164 – How Churches and Pastors Can Engage in Their Communities

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Sandie Morgan joins Mark Shaffer’s radio show The Update Program on KWAVE to share an overview of human trafficking. She explains the meaning of “human trafficking,” the most common ways victims are lured into trafficking, and how churches can engage in the best practices for preventing trafficking.

Key Points

  • Human trafficking is when one person with more power exploits another person.
  • Human trafficking includes labor trafficking and sex trafficking, but there are other kinds of trafficking as well. Sex trafficking makes up only 22% of all human trafficking.
  • Force, fraud, and coercion are the three elements to look for.
  • Many people are lured into trafficking by promises of jobs.
  • People think human trafficking victims are all just waiting to be rescued, but the reality is that many of them just think they’ve made bad choices, and some of them even protect their traffickers.
  • Many trafficking victims are lured through social media.
  • Utilizing youth pastors is an excellent way to improve youth awareness of trafficking.
  • Peer-led awareness groups are the most effective.


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Dave: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 164, How Churches and Pastors Can Engage in Their Communities.

Production Credits: [00:00:10] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak. And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice and make a difference in ending human trafficking. If you’re picking up this episode for the first time, welcome we’re so glad to have you with us for this conversation sponsored by the Global Center for Women and Justice here at Vanguard University. This episode’s a little different than normal. Normally my pal, Sandie Morgan is along with me to facilitate a conversation and often we have a guest with us. Today, I’m really pleased to be able to share with you a recent interview that Sandie was a part of as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month here in January 2018. She recently appeared on Mark Schaffer’s show on KWAVE. And in this segment of the show that we’re featuring on this episode, Mark asks Sandie how churches and pastors can engage their communities to battle slavery and human trafficking. I hope you enjoy this conversation between Mark Schaffer and Sandie Morgan.

Mark: [00:01:44] Good morning and welcome to the update program. I’m your host, Mark Shaffer. And with me this morning in the studio I have Dr. Sandra Morgan. Now Dr. Morgan good morning.

Sandie: [00:01:54] Good morning. It’s so nice to be here with you.

Mark: [00:01:56] You are a professor over at Vanguard University, correct?

Sandie: [00:02:00] Yes, I am.

Mark: [00:02:01] And you’re also heading up the Global Center for Women and Justice, correct?

Sandie: [00:02:07] I love my job.

Mark: [00:02:09] I know you do.

Sandie: [00:02:10] Can you imagine with a title like that what I get to do?!

Mark: [00:02:12] Oh my goodness, yes. Well, I’m excited to share with our listeners this morning a little bit about what it is that you do. You have such a fire, a passion for what you do. And that’s what I love about you and I love about the mission that you have. But let’s just jump right in. January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Sandie: [00:02:34] Yes, I’m very excited about launching that right here at KWAVE.

Mark: [00:02:38] Yeah well, we want to inform our listeners of what that means. So, tell us first of all what is human trafficking?

Sandie: [00:02:45] Well human trafficking is when someone with more power exploits another person and they can use the means of force, fraud, and coercion. Those are the three elements that we look for in a case. And they’re using it to make money, either by selling commercial sex or through forced labor slavery. And so human trafficking is like slavery but we use the word trafficking the same way we use the word trafficking for drugs and for weapons because it emphasizes that this is for money. And I know for your listeners we understand that the love of money is the root of all evil. And I don’t want people to look at trafficking and think sex and those kinds of things. It is about making money. The law of supply and demand, it is big business.

Mark: [00:03:39] OK. That was one of the questions I had for you, is what’s the difference between human trafficking and sex trafficking?

Sandie: [00:03:46] Well human trafficking includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking, those are the two primary forms. There are other forms that are recognized internationally including organ trafficking.

Mark: [00:03:57] Oh OK. Now I love that you have that so well-defined: force, fraud, and coercion are kind of the three elements that define this sort of abuse.

Sandie: [00:04:09] Most people most of the time when we interview survivors, we discover they started something that they thought was something else. So, there’s always some confusion with smuggling and human trafficking. And someone will offer a dad a job because his son needs medication he can’t afford. And the job he has to come across the border but he’s going to pay a smuggler to get him across the border. And that’s smuggling, that’s a crime against the state. But what we find out later is that he borrowed the money, so he owes the smuggler. So, the smuggler still has control. So, this is where it can turn into human trafficking because it was really a fraudulent job offer. He gets here, he starts working, and then he’s paying exorbitant interest, he’s having to pay for his housing and all of this is taken out of his nonexistent wages.

Mark: [00:05:09] So he’s repaying the debt over and over again too.

Sandie: [00:05:13] And he finally understands he’s trapped. But he doesn’t know, and this is a myth. People think that human trafficking victims are waiting to be rescued and they have their hands up waving, come and get me. And they don’t even realize that there is someone who will help them. They don’t realize they’re victims. Sometimes they just think they made a bad decision.

Mark: [00:05:36] Right. And that’s another one of the questions I wanted to get to, is what are some of the myths surrounding human trafficking that need to be debunked? I mean you’ve shown me a list of these and I kind of want to go through these because I feel like there is so much misinformation out there, and we want our listeners to be made aware. But before we do that, let’s give them the website where they can go to get more information.

Sandie: [00:05:59] You can find more information at Vanguard.edu/GCWJ. That’s Global Center for Women and Justice. And if you are so anxious to get an answer today you can send us an e-mail at GCWJ@Vanguard.edu. And we on our website, we keep our events up to date, we have resource pages, a link to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast, and you can find out about what Vanguard is doing to fight human trafficking.

Mark: [00:06:34] That’s great. So, we want to encourage you to check out the website, again if you do have a question send an e-mail right away. I know sometimes it’s hard to get information back. So, one of the myths that I see highlighted in this place is victims will self-identify.

Sandie: [00:06:49] Yeah, they usually think, like I said, that they made a bad decision. Or in the case of sex trafficking, there’s often a trauma bond with their trafficker. And so, they’ll protect the trafficker because they believe that in a sex trafficking case, that’s a pimp is the vernacular we use, that he really cares about me, he’s the only one who’s going to protect me. And so, they’ll actually protect the pimp, not say to the law enforcement officer thank you for coming to rescue me. And so, we actually have to change their perspective on what’s happening. So, they begin to identify themselves as a victim.

Mark: [00:07:31] And you told a great story to me just before we went on air, and I’d love to hear more about that involving a group of children who had gone through some sort of training. They were offered a job position. Will you please tell our listeners about this great story?

Sandie: [00:07:47] Oh my goodness, yeah! A few years ago, I did some training in Zambia and there were religious leaders from all six states in Zambia, we spent five days together. And one of the stories I told was about a Ukrainian woman who had been trafficked into Greece to be sold for commercial sex. Someone was making a profit and selling her multiple times a day. But when they trafficked her, they offered her a job, and she was 17, and she was excited about starting a new life. But when she got to the border of Greece they put her in a little hotel and the next day she would be going to her “new job”. But instead, four men dressed in police uniforms, not necessarily because they were law enforcement but part of breaking down her trust, burst into her room and gang-raped her. And the next day she was auctioned off to a brothel because prostitution is legal in Greece. And it was almost two years before she was rescued. So, I told that story and then all of the leaders went back and did awareness events in their villages, in their cities. And they told that story over and over again. So, when six children from one state between 14 and 16-year-old checked out an opportunity to work at a cleaning company and also get to go to school. They were brought to Lusaka the capital. And when they put them in a hotel instead of taking them to their job, one of the boys remembered that story, crawled out the window, went to the police station. The police came back rescued the other kids and arrested four traffickers. That’s how education can result in prevention.

Mark: [00:09:37] That is such a great story. And it’s just so interesting when you get into these stories, and see the way that they manipulate people. Usually, it’s young kids who are targeted, correct?

Sandie: [00:09:49] Absolutely. Young kids, but also anyone without options. So, we see trafficking among adults as well. If you don’t have options and somebody offers you, so like for instance right now one of the most vulnerable populations globally are refugees. Their homes have been destroyed, they have no one to go back to. And we took our students on a country study in Athens, Greece this last summer, and met engineers, and teachers, and doctors who had nothing. And someone offers them a job and they take it thinking they’ll be able to provide for their families, and then find out that they are trapped.

Mark: [00:10:35] Ok. Another one of the myths, this doesn’t happen in our communities. Surely, human trafficking does not happen in Orange County.

Sandie: [00:10:42] Oh my goodness. I served for three years as the administrator of the Orange County Human Trafficking task force that’s federally funded, and the government doesn’t spend money on things that don’t exist. And just since the task force started a little over 10 years ago, over 700 victims of human trafficking have been served. The district attorney’s office has vertical prosecutors, that means they only do human trafficking cases. And there are over 236 convictions, the number of trafficking victims increases every year because we’re better at identifying them. We can find them, we can see them. And the thing I want to point out is in the last year 6 of the child victims have been boys. And we mostly only think about the girls, but boys are victims as well in labor trafficking. I’m just kind of pulling from the back of my mind. About 30 victims of labor trafficking. And that’s without a focused investigative team on labor trafficking. If we actually start looking for labor trafficking, that’s going to outpace sex trafficking because the that’s another one of the myths, that sex trafficking is the largest form and it’s only about 22 percent. All forms of trafficking are egregious. Human trafficking is a human rights violation, someone takes away your ability to make your own choices and that’s illegal from a United Nations global perspective and in our own country, basic human rights.

Mark: [00:12:24] Well but here in Orange County, why is it so easily overlooked? I mean I’m not confronted with it on a daily basis.

Sandie: [00:12:31] Yes you are, you just don’t have eyes to see. Yeah, you just pray that God gives you eyes to see. And that comes from studying the issues. One of the things we say at the Global Center for Women and Justice is studying the issues, be a voice, make a difference. Because if you don’t do your homework, you might say the wrong thing and you might do the wrong thing, and actually cause harm. So, my purpose at the Global Center is to educate, especially the church, so that what we do we do well and we do it on biblical foundations. And we really, we become Proverbs 31:8, “be a voice for those who have no voice and ensure justice for those being crushed.” Human trafficking exists in Orange County, and you and I can learn to identify it and to do something about it.

Mark: [00:13:23] Yeah, well let me ask you this. Who’s at most risk of being human trafficked? I mean we’ve brought up a little bit about social media so I’d love to push into that area.

Sandie: [00:13:34] I remember a case from when I was the task force administrator, of a pimp who recruited three girls between 15 and 17 all online through social media. And he targeted girls who were living in group homes. These are kids who had already been identified by our Child Welfare system as not being in a safe environment. So, we took them out of their homes, but they feel isolated and alone. And they’re looking for love and to be special. So, somebody tells them I love you, or they give them dreams like you want to be a model you want to be a star, I can do that for you. He recruited three girls, sent them bus tickets from as far away as Florida. And they came here believing that their lives would be changed, and they have trafficked again on social media right here in Orange County. That was a federal case, and he went to prison for 17 and a half years.

Mark: [00:14:38] Wow. Yeah, we always are real careful, I have a teenage son and we are so strict with him on what forms of social media what he can say because you know as parents you want to protect your children. Now I’ve heard about group homes but also those who are coming out of foster care, as being real likely targets.

[00:14:57] Because they’ve already experienced some kind of possible trauma, maybe they were in domestic violence, maybe they were being abused. And they’re looking for a future and they feel hopeless, often very hopeless. And when someone offers them a place to belong, even if it’s in a very warped sense, they take it and we don’t understand that. But if you try to put yourself in an adolescent brain, their brains aren’t done yet and they can’t, actually, they cannot completely go through risk management procedures that you and I do every day because their prefrontal cortex isn’t done and that’s a topic for another day. Yes, definitely something. And let me tell you, you have sons. And boys are just as at risk of being recruited through social media. There’s a couple of great videos on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web page, that you can show your sons to show them how vulnerable they can be when they make friends online.

Mark: [00:16:06] I would love to see where can I find those?

Sandie: [00:16:08] National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Mark: [00:16:12] Great, I wanted our listeners to hear that again also. Remind us once again, this is Mark Shaffer, you’re listening to the update program and I’m joined by Dr. Sandra Morgan. And you head up the Global Center for Women and Justice. Tell us again what your website is.

Sandie: [00:16:28] Our website is Vanguard.edu/GCWJ.

Mark: [00:16:34] Now going through. I wanted to say this about the victims. I mean this isn’t predicated to a gender, an age, a race, an academic or socio-economic predisposition. I mean this kind of covers everything right. It can just be tied to loneliness and identification.

Sandie: [00:16:54] Exactly. Poverty is another huge driver though. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you aren’t able to make your rent, now you’re living out of your car, or you ran away from home because of abuse and you have no place to sleep and someone offers you a place to stay. That can lead to being trafficked.

Sandie: [00:17:15] Yeah well, I mean it’s not typically a gang scenario as well? Like you know so many young men are looking for, you know again that’s probably a topic for another day, they just look for that identifier. They want to be able to identify with a group or with someone like you said, they’re looking for love in a lot of cases. And so that’s kind of the bait that’s dangled in front of them. Correct?

Sandie: [00:17:40] Absolutely.

Mark: [00:17:42] Alright well we’ve mentioned a few times that you’re from Vanguard University, what is Vanguard University’s part in all of this?

Sandie: [00:17:50] Well Vanguard University is a private Christian university and it’s right in the heart of Orange County. And so, we get to be part of educating our community, calling our community together to collaborate, to pray, to equip our frontline service providers. And we’ve hosted for 11 years, an annual conference called Ensure Justice. It’s coming up March 2nd and 3rd. And we address in great depth, one of the issues surrounding human trafficking. And this coming year we’re going to look at the link between human trafficking and substance abuse. We’ve already in this interview talked about how children who have already been abused and have been taking out because our child welfare becomes much more vulnerable. Well, it would interest you to know that the indicators in Orange County, are that 90 percent of those who are trafficked are out of child welfare already or already in child welfare. And that the number one risk factor for having child abuse and neglect, is a family member with a substance abuse and addiction issue. And we know everybody’s heard the epidemic of opioid overdoses, right here in Orange County it’s true too. So, we offer our community an expert place for two days. I mean the head of Victim Witness Services for DEA will be our keynote speaker. She is coming out from Washington D.C. We have experts in health care, from the judicial system, judges and attorneys from child welfare for educators, everybody. Because we have to do this together, nobody can do this all alone.

Mark: [00:19:40] I picture you as a champion of this cause. Alright, I know we have not hit the achievement levels that we would like but God’s behind you. God’s working through you. And so, I consider you a champion. But tell me a little bit about the Global Center for Women and Justice. When did this start?

Sandie: [00:19:59] Well the center was started by two amazing professors, both of whom are now with the Lord, but they were my mentors, Dr. Sheri Benvenuti and Dr. Elizabeth Leonard. I was going through old papers the other day and found minutes of a meeting in November 2002. And then they formally launched the following year, the Women’s Studies minor. And it’s just been an amazing journey how God has kept the center alive through difficult financial times. And it’s been very student-driven, our students want to do something, they started a club to fight human trafficking, and they used the name of the foundation that I was part of when I came back from Greece as a missionary and it was called Lydia club. Because of Acts 16, right. But when they went to present at another Christian university, somebody asked the president, so Lance what’s his name, why are you president of a girl’s club? So, we changed it to something more significant. Live2Free, just choices you make choices that create freedom for somebody else. And that team goes out, you can invite them to your high school, you can invite them to your middle school, to your youth group. And they are youth-led peer-led which is best practice for prevention. And they’re active every year on our campus.

Mark: [00:21:34] What’s the name of that group?

Sandie: [00:21:35] Live2Free. And it’s just an amazing high impact team that changes every year. We call them our human trafficking mobilization team and we want to engage them in our local community. We also out of the center we do the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. It’s been recognized by the Washington D.C. based, the Youth and Family Services Clearinghouse, and they recognized this is a great way to get up to speed on human trafficking, and you can find that link on our website. The other thing that we’re really excited about doing, is we launched last year an anti-human trafficking certificate. It’s all online and child-serving professionals. The idea was to equip people on the frontline. And you and I had a conversation before. I believe pastors and church leaders are on the front line in their community, especially when it comes to prevention and protection. Those are things we can do, and this certificate is designed to equip your leaders professionally to be experts in their own area.

Mark: [00:22:50] And I think the head pastor is a great place to start. But from our talk, what I’m learning is the youth pastors are another great way.

Sandie: [00:22:59] Oh my goodness. If you would send me a hundred youth pastors, we could turn the commercial sexual exploitation of children around in the U.S.

Mark: [00:23:09] Yeah, I’m going to work on that. A youth ministry is something that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve been involved for over 30 years.

Sandie: [00:23:13] Oh my goodness. You give me a 100 youth pastors, I’ll train them for free. I’ll feed them lunch I’ll buy them pizza. Isn’t that their language, pizza?

Mark: [00:23:22] Yeah, but they have a lot of pizza so they’re kind of moving on.

Sandie: [00:23:24] Oh are doing the healthy thing, organic greens?

Mark: [00:23:30] Yeah, a lot of them are now.

Sandie: [00:23:32] Oh good, I like that.

Mark: [00:23:33] Well, in case you’re just joining me we’re wrapping up a conversation with Dr. Sandra Morgan who heads up the Global Center for Women and Justice. January is the National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. And so, we are encouraging our listeners to get involved in this. You tell me just a little snippet about the six-block theory that you were talking about earlier.

Sandie: [00:23:55] Well, I Believe and I think my own personal call is to equip Christians, whether they’re my students or in my community so we do this well and we do this biblically. And there are amazing lessons that we can talk about another time. But I believe that pastors are on the front line, and if you just could see human trafficking six blocks from your church and know what to do. How to support single moms, how to identify labor trafficking victims, how to identify when that hotel down the block is being used as a place to commercially sexually exploit children and women and boys. You can do this. Have you preached on human trafficking? Do you need resources to do that? We want to be there to equip you.

Mark: [00:24:43] That’s great. And again, your website for pastors to check out, for anyone who’s listening to check out is Vanguard.edu/GCWJ, which stands for Global Center for Women and Justice.

Sandie: [00:25:00] That’s right. And if you see something and you think it’s human trafficking, we can’t close without giving the 888 number. 888-3737-888, 24/7 hotline.

Mark: [00:25:15] 888-3737-888. Wow. That’s an easy number to remember. Well, I’m wrapping up our update program with Dr. Sandra Morgan, who is a professor at Vanguard University and heads up the Global Center for Women and Justice. We encourage you to check out their information online and to get involved in this great atrocity that’s happening across the nation and throughout the world. Thank you for joining me this morning. God bless you.

Sandie: [00:25:46] Thank you.

Dave: [00:25:52] Like many of you, I’m always so impressed with how much wisdom and experience Sandie brings to all of these topics. And if you are looking to engage even more in capturing that wisdom and experience, not only of Sandie but of so many of the partners in our community, I hope you will consider joining us for the Ensure Justice conference coming up on March 2nd through 3rd 2018 here in Southern California. You can get details by going to ensurejustice.com. And learning more about the conference, I think that you’ll find a wonderful opportunity to learn more about trafficking in so many of the partnerships that have been established over a decade of the conference. Thank you, Sandie. Thank you, Mark. Have a wonderful day. And we look forward to seeing you again in two weeks. Take care.

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