my class. There were boys like Brian Loucks, Chris Young and Doug Sexe who were very fast, but I bet I would have improved.
Have you ever noticed how some of the people you knew who weren’t all-star athletes in school are now running 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons and even marathons? Crazy! Yet even crazier still, is how a lot of the kids that were all-stars way back when are in rough shape today.
So, what’s my point? I think I actually have a couple. First of all, life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. People that become runners as adults overwhelmingly become distance runners, not sprinters. I think they recognize that the same mindset needed to succeed in life will work for distance running: show up, keep going, and never give up. Being the best, fastest, smartest, smoothest didn’t make my list, because I value faithfulness. Most runners who train faithfully will improve their times.
Second point: Sex trafficking isn’t going to be eradicated with one big push from you or me. It’s not a sprint, it, too, is a marathon: as ugly and grueling a task as was ever set before us. It would be easy to say, like I did in fourth grade, that you don’t take on losing battles. But I would say to you, that this isn’t a losing battle—it’s a war. Gruesome, devastating and disgusting in the depravity that it involves, but worth every effort when one woman is freed, surrounded by love, and returned to a new life with skills, confidence and a faith in the God who used everyday people like you and me to bring about her rescue.
It’s pretty easy to drop $20, $50 or even $100 in the offering plate when Will and Cathy come and speak at an event in your town, it helps, it really does. But what if, instead of sprinting alongside them for 50 or 100 yards, you began training for a marathon with them, financially?
You could start by becoming part of the 7community. You could give seven dollars a month. Have it taken out of your checking account or charged to your favorite points-earning credit card. You don’t have to write a check, address an envelope or find a stamp. It’s all set up. It’s easy. Just put one foot in front of the other. Maybe you’ll discover after a few months that you can run further or faster with them, and you decide to increase what you’re giving. That would be great! But for now, would you just lace up your shoes and start walking alongside them for seven bucks a month? I spend more than that on mocha Frappuccino’s.
Come on. Here’s a New Year’s Resolution you won’t end up breaking: Give $7 a month to Slave Free Earth, just click on the 7Community tab at the top of this blog! Won’t it be great to tell people you actually kept a New Year’s Resolution?
Weekly, Cathy and I do research for our Slave Free Earth speaking engagements. Every now and then we run across some information that makes us stop and think about what the implications of our research are.
Today we researched the top fantasies in pornography today. We found some disturbing trends that certainly have implications for sex trafficking and the demands that are fueling the fire. Here are the top 3, generally speaking.
2. Barely legal girls.
Rape, though number 3, is the fastest growing request. A 15 year old girl was kidnapped in Phoenix a few years ago, advertised on Craig’s List (in code of course) that you could come Rape her for an hour, and forced to live in a dog kennel is prime example of the industry spinning out of control. Fortunately, police were able to track her down after only 40 days, but that wasn’t before she was raped over 400 times. A side note to this story is that there are still porn movies online of her torment that authorities just can’t get off the web. These videos even grace the free sample try us sections of several easy to access sites.
Barely legal girls. Really. They say they are but with increasing alarm authorities are discovering that up to 50% have not reached legal age. You may feel that its okay to play dumb like football hero Lawrence Taylor (“She said she was 18, its not my fault”) but the reality is that we are seeing an active cultivation of pursuing teenage girls. With the Penn State scandal in full view, which has sex trafficking allegations mixed in, we have to give serious thought to anything that would be drawing us to pursue youth for our own personal pleasure.
Incest. This is the most disturbing because in all honesty the real top ten could possibly be all incest related in all the various forms you can imagine. While not all of this deals with underage kids, its all tremendously unhealthy & destructive! The top incest fantasy is actually advertised on many sites today, boldly & unashamedly, offering to pretend to have sex with dads and uncles. You could say this is the top of the top fantasies then. Could this be fueling the demand for underage trafficking kids? Since the average age of entry into prostitution in America is 11 I think a strong case could be made. It sure isn’t helping.
The power of fantasy. Cases are made everyday that its a normal, healthy part of everyday life. Of course it is. God gave us the ability to fantasize and we can imagine that there is certainly a healthy, awesome gift from the creator just waiting to be opened. But as I read these stories & take in these statistics I think we’ve left this gift under the tree, unopened!
Pornography not only uses sex slaves but it feeds the cycle. If the average age the first time someone purchases live sex is 24, and the average age the first time someone sees their first pornographic picture is 10. What do you suppose is happening for the 14 years in between? 95% of prostitutes report that they are constantly requested to do things from videos. I think we could say the proof is in the pudding!
Pornography is a major player in the world wide sex trafficking machine. Lets commit ourselves to two things. One, lets not be intimidated by the size of the problem. Two, lets remember that every little step we take counts. This is why we feel the new 7community is such a big deal. 7 minutes, 7 dollars, 7 conversations. What if normal, average, everyday people simply begin to do something?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and, in case you are color blind, the world is looking pretty in pink. The referee on the NFL football game I was watching on Sunday was sporting a pink whistle, and the players had pink towels. Even our local volleyball team will be packing the gym in pink this month. I love it!
Maybe this all started with Johnny Cash and his hit “Man in Black” from back in the 70s. He wore black to remind those enjoying his music that the world was still filled with suffering, injustice and silenced victims. At the end of the song Johnny said he would quit wearing black when “we start to make a move to make a few things right.”
We can trace the association between pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness back to the early 1990s. According to statistics, the survival rate jumped 25% from 1990-2003—that’s a big improvement! And it all started with awareness.
So what would be the ribbon color for Human Trafficking…black? No, too dark and hopeless. Red, blue, purple, green…I’m not sure the actual color matters as much as the power of awareness.
It starts with awareness. What if in the next ten years we could reduce the number of women and children involved in sex trafficking by 25%? A percentage is hard to wrap your mind around. But what if by contacting Will and Cathy Henderson and inviting them to come (either in person or via Skype!) to talk to your book club, service group, chamber of commerce, even just your Friday-night-supper-out group of friends, you could personally bring about one child’s freedom? Because YOU could, you know.
Trafficking isn’t really a divisive issue. I haven’t seen anyone holding a sign on the evening news that says, “I support forcing children to have sex,” or “It’s ok to kidnap foreign women and make them work as prostitutes against their will.” It’s one of those issues that is just so blatantly wrong.
So, I say if the macho refs of the NFL are sporting pink whistles for a worthy cause, then maybe it’s time for you and I to start blowing some whistles about sex slavery. (Toot-toot!)