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Putting an END to Human Trafficking

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2021 1:00 am

Putting an END to Human Trafficking

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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February 3, 2021 1:00 am

Stu is with Mark, a founding member of Lantern Rescue, talking about the realities of human trafficking and how their organization is working to stop it... Lantern is a U.S. based non-profit that conducts international operations to rescue victims of human trafficking.

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Enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Children, women, even men are enslaved. What about human trafficking? Well, let me tell you about a man of God, a ministry called Lantern Rescue. There's a radio show by that name, a podcast, and Mark is one of the leaders of this ministry. And Mark, you just got back from a major rescue mission in Africa, I believe.

Is that right? Thank you, Stu. I appreciate the time here today. It's really a God story. I've worked in a lot of places, a lot of countries, but I don't know if I've ever quite seen God's favor in the open doors in miraculous ways as I have in the last few months. So tell everyone, I want you to tell the story blew me away.

You told me I was driving when you told me in my car. Tell us everyone kind of how you got Lantern Rescue going, what broke your heart for this trafficking thing that's just so bad. And a lot of folks listening have already heard you, they've supported people send you checks. We want more donations coming to Lantern Rescue to help save these kids. But what does Lantern Rescue do? How'd you start?

What got your heart tugged for? We're a unit of four people, and we have worked in multiple countries and rescued hundreds of children straight from trafficking issues, domestic slavery, sex slavery, forced brides. We're there on the ground doing the actual raids and operations with units that we train. Our M.O. is that we work at the highest levels of the governments we work with, with those sovereign nations.

So we come in, we meet with their director-general, inspector-general, we create the relationships, the network, we train a unit, and then we begin to operate with that unit to fight trafficking. And specifically the show today is I'm really excited to talk about Africa. Yeah, you just came back. You were fired up, man. You couldn't wait to tell us this amazing God stories. Actually, two years ago, I left an office in D.C. with some very high political figures who correctly reported the truth.

And it was concerning the region of Africa, but the wrong, the terrorism was occurring, and the Christians were suffering at the end. And I remember leaving that meeting, and I had proposed a plan that was probably a little radical of what I thought should be done, and I knew it would be accepted, but I wanted to put it out there, and I did, and it was just kind of looked at and said no. And I left, and I went home, and I flew back to my house, and I literally told my wife, I said, if I had the money, if I somehow had the way, I would just go do this myself.

I was like, I don't need the U.S. government. I'm just going to do this. And I prayed about it. And this is how God always works. He always does this. He puts this in my mind and heart, and then I don't know which way to turn. I just tell him I'm willing to do it.

Jump forward two years. I want to tell you about a guy named Frank. I've changed his name, and his name's Frank. Frank's sister had her three children taken, trafficked by a Muslim child.

It broke her heart that she, at the age of 30, she had a stroke and died. Frank watched this happen. All he is is a businessman who sells kerosene oil, okay, in that part of West Africa. But what he does, he decides he's going to do something about it. So he goes to the border of his country and tries to intercept people trafficking children. In fact, he does this, but the police arrest him. His country's police arrest him. They send him back to his house and they say, look, Frank, you're not supposed to do this. We'll take care of this.

He's like, but you're not taking care of it. So they would arrest him, take him back to the Capitol, drop him off. The next day he'd get up, he'd go back to the border, get arrested again. He did this for four months. Four months this man got arrested and got arrested. At the four month mark, someone from the Inspector General's office came to him and said, Frank, why are you doing this? And he tells them what happens to his sister, his nieces. And in response, they say, okay, our constitution doesn't allow anyone to run the border except police, but we're going to give you full authority.

And the police that arrested you now work for you. Oh, wow. Wow. Right. So now he's got full authority, but he doesn't have any resources.

This is a single man outfit, right? His partner who joined him in it dies in a car wreck. Dies. He's driving to the border one day and gets hit by a truck and dies. Frank has to go pick up his dead body on the side of the street, load him in the car and take him back to his family. So he's just devastated.

He doesn't know where to do it or what to do. Well, God preordains him to meet a UN officer who I have worked with in another country. And that UN officer says, you need to reach out to Mark and his team. Here's his information.

So Frank reaches out to me. Of course, this is about six months ago. And I'm like, man, is this guy legit? He just tried to convince me to come to West Africa so they could kidnap us and hold us up.

And so I do some vetting process and find out that he's legit. And we were supposed to be in Asia Pacific. And literally, this is right at the end of the year of 2020. We're supposed to be in Asia Pacific. But two days before our flights, the country closes again because of this new strain of COVID out of the UK. They freeze up all flights. We can't go.

Or at least the government officials won't meet with us there. So then we readjust. I go, well, let's just go to West Africa.

And God opens up doors. We get our visas, everything. Suddenly, three days later, we're in Africa.

And I'm meeting this guy and finding out that, oh, man, this is a gold nugget. And in return, our organization, our team is given full authority of 700 kilometers of border between some of the largest. I mean, this is we're talking about five countries in West Africa that we're impacting to control these borders. These are illegal crossings. A lot of kids being trafficked, sex trafficking, human trafficking, slavery.

It's kids from multiple countries. You know, last week I was sitting there with a girl from, you know, who had been forced to marry a Muslim man at age 15. Now she's 17. She's pregnant. She's his third wife. He can't afford her. So he puts her off.

He sells her to another trafficker who is smuggling her back, who has already sold her to domestic slavery, both her and her child. Right. And we intercepted that whole situation. Make the arrest, the suspects, all of that.

Another one, man. Here's I just I could take everybody into I'm in a room with a girl who's 15. She has been trapped and she is being sold into sex slavery. You know, just to watch her, the fears and all the emotions she's going through, the tears that are streaming down her face. And I say, hey, can I pray with you? It's just it was a work that I had wanted to do. And God has allowed me to do it.

I mean, I wanted to intercept Christian girls being trapped by Muslim tribes. I really wanted to. I mean, we work the traffic routes to the states. We have active teams working right now in other countries and we got further training for them. But this was a work that I really wanted to do, really wanted to do.

I'm so excited about it. And, you know, some of the needs that were basic that were needed, vehicles, motorcycles. So we trained a team of 18 water agencies or law enforcement, federal agents for these countries. And we collaborated with multiple inspector generals from both countries. And we trained a team of seven what we call them intelligence officers. OK. And they're really doing the hard work because they're doing the interception, the intelligence.

And they call on the police that we train. So, you know, we've got so much more work to do that we needed vehicles. So this morning, here's God's favor.

This morning. God bless this man. I was able to wire the money for a vehicle and two motorcycles. No kidding?

Yeah, I totally didn't have that money. Yeah, 700 kilometers of border is a lot to cover. We need we need so many other things, man. We need care gifts for the girls that are intercepted. We need Bibles for them. Yeah, you're getting the gospel to them. You're getting them to Christian work. You're trying to help them get to Christ.

There's a Christian. I mean, I love that about land and rescue. You're not just rescuing them from the oppression, the hell they're in, the slavery, the abuse, the sexual assault, everything. You're getting them to Christian homes. You're getting them care. You're getting the churches involved. And you're then you're training the nationals to do that so you can come back to the states and you know that there's a team working there. So you just got the money and you wired it to be able to them to have a vehicle to save more girls.

So excited. So that is awesome. You know, the goal for right now for that operation, we've got others. But the goal for that operation is to fund the team of seven. OK, because the team, the intelligence officers that we trained are Christians pastors.

You got to be careful. Yeah, but they're they're volunteers versus dating law enforcement. You know, they're paid by the government. We're just improving them and saying you have to assist this other team. So we're trying to fund that team, keep them working and just take care of it.

Honestly, it's amazing for just a few thousand. They're taken care of. And I love your ministry. People donate to it. And everything comes in as helping these kids get out. Save these kids, save these girls, sometimes boys to women. And then we're also trying to fund the radio program to keep it on the air so you can keep telling everyone these stories. Now, we've got a pastor sit across from us. We're at a restaurant in an undisclosed location in Greensboro, North Carolina. I've got you miked up. That's what you hear.

The noise or if you hear the sweet tea being filled up on the table, you'll know what that is. But Mark is with Lantern Rescue. And when we come back, I'm going to ask you a couple more quick questions about this recent trip. And this pastor has a question. And I got a couple of young people here, too, some business guys. They may have some questions for you about this critical area of human trafficking and really the mission of Lantern Rescue and how we can solve this problem worldwide.

It's really become a crisis. Thousands, thousands of people in slavery and are ravaged by this, really millions. What's that number? The total number worldwide, maybe 40 million? Yeah, it's 40 million. It's 26 million roughly in slavery and then another 20 million are being forced to... You just don't hear about that. These politicians that are so big on the race card, why aren't they talking about the slavery that's going on? Now, when we come back on Truth Talk, we'll talk about that. Hang on.

More with Mark after this. I remember entering after they breached the door and we're in the home there and evidence is being gathered. And there's moments where you just stop and you just stare at the kids because you're just so overtaken that why would they do this? And if you have your own children, you then place your children in that environment. You think, what if this was my child?

And you're grateful that it's not. And you're thinking of all the accommodations and comfort that your own daughters receive in America and what's lacking for these children that they've not received. And then on top of that, they have been abused and they have been exploited and they've been molested and they've been all extremes. Your heart breaks for them. The thing I never forget about any of the victims, and there's so many now that we've been able to rescue, but what I don't forget are their eyes. The eyes of each child, each victim, they sometimes are very hollow. Sometimes they're hurt. Sometimes they are excited. Sometimes they're confused.

But those eyes will just tell you a lot about those girls. Mark is with a ministry called Lantern Rescue, a wonderful podcast ministry. They have a broadcast.

The website, I believe, is lanternrescue.org. Is that right? OK. Mark just got back from Africa. He's on fire because he saw little girls and grown women who were being sold to multiple partners and sold in slavery. You set them free and you were able to give them the gospel and share Bibles with them. What's it like to put a Bible in the hand of someone who's been abused and misused and for maybe some of these little kids to get the first genuine hug? It's a non-assault type of hug they've ever gotten.

What's that like? I don't know how impactful it is. I've said on other shows before that I struggle sometimes to look at a victim and know the right amount of care that I should provide. At that moment, often you've got a crying victim. I've got $5 and I just want to embrace that child. I used to stay hands-off.

My wife taught me over the years, you need to show that child the right touch for your man, the right care. The thing I always say is, I want to pray for you. How can I pray for you and embrace them in that way? That starts the right road to recovery because from there, they realize this team is here. These people are here not just as serving justice to that suspect and that perpetrator, but this team is here for me.

They're here for my well-being, my emotional well-being. We're always improving that. I'm excited about some of the things my team talked about this morning as far as how to improve that in the West Africa operation. The ministry is Land and Rescue.

This is Mark, one of the leaders of the ministry. I was too ever since this is Truth Talk. We're in a loud restaurant, not too loud, but in an undisclosed location. We've got to be real careful.

This particular interview, by the way, before it gets to your ears, it will be scrubbed. We'll watch out for names, locations, because we've got to protect the identity of this. There's a lot of folks that don't want you doing what you're doing. Is it true there are billions of dollars tied up in the human trafficking world? It's a lot of money. You're causing some trouble for some people. It's estimated $150 billion.

This year alone, despite COVID, we've been in multiple countries. We've interrupted a gang leader who was paid $16 million of U.S. money by his corrupt government to stop kidnapping people. When you interrupt something like that and we raid and hit six clubs, trust me, you're upsetting the fruit basket and they want to injure your fruit. We're having this conversation. We've got some business leaders, some pastors here. One pastor of Mountain Pisca United Methodist Church in Greensboro, Pastor Jeff Johnson. Pastor Jeff, what hit your heart when you hear about these? You've been on a lot of missions trips.

You've served the Lord for years preaching it all. When you hear about these kids being trafficked and you hear about Mark going in and kicking the door down and saving them, any thoughts or questions for him as you hear that? Obviously, this must be a global problem that we have around the world and it's one thing for Christian people to give and to support. What do we do in our local communities and how really big is the issue locally where we live? Right here in the States. Locally, you should support your sheriff's department, inquire about what they need to combat this and look towards your law enforcement. America is blessed with a tremendous fighting force. That's our law enforcement, our FBI, all of those agencies. They're working toward that.

There are organizations and non-profits within the States. Honestly, my strongest opinion is be a friend of your sheriff, your police chief, and say, in this particular area, what do you need help in? How can we help you?

He's probably going to lead you toward some type of aftercare service. Honestly, that's what is needed here. To start with the police, the sheriff's department, and not really complain about the problem, but say, what can we do as Christians? And you think law enforcement would really have some tangible things that people think they can do? Oh, absolutely.

A hundred percent. And it's going to vary by county. Some counties have more funding and they've got an actual assigned unit or team who are working toward this. Some say we don't have any effort toward this. You might find yourself in a request that you never thought imaginable from your sheriff to pray for us. They'll ask you to be informed and here's what they're seeing in their region of the country and how you can be a voice of awareness or intelligence to provide them.

It's just going to vary. I've been preaching through the book of Psalms and one of the things that David says is that the things that break God's heart broke David's heart. Why do you think human trafficking breaks God's heart?

One, it's not a new problem. God's people, Israel, were trafficked. We're in the book of Joel. They were sold. We're in a cycle of being sold into slavery.

Constant. So it's been a problem for all of humanity. The second thing, if you really look at scripture, how much God talks about his care for the oppressed and how often he mentions that, we kind of just blow over that.

God will orchestrate amazing events just to rescue the one. I've seen it personally and we see it throughout scripture. We also find that was really the first sermon that Jesus ever preached, right? We found that in Isaiah 61.

That was the first message, right? I speak after one. So one other question I really have. Could you tell me the difference if I was going to support your ministry? What difference does $100 make, $500 make, and $1,000 make?

Sure. You know, the work that we do is so volatile. There's so many variances.

It's hard. I wish I could say, you know, this amount of money will absolutely result in a rescue kit. And in some regions of the world, what I will tell you this is that when you get to the $1,000 figure, you are helping really impact a rescue operation.

Because, you know, to go into some regions of the world, it might be, you know, plane tickets and things are far less than what it is to go somewhere else. We are not in the aftercare, you know, there's some organizations say $50 a month and you can, you know, take care of a child. We're not in that. We are a tactical unit who operates raids and rescues. We facilitate the aftercare to that country and we help them improve it.

We tie them into Christian NGOs and orphanages and we make our recommendations that these child go to that, right? So, some of our operations, $5,000, we're pulling off a full operation in a country nearby in the U.S. Some is $15,000. It's $20,000 because it requires, you know, gear. You know, it requires, you know, armored vehicles.

It requires a lot more planning and pre-op planning than it does to go into another country. So, Landry and Rescue, and you know, really, I don't know if Pastor could heard his podcast or not, or the program on the radio, it's sensational. It's like going on a ride-along. It's like you're there.

What you talk about there is pretty intense for the week of your stomach. One thing I want to say is, you know, my team's not ride-along. We're actually breaking doors and rescuing children, you know, and assisting in the, you know, the arrest of the suspect. Second thing I would say is we're all volunteers. So, when that question comes up, so my whole team and everybody involved in Landry Rescue, nobody's paid. We're all 100% volunteers.

You know, there's, that's one reason we're so lean and accomplish what we do is because we don't have a heavy, you know, overhead. You know, I was just talking to a colonel yesterday, a mentor of mine, and we were talking about Landry and the future. A gentleman wrote a book who was with USAID for so many years, and, you know, USAID has dumped billions of dollars into operations internationally, and he actually retired, and then he went for several years and inspected those operations to understand what did we really accomplish. And the result of that is that he said we didn't accomplish anything. He said the best accomplishments internationally are made through small NGOs who are accountable to their donors.

That's who Landry Rescue is. I am not set out to be this multi-million dollar nonprofit. That's not what I want to be, you know. We are set to be this flexible, small group who's accountable to its donors, who says, look, this is what we do. You want to see it? I mean, if we can put you on a plane and take you, you can see some of the results of it. We'll show you. We'll be accountable to you. That's who we are because what we do is pretty, pretty radical, honestly, in a lot of ways. Mark does, even at his own risk, interviews like this, and when I say ride along, I mean you can, you out there, not you guys.

You guys are going right in. You can ride along by hearing these kind of interviews and even more in-depth rescues. I mean, you guys are calling in on sat phones to your radio show, your broadcast podcast, giving an update of what just happened and how you saved a little girl and now she's on her way to a Christian orphanage. This is Mark, and thank you, Mark, for what you're doing. A real hero right here. We have one more question then we're going to jump to this food. And a young man wants to ask Mark a quick question about Lantern Rescue and the amazing stuff they're doing to save people, set people free, shine the light on the darkness of human trafficking. Hey, so. Tell your first name. Hey, my name is Justin.

I live downtown. What can we, what can the people down there do, what can we do to. One thing that has to be defined is what is human trafficking and then what is just a kidnapping or rape.

So the description of what you just gave is most likely someone wants to kidnap a female, rape or abuser. That's not traffic. That's not a commercial activity, you know, exploitation of somebody's body to be sold or used for funding. And we have a lot of that mistakes. And it should not be that that is a criminal activity that needs to be stopped and we've got police officers amazing police officers and people who are working against that. And you as an American have the right to defend yourself and arm yourself against them. So that's where, you know, trafficking should not be confused with that. We kind of kind of grayed that out fogged it.

Yes, sir. We sensationalized it in America, sir. You know that we think people riding around trying to snag kids to sell them and that's not true. That does happen, but really, really, really, really, really rare. This is a bit smart.

Those are so rare. Okay. Because if someone snags a child in America, that is not a sellable commodity because 1000 agents are looking for that child and her name and face is being plastered everywhere and a buyer doesn't want to buy that. Buyers not to buy that they want unidentifiable untraceable inventory that can be sold over and over and over. And so most of that is international girls that we're trying to intercept are being brought to the states in the numbers of around 15,000 a year, because they're nameless, stateless and unidentifiable and they can be sold in Miami in New York City and Texas and places and nobody's ever going to know. So, you know, stateside, what we tend to have is the coercion of a girl by a trafficker, a boyfriend who claims to be a boyfriend, you know, is older, most often he convinces some 13 year old 15 year old come over and then begins to say, Hey, if you love me, you'll do this.

And he starts to sell her and she doesn't see a way out. Okay. And so the educational piece in America is really important. The parental involvement that a parent, you know, a case that just came up was a child for six months had been through a gaming app, talking to an individual, right? Through a gaming for six months and the parents don't know about it and then they disappear. That is, listen, America parent. Quit being so stupid and foolish that you give your 13 year old a phone that has no control settings that you're not inspecting and taking and looking at that you're not getting on their gaming apps and going, Who are you talking to? Who's this?

Who's this username? Right? We have, that's where the control factor has to be. You know, it's a failure of parents right now. It's just not parenting.

The parents will parent their children. And I'm telling you, this is probably America is really easy to do. It's hard. It's hard to snag.

Of course, a child whose parents are involved in their life and in their technology. You know, it's a lot of ignorance about trafficking. A lot of knowledge that needs to be shed. A lot of great questions like Justin just asked in the past or asked about ultimately, how can people pray for you, Mark? How can people support you? The ongoing ministry of Land and Rescue promoting what you're doing across the airwaves, actually going in and rescuing. I mean, you know, people have to you guys get armored up. You know, people have to, you know, what you do is not cheap and none of y'all are getting paid.

But people want to support this because they want to see girls set free. You know, you know, to fund us, we need our sleep operators need to be funded and they're traveling things. And we have individuals who come to operate and say, Look, I want to help fund you, you know, and help you fund our team. You can go to landandrescue.org and you can fund operations through giving of that.

You can talk to, you know, Truth Network about funding the radio show. So, you know, it's whatever God lays on your heart. This is a good work and I hope that people see it as that. They see our heart and our willingness to serve in this way and to take the risk that we do and to rescue the victims. It's all worth it.

And you get that one child whose life has changed. Praise the Lord. You can listen to the program, landandrescue.org. Truthnetwork.com has all of their programs up, their podcasts, their broadcast.

You can hear the program on wonderful radio, friends like AFR, other folks that carry this program on stations across the country. My Aunt Mary, a shout out to her. She was in town from South Carolina visiting friends in Greensboro and called me like the Friday before Christmas and said, Look, I know I've got to bring a check for land and rescue. I got a check. Of course, she did bring me a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread, which was unbelievable because Aunt Mary makes the best pumpkin bread.

But she brought me that and she brought me a check that we could make sure we got to the ministry. So, so many folks have been gracious to support you. Mark, thank you for what you do. We love what you're doing and we're grateful.

We need to pray for you, for the victims, so many victims, so many nameless, faceless victims, for your team, the risk you take, your families. You've got kids. When you told your wife you were going to do this, she started crying because she actually has been your biggest cheerleader.

Tell everyone about that as we wrap up real quick. Even your wife. I couldn't do this without my family, the support of my children and my wife.

They are heroes in my life because they make sacrifices of time, money, things that they give up so that I can do this. It's not easy. It's not easy. Pray for my family. It's not easy. We take the punches and the hits and everything.

I couldn't do this without them. Thank you for what you're doing. Get involved. Learn more. Get the truth about human trafficking, how you can really support it. Get the truth and learn about it. There's a lot of lies. There's a lot of folks that claim to be trying.

Maybe their intentions are good, but it's not doing anything to really stop it and to really set people free. Lantern Rescue, lighting the way to freedom. lanternrescue.org. We'll put stuff up at truthtalk.com. God bless you. Thank you, Mark. Thanks for being on. Love to hear from you, your emails, your questions, and I'll do some Twitter and Instagram and Facebook with my friend, Mark, too. God bless you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 13:44:44 / 2023-12-28 13:57:20 / 13

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