But as I’ve been saying for some time now, I can be pretty doggone certain that you do know or at least interact with a survivor of sex trafficking, even if you don’t think you do. Because they are all around you.
My primary work is with those who have been sex trafficked in the Christian world. And believe me, there are parallels.
One person or small group of people is/are the traffickers. They may be relatively obscure, as Epstein was.
Others, the wealthy and elites (in my experience, it’s primarily been the wealthy and elites in the Christian world) are the buyers who take advantage of the trafficker’s “services.” (Flying in to the trafficking location is not a problem for the Christian elite.)
There’s a lot to learn about how this all works by reading about the Jeffrey Epstein case.
Larry Nassar similarities
Though there’s a difference because Larry Nassar wasn’t a trafficker, still I’m reminded of similarities. Nassar was a respected doctor who assaulted many young girls through his entire career. Various efforts to speak up against him through the decades were all shut down.
The same happened with Epstein. Some have been speaking out against him for decades. When the Miami-Herald story broke last fall, Tim and I already knew about Epstein because he’d been in the news at least ten years prior, maybe more. But buried. Carried by “alternative news sources” only.
In the Larry Nassar case, the voice of one woman emboldened many others to speak, so that by the time his hearing came, 156 women spoke against him.
The same is happening with Epstein. The ones who spoke first are lending their boldness to the ones who are finding their voices.
Even after his death, their stories still matter. Because he was a trafficker and the buyers are still out there, the survivors are continuing to speak, more and more and more of them.
It’s happening in the Christian world too.
Years ago, when I was very new in this work, I was added to a secret Facebook group of sexual abuse survivors (though I was not one). There I saw one person after another telling her story of having been trafficked and in some cases also used for child pornography. That was perhaps my first exposure to the “ordinary-people-with-regular-lives-who-have-unbelievably-terrifying-secrets” phenomenon. I backed away and remained silent and rarely looked at the group. I was overwhelmed.
But there came a time when the Holy Spirit prompted me to learn how to help. My desire to learn how to help was kindled in earnest before the Lord brought me anyone to help, simply because I knew the phenomenon was real.
I watch on Twitter as people speak out against Christian leaders who assaulted them. I watch the shunning, the dismissal, the silence, the blaming, the shunning.
Some of their stories will sound outlandish at first, yes. But a lone woman telling you a story of how she, as an ordinary teenager, was flown to a private island to be trafficked to millionaires and world leaders—do you think that might have sounded outlandish too?
Similar things are happening, my friends, in the Christian world. The people who have suffered these things are under our noses.
As Rachael Denhollander said, “Women and girls have banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it.”
How dare we as a church refuse to listen to the ones all around us who are speaking, or who are longing to speak. Even the ones whose stories sound outlandish. Even the ones who are implicating speakers and writers we love.
Who’s being persecuted?
I’ve been working on a blog post, most likely going up next week, that mentions persecution. When I wrote about that, I shuddered, thinking of the leaders in the Christian world who claim persecution when suvivors of abuse find their voices and speak up against them.
That most assuredly is not the “persecution” Jesus Christ was talking about. In fact, in a weirdness that feels like Opposite Land, what do you know, the ones who are being persecuted are the ones speaking out.
That sickness in the corporate/government/military elite? There is a sickness in the body of Christ that looks eerily similar.
I am a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ has the power to deliver those who have been deeply harmed by evil ones.
I also believe He calls on the body of Christ to turn their ears to those who are crying out, to listen to them and get educated about phenomena (such as trauma and dissociation) that we might not know anything about, to bind their wounds, to show them love . . .
. . . and to repent of idolatry of Christian leaders.
There is no better way for you to be a Christian than for you to listen and love and stand against the evil in the Name of Jesus Christ. No matter who it involves.
I pray that many of God’s people will rise up from ignorance and complacency, putting idolatry and partisanship aside, and care. Even if it means initially being flattened by the stories.
You can look to the Holy Spirit for strength. That would be living from the heart Jesus gave you. There is great Hope in Him.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.