There is no greater crime in all of society than that against a child.
Sex trafficking is the second most profitable illegal crime in the world, generating $32 Billion annually, topped only by narcotics. A child goes missing roughly every 44 seconds in the United States alone.
Today, on the Power Project, you’ll be hearing from my friend Jodie Webb of Colors of Hope. Jodie’s story is one of restoration and redemption. She has answered God’s call for her life and is fully living a life of purpose. By God’ s grace she has been able to transform childhood trauma into a lifelong mission that stretches across international borders to fully restore survivors and further prevent these atrocities.
Not only will you be inspired and empowered by Jodie’s mission but you’ll also hear about navigating the obstacles of starting a non-profit as well as balancing a family life while pursuing a purpose.
To learn more about Colors of Hope, go to www.colors-of-hope.org. Get involved with the newest campaign @ www.inittopreventit.org.
Follow Colors of Hope Equine Restoration on Facebook
and @colorsofhoperestored on Instagram.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call now.
1-888-373-7888 or TEXT:233733
THE HOPELESS PLACE
This has been a crappy week. We lost our second girl at the aftercare house in a month. She was 2 weeks from graduating the 9 month program & left. This was her second time in the program & I didn’t doubt her success for a minute. I’ve been Her spirit and brilliance radiated. I couldn’t wait to see her share her testimony and minister to other women walking through the fire.
The other one that left was in my class. She was an eager student from the beginning. She had a heart for learning and a love of people. I knew that once she found her voice and confidence, God was going to do great works through her. And then, I showed up one day and she was gone. No clue where she is now.
And so, I sit. I sit and I ask God if this is all really worth it. Is the work that he is asking me to do worth it. How can I be following his will and purpose if these people keep turning from Him. How can he be leading me away from my kids, husband, and job to do work that is fruitless? How is this truly His plan? I feel helpless today. I feel empty. I feel hopeless. I feel like the literal life has been sucked out of me. Its one thing to see people struggle, but it’s another thing to wonder if even God can pull them out of the insane state of Hell that they’re living in. It’s this crazy cycle which is a direct result of their trauma. I don’t have a license in this department. I just see the aftermath & it sure is a difficult situation for those of us trying to speak life into it.
My only saving grace is that I have to focus on God’s grace for us. All I can think is that We, God’s children, disappoint him every day. We make poor decisions and leave him disappointed. Regardless of the extreme parameters, this is the same with the people I work with. There will inevitably be more bad days than good. We just must persevere & know that above all, He is God. He is mercy, grace, and love.
THE HOPE-FULL PLACE
Ms. D: The first time I met her was when I took dinner to the house. She was quiet and withdrawn but joined us at the table. She kept her head and eyes down and only glanced up occasionally when someone asked her a question or passed a dish. After finishing her meal, clearing her plate, and thanking me for dinner, she excused herself to her bedroom for the rest of the evening. I gave her space and didn't push. My only hope was that she could eventually see Jesus through me and feel loved, welcome, and safe. Over the course of the next few months, I was able to see her blossom like a flower. Each week, she became a little more open. And, then one day when I showed up, she was sitting outside in the sun, looking radiant, and smiling ear to ear. She hugged me and told me all about her new job and how great everything was going.
Ms. A: I came to the house one Wednesday afternoon excited and anxious to be meeting two new girls that I would begin a weekly class with. I came in and sat down in the living room ready to get to know the ladies. She sat there silently drawing in her binder and not looking up. I finally asked her to tell me what she thought about the book as well as the upcoming class. Her response was "I ain't ever had no boundaries, nobody never taught me no boundaries, and I don't need to read a book about boundaries." The following week, I returned to teach the class, and after just two chapters, had a completely different student sitting before me. As I walked in, she excitedly told me "Miss Brandi, I love this book! It's changed my life. I wish I would have had it fifteen years ago!" And, she carried that excitement throughout the rest of the book!
A PLACE OF HOPE
As time went on, I built a great relationship with both ladies and relished watching their journeys unfold as God truly restored them.
Then, last night, I was able to see the beauty of God's work in action. We, celebrated their graduation from the 9 month program. The church was filled with staff members, volunteers, fellow church members, advocates, and the ladies' families that traveled hundreds of miles to be there.
We listened to their accomplishments and kind words spoken about them. We saw them fully transformed as they shared what this journey meant to them. But, the most beautiful sight I may have ever witnessed was seeing them both with arms stretched high, worshipping a God that never gave up on them. With tears streaming down their face and music playing, they praised a God that loved them and chased them before they ever knew him.
There will inevitably be more times of hopelessness along this journey. There will be more days of heartache and feeling the pain of helplessness. But, in those times, I will cling to the image ingrained in my mind of those ladies, arms stretched high praising my God and I will HOPE.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."
Depression doesn't always look like doom gloom, and despair. It may not hide behind dark glasses, baggy clothes, and a disheveled appearance. It may not lock itself up indoors and not come out amongst society.
It may be put together perfectly and hiding behind a gorgeous smile and flawless appearance. It may sit across from you at a table and chat life, love, and family without ever introducing itself.
It may very well be the person on the other end of the phone, the receiving end of a text, or the last "like" on a social media post.
It is no judge of persons and doesn't have a certain type. It may invade the mind of a middle class, well educated, christ following, beautifully talented, devoted wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, sister, aunt, and friend.
Depression doesn't want you talking about it. It wants to stay tucked away in the dark shadows, where it can tear lives apart and no one will notice until it is too late.
It is time that we take a stand. It is time that we TALK about it. In a world where we are oversharing on social media daily, telling people how we "feel" and what we had for breakfast, we have to choose to bring mental illness to the forefront.
For far too long, we the church, have treated mental illness like a lack of christianity. We have told those that suffer that they should pray more and draw closer to God. Any struggle with mental illness has been treated as if that person isn't walking in faith. While praying and drawing closer to God are crucial in this struggle, seeking help, reaching out, and knowing that it is okay to ask for support is critical. We christians must begin treating mental illness in the same manner that we would treat cancer: aggressively! We have to let those that suffer know that they can talk about it. They are not pariahs nor are they any less of a child of God. They have to know that they can stand in Christ's presence and ask for support, love, and mercy from their fellow believers.
We have to stand and say that we will be those Christians. We will be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be the shoulder to cry on and the support that they need. We will love without passing judgement. And, we will look the enemy in the face and call him out of the darkness.
"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." ~ John 1:5
The world lost a beautiful soul this week. You are missed dearly my friend. But know this, because of you, we will have the conversations. We will be aware. We will know that it is okay to ask for help, just as we will know that is our duty to offer help.
It's a hard read, but you need to hear it. I've put off posting this for over a week but feel that it's incredibly important for all of us to hear:
Your child knows about porn.
If they don't, they will. How will you handle that? We have to become a proactive society instead of a reactive one. Not talking about hard things does not make them go away. We can't be surprised by the type of men our society is producing if we're not equipping our sons with the truth to handle what our society will throw at them.
I sat in church two weeks ago next to my 11 year old 6th grader, listening to our pastor teaching on how to be Brave. While teaching, he was discussing temptations that we as humans come in contact with and how to guard yourself against them. One such temptation was porn. He didn't go into detail, just mentioned it, and as he did, my sweet kindhearted, handsome young man, let out a sigh, rolled his eyes, and murmured "Oh my gosh" under his breath. This caught me off guard and I had no clue as to why this topic would elicit such disgust from him.
After we came home from church that day, when it was just he and I, I point blank asked him if he knew what porn was. His expression went totally somber, his eyes welled up, and his cheeks turned red. He reluctantly told me yes. I then asked if he had ever seen it and he adamantly told me no. He then went on to tell me how the older boys at school talk about it and have privacy screens on their phone so that their parents won't see that they've watched it. I took the opportunity to explain that for starters: that is not real, healthy, or what love looks like, that those girls in the videos are someone's sister, daughter, cousin, mom, friend. That they are not objects for men's pleasure and that the majority of them are trapped in that industry against their will.
Up until then, we had discussed that Mom was fighting to help free those trapped in slavery. They know that the people's basic human rights are violated, but that has been as far as we've gone. However, that day, I pointed to the A21 "BECAUSE" bracelet on his wrist and explained that the people in those videos that his friends are laughing, joking, & talking about are the same slaves that Mommy is fighting for.
He started sobbing, and after a while I was able to get him to use his words to tell me why he was upset. He told me that "He didn't want his friends watching that, didn't want people treating women that way, and never wanted YouTube if he ever did get a phone because kids watch bad things on it."
We then prayed that when faced with the temptation of watching (because that day will come) that God can give him the strength to resist temptation. We prayed that he can be a witness to his friends and share with them how this is a vile epidemic in our country that is tearing people's lives apart. We also prayed for his friends, that they would turn from the temptation as well. And then, we prayed for the slaves trapped in that industry, that we can help free them and bring an end to their misery.
My son will be exposed to Porn at some point. Whether intentionally or not. Whether by mistake, or out of weakness, he will be armed with the knowledge of how to handle it. Will yours? Have you talked to your children about this? Sticking our heads in the sand is only perpetuating the crisis. Have the tough talks. Back it up with scripture. Arm your children. I for one pledge that my children will be informed about the evils in the world, and they will not be exposed without knowledge. Not talking about the scary things doesn't make them go away. Your children are talking about it. Wouldn't you rather they have those discussions with you? At what point, do we stand up & say #notmyson ? At what point, do we #takebackourchildren ?
If you don't understand the ties between the porn industry and human trafficking, here are some facts to help you become more aware: https://www.google.com/…/the-internet-can-be-a-very-un…/amp/
We were in Vegas this past week where we went to car museums, the drag races, a car show, saw shows, and ate amazing meals. But, I saw more than that.
While at the car show (the largest in the world) I saw two peddlers outside of the convention center shoving flip cards in men's faces as they walked by trying to get them to take the images of scantily clad women. I watched man after man turn them down and keep walking. I watched the two peddlers motion to my friends and me, and grumble, saying that none of the men were going to take the cards while we women were standing there. In the past, I would have never thought twice other than that normal "ick" feeling. I would have thought that's just Vegas and moved on. But, I know too much now. I knew that 200,000 men had come to Vegas for a car show which meant that countless girls had been brought to town specifically for that reason. And my stomach sunk.
I saw Her. She walked in and sat down at a bar with two men at least 40 years older than her. Both dressed to the nines in flashy dress shirts, pants and loafers, white hair slicked back, and ready for a night out on the town. One pulled a chair out for her and placed her in it while the other pulled a chair next to her. She fidgeted with her short tight black lace dress and crossed and uncrossed her worn flip flops. She smoothed her unnaturally red hair with her chipped manicure clad hand as she nervously looked back and forth over her shoulder. The man standing, rubbing both of her shoulders asked what she wanted to drink, but she never responded. Instead, she chewed her fingernails, smoothed her hair, and darted her eyes back and forth watching the bartender. The two men asked Her again what she wanted to drink as the one standing squeezed her shoulders, leaned in, and with a denture baring grin told her "You've got two guys tonight, you should probably go with Tequila!" While the two men laughed and gave her a shoulder rub, they didn't see what I saw. I saw her eyes that were filled with terror, misery, and emptiness. I saw her chewing her fingernails. I saw her not speaking. I saw her pick the menu up and put it down three times. I saw her scan the room constantly to see who was watching. I saw that she was much younger than her heavily made up face told. I saw someone who wanted to be anywhere other than she was.
I tried to make eye contact, just to let her know that I see Her. I wanted to reach out, share the Human Trafficking hotline number, tell her to say she needs help, something..... I wanted to kick the men in their teeth, and I wanted to vomit.
But, instead, I walked off to watch a show called "Love" with my heart breaking. I wondered what I could do for Her. So, I prayed. I prayed that she would get out. I prayed that she would find a way to escape her torture. I prayed that she would tell someone she needs help. And, I'm still praying for Her every day. I pray that God sends someone to help Her.
Most people would blow it off because prostitution is legal in Vegas & our society sees prostitutes as entrepreneurs that have chosen to sell themselves. But, more often than not, that's not the case. Less than 6% of Vegas "prostitutes" are not under the control of a pimp. While chatting with a survivor recently, I asked her to explain the difference between prostitution and being trafficked. Her response was "It's whether they have the ability to leave or not. I had a car and my own money. I physically could have left at anytime. But, I also had a Dude that had the address of every family member of mine and promised to kill each and every one of them if I ever left."
So, look around. Pull your head out of the sand and realize that Trafficking isn't something that is happening in other countries. It's happening in your country, your state, and your city.
And, do me another favor. Pray for Her and all the other Hers out there.
Hi! I'm, Brandi, founder of The Power Project and I'm so glad you're here! I have this crazy belief that we can all do anything we set our minds to! Sometimes, you just need to hear it from a stronger on the internet. But, we're not strangers anymore. We're friends now. Welcome Friend! I hope you find some inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment here.