She was seventeen, attended community college as a dual-credit high school student, and worked at the local small town café where a regular customer befriended her over the course of a few months. She thought their conversations were innocent, talking about her life and dreams. Unbeknownst to her, though, this older male was stalking her as part of a dangerous network seeking to sell her into slavery. It wasn’t random; she was chosen.
Her “faithful patron” passed along details she shared to a few college football players conspiring to seduce her. When she turned eighteen, they became customers. She had no idea they were connected to the other man as they used information he supplied to say all the right things, enticing her with her own dreams. It all appeared perfectly harmless. She thought it was cool. An amazing coincidence.
Eventually, she willingly accepted their invitation to hang out a few hours away in Seattle. After all, it’s where she always wanted to live! She lied to her parents, drove to Seattle, and arrived at a beautiful home with fancy cars parked outside. It appeared to be the legitimate life of the rich and famous. It was all so perfect! She told more lies and stayed there several days, giving the men there ample opportunity to bid on her. She had no idea, nor was she suspicious that an ensuing invitation to go to Arizona during Christmas break was to complete her sale to a pimp.
This true story is nothing like the ambush abduction I imagined when confronted with the term sex trafficking. While a part of me wishes I’d never listened to Focus on the Family Daily’s radio broadcast on “Exposing the Dark World of Human Trafficking,” I’m glad I did.
I think you should as well.
Whether by sudden abduction or slow seduction, girls are becoming stolen goods at an alarming rate of up to several hundred thousand a year at schools, online, in neighborhoods, in the bleachers where our kids play sports, at the restaurants and stores where our daughters work and hang out right here in the great United States of America.
It happens over time, because these predators are patient. It happens by tag team, because these criminals are smart. It happens within families; dads, uncles, and brothers selling their daughters, nieces, and sisters. It’s perpetrated by peers, not just older men.
What’s expected of them daily is unfathomable.
The average age is twelve.
One twelve-year-old girl featured in the broadcast was enticed by two teenage boys to come to a party when she turned thirteen, when she was “grown up.” She did, and a guy a little older befriended her. She was a bit grossed out by him, but he started showing up different places she frequented, like school and Starbucks, and he was so nice to her. He wooed her, earned her trust, and then got her to lie, a common tactic. A way to hold something over her. A way to manipulate and control her. He eventually convinced her to dance for him at a strip club, you know, to help him out because he needed money. He had her raped in a side room, took pictures, and threatened to expose her to her church friends and victimize her ten-year-old sister if she didn’t stay quiet and compliant. He then trafficked her out of her own home.
I don’t even want my daughters to know this kind of evil exists, but the danger lurks too close to home. Living just twenty miles from one of the top U.S. markets for sex slaves, my daughters need to be informed. Scared. Not with a spirit of fear, as God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), but in the spirit of being shrewd as snakes (Matthew 10:16).
The Bible warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). How can we recognize him if we aren’t aware of his schemes? How can our girls?
As it is age appropriate, young women need to know the dangers that lurk around them and how to recognize when someone is preying on them. Each one of us, with much prayer, has to decide how much to share with our daughters at what age, but no matter how old they are, we must be vigilant guards over them, knowing where they are and whom they’re with and doing everything we humanly can to make sure they are never victims of this tragic industry.
Our sons need to understand the dangers of pornography, not just in what it does now, but in who it victimizes on the other side of the image. The market it creates for selling little girls. The fire it fuels in them that might rage out of control one day to the point that they’re hiring a twelve-year-old who has been forced into prostitution. The fact that the girl they’re lusting after in the image or sex salon could be their little sister. The fact that the pleasure she portrays is many times fake. Unattainable. Perhaps the tenth or twelfth trick of her day because she has to meet her quota.
A little too much? Yes! You’re right! So what are we going to do about it?
Are we willing to sacrifice convenience, time, and money to give and serve alongside ministries putting themselves on the frontlines of this battle? To call our legislators and demand harsher penalties for child prostitution?
Willing to take just under an hour to listen to the two Focus on the Family Daily radio broadcasts listed below? A word of caution: While not graphic, they are detailed and the subject matter could be very upsetting to your kids. Each one is under 30 minutes.
Will you visit www.sharedhope.org and find out how you can help prevent, restore, and bring justice?
Our ignorance and apathy is their grave danger. Our insistence that our child would know better than to be tricked like the girl from the small town café or the foolishness of thinking it only happens to girls already broken in some way could put them at risk.
As followers of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit to do good works to His glory, at whatever level we can, let us be His hands and feet to rescue and redeem trafficking victims. Jesus proclaimed, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
As His ambassadors, this is our business. Jesus assures us in John 14:12 that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”
It’s our job. Will we go, or will we be stirred but not changed; moved emotionally but physically unresponsive?
Lord, I’m the queen of good intentions derailed by a self-seeking heart. Move us to action according to Your will! Use us as You desire as we become more wholly Yours today.