I am NOT a Victim of Sex Trafficking – An Open Letter to Human Sex Trafficking

Dear Human Trafficking:

So you thought you could get the best of me, didn’t you?  You thought you could not only take my hope for a better future – but my stories of the past and use it for your own gain.  You thought you could dismiss me and marginalize me.  You thought that you finished me off when I stumbled out of the sex industry – cold and alone and afraid that I would never be able to live a normal life.   You thought I would believe that no one could ever love me and that I didn’t deserve anything better than the cesspool of shame you left me in.  You thought that I was one more notch on your belt and that the label of prostitution and sex trafficking would be enough to make me hide for the rest of my life.  You thought you had damaged me enough that I would be useless.  And you turned your back on me.

But while you weren’t looking – while you were busy trapping and demoralizing the younger men and women you find so attractive – I got better.  And I got stronger.  And I became fearless.  What you didn’t count on was the fact that while you tried to convince people that I wasn’t a “real” victim, you were also making me believe I wasn’t a victim.  And instead of making me feel worse – it made me feel better.  Suddenly I realized that if I was still standing…I was a SURVIVOR of sex trafficking…not a victim!  And now that I was standing…I thought I could help someone else.

And you laughed and turned your back on me  to feed on the souls of others.  You preyed on the weak and the poor.  You didn’t discriminate against race, religion or political affiliation.  Your wanton lust for flesh took you to the far corners of the earth and you convinced some that prostitution should be legal and it was a victimless crime and that the people that provided such services truly loved it…you took “free will” and turned it against the human race.  You became powerful and blurred the lines so that many couldn’t see that this was nothing more than a new version of slave trading.  And you became complacent that what you had created was beyond our ability to “fix” and that you could continue to gobble up lives with abandon.

And I got stronger and so did the others that had come before me.  We are finding our voice and you can’t shut us up and you can’t shut us out.    You may have taken on the mantle of “help” to try and deceive us into thinking that someone else could tell our stories and would let us in their club and have a seat at their table.  Because you know the insidious nature of the this disease you created and the fear that is never far beneath the surface of any survivor of sex trafficking, you thought we would let them hide our pain and our grief with their bluster.  You made them complicit with your defiance of all that is right by asking us to wait in the corner and trot us out when they needed a show.  It was like they became the new pimp.  The new well-meaning kinder gentler pimp.  But still a pimp.

Look out Human Sex Trafficking.  You have become fat and bloated and are wallowing in a sea of ignorance.  And I am here to take you out.

You should know I’m not alone.  All those souls you turned your back on over the years?  They stand with me.  And what you never counted on is that I am NOT a victim of your game of torture and dehumanization.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I am a FIGHTER.  I am a THRIVER.  I am an OVERCOMER.

And I am done with you.

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Dedication and The Handlebar Mustache

This past Sunday’s service was about Hearing and Seeing in the will of God and knowing that when you hear his voice calling you and when you turn and listen to his guidance and then follow through with the things he directs you to do…you will find yourself walking in Grace and Peace and – when you are walking under the blessing of God – the things that God has brought forth no man can put asunder. 

All good…and I was very inspired, but the first part of the service – after the praise part – was a baby dedication. 

There were probably 20 babies that came to the front with their parents and were prayed over and dedicated in the traditional Assembly’s of God tradition.  It was very sweet and I did say my own prayers for those babies and their parents – in my own way – and as the whole congregation of believers reached their arms towards the new lives brought before the platform – I started to think back about the stories that were told to me about my own dedication at the National General Counsel by the President of the Assembly’s of God, Brother Lowenburg.

I remember how my mom and dad all used to tease me about how fascinated I was with Brother Lowenburgs thick and lush handlebar mustache – to be envied by any respectable biker…and I do remember him very well.  Not from the dedication of course, but from being with Dad in his home office and playing on the floor while he and dad talked about far greater things than my little imagination could understand.  When I close my eyes – I can remember his office smelling like leather and my interest into interior design was probably started by trying to remove the heavy brass rivets that held together the heavy dark red leather upholstered chairs in front of his massive cherry desk.  He was a very big man, tall and strong with a deep powerful voice.  He a man that commanded respect…never any need to demand it.  He oozed dignity and authority from every pore and wore well tailored suits and spotless white shirts and always had a soft perfectly ironed cotton handkerchief in his pocket. 

I know now that Brother Lowenburg was my fathers’ boss, but more than that, he was his mentor and a counselor they maintained a very close relationship with until Brother Lowenburg passed away a little more than a year ago.  Out of that respect and the fostering relationship he had with our family, my father had wanted to have Brother Lowenburg be the one who dedicated me to God and they waited until the Assembies of God General Counsel – only held every other year – and I was about 14 months old. 

During the prayer, in front of that massive crowd in the auditorium filled with Pastors, Missionaries, and the leaders of the entire Assemblies of God and their wives from all over the world, Brother Lowenburg took me from my parents arms and lifted me up towards the heavens and lead the entire congregation in a prayer that asked God to take my life and make it work to his glory – to protect me from the evil that was in the world and to give my parents the wisdom and strength to undertake the tremendous responsibility of raising a child that would bring glory to God.

And this was my chance.  I had waited so long.  I had watched so carefully.  I grabbed the tail end of his well groomed handlebar mustache – very groovy in its day – and pulled it with all the strength a 14 month old could muster. 

And I didn’t let go.

He completed his prayer only being able to really speak out of one side of his mouth as he tried to extricate his facial hair – and probably some of his dignity – from my little fingers to no avail.  The audience was amused and my mother was both embarrassed and moved through her tears.

At the time I’m sure no one could anticipated how important it was to dedicate me to God or to have such a respected and honorable man such as Brother Lowenburg be the one who performed the 3 minute ceremony or that I was going to really need the supporting prayers of this large group of spiritual leaders.

But it made me wonder…

God must have known on that day that may parents gave my life to him to manage that I was going to put myself through some tough times and that they were going to face some challenges that they were probably not expecting and certainly not hoping for.  But I think there was more of a purpose to that dedication than we all might have known about at the time.

If God truly doesn’t give us more that we can handle and promises that we will come through those challenges stronger and better than before, I think he must have known all along that my purpose for being gifted to him was going to require bigger challenges and greater grace than we expected.  His intention must have always been that my life was going to be an example he would use – when the time was right – that redemption is his greatest gift.

Society always goes through a series of growing pains as it evolves.  In just the last 100 years, our society has granted freedom to slaves of every type.  Women and the Right to Vote – Freeing the Slaves brought over from Africa – the acknowledgement of the horrific crimes played out against the Jews during the Holocaust – the Civil Rights movement – the abolishment of Apartheid – even the abuse and mistreatment of animals…Social Change requires a process and that process seems to be the same – no matter what the cause.  It identifies the problems, gives them a name and a voice, raises the awareness of the rest of society and then slowly puts the pieces in place to bring about change.  It’s never easy and its never quick.  Sometimes it’s painful and sometime it requires great sacrifice.   Most of the time they don’t get it right the first time and they have to take several unsuccessful stabs at it before true change is achieved.

Prostitution and Human Trafficking (one and the same) are the result of a society that has lost its moral compass and some of the results of our determination to be free to do what we like has brought about the kind of people and the kind of evil that can bring down a society.  But it takes awareness and it takes the fall of a celebrity (more than one usually) to bring us to a point where we just don’t accept the bad behavior anymore and we demand that change take place.  Unfortunately the new buzzword is Sex Addiction and I can already hear some of the perpetrators of this crime trying to use it as a defense.

I say a silent prayer for Tiger Woods and Ben Rothlesburger for putting themselves on the national stage as they compete for the poster child of depravity – both as men and as human beings and forcing the American Media to say the words “Sex Addiction” over and over and over because it will make it easier for us to bring up “Sexual Slavery” and – in turn – to raise money for the Safe House and the make victimizers of these women look even worse when we finally get them off the street.

So – Brother Lowenburg – I know you have moved on to a better place but I wanted to let you know that the prayer you prayed over me and my parents worked after all!  There have been dark days and we have all suffered, but it was all because the time was not right and I was not ready…but God did as he promised and protected me throughout and brought me out stronger and better than before and with a purpose that couldn’t have even been imagined when you were trying to hold on to your facial hair.  I hope that – if you get to have a trophy case in your home in Heaven – that you save a place for the one you get for dedicating me to God.

Just don’t keep it at lip level!