Last weekend, 26-28 July, 2013, the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and more than 230 local law enforcement agencies swept across 76 cities to rescue 105 children and arrest the 152 pimps that held the children in sex trafficking situations. The youngest child was 13. This is the seventh such blitzkrieg, called "Operation Cross Country." To date, Cross Country has recovered more than 2700 children and resulted in 1350 convictions, including 10 life term sentences.
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please."
Numbers vary by city, and statistics are listed by FBI divisions, not necessarily strict geographic areas. The San Francisco FBI office rescued 12 children and arrested 17 pimps. In Detroit, 10 children were taken from 18 pimps. In Milwaukee, 10 children were recovered, but no pimps arrested. In Denver, 9 kids were rescued from 6 pimps.
As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, "Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him." And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing." But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light.
And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, "Get up, let us be going." But there was no answer.
Intelligence-gathering begins long before the operation. Local law enforcement monitor truck stops, casinos, streets, and websites to analyze where and how organized sex crime groups operate. Arrests of local thugs and trafficking victims bring data about the larger organizations. When enough evidence is gathered, the US Attorney's Offices and the US Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section are brought in to prepare prosecution.
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there…
Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you…Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death." And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you."
Joshua 2:1, 12-14
Statistics are rather bleak for the trafficking victims. Sixty percent ran away from foster care or group homes. Some reports say that one-third of all run-away girls will be approached by a pimp within 48 hours. But the low average age of children introduced to sex trafficking (13) suggests that many more are trafficked by their own families. Once rescued, the children will have few options. The older girls may be directed to a battered women's shelter. The younger to the foster care system. There are very, very few opportunities for after-care with a trained trafficking-recovery organization.
And when Tamar was told, "Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep," she took off her widow's garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He turned to her at the roadside and said, "Come, let me come in to you," for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, "What will you give me, that you may come in to me?"
About three months later Judah was told, "Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality." And Judah said, "Bring her out, and let her be burned." As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, "By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant." And she said, "Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff." Then Judah identified them and said, "She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah." And he did not know her again.
Genesis 38:13-16, 24-26
Meanwhile, state Attorneys Generals are asking the federal government to amend two acts to allow them more authority to fight sex trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act." The Attorneys General wish to include those who patronize and solicit commercial sex acts, thereby granting authorities greater ability to prosecute sex trafficking "customers." The AGs also seek to change the Communications Decency Act. Currently, internet content providers are exempt from prosecution if a third party advertises commercial sex acts through their sites. The amendment would make providers responsible for what they allow on their sites, and backpage.com would lose over $33 million a year in sex trafficking and prostitution ads.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."
God abhors the sexual abuse of anyone—woman, child, or man. While condemning sexual sin, He honored both Tamar and Rahab and included them in the genealogical line of Christ. When presented with women in sexual sin, Jesus treated them kindly and gently. How much more should we do so for girls who are violently sexually abused for money?
Human trafficking seems to be the cause du jour. It's trendy to stand with Ashton Kutcher
and Mira Sorvino
in the fight against modern slavery. But God was always and ever more interested in people than issues or causes. When we are presented with a face—a tired, stoned, frightened, numb, cursing, raging, smoking, tattooed face, what's our response? Would we treat Rahab with respect? Would we hear the cries of the Levite's concubine and come to her rescue? Or would we stand in a line with rocks in our hands?
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."
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