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Liberator Series Part 1

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2023 12:00 pm

Liberator Series Part 1

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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September 16, 2023 12:00 pm

Liberator Series: Part 1: Mark recalls why he will never forget what Liberation looks like as he shares the impactful rescue of two young children almost overlooked in a Haitian nightclub.

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Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson

This is Rodney from the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we explored manhood within Jesus Christ. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds.

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The following program contains sensitive content. Listener 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. Hello, Lantern listeners. We're so excited to have you on today's podcast.

It's going to be a little bit different than normal. So we're going to share something that we have been working on here at Lantern Rescue. I have with us Mark and Brie, both excited to be here and chat with you about our Liberator campaign.

But really, this is going to be an ongoing thing. You're going to be hearing from us over the next couple of months as we chat with our operators about what liberation actually looks like in the eyes of those who have been liberated. And so we're excited to share some of those stories with you, some of the heart behind what began this campaign push and really what the campaign is.

So I would love to kind of start with Mark, if you wouldn't mind sharing a little bit about where you've seen liberation in the eyes of the children that you've rescued. You know, this is something we have thought through over the years, and that is how to bring people into helping us in what we do and how to motivate people to do that. And unfortunately, it's such a need that I wish the whole world saw it and we didn't have to mark it and we didn't have to, you know, solicit and we didn't have to ask for money, but we have to. And there's a lot of good causes in the world today.

I understand that for sure. So as we start this campaign, a lot of thought has went through behind what do we call this campaign? What do we call people, right? And there's a lot of words already used by other organizations.

There's, we don't want to be, we don't want to treat this lightly. You know, we want to choose a word that we call people who give to us and pray with us something significant so that they understand the role that they play. And so for a long time and through a lot of thinking and thoughts and guidance and direction, we landed on the word liberator. And first of all, there's like, because we're on a Christian show here, there's spiritual implications to the word of liberation, you know, and all of us, those who are listening, if you're a believer, you understand the freedom that you get when you accept Christ as your personal Savior.

You understand the forgiveness, you understand the redemption process and the new beginning. And truly, we all recognize that God is the ultimate liberator, right? So now we come into this situation and we're not God, obviously, but we are his instruments of liberation and we get the opportunity. We get, I mean, I look at my life and I can't believe I get the opportunity to liberate people, whether they are exploited, whether they are persecuted, displaced, the liberation process, you really get to see God.

Like, everybody wants to talk about the coolness of everything and all the tactics. And yeah, there's a lot of that, but really fascinating thing is the way that God injects himself into the liberation process of people and into our plans and into our, you know, limited knowledge. We think we have everything figured out in a, you know, particular rate or situation, but really God has, he has to lead the liberation team. So we're coming to get today to start the process of requesting and inviting people to be liberators with us. And, you know, the website and the team here, Whitney, who you just heard from, and Bre who's sitting here with us also, and many of the other team members here, they have great ideas and plans and ways that you can be a liberator.

I think I'll just take a moment and maybe share a little bit of stories that I think people will want to hear and they'll see and understand why liberation is important both on the field and then here at home. Lantern's beginning, if you listen to the podcast originally, even in the back time, a lot of our original work outside of our individual work as a team was in Haiti. And we, you know, I spent a lot of time in Haiti personally. I have a Haitian brother.

I mean, he is close to me. I have a lot of people I love and care for there. And God originally sent me into Haiti really with just funds to help people in a time where the embassy had to leave. I think this is, you know, I can't remember what year this was, but a lot of people were gone. Missionaries were kind of closed up. There wasn't a lot of aid happening. And of course, it's even worse now.

We all know that. But at that point, I remember getting on a plane that was empty. I think I was on the last plane that was possibly open into Haiti.

There might have been one or two other people, but got there, got on the ground. It was not a friendly environment for, you know, Americans. I did not see, actually the whole first year of working in Haiti at that time, I didn't see another American for quite a while. They were there, but they were just, you know, few and far between. I had to cover myself all the way sleeves, spent time on a motorcycle so I could wear a helmet. There was a lot of blocks, a lot of gangs burning, controlling the streets.

So it wasn't a great idea to roll around as an American. But I was still able to be in a relationship with a unit there that we have a strong relationship even today. And people that we love and we have worked alongside. So right at the beginning, I found a commissioner whose jurisdiction fell on, fell over this, that he had this authority for the country.

And, you know, we began a friendship that's lasted many years. And I said, you know, hey, there's a lot of confusion in this country. I, you know, it's too early to even know what sustainable program we can build. I don't, I don't know your intelligence.

You probably don't have much, but, you know, let's just go right at it. Like, let's, let's find exactly where, you know, there's criminality and I'm sure there's going to be kids who are being trafficked. So what we did is we pulled in the first investigator. He's, you know, an intelligence investigator. And he came in and he said, I don't have any part of this because I'm going to get killed. Yeah.

What he told me, he was, you know, he was like, nope, I'm out, you know, left out. Right. So the commissioner puts the word out through all the departments. Anybody want to come in here with intelligence, you know, about children who are being trafficked. Right.

Nobody wants to for a little bit, but then finally one guy's willing. And he comes in and he looks me over and I look him over and I still see him. He's thinking, I don't know, you know, right. And he, he just basically nods and says, mumbles, meet me today at two o'clock, you know, and it's like 10 a.m. at that point. And I said, where at? He said, just come back here at two. So, okay. So I came back at two and he, he's got a vehicle tinted out and he's like, you know, getting, getting this vehicle with me.

Right. And put a hat on, you know, put glasses on and I'm like, okay, okay. So we get in and we take off and we, we start running through parts of Port-au-Prince and he's showing me where the clubs are that he knows are selling kids. And I knew it was really serious because as we would move down certain streets, this guy would hunker down. I mean, he would, he would be hidden behind the door. You know, he was tinted. You could tell he was nervous.

He did not want to be nervous. You know, he's literally like, just barely pointing. He's like, stay down. There it is.

So we go through and we identify, we identify several locations. We come back and I said, okay, well, let's, let's go hit him tonight. And he was like, he's still looking at me. He's saying, what? You know? And I'm like, hey, let's, let's go.

I've got one teammate that I can pull in. He'll come in, come down and we'll, we'll, we'll start. And he's like, okay, you know? So the very first time it's me and another American, a team of four and some bumpity old vehicles and it's, we meet at 10 o'clock at night and we go out and we start hitting some really, really dark, evil places. And it really just blew my mind. These were not like in tourist areas of the Caribbean or places of the world where there's, you know, a few customers and it's a small club or something like these are, these were really big active clubs, lots and lots of customers on the street and, you know, blinding strobe lights and music that's so loud.

Even today, if I hear any kind of loud music, it kind of just sets me off remembering all this. Because for the next two years, I went, we raided, we built a unit, we established a team there with jurisdiction. We got real hot and heavy. I mean, we spent two years raiding every single club, every single club in Haiti. And I mean, we got good at it. It's amazing we didn't die.

There's so many moments in times where there were guns, there was confusion, there was fights, there was, you know, it got, it got hands on. I mean, but we trained an incredible team who they were all in and it came to a point where I remember standing on the, at the kind of FBI level, stair steps there with this first investigator who looked at me and said, the children of the future are our country, my country. And if we don't do this, who will? We have to do this, right? And we cleaned it up.

Yeah, because we didn't, sometimes we hit places two or three times in a year. Wow. Wow. They still had the audacity to get right back at it.

They were a politician. I think if you listen to past shows, we raided the Prime Minister's place and we didn't care. We just started hitting everything, man. I mean, we were working so hard to pull girls out. We would hit 10 to 15 places in a weekend.

Wow. We would pull as many as 20 girls out, you know, it was a lot. One time near the beginning, I still remember, you know, a couple of the kids faces, you know, there's a lot that's been over the years passed through my head for sure, my teams, but there's certain ones you just don't forget, right? And that you remember.

That's why the Liberator program is so important because even back then there was the few, the chosen who believed in what Mark was doing and said, what are you doing? I said, next month, we got to do this. I got a team. We got to do these things. This is why. And they gave to that, right? And that was before we were like really established and people even knew who we were. And I just, none of that would have happened, right? None of that would have happened without God moving in the hearts of people who, we didn't have a name for them back then, but they were the original Liberators.

And if they hear this show, they know who they are. They were the original Liberators who were like, hey, what do you need? Okay, done.

We're going to put that up. And without that, I couldn't put gas in cars. You know, without that I couldn't equip my team there and the foreigners there who were working with us without that. I, you know, we could not rescue the kids and have gift bags and t-shirts ready to cover their naked bodies.

It's all the little things that begin to add up that are the unseen and unknown pieces of the story, right? You know, and having people step into those places is so vital. I want to ask you to share a little bit about your story from Haiti and some, you know, some of those kids that just, those faces still remain in your mind, but we do have to head to a little bit of a break. So, we're going to leave our listeners hanging in on, so hopefully you're on the edge of your seat and we're excited to share just the heart behind the Liberation Campaign coming. Landon Rescue is a USA-based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Landon specializes in sending former US 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 in annual activity. Landon Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Landon 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 to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to Landon Podcast. This one's a little bit different than the ones you guys have been hearing. For the next couple of months, you guys are going to get a inside look into what Liberation looks like on really the front lines of this fight against human trafficking, the fight against, or the fight really, for rescuing the exploited, displaced, and persecuted people, right? That mission of Lantern. And we're taking time to invite you into a special place with us, and that place is a Liberator campaign.

But really, it's a call to enact freedom for those trapped in the situations that they are in. So with us, I have Mark and Brie, and Mark has been telling us a little bit about really the beginnings of Lantern and where Liberation began. And the original Liberators of Lantern Rescue, those people coming in willing to partner with us, not just on the ground, but financially as well, and how they moved this mission forward to what it is today.

So, Mark, I know you're in the middle of your story, and I would love for you to share a little bit about just a time and situation where you actually were able to see Liberation in the eyes of someone that was liberated. We would raid most often Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and even Sunday nights. And these were nightclubs that were multi-story.

One, two-story. We would also raid what were called pool parties. And these pool parties were like Olympic-sized pools, believe it or not, in the middle of, you know, Haiti. Not the most sanitary places.

Yeah, I can imagine. Just slam-packed with people. Just slam-packed with, you know, men and girls. And we would lay out the operation so that we could move through the city in a way that would keep us safe. And, you know, yeah, we had problems with people telling us, people trying to hurt us, kill us, everything.

Listen, it was everything, okay? And there was one club that we hit more than once because it was really a place that was visited a lot by, you know, not just locals, but also foreigners, you know, and it would be very full. And it had, as you would enter the door, the main door, often there are bouncers that we would have to take, you know, handle and then have them stand down. And then we'd enter the building and we ran in three teams, an Alpha Bravo Charlie team, Americans assisting each one of those units, you know, just, you know, advising them and supporting them in these roles.

And even, you know, obviously at first executing for purposes of training to say, this is how we do, this is what we do. And so this particular club, you enter in, there's a first floor, which is difficult, but then there's a large staircase going upstairs where there would be a stage and a band that had an open second story that went out onto a balcony that overlooked the street, the balcony slammed full of people. So there's no secret move on the building. I mean, like, you know, once you hit it, like everybody, there's a hundred people sitting on a balcony looking at, oh, here comes some people in mask and body armor.

Right. And so anything that's happening upstairs, they stop, like they're either, you know, crowding the doors or they're getting rid of their drugs and, you know, getting rid of the kids as fast as they can. They put kids out windows, they put girls off of balconies, they would do everything, you know. This one, I remember, you know, the layout just because we had to determine how we were going to move. And I also remember because I went up the stairs, I cracked my head on the, on the, on the, and I hate to admit that, we would sometimes wear bump helmets, sometimes we didn't, you know, and in these countries, anybody who's worked like this is laughing their head off right now because I'm chunking up that staircase behind my number one guy and, you know, he ducks and I don't, about knocked myself out. You know, you have that moment where like, I'm going to pass out now and fall down these stairs.

Is anybody going to carry me out? And so, you know, hit my head, but managed to keep my, my eyes open. We, we get upstairs and we, you know, we moved to, we always moved in a certain direction that we wanted to, and so, to cover territory. And as we passed a couch, there was a young boy on that couch being perpetrated by men. And he was probably, oh, I know, I remember his age, he was, he was nine, but he looked six because he was malnourished, you know. So a lot of times you see that in these countries.

Like you meet somebody who's 15, but they, they look seven because they're just so malnourished or they're just not well taken care of. And that little boy was on that couch, you know, and I remember having to, you know, pull the team back because the number one guy missed him, didn't see him. And then I'm like, hold up, hold up, you know, and we break off to that couch and you have to push through people or get people to stand down, you know, and then grab that child and then, you know, the remaining teammates arrest, you know, put hands on those people while you take that boy away. And, you know, and he was, he was, he was probably drugged, you know. Something, alcohol, anything at that point.

Yeah, yeah, alcohol for sure, alcohol for sure. And maybe more. But pulling him out and getting him in the hands, we would have a collection point. So these places were so big, we would have a collection point. Wow, just to keep going.

With protection on the collection point that we had a system of bringing kids back into that safe zone, which is being armed and just holding people off because the people are crazy. I mean, it's like, it's crazy. Well, not only do you have the physical issues, right, but you've already said that there was a spiritual battle at hand here. Oh yeah, it's demonic. Exactly.

It's so demonic. And so, you know, we pulled him, pulled this kid into this, you know, into that collection point. And then sometimes from the collection point, we load them to vehicles where there's social services or, you know, a representation of therapy and trauma, helping them, medical care, all that, right, on the street. And as we got him to the collection point, we were going to roll out and I said, man, let's roll that through again one more time because there was so much up there.

I can't, I don't know. Did we catch every closet? Because that's another story, but there's just holes and hotels hidden behind these clubs that you do not know exist until you go through one little door and then there's 15 bedrooms, you know, stuff like that. So we moved back and, you know, the band had stopped playing and they were kind of backed out, you know, jarred back up against the wall and people are starting to, you know, run out, run for it, make a run for it, you know. And behind the band was a girl who was 13, who was drugged, completely drugged and just passed out. Right, and so to pull her out, we, you know, did what was necessary, got her, got a collection point and out.

Fast forward, why I remember those two so much is not really the raid because I forget all those details honestly. What I remember is a couple of days later checking in on the whole group of kids that we had rescued and interacting with her and that boy. And the smile on her face, the just, she was in, she was getting it, we were taking her to an aftercare place and she just jumped in that van, smiling, like, you know, ear to ear. And then the little boy, you know, running up and grabbing my hand, you know, grabbing the other operator's hands, like he was so excited about going to school. That's what he was excited about. He was like, I'm going to get to go to school. He used to have a life.

Yeah, yeah. He was ecstatic. And he, those two, especially that little boy, he kind of became a special child to even the operation there, the foreign unit. Like they took real care and concern to him too. Like they were really like, this kid's really special. And anyway, so I got to see him even like a year later and stuff like that. But all of that would not have happened if it hadn't been for the people who supported us and supported the rescue of children. And I am thinking of one of our original liberators. I won't say his name, but here's a guy that I know who's given $50 a month all these years now, years and years, right?

And he still does. I saw his name the other day and I don't look a lot, but I happened to see that and I was like, I can't believe that guy is still giving $50 a month, you know, and how incredible because he, you know, I know he gets our monthly reports now and things like that. He is, that $50 is why we are rescuing kids, you know, and people have to know that, you know, every dollar we take in, it's 95% of it goes to operations. We are such a small organization and such a huge operation for the size that we are. And we- That's the heart of every single person here at Lantern is the realization that at the end of the day, the mission matters, right?

And so that doesn't, the rest of it can go to the wayside, but it's rescuing and liberating those people from their circumstances. I wonder if Brie could say something. We've got Brie on here and Brie is, I don't know, have you ever been on the show before? I have, yeah.

I have a few about the crane. Okay, that's right. The rescue run that just took place two weekends ago, yeah. And so maybe you two can chat and you can kind of share, you know, you work, you go overseas also and help with just loving on our people as well as like a missionary.

But then you also, you know, work inside of here and, you know, write content and talk to donors and help events and all that. So, you know, give your thoughts on the Liberator campaign. Yeah, I think even just as I'm listening to Mark share the story, a lot of what I'm thinking about is how we are all called into the story together. And I'm thinking about how, you know, Christ says that it's for freedom that we've been set free. So from that place of knowing that we have been liberated, we have a responsibility to do the same for others. Absolutely. And so this is just something that is an incredible opportunity for people to be able to come into and identify with.

I know that they are liberators, that they are coming alongside of someone else's story. However it is, you know, through prayer, through giving, but that it does make a difference. And just to be able to walk alongside. And it's the joy of sharing in those stories with one another as well. That any time that you hear a story of a rescue, anything that we share, that is your story as well.

To know that you had your hand to it, there is such a joy in that. Even just to be connected as a body of believers across the globe, knowing that for those that are in their place of crying out to be liberated and to be met where they are. There is, you know, there are not only teams of five, ten, two, or one, you know, people going to meet them exactly where they are, but there are countless, thousands of names and faces of people who are behind their liberation.

That's it, that's right. If we didn't have that prayer support and feeling of somebody giving you $5 a month, knowing they believe in what we're doing, oh man, it's very powerful. So for those that go and are on the ground, they're representing a whole army of people that are fighting for freedom.

Absolutely, and I think sometimes we can get stuck in the idea that, you know, I only have pennies to give, or you know what I mean, like whatever that looks like, or I don't know that what I'm doing really makes a difference. I've said time and time again just in talking to people that, you know, Lantern really began with one person that had a desire to see the world change, meeting another one person who had a desire to see the world change, and this is what's come of it. And we've had people standing behind that, you know, like there's been support, whether it be prayerfully or financially along the way. So this Liberator campaign gets to really kind of summarize and put that all together. And I know we're running really short on time, so for those of you that are listening and you're wondering how you can be a part of this Liberator campaign and what that looks like, you can head over to our website, backslash liberator. In order to be a Liberator or join that community, we're just asking that you become a monthly giver of $35 or more, and to just kind of remind you that you are part of the family. We've even created specific and special, we'll call them swag, right, t-shirts, bracelets, but it's those reminders to you that you really are in this fight. We want you to be able to wear something daily that says, hey, you know what, this is why I fight right here. And that this is the mission part that I'm a part of, right?

This is my mission field, because that's what it becomes. You guys are our family, and we're just so fortunate to have you guys alongside of us for this campaign and ongoing, and those of you that have been around from the beginning, it is, it's just like you said, Mark, every time those names pop up, whether it be a $5 giver, $500 giver, it is that little bit of motivation that keeps us going sometimes. Some days, yeah, with the stories that we hear, sometimes it's that little piece that just gives you that moment of, you know what, like we're not alone in this fight, you know? There are people standing beside us in this fight. So thank you guys so much for joining us, and to our listeners, we're gonna be having more of these, and we're really inviting all of our operators to tell you their stories that have really just stuck with them and how liberation looks different in every area that we work, but that hope regained in the lives of those that feel like they are hopeless. It's a beautiful picture of liberation by Christ, and we just get to be the footwork of it. So thank you guys so much for joining us. We appreciate it, and we look forward to chatting with you on the next one. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-07 11:31:22 / 2023-10-07 11:43:39 / 12

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