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World Update Recap 2023

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
January 6, 2024 12:00 pm

World Update Recap 2023

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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January 6, 2024 12:00 pm

Today, Robby speaks with Ren, Allen, & TC of the Lantern Rescue team to discuss the mission recap for 2023.

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This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network. It's about to start in just a few seconds.

Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is 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. Every person matters, every case matters, every person trained, every life saved, everyone brought to the Lord always matters, every single one. So the numbers are large this year, but I do want us to always come back to that grounded place of he left the 99 for the one and we will do the same.

No matter what happens, we're always pursuing one more, and that one life matters. So with that being said, so the total for 2023, and this doesn't include December because those reports don't come in until the first or second week of January. For most of 2023, we had 553 rescues, 346 arrests, 47 trainings with 1,821 attendees.

Wow. So you say that really quickly, Wren, but it takes a minute to get your mind around the idea of 553 of the perpetrators, right, were arrested. Or excuse me, 553 people were rescued, but 346 were arrested. So you know, the ratio of that is really spectacular.

Yeah, you know, we're getting pretty close to one for one. Often we'll see traffickers that will have multiple victims underneath them. So that's why the number isn't exactly obviously one for one. And sometimes traffickers are arrested on their way, you know, they're staying operations are on their way to get a fake kid.

So there's sometimes there's an arrest with no rescue. So that's kind of where those numbers come from. But yes, we're it's pretty significant. And so those are numbers from really across the world, right? Yeah, that's right.

That includes operations we have going on all over the world, including the United States. And so we've got the, you know, one of the neat things about this episode, from my perspective, is we have both Alan and TC back with us. And so, Alan, when you when you think about those numbers, you know, what does that bring to your mind? Again, I really want to stress the importance of what Ren had said, you know, really, it's about the one, you can have thousands of numbers there, but each one of those numbers represents one. And so it's great to see the total, you know, being so high. Looking at it, individual number basis, that to me is the more important factor. You know, we've never ever been about numbers, it's always been about that one that needs needs us and needs the rescue freedom from their captors, you know, so when I look at the numbers, it actually saddens me to be honest with you that there is that many out there and many, many more.

But so it's kind of a bittersweet thing for me, in that regard, knowing that there's so many out there, and so many more need rescue. Right. And for you, right, each one has a face kind of go with that number, or a lot of those faces, you got a chance to see, you know, personally, and then there's that other number TC, the one where you had, you know, 47 trainings and 1821 attendees. And I know you were real involved in those. And those are all faces too, aren't they?

They are. And I think that the great thing about that number is you have, you know, you have lanterns, you have the expertise, the willingness, the finances to go and have those 47 trainings. But you also have, you know, sometimes you can, you know, in a lot of different places in life, you can feel like I'm the only one, you know, like, Elijah's like, I'm the only one left and God's like, yeah, not so fast.

Right. So, you know, there's 1821 people, at least I would say, at least I think that's a conservative number, probably the impact of that. But there's 1800 other people around the planet who actually do care and want the training so that they can make a difference for more people in the future.

So I look at all these members and think this is a, this is kind of like that rock in the pond metaphor. You know, you can talk about 553 rescues and as Alan said, there's, there's a face for each one of those, but I have come to find and believe and know for a fact that if you rescue a child and that child goes back to their family, now you've, you've impacted five or six people at a minimum. And so these, you know, or the 346 arrests, right? You lock a guy up. How many, you know, it's about stopping the evil in this case.

How many rescues did you prevent needing to have happen because one or two or five guys are now, you know, locked up. So to me, these numbers are actually really just the tip of the iceberg as far as impact is concerned. Oh yeah. It's, it's, it's remarkable what God is, what is, what he's doing through, you know, again, just a growing movement as, as he continues to move with you guys. And so I know one of the, one of the things, Ren, that you've got here in your quarterly report is the Nepal training. In other words, that's, that's sort of a new thing.

Yeah. So we, you know, we've had contact with Nepal before, and we've been working in conjunction with some people in Nepal. But something that we're trying to implement, and it's a slow burn. I don't want to overstate how quickly we can do any of this because, and the reason for that is we're trying to do it correctly. We're trying to do it correctly and sustainably, which has always been our, our home base. It's always what we're focused on is trying to make these programs so that the people can operate them when we're not there and that it's going to live on beyond us, right?

So in light of that, I was in Nepal in, actually over Halloween, ironically. I was over there with two of our other ministry partners that we work with, MCTTF and ICMIC. And we did some training for the prosecutors and investigators over there to start getting them up to speed on digital evidence and CSAM. And I know we've talked about CSAM a lot, but I feel like I say this every episode, just in case this is someone's first episode, hearing the word CSAM. CSAM stands for child sexual abuse material, and it is the new word for child pornography. So I won't do that again, but it says CSAM from here on out. Well, you can keep doing it because it, you know, every time I've heard it, I don't know how many times, but I always got to kind of remind myself exactly what does that mean? Yeah. Yeah. If you're not working in this world, and I am hopeful that a lot of people aren't because, you know, it is a heavy world, but yeah, if you're not working in this world, you're not exposed to that word consistently.

So it's easy to not know. But anyways, we were there working to train the prosecutors and investigators in digital evidence and CSAM and in physical human trafficking as well. The more traditional sense of the word where you actually see the live victim often with CSAM cases, you see the images, but you don't normally find the live victim or the live victim has been rescued long ago and images are still circulating. So we were working through that with the hope that we were able to open a crime lab, a fusion center over there that mirrors some stuff that we have here in the United States as well, where they're able to process, not only process cyber tips that they're getting about CSAM being transmitted and traded in their country, but also a lot of the CSAM images that we see all around the world, very frequently we will see children that appear to be from that region of the world, children that appear to be from Eastern Europe, that appear to be from Africa, like a lot of these victims in these cases are most likely in these other countries. So they, you know, we'll be working towards a victim ID portion of that fusion center where they're getting kits and it appears that that child is in their country, they're able to determine if they're still in danger and if they are, they're able to go and recover that victim. So that is the long-term goal. And again, I don't want to overstate how quickly we can do that because there's a lot of training, there's a lot of licensing.

The methods for this kind of stuff and the boxes that have to be tracked are in place for a very specific reason to protect the victims, to protect the investigators who are about to endeavor on this very heavy journey that's so worthwhile, but at the same time, it is very heavy. So do we have the right support systems in place for them to be processing this information and to be processing these images? So that was the first step and ICNIC will be following up in February. They're going to do some victim witness coordinator training to start getting ready for the influx of victims that they might be encountering so that the people there are properly suited to work with them and to encourage them in their recovery and be able to navigate the court processes with them.

And there's follow-on trainings beyond that, but that's the next one on the shoot. And I hate to be ignorant again, and I know I've heard this before, but ICNIC means? ICNIC is the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Here in the US, we have NICNIC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which they're the ones that you see very frequently in the news. It's been a great organization. It started under the Adam Walsh Act, a child that was kidnapped and later found murdered.

And I want to say that was in the 70s, but I'd have to look that up. But it's the international counterpart of that domestic organization that we have, NICNIC. All right. Well, it's always good to refresh ourselves on this because I know a lot of listeners are with me.

They're like, what is that exactly? And that's helpful to know. And so moving on down, you've got stuff in the Africa operation, right?

And it seems like a whole lot. I know TC and I talked about it a couple months ago about the 101. And so, TC, you want to give us an update on what you're seeing there in Africa?

Absolutely. So we have, again, in that particular area, which in this case was Benin, in parts of Benin, we have great in-country partners who have worked super hard. Of that 101, every one of those has or will see a judge. In this case, this judge will interview parents or guardians and ensure that, you know, that wherever these kids end up, it's the best possible place. So of the 101, all of the ones that were rescued slightly north of the team's location have been able to then deemed able to return to their families and that the situation there was good.

Of the ones arrested in the southern location, there are still 58 of those kids left to see a judge. And I think that's tough. I think that's a tough thing.

I think it's hard for the country. I think it's tough for the kids. And I know Lantern is making sure that the kids are taken care of are actually, like in the last couple of days, you know, seeing to their physical needs. But, you know, the work remains. Sometimes it sounds great to go in an operation and go and rescue. Alan and I were there together with several others, but that's really just the beginning as far as, you know, Lantern's involvement and responsibilities and care for them as it should be. Yeah, absolutely. So we got a whole lot more coming up in this wonderful update of what happened in 2023 with Wren and Alan and TC.

We'll be right back. 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 to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to this 2024 update with Lantern Rescue. Again, we've got the whole team back together. We got TC, we got Alan, we got Wren.

Excited to have them. And just like, you know, I hope everybody listening and certainly myself at the beginning of the year, it gives us a time to check in with God and kind of make sure that we're tracking with him and that kind of stuff. And Alan, as you were thinking about these trainings, right, that really rings true to what you see God doing there in Lantern.

Yeah, absolutely. Like I mentioned before, when we were talking about the numbers, you know, that it was a bittersweet thing for me. The bitter part was the fact that, you know, there's so many out there victims and potential victims that need rescue, but the sweet part of the numbers was the amount of people that were trained. So in my mind, and in Lantern's mind, that has just increased the army to combat this, you know, and so we had a lot of numbers of trained individuals in the process of last year's operations and trainings and rescues. So that is a big, big, sweet thing for us, knowing that we're increasing these armies. So moving forward, though, you know, there's always lessons learned and in any training, good lessons and bad lessons. So we're trying to take what we've learned, both good and bad, and refocus or ensure that we don't get into any type of mission creep, which is a military term, but getting off focus, making sure that all our trainings, all our activities, all our operations are focused for the purpose for what Lantern was created for. And that is to rescue those victims.

So that looks different. There's been an expansion of the training from, you know, various aspects, the tactical side, the legal side, and we're still learning what those needs are as we move forward. And I'm going to let Wren maybe jump in and touch on some of the legal things, because that's been a big, big push this past year in getting – Before Wren does that, can I jump in one second, Alan, and say I find it remarkable that in my mind when I think about your own story, like God trained you for years and years and years, right? And it wasn't a one day and you're done, you're trained, right? He trained you for years and years in order to someday step into this role that then allowed so many other people to be trained.

And so as you train up this army, you know, God's training them all up, you know, just as like Moses, it took him 40 years to get him going. And I think it's really a neat story that – how God has done that with you guys and is doing that moving forward, and even so with Wren and her legal training, right? Because, you know, that was a big step of what happened this year for you guys, right, Wren? Yeah, yeah.

Thanks, Bobby. Yeah, you know, it has been huge to have that legal – and we've always worked with the prosecutors, but now to have one that's able to do this, it's really helpful. And working through my legal training was always the focus. My legal schooling, always the focus was to be able to provide more services and to have a better insight into this and to be able to provide training around the world so that these crimes are being prosecuted.

And yeah, it took a long time. There's a lot that goes into getting a juris doctorate and then passing the bar. But it was absolutely all worth it for the changes that we're seeing and the cultural shift that we're seeing with judges and prosecutors all over the world, including the United States. You know, I've had judges start to use the word CSAM even though – here in the United States, even though the word on the books is still child pornography, and they're starting to have that understanding of the severity of these crimes. And we had our first – in this county that I'm in, we had our first person recognized by the court as an expert in human trafficking, and they were able to testify to the court about a physical in-person human trafficking situation that was going on in our county. So we've seen so many increases in that world, you know, these crimes that previously people were maybe intimidated to prosecute or intimidated to charge as a cop, stuff that they didn't want to step out of their comfort zone to do because a lot of times people aren't prosecuting these crimes, not because they don't want to but because they don't know, or they're not charging the crime because they don't know. So we've had such a shift in the last year of people really pursuing these and starting to see red flags and calling, you know, we started a human trafficking response team in our county, and they know if they see anything that even looks remotely like this to call us, and they have been. You know, we've gotten tons of calls, and we respond to cases in the middle of the night and work it through the criminal justice system, and we're replicating that in counties surrounding us.

We're starting to get some growth there as well. So yeah, it's been huge. It's been a great blessing to have been able to do that and to be able to complete my law school education and pass the bar. That's been such a blessing, and I'm so grateful for that and all the support I had on the way the team has supported me in the last three years getting that degree, you know, as operations continue, and I had to take a sideline a little bit occasionally.

I wasn't able to go overseas quite as much. So it's been really great. Yeah, that's a beautiful thing. And TC, you really feel that this push at the beginning of the year as well, right?

I do. You had talked about, even when we were talking about the show, you had set alignment, and I know the team here had set alignment until we were going crazy, you know, in previous meetings here. And I think, you know, Alan had talked about mission drift, and here's the deal. In my mind, you know, Scripture says you love God with all you got everything, your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbors yourself. And in that parable, you know, really, Jesus tells a parable about the kind of love that the Samaritan showed for the Jew was extravagant. It was ongoing.

It was ridiculously lavish. And Jesus is saying, that's how you're supposed to love even your enemies. And so you have a bunch of good people, God's people in an organization, who are running around the world, trying to rescue kids, and in so doing, they bump up against all other kinds of evils and injustices. And it's so easy to want to fix all of those things, right to help everybody that you come in contact with. And it and it's just, it's just massive, but at the same time, to maintain the impact in an area where clearly the numbers indicate great need is necessary. It's probably a trillion dollar issue, then alignment and focus are are huge. And even even those verses I read, drive the alignment in this area. So I mean, I applaud Lantern's leadership and operators for their heart, and for their willingness actually to come back to center and make sure that the organization is aligned to accomplish the mission in the best possible way.

Yeah, and, you know, again, it's ultimately God's mission, as you know, also well, and, you know, it just helps a lot to have these, you know, times to reflect and, and go, Okay, where, you know, where is that headed and, and what's going on? And, you know, we haven't talked much about South America, we've talked about and then there's a Caribbean too. So we got stuff going on, you know, almost on every continent, right, Wren?

Yeah, that is actually right. Yeah, I think we're not in Antarctica yet. So and I actually did make it to Australia in 2023. But we're not getting operations in Australia.

I don't want that to become a rumor. But yeah, I think Antarctica and Australia are probably the only two left that we're not in. Yeah, the stuff in South America is going great. We have a lot a lot going on down there. Our task force leader for that is fantastic. He is committed, very, very committed to his operations down there.

And then we have our task force leader in the Caribbean that's also doing really fantastic work. And there's going to be a lot of growth in both of those areas coming up here in the new year. And so when you guys look into the, I guess, crystal ball, and we'll go backwards with UTC, what would you say for the listeners? What what could they be praying or, or asking God's help with for you guys coming into 2024?

Not to go all Sunday school, but wisdom, right? As I said, there, there's so much to do, there's so many places to do it. And there actually are a lot of people who are willing to do it, that they come to lantern wisdom to put the right people in the right places to do the work that needs to be done. And we talked about this too. It's easy for organizations, well meaning and great organizations to, to get sidetracked with numbers and things like that. We've done numbers ourselves, right. But again, I can guarantee the listeners that I listened to lanterns leadership talk about willingness to do and I think it's in lanterns DNA to do missions in hard places that maybe nobody else is willing to able to do. And so and we started the whole thing about the whole podcast with the one. And so I think that lanterns leadership is dead serious about going to really hard places.

And using all the resources possible for the one that maybe nobody else can get to. So I think I think 2024 has got that that flavor to it, brother. Oh, that's wonderful. And how about you, Alan? Yeah, I'm going to try inside because you see, I'm not trying to be Sunday school this year. But you know, the battles they're hearing about the the numbers are saying that's all flesh stuff, things of the flesh, we can see it and feel it. The biggest request I would have with anybody was to help us fight that unseen battle, the spiritual battle that is all around us. And like TC said, we, you know, we go to many different places, but that battle doesn't change. You know, the the spiritual battle, the closer you draw nearer to the Lord, I don't know if it's a biblical or not. But in the purposes he has for you, the more that Satan is going to fight against you. And so for strength and protection in the spiritual fight that we're also endeavoring in every day, you know, that that's probably the biggest request I could have. Right.

The closer you get to the target, the more the the flack comes upon you, right? Absolutely. It's and we sure have felt that.

And so, Rin, how about you? You know, I completely agree with what everyone's saying there. And, you know, to kind of circle back to how many people were trained in the lives impacted in 2023. I'm super excited to see where that goes in 2024.

You know, out of those 1821, I think it is, we're trained. Those are all people and we touched on this for all people that can go out and touch lives, you know, it is not unrealistic to think that they could rescue 500 people, you know, they could form their own organization, they could be committed to this and they could, you know, that that exponential growth isn't something to, you know, forget about. And there, there's always more room at the table for help. And what I want to see moving forward in 2024 is just a very collaborative environment. Nonprofits working together, the government's working together, everyone just churches working together to help whatever, if your cause that you have your heart on fire isn't human trafficking, that's totally great, too. But whatever that cause is for you, that you're working together. And, you know, we're not meant to be alone. You know, and we're supposed to be in the church and we're supposed to be in this community. And I think kind of to touch on what Alan just said, the closer you get to doing good and to the Lord, the heart of evil will fight against you. Well, that fights so much worse than you're alone, right? So I would just pray that everyone is united in this and whatever your specific cause is, that you have a community around you, and you're willing to work with that community around you.

Just a really beautiful, collaborative environment is what I want to see in 2024. That is the kingdom, right? Brothers and sisters. Very much so. Well, thank you all so much.

What a wonderful update. And again, and Ren, you have some organizations that you would really like to thank as well for 2023. Yeah, we've worked with a lot of really amazing organizations and people in 2023. So I just want to give them all a shout out and just acknowledge their work in this in this world and what they're doing. So Operation Light Shine, also known as OLS, the National Child Protection Task Force, NCPTS.

It came up, we mentioned earlier in the episode, International Science for Missing and Exploited Children, the OSINT Combine based out of Australia, and Chris Poulter, and he's a great ally in this world, the Sentinel Foundation, and the Tim Tebow Foundation. They have all played a huge role in those numbers that you heard today. All the rescues, all the training, these people all played a role in it too. You know, we aren't, we're not alone. We work with a lot of people and we collaborate. And we're all working together towards the same mission. Wow, thank you again. Thank you so much, guys.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-06 14:24:02 / 2024-01-06 14:34:57 / 11

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