Trafficking: ‘Tricked, Trapped, Traded’
Don Graham reports for Baptist Press:
Sandy Wisdom-Martin didn’t realize what she was getting into when she stepped through the doorway of the Diamond Cabaret, a strip club in East St. Louis, Mo.
It was 10 years ago, during Southern Baptists’ evangelistic Crossover outreach that precedes each year’s Southern Baptist Convention.
Wisdom-Martin was part of a Crossover team working to share Jesus with exotic dancers, a job “way outside” her comfort zone. The goal was simple: free these women from the exploitation and oppression of the sex industry through an encounter with Christ that would radically change their lives. Little did Wisdom-Martin know the experience would radically change her life as well.
… Half of the Crossover team remained in the strip club’s parking lot to pray while the other half attempted to enter the club with gift bags for the dancers. To her surprise, Wisdom-Martin easily gained access, and was even welcomed to go backstage to the dancers’ dressing room to deliver the gift bags.
“We told them the story of salvation, that God loved them and God cared about them and had a plan for their lives,” Wisdom-Martin said. “I saw my friend leaning over three naked girls praying for them while tears streamed down their faces. By the time I left I was so overcome by the experience, so overcome by emotion, that I could hardly make it out of the club.”
The dancers were so touched by the kindness of the Crossover volunteers that they placed the gift bags on stage with them while they performed. The bags were filled with lotion, candles and other “girly” presents — as well as a Bible.
“That [response] was so strange to me,” Wisdom-Martin said. “It just seemed they were longing for somebody to connect with them, to care about them.”
Though none of the dancers at the Diamond Cabaret accepted Christ that day, Wisdom-Martin said they were obviously touched by the Crossover team’s unconditional love. But, she said, there were five professions of faith that day at other strip clubs visited by Crossover teams.
“There was a lot going through my heart and my mind. The lifestyles that these beautiful girls were trapped in, the miracle of us getting inside the club, the opportunity to witness and pray in strip clubs,” Wisdom-Martin said. “Not to mention a profound sense of gratitude that God allowed me to have a part in the ministry. And all that exploded on me in the parking lot of the Diamond Cabaret.”
… “If you take on human trafficking there will be struggles,” Wisdom-Martin said. “Just start looking beneath the surface and you’re going to start seeing stuff going on in your own community, but you have to open your eyes.”