This is Darren Kuhn with the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we search the ancient paths to find ways that God brings light into a dark world and helps set men free from the struggles that we all face on a day-to-day basis. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it. Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Listen to content.
Listen to discretion is advised. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.
William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. Oh, I'm always amazed at the things that God is opening up through Lantern Rescue. And I know this is an eye-opener today.
I can assure you it will be. It sure has been for me as I found out about this people group here recently from Mark. And I'm so glad we're getting to do a show on him because I know I'm going to learn a little bit about what's been going on.
It's a very, very sad situation. But the people group, I guess they're referred to as the Batays and Wren. We have Wren and Fernando with us. Wren, can you kind of give us a little background?
Yeah, absolutely. So Batays are communities in the Dominican Republic that are comprised of ethnically Haitian people that were brought over from Haiti to the Dominican Republic, in some cases, generations and generations ago, and they were brought over to be essentially slaves on the sugar cane plantations there in the Dominican Republic. They're sometimes also referred to as sugar cane villages. So what happened was years ago, they wanted free or cheap labor to harvest these sugar cane villages, sugar cane plantations and sugar canes extremely labor intensive.
So they brought over a bunch of Haitians. And they set up these little colonies, they are almost like little villages within themselves, just very poor villages. So they're all living in mainly like tin kind of hut with dirt floors, they may or may not have electricity. It's a very impoverished type community. And they all work in these sugar cane plantations around there. So people will be born into these and they've been living there and giving birth for so many generations. These people are living there. They don't have birth certificates, some of them have never left that square mile of their sugarcane village in their entire lives. And they're essentially people of no nation at this point. So they're ethnically Haitian and they look Haitian and for people that are unfamiliar, Haitians are black and Dominicans are Hispanic.
So you can just easily identify one from the other looking at them. So they're ethnically Haitian and they location however, they've been living in these sugarcane villages for so long and a lot of them have stopped speaking Creole and stop speaking French and are now speaking Spanish. So the problem comes in where this is a more traditional type of slavery where they've been brought in and worked on these plantations and they're told that they have to pay rent and that's taken out of their wages and they're never really paid and they're just kind of kept in this perpetual state of poverty and inability to move up. So now generations later, we have these people that location but they speak Spanish like a Dominican. Haiti is not really interested in getting them back because they're Dominican eyes to them now and Haiti is already struggling enough with their own things, let alone bringing back 1000s and 1000s of people that have never lived in Haiti and don't really know much about the culture of the language or anything like that. And the Dominicans aren't necessarily interested in adopting them into their culture because they are Haitian and they are there's, you know, a little bit of conflict between Haiti and the Dominican.
It's been going on for quite a while. So that's kind of the setup there. These sugarcane villages are on the outskirts of cities, sometimes in very rural areas and very remote areas. And they, you know, it's just this area where all these people live and work in this one centralized location and they're not paid. Unbelievable poverty is from what I understand the reports that I've heard. And Fernando, this is a group that the lanterns getting involved with, right?
Yes, yes. There's over 100 bad days in the Dominican Republic. I have with me a Haitian investigator that he is my main investigator and he's the one that brought me open my eyes to these bad taste. We did a project for a bathroom and one of the bad taste because they don't have bathrooms and little girls or little boys. They go into the sugar field area very high to use the bathroom. And sometimes they get raped by, you know, their own people there. So, you know, we started building bathrooms and, you know, these like, like Ren said, they're in limbo. They're in the middle. They have no education, no education, very, very little health.
Some bad taste hasn't even water. So no one wants them. No government wants to take care of them. So they're very vulnerable, especially for the traffickers to exploit. How would that happen from what I understand? They're really abused by the people in their area.
Yes, yes. They're abused the people in the area and they're so abused by foreigners that come down, Americans and also French Canadians. Asian girls that you can even see them in the beach, a beautiful beach called Boca Chica.
You can really see them on a bright day. Older American men with the Haitian teens, like 13, 14 years old, and they get them from the bad taste. They send a motorbike, a local to get them the parents either by ignorance or knowing what's going to happen or, you know, for some food or whatever. Let their kids go hoping for the best. And that's how, you know, they exploit them as well.
So they get double exploited with the people in the community and the foreigners outside. Wow, wow. And Ren, from what I understand you, you've had an opportunity to actually take part in several things that Land and Rescue are doing down there with these groups. Yeah. So we've been able to go down a couple different times and provide aid to these people, provide them food, gifts.
Fernando was able to do that bathroom that was before he was with us, but to provide them some some ability, some dignity in what they're doing and just remind them that they're not forgotten. And we do try to encourage investigations down there. And when there is the ability to do an investigation and to do prosecution, that's definitely something we encourage.
But there's a lot of roadblocks with that kind of stuff. But like we said, these people have been there for generations to try to prosecute someone where the victim doesn't have the victim essentially doesn't exist in the eyes of the law. Like this is a person that's been born without a birth certificate. Their parents didn't have one. Their parents didn't have this person in theory kind of doesn't exist. So it's hard to prosecute a crime when the victim doesn't exist in the eyes of the law. So do they are they still enslaved?
In other words, are they still in these communities where nobody's paying them for the work that they do or they hold them so much in debt for the work that for staying in their housing or whatever? How does that work? Who are you asking? Myself or Fernando? That's good.
Fernando. Okay. Okay.
I just don't want to like, well, most of them are free in a sense. They are in their communities. They have their own home.
Or if you want to call it home. Well, for them as a home, but it's not really, you know, condition. Since we have gotten modernized, they use them less. But the males, they would take them and do construction just like in the US at the Mexicans. Well, here is the Haitian, they use them for construction.
12, 13, 14 hours a day, and give them like $3 or $4 for that day, and they're breaking their backs literally. And then they go back to their, their Haitian community. Some of them live in the construction area until it's finished, and then they just let them go. And there's no money. Now they're just walking around the streets with no money, no job, and just in the air, and they're already in this side, they cannot go back to Haiti.
So that's what happens. But the sugar fields now. Most of them, they're not using them because of the technology, but they still enslave in a sense, culturally, you know, they're just stuck there. They don't know outside of the Batay. They don't know Dominican Republic.
They don't know anything about Dominican culture outside. They're just inside that community and don't come out. Right. And so when you guys use the word Batays, Rin, that word really speaks of like a village of folks, right? Yeah. So these are essentially villages of people that have been enslaved generations ago, and then they've stayed there and repopulated within these sugarcane villages. And so when he said there's hundreds of Batays, what he's saying is there's hundreds of these villages of these people? Yes.
Yes. Hundreds of these villages all around the country, all around the country, from the border to the end of the Dominican Republic. And so many children because in any country, the poorer the people are, the more children they populate. So there's so many children. And with Latifah Rescue, we try to feed 300 children at least every month.
We've done it frequently because we get three things from there. When we go and feed them, we get information about these foreigners or these exploiters. We also give them food. They get to eat, and we give them the Word of God.
So we do three functions at the same time. So it's just like Christ back in the days, for the people to hear him, he had to feed them first or heal them first. It's not preach to them first and then give them. You give them and then you preach to them. So that's the same method that we do in the Batays. We support their need first, and then we get what we need or we preach to them. And that's the method we've been using for years now in the Batays.
Wow. Fernando, could you put a face on this for one particular child or a story that you're familiar with that our listeners could relate to an individual or a family that you're familiar with? Yeah, like the family with the bathroom because that little girl, we heard that she got raped when she got into the sugar cane field.
I don't know, people in the U.S. know how the sugar cane field, but it's just like the corn field. It's very high, so you can't see once you go in, and it's like miles. So she went to go use the bathroom, and she came out bleeding and crying and stuff like that. And when they call my Asian investigator that he's known in that area, he called me right away. We went down to investigate, and the main reason why is because that particular family didn't have a bathroom. So the solution for that won't keep happening to her or any of the kids in that particular area because it's not for the whole Batay.
It's just for that particular section of that Batay. The other parts of the Batay is because they have bathrooms. But we did that bathroom with love and our own money, so that won't happen again.
And they're very content and happy about it. We started another one. We made the hole for the other bathroom, and we're just waiting to finish that for the other section of that same Batay. Wow. How about you, Wren?
Is there a story that you could relate to on what you experienced when you were in this area? No, there's not really for me. Okay. Sorry.
No, it's okay. I don't get to spend as much time in the Batays because when we go down, I only normally get like a day or two in the Batays. I haven't really had as much consistent time with the same ones. I tend to visit different Batays each time, so unfortunately I don't have one. Fernando, I know one of the really cool things that Landon got a chance to take part in, thanks to all those folks out there praying and supporting Landon, was you guys had a big Christmas. From what I understand, you may have done this a couple times, but I know this year you had like 400 kids?
Yes, yes. We've been doing it for three years with Lantern, and we have a holiday called Three Kings in the Caribbean. It's the three kings that visit Jesus. So they don't really celebrate Christmas like Santa Claus.
We celebrate three kings. So every three kings, we try to bring gifts and smiles to these children that doesn't have access to any of that stuff. Even though they will play with it for a week or whatever, but that day when you see the smile on their faces when they receive either the baseball bat or we had like toy cops and everything this year, it was great.
It was a lot to deal with, but we gave them food, drinks, and toys. Kids need to be kids. It's just amazing how you can make a kid happy with something simple like toys. I just want them kids to grow up and be kids first. I didn't have the opportunity to be a kid first. I learned how to tie my shoes at the age of 20 and ride a bike at the age of 24 because I didn't have time to learn all that stuff. When I was a kid, I had to grow up so fast. I just want kids to be kids. The world is tough enough as it is, so to bring a little happiness to them every year for three kings, it's just a blessing that we have gone to rescue to do that in these Batays.
Oh, it sure is. When we come back, we're going to talk a lot about how you can be praying for this situation that it's like now that you know about it. Here we can be praying and support it.
We'll be right back with a lot more with Fernando Ren on the Batays in the Dominican. Lantern Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern specializes in sending former U.S. Special Operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism and human trafficking.
As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated 150 billion dollars in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services.
They're gearing up for operations right now, and you can go to lanternrescue.org to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to Lantern Rescue and today's show we are talking with Ren and Fernando about the Dominican Republicans. I always want to say Republican, I'm sorry, the Dominican Republic, the situation with the Batays, these villages that are essentially becomes almost super slums as a result of generations of slavery and other things that have caused this. And now, unfortunately, Dominicans, from what I understand, Fernando, are really taking advantage of these men as they're building these high rises, right? Yes, yeah, it's cheap labor, like I said, just like the Mexicans in Mexico or any other foreigner. The contrast is in the United States, you go to a corner in a pickup truck and then you choose which Mexican or foreigner you want to get in the truck to build and then bring them back. They literally get them from Haiti, cross them over, fresh, and then have them build the high rises and then just leave them after it's done, leave them in the street like a stray dog and then have nowhere to go. They don't get paid much and then immigration comes around, pick them up, and bring them right back to Haiti to a worser state where they were before and it's never going to stop because these are the higher ups and they're the ones that have the money to bend laws and stuff like that.
I mean, it is what it is, reality. So we do what we can do while we're on this earth, but it will never be stopped just like human trafficking will never be stopped. Those slogans like stop human trafficking, put an end to human trafficking, that's a lie. What we do is disrupt human trafficking, but we'll never stop it, we'll never end it. But we do what we can, like I said, with the resources that God gave us first and the strength and the grace to disrupt human trafficking while we're here. Right, and as you bring the gospel into that people group, God would obviously bless them with opportunities. Who knows where all that goes because as I see what you're doing, one of the major things that you're doing is sharing Christ with the next generation there. And they can begin to taste freedom spiritually that a lot of those folks there in Dominican don't have themselves, right? And so, you know, it'll be amazing to see, but I think that's a critical part of what Lantern's doing there is even when you're doing the event with the three kings, right, you're clearly pointing out Jesus to these folks.
Yeah, that's the most important. I mean, if it wasn't for the mission that God set me or Lantern, it wouldn't, it will be in vain because Lantern is a light. You know, everybody knows Lantern is a light in darkness. In science, darkness does not exist. Darkness is absence of light. So when Lantern gets into a place and it doesn't matter if it's Ukraine, Haiti, Africa, whatever, they're bringing the light to that darkness and that's what we need to be. If you're in a church full of light and you turn on your, let's say, I'm losing my Spanish, English, what is it called? Anyway, if you turn on your flashlight on your phone, no one's going to notice it.
But if you turn off all the lights and you turn on the flashlight in your phone, people are going to notice it. So we need to be in the darkness. We need to go to the darkness.
The darkness is not going to go to you. You know, so that's where we go. We need, we go where we need to be and not comfortable. And let's say just sitting in a pew every Sunday because, you know, we need to be out there. We need to be, you know, going in and doing what we need to do.
I get emotional. Yeah, I'm glad actually, you know, because you couldn't be more right. And so today as each of us, you know, I love what Mark likes to talk about William Wilberforce. You know, now that you have seen this, what are you going to do about it?
In other words, you can't say you were aware of it and you did nothing. And so as we become aware of the bad days and this horrible situation there, we all have the opportunity to pray. We all have the opportunity to support Land and Rescue. And even I know that there were volunteers that went down and helped this year with handing out those gifts to those children, right? There sure were. I would love to talk about the girls that went down. So we brought down some of the girls from essentially our administrative staff, I guess is how we would classify them.
People who work in our office here in the States. And it was so awesome to get to see them interact with the kids and interact and see the bad days firsthand. And, you know, we did. We walked around a couple.
We walked around the one that the guys built that bathroom at. And it was awesome to be able to see them watch this interaction and really understand what we do and what's going on in these other countries. You know, some of these girls hadn't been overseas before.
Somehow, you know, they definitely hadn't been to the bad days, even if they had traveled internationally. So it was awesome to get to see them and see them interact with these kids and really make that connection. So that was really cool to see. What did you think about that, Fernando?
Oh, no. I was truly blessed with their presence with the unicorns and everything, the inside joke. But I was really blessed with the girls that came down.
This is the first time Mark came down with females, a bunch of females, because normally it's with rugged special forces type of personnel. And it was different, but it was awesome. I absolutely enjoyed it.
Oh, yeah. And I had a chance to talk with them as well. And a lot of tears as they saw what God was doing at work and bringing light into this situation. And so you might be, as you're listening today, thinking God's put it on your heart to do something.
Again, you go to lanternrescue.org and you can get in contact with us or maybe donate or whatever God puts on your heart to do. You know, a big part of what we're doing with the radio show and with the podcast is to bring light and to illuminate things that are going on in the world. You know, I know I myself, you know, to learn what's going on in Africa. Oh, my goodness, what's going on in Africa? What's going on in the Ukraine? You know, what's going on in the Dominican and Haiti and South America and all these different places? Rin, you know, I was telling you as we were getting ready for the show, it blows my mind how God is looking to turn on the light in all these places so that there are people that don't think anybody in the world cares.
But there are people. Yeah, it's crazy. And I know it's kind of cool to think back, Robbie. You've been with us since essentially the beginning, back before we knew that we had a podcast, back when we thought we just like randomly talked on someone else's radio show. And then we all figured out that we could search our own podcast.
That was the Sunday. But you've been with us since the beginning, even with us since, I think, 2019 or 2020. And you've seen us grow from, you know, one or two operations to this global presence. So I hope that's inspiring to people that have been listening to us for that long.
If you haven't go back and listen to the first episode, it's a lot more clunky. All of us were not used to being on the radio yet and we're still not. But, yeah, it's incredible to watch how we've grown. And I really think, you know, we're called to these places and given us incredible opportunity and just the right people in the right places at the right time. You know, I talked on the other episode about Fernando and how he's just such a godsend to us and how just the most perfect person for this mission and just so trustworthy and such an amazing dude. You can be more grateful. I can be more grateful for everyone that helps us. So it's really impressive.
It's cool to watch. Yeah, I was thinking about second Corinthians chapter one, you know, as he's been comforted, you know, through the poverty he grew up in and missing out on his childhood. You know, Fernando, you're having a chance to, you know, give these children a childhood that you didn't have. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I've been doing that for a while. Even back in New York, going to the ghettos and stuff, because since I missed out on any other children you miss out on. The children growing up stage is the most precious stage, the most innocent stage. And for you to grow up so fast, it's actually a robbery. And I don't want that to happen to any children.
No. And, you know, if Jesus needed, you know, you think that Jesus, you know, told everybody of his baptism. I mean, God told everybody of Jesus' baptism. The father said, this is my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased.
Every child needs to know that they're the beloved son in whom they're well pleased. And so I know that's part of what God is doing through Land and Rescue in the Batays. And again, it blows my mind that you guys have been doing this for three years now. Yeah, isn't that wild?
Isn't that wild? You know, when we're talking about the Batays and how the Haitians were enslaved and brought over to the Dominican, I can't help but think about Moses and Israelites in Egypt and how similar the situations are. You know, the Israelites were brought into Egypt and they were enslaved there. And then eventually, obviously, they left.
And, you know, I can't help but think about that when I think about the Batays and these Haitians that were brought from Haiti into the Dominican and enslaved there. Oh, yeah. And, you know, God heard their moaning, right? And he's going to do something about it. And it's kind of cool that I think that we're able to play whatever role in that, right, Fernando?
Yes, yes. Actually, at the similar comparison, the Israelites, when they left for Moses, they were in a similar state in limbo because they were Israelite blood, but they grew up in the Egyptian culture. So they didn't know what they were. And that's why they kept going back to their old ways, even in the wilderness. And later on, when we talk about the operations, what I call the Moses effect or the Exodus effect, it's similar to what happened to victims. You can rescue the victims, but then some of them will be like, oh, why did you get me out of here when I was making money? And some of them actually get pissed off at you, but it's because they're so stuck in the past, enslaved in the past in their mind that they don't see that you're actually rescuing them.
Moses was a hero, but they didn't treat him like one. And it happens to us as well. But I'll speak more about that in another podcast about the operations. But yes, definitely. I just want people to know that. And excuse me, what I'm about to say, but Ren knows and she should have warned you, I'm a little ghetto, so that pressing like on Facebook or sharing a Facebook post about the nation or even trafficking doesn't save one soul, doesn't save anybody. You need to act. When Jesus says, go ye and you go you, it's just pressing like or share doesn't do anything in reality to a victim.
The victim is still going to be in chains or still going to be in poverty in the bad days. Just because you press it like you feel like you did your part, that is a lie. So you need to act. The whole thing is act.
You need to act and act now. And so, of course, the way you can do that is you can go to lanternrescue.org and one of the ways you can act is you can donate. Right. And but also you can volunteer to come. Ren, thank you. Fernando, thank you for what you guys do. It's so awesome.
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