Report from "God in a Brothel" Call
Today, we are excited to bring you a guest post from Jessica at the WOV Helpdesk, who shares about her experience participating in the live call with God in a Brothel author Daniel Walker and how that experience has shaped her heart for trafficking victims.
On Thursday, April 19, two of us here at the WOV helpdesk had the incredible opportunity of listening in on a live conference call with Daniel Walker, author of God in a Brothel, courtesy of Hagar USA. Daniel is a detective in the New Zealand police force and has over twenty years of law enforcement experience. When he first learned about sex trafficking through World Vision Australia’s 40 Hour Famine (similar to World Vision US 30 Hour Famine), it broke his heart and he wanted to set the trafficked free. And that is exactly what he has done for the past four years.
As a young boy, Daniel dreamed of adventure and danger. In essence, he wanted to be a superhero. He has since come to understand that the greatest adventure in life comes through God. During the call Daniel was interviewed by Jane Tafel of Hagar USA. Something that really caught my attention was when Daniel said within the next ten years it is estimated that human trafficking will be the number one organized crime, surpassing the selling of drugs and firearms. The reason: you can sell drugs and guns only once, a human body can be sold over and over again. Currently it is a thirty-two billion dollar industry globally. Further, in most cases the penalties for selling drugs is higher than selling girls. And this is happening right here in the United States. Daniel has worked inAtlanta, Las Vegas and Washington DC where he saw women from all over the world being sold. Ninety-five to ninety-eight percent of the victims he came into contact with were women and girls.
He shared a heart-wrenching and frustrating story from when he was working in Latin America. It is the story of a girl named Maria. When Daniel met her she was fourteen or fifteen years old (she was not sure of her age). When Maria was about twelve she was gang raped and became pregnant. She left the baby with her mother and went to find work in order to support her new child. At the border she met some men, “coyotes” as Daniel called them. They took her papers and put her right into a brothel. She escaped once and ran to the local police station. They took her back to the brothel where she was raped and brutalized for trying to run away. In return, the police got money and “freebies” from the brothel. Maria escaped for a second time but was picked up by the military that took her back to the border and dropped her off because she had no papers. The same men who found her the first time kidnapped her once more and Maria was taken back to the brothel now with twice the debt. “There is no recourse for justice” Daniel explained. With an undercover team, Daniel was able to record the owner of the brothel selling Maria to himself. The recorded evidence led to prosecution of the brothel owners and rescue of the girls.
I know that for myself the thought of combating human trafficking, specifically the sex trade, I often feel overwhelmed and hopeless. When Daniel was asked to talk about success and failure in all his investigation, his answers settled my heart a bit. “Inherently doable” and “tremendous hope” are words he used in this fight for freedom. There are so many layers and different directions to go in when attempting to end trafficking. After this call I feel that if you know the injustice you want to fight against, such as trafficking, ask God to reveal what specific area you can use your gifts and talents in then find an organization specific to that area like after-care for girls who have been rescued. No matter how small it seems, you will be making a difference.
As mentioned above, the book is a result of four years of investigating and countless undercover operations. Daniel said it was a “costly experience; an insidious process.” He did not know all that was going on while in the midst of everything. He felt the heavy burden of not being able to rescue all the victims. However, writing his book was a time of healing. It came after being broken. Now that Daniel has brought so much darkness to light, through his book he is not solely responsible for everything he saw. Everyone who reads the book takes on responsibility to join in the fight for these women and children.
One of the final questions Daniel was asked was what he thinks governments can do. His response was great. Daniel said he is more excited about what the church can do. Governments cannot go into other countries without declaring war, but the church is everywhere. We need a global change in how we see women and children, especially after they are rescued. The church should be educators starting in Sunday school. Start with the story of Moses to show how much God hates slavery. In high-school and college instill a passion for justice through standing up for the kids being bullied. In men’s groups learn and talk about being the protectors and defenders. And women’s groups can raise awareness and advocate. The Underground Railroad often was a church based effort to bring slaves to freedom. They did not wait for the government to act.
However, this is not to say the government does not play a large role in the fight to end slavery. He did mention that lobbying is a huge deal so I have to give a shout out to our incredible WOV partners who made their voices heard in Washington DC at the capitol! You have made such an impact already! Daniel said he would like to see more robust sentencing for perpetrators and wants men to be able to be prosecuted in their home country if they are caught buying girls while traveling overseas. He also said that on a local level, only about ten percent of cities have a process in place for combating trafficking. More resources should be available to those coming out of the life of trafficking.
We can make a difference. For some, it is lobbying to our government. For others, it is reading and gaining knowledge on the subject. For Daniel, he is using his gift of a career to be the hands and feet of Christ. He is in the beginning phases of starting a New Zealand-based initiative NVader. It stems from the idea that there is a dangerous, powerful force for good wanting to invade the dark places. Police and detectives will partner with established organizations like Hagar and World Vision. They want to come along side organizations and help build relationships with local law enforcement in different countries and empower them to fight against human trafficking.
This is a tough topic. Most people choose to turn away because it’s too large. It can be frustrating as well. A good amount of girls go back after they are recued because they don’t know any other way of life and more often than not they don’t believe they have any worth. But we have a God who is bigger than the situation. He has equipped us with His armor to fight against this injustice happening every minute to thousands of women and children. Daniel told of one raid he did that was successful and he went to the rescue shelter a few days later were some of the children shied away because they thought he was a bad guy. Once they were told that he helped rescue them, one of the little girls walked over and grabbed a stuffed teddy bear and brought it to Daniel.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40