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  • Pamela J. Lantz

The nasty business of human trafficking


This is the vision statement of a home of refuge for victims and survivors of human trafficking. Straightforward and to the point. I studied those six words for some time. I needed to let them break my heart again.

Sometimes, getting involved in a cause can become robotic The insidious nature of human trafficking can propel one to emotionally self-protect. It’s easier to focus on the label, or the movement in order to erase the reality that there are actual people at its core. To concentrate on awareness and fundraising or networking. To carry someone’s burden without feeling the soft flesh of their arms holding on in the process.

Looking into someone's eyes as they lay bare their soul, sometimes syllable by syllable as trust is gained, takes guts. It is not fun, and at best it is very uncomfortable. It’s costly. In time and resources. I needed to feel the pain, weight and gravity of this reality afresh, after all, this home is located just thirty minutes south of my home in West Michigan. These gals are local.

As I wrote in my last post, I was introduced to the world of trafficking through a customer at the gym I managed. I had met her over a decade ago, before sex trafficking was a “thing” the press, and now the church, talked about. Perhaps that is why it made such an impact on me. I had worked for years in crisis pregnancy centers. I had some clients that were “dancers” at a club, but there never seemed to be any coercion for the purpose of income involved. Knowing what I know now, today if I stepped back in the counseling room, I would handle things differently.

Human trafficking covers a broad range of people groups world wide. In My book, Just Let Them Love You, the trafficking of the disabled is featured.This was not something I intended to write about. Clearly, it was, and still is, on the Lord’s heart. I held back most of the gruesome details for the sake of the readers. In my story, the trafficking took place outside of America where poverty and the lack of governmental oversight is more prevalent.

In the United States, we don’t have a caste system or indentured servants, however, that hasn't stopped some from operating as if we do. People are in prison today for holding undocumented domestic workers as their personal slaves for labors or services.

Others, mostly young men and women, have been brought from other countries with the promise of a modeling or acting career. Upon arrival and unable to speak English, these victims are stripped of their passports, told they needed to “work off their air fare” and are forced into the dark world of often violent pornography.

Generational poverty, drugs, gangs and prostitution are breeding grounds for trafficking. Runaways, many suffering with mental health issues and victims of emotional and physical abuse are especially vulnerable targets of traffickers.

In my experience, law enforcement has been very willing to work with the local church, nonprofits, and government agencies to bring a preventive awareness to the issue. A rehabilitative, and redemptive move forward for the victims takes a unified approach. Perhaps, since you are still reading to this point, you might be one to play a part.

If you live in West Michigan, The Hope Project in Muskegon Michigan is one of the places you can get involved. Their mission is to support the healing of girls and women who have survived sex trafficking and prevent further cases through mentoring and education. Their core values are: Love, Justice, Empowerment, Collaboration, Stewardship, and Prayer.


Houses of prostitution emptied. Houses of Promise Entered. Houses of Prayer entered.

The Hope Project welcomes a variety of volunteer opportunities; fundraising, speaking and mentoring to name a few. Visit: for more information.

For those of you who live outside of West Michigan, I have included a variety of links below to explore.












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