Elijah Rising – WOW. (www.elijahrising.org)
I wasn’t sure what this was other than knowing it was another trafficking outreach. On the way Nell told me more. The building is a former brothel – Angela’s Day Spa – but it was a known trafficking center and there was no doubt what happened there. After it was raided and closed down the facility came to Cat French, the founder and director of Elijah Rising, who transformed it into offices and a “museum” of sorts. You can walk through hallways where the “rooms” used to be and read all manner of info from how the girls are selected, broken and brought to these facilities. It’s horrible and heart breaking. I was only able to read very little before I had to stop.
Nell explained when the spa was in business the johns (men who purchase sex) could actually use an ATM just inside the front door to get the needed cash. There was a large plate glass window where the girls lined up for selection. The men had to strip and shower first to determine they weren’t wired for surveillance. Girls who gave trouble were taken to the “breaking room” and beaten and/or raped until they gave in.
You can still feel the oppression in the walls but Cat’s group prays and prays hard. Two rooms in the museum are set up to represent a cantina like the ones currently in business in the Latino areas of town and a room as it would have been before the raid. They are chilling.
It’s so, so sad. Cat taught Nell how to do red light tours where she’ll take a van load and go to the more notorious sights just to help people be aware. These places are everywhere. Many/most of the “spas” and XXX bars are just fronts. And it isn’t confined to Houston. It’s much easier to stay oblivious or be convinced people choose this life but no one can look at these rooms or read the words posted and believe anyone would volunteer for this hell.
Nell doesn’t do victim services – it’s too emotional but she helps with several organizations and is a good person for helping to raise awareness. I asked about the success rate among victims. She says it’s low. It’s hard to get women out and harder to get them established and healthy enough to function outside. And it’s too easy to be lured back in. Bottom line – this is a lucrative business and these women and men are just commodities. Only Jesus can restore this depth of brokenness.
The Elijah Rising experience was a hard way to end the visit but I’m glad we took the time. I will be more aware of my surroundings, listen more for how Ft Worth is fighting back, and look for ways I can help.
Things I can do now:
- Encourage fathers to be strong, loving and present
- Encourage churches to preach the kind of Jesus who offers resurrection power
- Teach boys and men that girls and women are humans made in the image of God
- Teach and show respect
- Teach girls and women they are worth love and respect