The way God brings people together for ministry is absolutely amazing to me! Meeting FREE International and the rest of Blitz the Trafficker team has given us so many blessings this last year! We were stoked to make it out to Super Bowl again to look for missing/exploited children. (For the full scoop on our adventures last year, check out this article!)
We wanted to be there the whole week again, but are extremely grateful for the the training we had in Phoenix that Wednesday for educators. So as soon as the training ended that afternoon, we hopped in the car and headed straight for San Jose!
The team did unbelievable work last week by sending their team out throughout the whole Bay Area: Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Oakland, San Francisco, and more! Not even the hours of traffic could stop them! Thursday we jumped on board helping out the assemblies in both San Jose and Oakland, and Friday we joined the teams spread out throughout the Bay Area passing out missing kid information to hospitality agencies.
We have not gotten the official numbers yet, but the last we heard: 16 missing kids were recovered that were listed in the literature we passed out, 5 trafficked victims recovered through online monitoring, and 5 pimps arrested! God definitely did quite a few miracles this last week, and we praise Him for being a God of mercy and justice!
These outreaches always leave a mark on you, and Oakland definitely left its mark on many. The pimps controlling those streets are aggressive and extremely good at counter-surveillance, which some of the team experienced first hand. A survivor also let us know that International Avenue was a well-known track… a well-known track for minors. As I got reports from the team surveying the area that it was swimming with trafficked minors my only thought was: this is normal.
That area of town always has this problem. Unbelievable amounts of minors are always be trafficked there. That thought brought it home for me: why is this such a problem on International Ave? What is it about the people in Oakland that something like that can thrive in the same area for decades and not be stomped out? What allowances are being made that the businesses on that street can get away with facilitating modern-day slavery? What is it about the men in Oakland that it is ok to frequent that street to purchase minors? And why are those girls out there in the first place? Why were they vulnerable to trafficking? Why did no one intervene in their life before they got to that place? Why did they refuse the help if someone tried?
God has been laying those kind of questions on our hearts lately. He has been directing us to ask the hard questions, and then pointing to Red Light Rebellion and saying that we need to address them in everything we do.
We speculate at the answers to most of those questions, wrestle with how to address those core issues in what we do, and always land in the same spot: Jesus is the answer to every question on earth.
We must start there, and everything must flow out from it.