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Liberator Series: Shaun

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2024 12:00 pm

Liberator Series: Shaun

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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February 3, 2024 12:00 pm

Welcome back to Lantern Rescue's Liberator series podcast. Where we take a deep dive look at the team behind rescues and the mission that God has placed ahead of Lantern Rescue. This week we sit down with the director of the Lantern Team's South African Operations Shaun. 

 A warning: this program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised.

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If you or someone you know has experienced exploitation call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.


This is Hans Schile from the Finishing Well Podcast.

On Finishing Well, we help you make godly choices about Medicare, long-term care, and your money. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just seconds. Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Hey guys, thank you so much for joining us once again on our Liberator Series, Lantern Rescue. Today we have Sean joining us.

He is actually the director of our South Africa operations, and much like our other series or episodes in this series, today we're really going to kind of focus on what is the heart behind the people that are on the front lines of this fight, and really where liberation has been witnessed in the work that they've done and in personal stories that have just connected them to the mission as a whole. Sean, I'm so excited to have you on here. I know that you've just been accomplishing some really incredible things, but you're not new to this fight, right? And so I'd really love if you would just kind of share with our listeners a little bit about how you began in this fight and the heart behind it. Yeah, thanks for having us on today.

A little bit different where we're sort of turning the spotlight on ourselves, but for a good cause, I suppose. Yeah, I started in this encounter human trafficking almost six years ago now, seven years ago, and actually got into it by accident, really. My father just retired, and I saw an advert to join an organization that was doing a lot in Southeast Asia, and I actually suggested to him being newly retired that he could use his skills in his fight. And then, yeah, he actually convinced me to come along and do the little three-day selection to do it with him, more just to hang out as father and son.

I had no intentions of sort of leaving the job I was in at the time. And then, yeah, shortly after that, we offered to go over to Southeast Asia and see the guys working and how it all worked. And then again, I just was like, all right, I'll go with my dad and cool experience to see him, and then I offered us both jobs. So the first couple of years that I was in this fight, I got to do it with my dad. So we went on lots of operations together and did some really, really interesting stings and cases and rescues, and yeah, it was kind of real special to be able to sort of do it with my dad and work side by side. And I bet that was a powerful time for him to be able to step alongside your child and be a fighting force to be reckoned with in that regard. To share that same heart alone is pretty special, that desire to see impact in the lives of people that are exploited and taken advantage of. So how incredible is that, that your dad has stepped along?

I don't think I knew that part of the story. That is really just a neat thing to be able to experience with someone you love so deeply. Yeah, no, it really was. We both had careers in the military that didn't really overlap. I sort of joined the military just as a year or two where they did overlap, but we never worked together and certainly never deployed together. So being able to do it years and years later where we could learn off each other was cool. It's something we still talk about and we still reminisce about.

So starting off in the fight, and I know you said in the Asia area, what would you say, I mean, this is a hard fight to be in, right? Like every day looks a little different. And the stories you walk into are oftentimes ones that you don't just leave when you walk away from a nine to five, right? These are stories that stick with you in moments that sometimes even haunt you in some ways, right? But what was it that kept you in this fight?

Because this has been, like you said, six plus years now. And so what has kind of been that? Has there ever been a moment that just in that moment, you just realized, like, I will never do anything but this? I don't know if it's a moment that you recognize at the time, or maybe it is for some people.

But mine was more of a sort of like groove on me. In the beginning, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I was kind of a bit along for the ride, learning a whole new, you know, learning about this problem set into combating it. But then when you look back, there's a couple of pivotal sort of cases that, you know, ones are for me, one's a win that kind of galvanized me. And the other is a loss that sort of sticks with you. I can imagine that both of those are probably stories that you just don't forget.

Are there, you know, this is stepping into ground that it's okay to say no on, but are there pieces of that you could share with us? Yeah, no, one of the big wins that we had, and it was actually working so closely with my father was, it was an American man, an older American man that was running essentially sex tours across the Thai border into Myanmar, across into Burma, where just across the border, there's lots of brothels that have sort of eight to 13 year old girls in them. And he'd been, he was an older guy, probably from memory would have been close, 60 plus. But he lived in northern Thailand for probably 20 plus years, and he'd run these tours every couple of months, he would take a group of guys across for the sole purpose of sleeping with these kids. So we set up a sting where we put, you know, some of our guys and my father was one of them on the tour. And then at the last minute we convinced the guy that we didn't want to go across the border. And we would rather him bring the girls across.

So we paid extra. And he did, he bought a couple of minors across, you know, an international border into Thailand, where we were lucky enough to have the support of the Thai police and we were able to arrest him and rescue those girls. So that was when we looked at his car drive and, you know, the police did the investigation, he'd been doing it for over 20 years. Could you imagine? Yeah, the amount of children that fell into the hands of that over 20 years.

I mean, that's unreal. And to have someone like that taken off the street that's that is that's where the fight is right there is is ensuring that those people don't get to continue that. That is whoo, that's a that's crazy 20 years he's been doing this that is scary, very scary. He actually sat in the police headquarters after his arrest, and he looked at me, my dad and one of the other operators, and he saw us there, and he actually yelled at us. It's a victimless crime. What were we doing there?

It's a victimless crime. And we were like, these people are just not, they're not human. No, that's exactly right. Look, there's a whole nother level of spiritual warfare that comes into play there. But you're right, there is an element of that that is so deeply evil.

It's almost incomprehensible. You know, like, to have to have allowed yourself to believe that this is a victimless crime that is absurd. Those girls that day. So that's certainly that sticks and the girls were sitting next to us. And, you know, we all just pointed to them and we're like, no, they're the victims. Wow, were those girls is that something that were they be able to be reunited with family or were they? Yeah, I know in a lot of situations and for our listeners, they, you know, if you're not aware, oftentimes in these situations, when there's the ability to reconcile with family after ensuring the family is not the one to put them in this situation.

That is, you know, obviously the first choice, but that's not always the case either. So I'm sure those girls probably never thought that they would see freedom or liberation. No, no, no. Yeah, crazy. Yeah, for sure.

Yeah, that's, so that's the success. And then on that is a bit of a loss is we got information that there was a brothel that was selling underage girls, but they didn't want to sell them to Westerners. So we concocted up a plan and in the end, we were able to get them to offer us the youngest girl who was about 16. And I spent an hour with her. Obviously, she didn't know who I was and what I was there for. But after some tradecraft made her comfortable when she was able to tell me her story, told me how old she was and told me where her family was and how she ended up there. So we got the information that we needed. Then we came back a couple of days later to do the raid. And while there were other girls there that were rescued, she had been moved. She wasn't there anymore.

Yeah, and a lot of people, if you don't mind, we share with our audience. Sometimes, you know, I think sometimes people don't understand why in that moment you don't run off with the girl and save the day because that actually can be more detrimental in the long term. What can you share like a little bit about that for our audience so that they can understand it's not a desire to never find this person again. That's not what you walk away from you. You walk away with the intent to bring this person to liberation. Yeah, so I mean, there's multiple reasons why not to tell her, okay, I'm from an NGO.

I'm here to help and take her. One of the main reasons is if I sell people and I sell people for profit and someone takes that person away, I just go and get another one. So now we have two victims. And now they are more wary because they've been bitten.

So now they're more retarded through the investigation. So it's really why not everyone can work in this, I call it an industry, but it's calling. You have to be able to make the hard decisions. And, you know, sometimes that is, you have to leave the victim there while you build up the evidence to make sure that when the raid occurs, you get the most amount of girls and you also arrest the most amount of people and have cases that are going to stack up in court so that those people don't get out for 10, 15, 20 years. Because then you're actually able to have an effect.

If I'd just taken that girl, well, the six girls that were rescued when we did the raid, they would never have got rescued. So it's tough and it's not easy. And there's no right or wrong answer.

There's organizations that sit on one method and there's others that sit on the other. But it's hard. It's not easy for people to make that decision and understand that for the great good, you have to leave it there. We're going to have to stop you for just a minute as we head into a break. But I want to pick up a little bit on this when we get back from break because I would like to, you know, share some of the thoughts that we've seen or comments that we've seen that have kind of surfaced around this exact subject. I know that's not the route we plan to go, but I think it will really give people some insight to use their heart and understanding of why we do what we do and how we do it. Listeners, thank you so much for joining us in this. We're going to head to a quick break and then we'll return with the rest of our radio series with Shawn.

Thanks so much. 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. Thank you so much for joining us back in our second part of our Liberator series with Shawn today. He is the director of our South Africa initiative. And we've just we've, you know, been talking through really what his beginnings were in this field, which was quite interesting. I was not aware of just the neat story that that started with.

So if you are coming into this late, I encourage you to definitely step back and rewind and listen to the first part of this podcast is really quite interesting. So I am going to let I'm going to kind of continue in what we were talking about before the break. You know, we talked a little bit about the fact that not every story is the perfect outcome, right? And one of the raids that Shawn mentioned, they were the rescue was not successful of the individual they had met prior that had given them the information, but they were still successfully able to rescue six other girls.

And that's huge, right? That was a life changing impact for those six girls. But so often we have been faced with the question of, well, why didn't you take that one and run? Right?

Why didn't you save that girl in that moment and move forward? And I'm so thankful that you put it the way you did, Shawn, because I think it's important for people to understand it's very much like we can, it's hard for us to sometimes equivalent people to anything, right? And I'm not calculating them in the sense of worth or value by any means. But the idea of like the drug industry, right? That's we can understand that because we see the movies and we see it, you know, in our community. But if you were to have someone that is, you know, selling drugs on a regular basis and profiting very well from it, and it is they're living their life source, right? And you take their drugs away from them in a quick moment, they're not going to stop just selling drugs forever, right? They're going to go back and re up their stash.

And, and Shawn, I want you to mention what you said, because now not only are they re upping their stash, but they've become wiser and how to, to move forward. And how does that impact the fight when we talk about trafficking? Yeah, exactly. I mean, as we said, you know, sometimes you have to have that bigger picture. And you have to understand that leaving this girl or this child or this boy, you know, where they are so that you can line up the ducks with the aftercare with the law enforcement.

And you can come and conduct the best possible operation to take these people off the street. The rescue is one part of it, but without the arrest, and without the prosecution, those people who are back on the street, and they're smarter, you know, they're more wily, they make it harder for police and NGOs such as ours to operate because they've been through the system and then they now know what to look for. So if you don't do it right, people think they're helping but actually they're actually making the problem twice as big and the bad guys twice as smart.

And I think we do see that in this industry, you know, and it's unfortunate sometimes that we see that but sometimes it's, it creates a bigger gap than it does filling the gap and fixing the problem. So thank you for sharing that story because that is a part of it. That is a hard reality to this work that so often is not talked about and is overlooked and is not considered in what you guys do.

And so it doesn't, it definitely does not make your job easy. I know. And I have no doubt that, I mean, clearly talking about that story now that that story doesn't ever leave your mind as you move forward in rescues, you know. And so I think that's an important piece for our listeners to hear, because that just doesn't wash away and tomorrow is a great new perfect day, right?

It isn't, there's constantly those moments that maybe it doesn't look like you hoped it would look like. And then there's those successes, you know, that are really powerful and impactful. So thanks for being that vulnerable piece for a moment and sharing some of the hardships of the work and the reality of the work. I would like to chat on, you know, really what what you have been able to accomplish in partnering with the countries that you work with, to continue successful stories and liberation of people that are in really quite interesting types of trafficking, even especially in your area, you're in a unique spot, right? Our Africa work in general is unique in a couple of different ways, but those who haven't heard you speak before on the Lantern podcast haven't heard some of those unique values to what you are doing in South Africa. So would you share a little bit about what trafficking looks like there? And then what does liberation look like in those situations?

What does that freedom look like for victims in these situations? It definitely is an interesting part of the world for the good and the bad, you know, with its history and certain parts of Africa that, you know, human life is not valued and, you know, it has a harsh reality to it, Africa, which also makes you appreciate the beauty as well. But, you know, some of the things that we're able to do here, when you find those people in amongst that sort of harshness that have that softness to them, but also the resilience to fight these sorts of things like child sacrifice and organ harvesting and, you know, trafficking on a day to day basis where, you know, our teens in East Africa, you know, a couple of times a week, they're rescuing a majority of girls, but young girls who are on their way to school or on their way home from school, and they're tricked into getting in a car or on a moped and they're taken away and basically sold off to someone to be their wife.

And they're 12, 8, 14, you know, and our team is out there finding them and rescuing them. So it looks, you know, it does look really different all around the world. You know, there's a lot of similarities, but, you know, these things do happen and, you know, that's one of the, I think, one of the big problems with combating trafficking is it means so many different things to so many different people.

And the left and right of arc of what is human trafficking is so big that it's hard to educate everyone on all of it and then tell everyone it all fits under the one heading. Right. Yeah.

And especially for you, right? Like that's, there's pieces of the work there. You know, I know we've talked about the child sacrifice piece of human trafficking and exploitation and there are just pieces of it that are very different.

You're right. It doesn't fit under a one specific definition or understanding of trafficking and exploitation. It is so different in every area and even within those same areas. You know, I'm sure for you guys, you see that the sexual exploitation component of human trafficking, you see the labor trafficking, you see the child sacrifice, organ harvesting. I mean, these are, you really, you see a lot of it where you're at, just all the different scalable pieces of trafficking. Is there some that in the regions that you work in stick out more than others or are more common than others? I mean, labor trafficking all over the continent is super high.

But, you know, obviously even that has levels to it, right? Like there's so many, we withdraw the line, kids can't do that sort of work, right? It's not allowed to work. But then you go, okay, well in some countries, like Australia, a kid can be 14 and nine months and go and get a job. Okay. So we're drawing the line at 14 and nine months.

Okay. And then America says, no, you've got to be 16. And then another country says, well, we let our kids have jobs at 12 and they're all legitimate jobs, right? And then you get to Africa where legitimate jobs, that's a great area in itself, right?

They don't have the social structures that we have. So, okay, is that kid over there because they want to be there, because they're helping their family to live? Is that a 12? Is that an acceptable job for a kid at 12 whose family knows they're there? Or do they have no idea and their uncle has taken the kid and is selling the kid for labor and the family thinks he's in school? You know, there's just, there's so many layers to it and you've got to try and work it all out really quickly. And our teams on the ground do amazing jobs. They know the atmospherics.

They know just by looking if it's right, if it's out of the ordinary. I think that speaks to the importance of partnering with people on the ground and understanding that this is their community. We don't know their community like they know their community.

Right. That is why it is so vital to partner in these countries, not just come in with a complex if you're going to save the day because you're a white American or, you know, whatever. Like it's not that that mindset you can see portrayed in a lot of different places and situations and scenarios.

But for this and for us, that's not the case. That's the value of partnering with people that have a heart to see this change within their own communities. They know they know what's going on. They know who should be there, who shouldn't be there.

They've walked these streets. You know what I mean? And that's I think sometimes that value is overlooked. I'm so thankful that that is not overlooked by Lantern or the people that work here. I think that's an important piece. Yeah, I think that's the most important piece of the puzzle myself.

It can be any group of people, but the world is very big. Right. And if you don't empower people who live there and you don't upskill them, empower them, educate, help, support, mentor, all these words are all at the end of the day being a similar thing that we have to get them to lift them up to do it. And then they can stand on our shoulders and then other people can stand on their shoulders.

And that's something that will last. But if you think that we can go and do it, that might work once, it might work ten times, but it's not going to work in 20 years time. And if we do it the right way, then we can make real change.

Yeah, that sustainability piece. We're not just here for now, right? We're here. We want to be that longevity of making changes happen. And that's a key component to the heart behind this mission. Well, I am so thankful that you've stepped in and joined us in this chat today on our Liberator series. It's always encouraging and I'm sure it's encouraging for our audience to hear the heart behind the people that are on the ground. You guys are real people and you've dealt with the good, the bad, the ugly. And I think it's also valuable that they think of you guys when they are praying and just encouraging or trying to figure out how to give back and be a part of this mission.

You guys draw them into that piece and let them know that they are a part of this fight. And so thank you for allowing us into that world a little bit, Sean. I appreciate it. Thank you. And to our listeners, thank you again for jumping on and listening in today. If you haven't checked out our website, please head to You can find a ton of information about Lantern Rescue. And then we're also on social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Look us up, learn a little bit more and then figure out how you can be an instrument in your own community to really be a voice of change and encouragement. And this means against trafficking and exploitation. Thanks so much, guys. Have a great day.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-09 11:23:08 / 2024-02-09 11:33:07 / 10

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