The last two weeks have been heartening. A few years ago, it seemed only one lone cop and a couple with a new ministry “on the avenue” acknowledged there was a problem. Sonoma County is so beautiful. Thousands come every year to enjoy the magnificent Pacific Coastline, the redwood, the dozens of wineries, the casino – now two casinos. How could something as despicable as human trafficking be going on here in such an idyllic place? The answer is: traffickers go where the money is – especially to affluent areas like this.
Saturday before last, Santa Rosa held its first Forum on Sex Trafficking to inform the public of what is happening in our neighborhoods. Our leaders are stepping up and going into battle! Rather than working against one another, they are joining forces in a concerted effort to end the trafficking. We had the chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, the Chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the detective who raised the original cry and now heads up a police Task Force. We had the D.A., a special agent with the F.B.I., and the leader of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy – Verity. And we had Dana Bryant, who founded Crossing the Jordan with her husband Michael.
The first thing on the agenda was to educate those in attendance as to what is happening here as well as across the country. The bottom line is gangs and cartels now view our daughters as “product”, and the demand is growing. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world, second only to drug and arms trafficking. California is one of the top four destinations. The Bay Area is a major trafficking zone which extends up into Sonoma County.
The detective who first realized there was a problem did so when he saw a young woman in a tube top and short-shorts. It was winter and he was cold in long sleeves and a heavy jacket. The problem: he had no place to take her that would offer food, shelter, and safety.
That is changing.
This past Sunday, Rick and I attended Crossing the Jordan’s open house. It was only a few years ago that I went to a luncheon and met Dana Bryant. That day, she said about human trafficking: “Not in my backyard.” She had a troubled past and no place to go when she wanted out. She wants to change that. Dana and Michael started with a thrift store “on the avenue” and began ministering to those in need – and there were many. Soon, the Bryants rented a house for six women. Then they opened another facility called “the D.I.G.” They started an industry so the women had jobs. Now they have a big ranch style house that has room enough for 35 women (and children). Lives are being changed. God has blessed them every step of the way.
Others are joining the battle. The army is growing.