Love Lets Live Outreach was birthed by the Holy Spirit in Sept 2012 as a result of a Campaign for Life on Facebook prior to the election. We were provoked in a group of about 10,000 followers to post a pro-life status for 40 days before the election. The creator of the group had been a member and pastor at our church. He had moved on to plant a church elsewhere. I accepted the “challenge” and sought to educate myself. My heart was stirred but my head was empty…you know? I knew the science of abortion but I did not know the current state of our nation in regards to this injustice. If I was going to post a pro-life status for 40 days, I needed to know some facts.
My quest was fruitful. I absorbed EVERYTHING and a fire burned in my bones. I had such indignation and had no idea what to do. The people in this Facebook group were talking a lot and sharing their frustrations…but I am a doer, not just a hearer. This passion that was burning in me was not to be quenched with a bunch of keyboard activists. NO SIR! We were given another challenge: who was willing to gather a group and pray in front of their local abortion clinic? Man! I was so excited. I waited for the leader to rise up and start shepherding the herd. Day 2…Day 3…Day 4…I was getting impatient. I cried out to God (literally cried) because I had learned that Houston was home to the largest abortion clinic in the nation, so surely a passionate advocate for the unborn was present in this group of 10,000.
You guessed it…the Lord told me, “It is you.” My first response…I whined about how much I was already doing and what little time I had to dedicate to such a worthy and important cause. It was deserving of my full attention and I was unable to commit. He did not waiver. He did not shift. The fire in my bones burned hotter. Though my flesh was resistant, my Spirit was stronger! Thank you Jesus!
We stepped onto the sidewalk for the first time on September 12, 2012, a Wednesday. Since that day, we have seen 26 ladies choose life for their babies (that we know of for sure). The Blue Bus (mobile crisis pregnancy center) has told us of countless others who came in for services and stated that we prayed with them or they saw us. Here are some of our saves:
Last night, we set out to learn about something new. A few of the ladies associated with our ministry have a history of working in the sex industry and one in particular was trafficked and coerced into prostitution by a man who brainwashed and abused her for 6 years. We are broadening our scope of Proverbs 31:8 to end ALL INJUSTICE. So, we are seeking and learning more.
Former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. Department of State and founder of the non-profit Global Centurion, Laura Lederer compiled a recent study entitled, “The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking and Their Implications for Identifying Victims in Healthcare Facilities”. Out of the 107 sex trafficking survivors surveyed, 87.7% reported seeking care from a healthcare professional during the time of trafficking. More specifically, the most common point of contact occurred in the emergency room with 63% of victims seeking care there. These new findings – in contrast with the much lower overall 28% figure found in a 2005 study cited in the Hearing Memo – emphasize the significant role that a healthcare provider can play in preventing further abuse. Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons (TIP), refers to the activity of holding a person in a compelled service, and is a crime under U.S. and international law. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines sex trafficking in particular as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” As one of the fastest-growing criminal industries, TIP generates about $32 billion per year, and it has accurately been referred to as “modern- day slavery.”
The average age of initiation: 13 years old
Forced abortion is a trend in the sex trafficking arena. 55% of the women that Lederer surveyed had at least one abortion and 30% had multiple abortions during the time they were “working”. More than half of the women admitted that the abortion was not their choice but that they were forced or threatened. The interesting circumstance here as that the forced abortion of a trafficked woman transcends the political boundaries of debate about “choice” and LIFE. The woman’s choice is stripped from her and the life of a child is snuffed out.
“If we value human life at the earliest stages of conception, we need to express equal value throughout that child’s life. When there are so many children coming from broken homes, where they have experienced even sexual abuse, the vulnerability of that child is very likely. My desire is that if we value a child at its moment of conception, we would value it throughout its childhood and teen years. And if you want to make a difference with the issue of sex trafficking, I would challenge you to start with where you’re uniquely gifted and where you are uniquely talented. Where has God already given you skills to benefit society?” ~ David Trotter, co-executive producer of “In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope and Freedom“
We had the privilege of screening a documentary produced and directed by Ruth Villatoro called “The Cantinera“. The film was raw and packed full of hidden camera footage of Houston outreach Elijah Rising led by Cat French going into clubs and gaining intel on the SOB’s (sexual oriented businesses). The film also featured Dottie Laster’s efforts to secure papers for trafficked victims so they can attain healthcare, work and have an identity.
DID YOU KNOW: 20% of all human trafficking cases in the US occur in Texas!
Following the viewing, we had a question and answer session with United States Attorney Ruben Perez, known for several high profile cases involving cantinas. Human trafficking crimes, which are defined in Title 18, Chapter 77, focus on the act of compelling or coercing a person’s labor, services, or commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological, but it must be used to coerce a victim into performing labor, services, or commercial sex acts. Contrary to some misconceptions, human trafficking crimes do not require any smuggling or movement of the victim. While undocumented migrants can be particularly vulnerable to coercion because of their fear of authorities, traffickers have preyed just as aggressively on U.S. citizen children. Because of the vulnerability of minors, where minors are offered for commercial sex the statutes do not require proof of force, fraud, or coercion.
DID YOU KNOW: The city of Houston leads the nation in Human Trafficking cases
According to the United States Department of Justice, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division provides services to victims of civil rights violations, including human trafficking. Victim/Witness Coordinators are available to provide assistance with accessing services such as case management, housing, medical care, counseling and shelter. As mandated by the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance (2005), all victims of federal crime are entitled to certain rights under the law. These rights include:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, [or] sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
- The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
Mr. Perez stated that the assets of the perpetrators (SOB owners) can be liquidated to benefit the victims according to the Victims of Trafficking Protection Act. If a trafficking victim is an illegal, they can agree to help the state with their case and stay in the US for up to one year. Once they complete their requirements to help the state, they can stay an additional 3 years. This provision requires much investigation to ensure that the law is not being abused.
As I watched the documentary and saw Cat and her team exercising their freedom and gaining access, I was a little uneasy. I felt as though her efforts were insubordinate at times (I don’t know her, have never met her, I am only making an assessment of what I witnessed on screen). I sensed an unrest in her spirit as I watched her work. I saw frustration and angst. I do appreciate their commitment to prayer and worship, changing the climate and raising awareness.
I would think that working with law enforcement is essential in the effort to get to the ROOT of this crime, otherwise we are just pulling weeds. As a taxpayer, I would be incredibly upset to find out that a crime unit had been investigating an establishment for well over a year, gathered intel and a renegade outfit goes in to save a girl and cost them an entire investigation, thereby wasting tens of thousands of dollars and man hours as well as risking the lives of many victims and their families.
Getting to the root takes time.
Passion is good. Heart is admirable. But discernment and wisdom are needed to be effective. We want fruit that remains and lasting results. So, Love Lets Live is being schooled on Human Trafficking. There will be more to follow. We will do our best stay informed and take advantage of ALL educational opportunities with numerous agencies.
The documentary screening we attended last night was sponsored by CrimeStoppers, supported by Telemundo Houston, and an incredible panel that featured Misa Nguyen of United Against Human Trafficking Alliance, Ruben Perez of the US Department of Justice, and Ruth Villatoro, Producer and Director of La Cantinera. Here are a few tips we picked up from the panel:
- A “cantinera” is a human trafficking victim that is forced to drink and have sex with men at cantinas. They will drink up to 40 beers a night
- Cantineras are often forced to live at the cantinas and live in confined spaces (closets) during their “off hours”.
- A solicitation for a “waitress” at a cantina is often solicitation to enter human trafficking
- A cantinera’s job is to encourage and entice patrons to drink more (spend more)
- Due to the nature of her job, a cantinera often must consume dangerous amounts of alcohol
- There are not enough prostitutes in Houston to satisfy the demand
- Women are trafficked through multiple states to keep them disoriented and prevent them from building relationships
- The prostitution often takes place at a rent house or accommodating hotel nearby the club, if not inside the club.
- An “outbuilding” is a home or office attached to the club where the act of prostitution takes place
How can we identify a cantina or SOB?
- No windows and signage that indicates it is a club or a bar
- Obvious security measure to keep people IN not keep criminals out such as razor wire on the fences
- Report ANY suspicions to CrimeStoppers. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of any suspect. Download Houston Crime Stoppers in the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and the Blackberry App World. Call 713-222-TIPS (8477). Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.