Tragically, the world's oldest profession has one of the world's youngest workforces today. Dawn Herzog Jewell, who wrote this month's cover story, "Red-Light Rescue", found that millions of preteen and teenage girls are trapped in prostitution, typically earning money for their families or brothel owners.
This global reality is far from the Hollywood fantasy foisted on the public through films like Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts) or Hustle and Flow (Terrence Howard). The forced-labor aspect of much modern-day prostitution stands in stark contrast to efforts by misguided bureaucrats to relabel prostitution as "commercial sex work." As a Salvation Army officer told me several years ago, "Sex isn't work!" When sex becomes commerce, the moral fabric of our culture is deeply damaged.
When Dawn is not writing or reporting, she works at Media Associates International, serving as its publications and training manager. MAI has trained publishers, editors, and writers from 57 nations, assisting them in creating new magazines and books.
More than a year ago, Dawn developed a strong desire to write a book to encourage the Christian writers she encountered from around the world. She didn't know where to begin or what to write about. She told me, "I wanted something I could be passionate about and also something there was not already enough written on." She and a friend began to pray.
Within a few months, Dawn hosted a mission event and heard a Filipina woman describe Samaritana, an outreach to prostituted girls and women. The woman said that when sexually exploited people come to the point of being willing to tell their stories, that telling becomes part of the healing process.
"When she said that," Dawn recalled, "a light went on in my head. I thought: Wow. That would be amazing to be a part of their journey and to tell their stories."
A few years ago, writing about Christians fighting global prostitution would have been the furthest thing from Dawn's mind. But she had been seeking to burst out of her comfort zone.
As part of her reporting, Dawn volunteered with Emmaus Ministries, a Chicago-based outreach to male prostitutes. She also attended the International Christian Conference on Prostitution in Wisconsin, where missionaries and indigenous leaders from more than 30 nations gathered to share ministry strategies.
"I had the privilege of witnessing the Lord planting seeds in hearts," Dawn said. "These ministry leaders were in prayer for God to raise up more people with a heart for these broken men, women, and children."
A great need of sexually exploited individuals is for healthy, trusting relationships with people who care about them. That's something every church has the capacity to provide.
Dawn told me that her article represents an extremely small slice of what God is doing worldwide, but the "burnout rate" for staff and volunteers is high. "You just can't rescue everyonethus the prayer for God to raise up more people."
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