‘Hookers for Jesus’ Fights Back for Right to Help Sex-Trafficking Victims
The Stream interviewed Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert, a sex trafficking survivor, in 2018. She spoke about sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography — and what the church can do to help women escape and recover from the industry. According to Lobert, women in the sex industry need a way out. She reminds Christians that the world is watching to see whether we offer them one.
Hookers for Jesus is, to be sure, a headline-grabbing name for our non-profit organization that addresses the harmful effects of prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation linked to pornography and the sex industry.
But it’s far more than a name game that many well-placed journalists are playing with our reputation. Reporters for Reuters, The New York Times, Newsweek and others have repeatedly suggested in salacious stories and hand-wringing editorials the last couple of weeks that something is fishy about the U.S. State Department awarding us a $500,000 grant, from a fund it uses annually to assist nonprofits and local governments in aiding human trafficking victims.
False Reports by the Media
The smokescreen story these “journalists” are peddling is that Hookers for Jesus (as well as another $500,000 grant designee, the Lincoln Tubman Foundation) were not properly vetted or approved. These reports have even used the buzzword attached to any piece a writer hopes to use to taint a story with scandal: whistleblower. That’s right, someone “blew the whistle” when our groups were selected and two others weren’t. Even though we have indeed received endorsements from independent evaluators for the work that we do and the way we do it.
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We’ve seen our good work and our good (if catchy) name dragged through the mud of those with political agendas — and have been loath to respond, knowing we would not be taken seriously in telling the truth by those men and women of the press not terribly interested in the truth. But no more. Hookers for Jesus is a legitimate organization that makes a very real difference in the lives of those victimized by human trafficking. That USDOJ money — which we are now in jeopardy of not receiving because of the ginned-up controversy — could very well mean the difference between life and death for the women we serve.
Know the Facts
So, here are a few facts to consider as you read, see or hear about our “unworthiness” to be tapped by the government to help address this growing international crisis:
Our program consists of customized case-planning that focuses on the whole person: emotional, mental, spiritual, relational and physical healing. Our Destiny House in-patient program is built upon the highest standards of trauma informed care — with a complete victim-centered approach to each client’s individual needs.
Three Key Points:
- We are founded by and run by a survivor: We are a survivor-led nonprofit that has been helping women recover from severe abuse in sex trafficking since 2004-2005. As the founder, I understand the torture and trauma sex trafficking can cause, but also understand it is very possible to heal, become whole again, and strive to be a strong leader of change for all women.
- A shortage of funding equals a shortage of staff/volunteers. Complex trauma is healed in structured family-style environments when it comes to service for sex-trafficking victims. Our shortage of staff in the past has not always allowed us to give the ladies we serve as many choices we would like to give them, as supervised housing and rules are a must to run efficient and successful programs. These ladies we serve often suffer from high levels of complex trauma, addiction issues and elevated levels of anxiety. Many welcome this supervision as a means of protection and healing to their well-being. However, we have never forced ladies to believe what we believe — as the most irresponsible reporters have said. There is always a choice to not participate — and since we are a faith-based nonprofit we are well aware of the need to not fix our religious beliefs with the services we offer when government money is involved.
- We survivors are the real experts: When it comes to human sex trafficking, there are no better experts than the ones who have lived this experience, healed and come out of it a leader for the movement. It is our heart to help these individuals using our navigation out as a light and guide for them to also make it out successful. We believe that those who have been through hell and back have a stake in helping guide others out more than an educated person that learned about trafficking in training.
Every day is a challenge, the work is extremely difficult and the funding low. But we remain committed to the cause, and hopeful that the grant our successful efforts have earned will still find its way to us — our unfair treatment at the hands of the media notwithstanding.
Annie Lobert, founder of Hookers for Jesus, is host of the TV show “Pink Chair” (CTN), a wife, speaker, author, entrepreneur, advocate for the abused, non-profit founder and CEO and a survivor of more than a decade of sex trafficking. Learn more at https://www.hookersforjesus.net/
Each year millions of children and women are caught up in the sex industry and trafficked worldwide. RescueLIFE, a campaign of LIFE Outreach International, combats “the horrors of the sex industry by reaching, rescuing and restoring.” The ministry goes into villages around the world to reach and teach children about the dangers of human trafficking and what to watch out for. Working with local partners, the ministry also rescues children, teens and young women from the industry. They seek to restore them by placing them in safe, loving homes and by teaching them about the love of Jesus.
If you’d like to help RescueLIFE, please consider making a donation. Donations will help “share the light of Jesus with those who are living in the darkest places on earth.”