Christmas – done. New Years – done. First week back at school – done. Hmmmm, maybe it’s time to take down the Christmas tree. I always put it off as long as I can because I’m lazy, yes, but also because it’s so pretty. I hate to say good bye.
With the New Year here and the holiday season wrapping up, I’ve been thinking about the past year and how some of my experiences relate to my favorite Christmas song, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. The lyrics are a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas day 1863 after his wife died from a fire and his son was severely wounded in the Civil War. The poem starts like this:
I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along th’unbroken song Of peace on earth good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head: There is no peace on earth, I said, For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I can relate to the feelings of despair. We are bombarded with bad news. It can be overwhelming. I went through a few years of feeling hopeless about where our society is headed. One issue that really weighed on me more than anything else was sex trafficking.
A little more than a year ago I attended a fundraiser for Backyard Broadcast, an organization aimed at preventing sex trafficking. There were two speakers there from Child Rescue, Backyard Broadcast’s parent organization. They shared some really significant thoughts.
First Nick Larsen, one of the co-founders of Child Rescue, talked about how hard this subject is. It is easy to get depressed, angry, and discouraged when thinking about it. He said we should not let the negativity take over. It isn’t useful in our progress and we actually have good reason to feel hopeful. In any movement there is a period of time where it starts gaining traction, then as more and more people become aware of the problem and realize that it is unacceptable, the movement reaches a tipping point. Enough people say this cannot continue and as a society we reject the behavior. That is when things really change for the better. We are getting very close to that tipping point. Progress is being made and things are changing for the better.
Stephanie Larsen, Nick’s sister in law and also a co-founder of Child Rescue, spoke next. She told the inspiring story of how her mother, Lorrie, broke the cycle of children being sexually exploited for money in her family. It’s an amazing story. To read about it go here. Lorrie had many struggles, but she kept the promise she made to herself and protected her kids from the abuse that generations of children in their family had lived through. I am amazed at Lorrie’s strength. In my family, the only chain I’ve broken is the use of Aqua Net hairspray -ack. Lorrie is my hero and she inspires me to be more courageous!
About the same time I was reading a book about another amazing woman named Anna. The book, As I Have Loved You, is written by Anna’s daughter, Kitty de Ruyter-Bons. In part of the book Kitty tells of her family’s experience as prisoners in a Japanese Concentration Camp during WWII.
One story about Anna really affected me. Anna was appointed by the Japanese officers to gather and prepare 28 girls from the prisoners ages 14-22 to be sexually exploited by the officers for a Japanese celebration. Anna fasted and prayed about how to handle the situation. She came up with a solution which she had to carry out in only three and a half minutes between work duty and the time appointed for the girls to be presented. Everyone knew that defiance meant severe punishment and very likely death, so of all the mothers in the camp only 6 volunteered to help Anna. In that short window of time these brave women shaved the heads of 60 girls, every girl in the age range requested. They also had the girls rub mud and smelly weeds on themselves.
The Japanese leaders were irate. Every prisoner in the camp was called to stand in lines while being screamed at. They cursed and berated and tore off the clothes of the 7 women who had carried out the sabotage. Then one of the leaders asked through his bullhorn what made Anna think she could defy them in this way. He held the bullhorn up to Anna’s mouth. She boldly replied that virtue is important to God and whether the soldiers defile the women or she allows it to happen, it is a grievous sin. He then asked if she would die for this and she stated that yes, she would. He cut her with a sword and beat her severely and sent her to a pit for two weeks. She barely survived.
One thing you should know about this situation, Anna had 4 children, including an infant under her care. Anna knew that protecting all the children of the camp from sexual abuse was so important that nothing should stop her, even being the mother of young children.
Hey, like me. Even though the issue of sex trafficking bothered me for years, I always had some excuse. I’m a mother, I don’t have time to do anything about it, I don’t have money to do anything, I don’t even know what to do. Anna helped me to see that there will always be an excuse. But they are all irrelevant. No more putting off for better timing.
After really considering the dangers of fighting something like this I realized how important this cause is to me. I really can’t go on without doing something. If I knew it was happening to my children I would do A-NY-THING to stop it. And though I personally care for my children more than any other children, and with that comes higher levels of motivation to protect them, I do not believe they are more deserving of a decent life, free from abuse, than every other child on Earth. When I think about sex trafficking I feel a responsibility to try to protect every child.
Inspired by Lorrie and Anna, I sought out an organization that I could get involved with to start fighting sex trafficking. After doing a bit of research I felt that Child Rescue would be the best place to start. My good friend, Amy, happened to be involved with that organization and was able to get me in touch with the right person.
It turns out that Child Rescue is part of a cluster of related organizations that are all working on different aspects of the issue of child trafficking. Here is a little overview on the organizations:
- Child Rescue Association of North America – 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate child sex trafficking from North America through education and intervention.
- Backyard Broadcast – An arm of Child Rescue. Backyard Broadcast is Child Rescue’s youth resistance movement. It is teens educating teens about sex trafficking. Among other successes from this program, teens have avoided being trafficked because they recognized when they were being groomed for exploitation.
- The Underground Railroad Project – This is another arm of Child Rescue that was set up to run rescue missions. Then the decision was made to form a separate non-profit for rescues which would be called Operation Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad Project is now assisting O.U.R. (especially as a funding partner) while it is becoming fully functional on it’s own.
- Operation Underground Railroad - Operation Underground Railroad, or O.U.R., is a non-profit focused on saving kids who are being trafficked and dismantling the organizations that traffick them. It is operating under the umbrella of Child Rescue until it completes the process of gaining 501c3 status. After that the organizations will still work closely together.
- The Abolitionists – A reality TV show that will expose the issue of child sex trafficking and show O.U.R.’s rescue missions and how the lives of the kids change after they are rescued.
- 360 Defense - This for-profit company provides training in tactical, covert ops, medical trauma, cyber ops and forensics. Those running the training come from backgrounds in elite military special forces. The undercover rescue teams, or Jump Teams, that go out and save the kids for O.U.R. are trained through 360 Defense. 360 Defense has also committed to donating a portion of their profits to O.U.R.
I’m so happy to now be working for Operation Underground Railroad. Now when I hear bad news I don’t feel the stress of every problem. Instead I am doing what I can do and I can let go of the rest. If others are helping where they can we will eventually be able to take care of everything.
I have seen God’s hand in bringing O.U.R. together. He has not forgotten the kids who are being abused and sold for sex and hidden in plain site. The timing for this organization had to be now when the laws are in place to convict the traffickers and remove the children from their grip. When participating in the meetings of O.U.R. I can see the changes coming to our society, and the changes are good.
Which brings me back to my favorite Christmas Carol. Longfellow’s poem started with reflections on the despair in the world, but then the truth overcomes it. There is hope:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.
Till, ringing, singing, on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men!
The wrong will fail and right will prevail! Don’t give up hope! We are going to beat this!
If you want to help O.U.R. save some kids, contact me or go to our website and donate.
There is an online event going on right now, Operation Underground Railroad is having a fundraising competition on Crowdrise. The competition website is http://www.crowdrise.com/OperationUndergroundRailroad. The prize for the person who raises the most in donations is a week of tactical training by 360 Defense. This is a $1200 value. The training will be fantastic and the winner will meet some amazing people! It’s the kind of week that will change your life. If you would like to join the competition I will help you in any way I can.
We have more exciting events coming this year so stay tuned.
One last thing; this organization is only about saving kids, not about politics. Glenn Beck is the first big name to learn about OUR and throw his support behind us, so you will see him on the website. That doesn’t mean we are politically aligned with him. We are grateful for his help in spreading the word for us and helping us raise the launch money to really get started.