Sex trafficking was a shadow on our horizons until we heard about it happening practically in our neighborhood. It was 2008 and we were living in SE Asia at the time. The city newspaper carried the story of a father who had sold his 13 year old daughter into prostitution in a brothel 600 miles away from home for his personal gain. Three years later she had worked herself out of debt and come home on the bus ticket she purchased herself. Less than 24 hours later her father had sold her again, but this time to a brothel only miles out of the city. Neighbors reacted to the incident en masse by reporting the father to the local police and forcing them to rescue the girl and put the father into prison. The horror of what had happened began to sink into our consciences. We felt we needed to respond personally and began to volunteer at a school for street children, gave money to a local orphanage that provided safe haven for several prostituted children, offered encouragement to a local woman who worked with prostituted women and met with the leaders of a non-profit organization in a nearby city which was actively working with prostituted women living in desperate conditions.
By the end of 2010 we had a clearer idea of what our wider response would be. We reflected on it in our Christmas newsletter to friends and family.
“… we’re passionate about: intimacy with God, 24/7 prayer and worship, family community, pursuing justice and the unreached; and we want to do it all alongside the 20-something’s generation as a Father & Mother, experiencing God, living life and doing His works together.
We’re not sure what our final look will be, but we envision our Family Community helping to establish houses of 24/7 Prayer & Worship. We envision our houses as Safe Places of justice & restoration for the nameless & exploited. We envision them at the edge of the Kingdom among the Unreached, helping to birth the body of Christ in ways not yet imagined.”
At that point we embarked on a journey of learning about the issue and volunteered with several service providers in SE Asia including International Justice Mission (IJM) and Samaritana Ministries.
We returned to the United States in 2011 to set up a home base in Madison, Wisconsin for future projects overseas. However, we discovered that according to recent research there were as many as a hundred minors being trafficked for sex in the area. Recognizing that a response was needed in America as well, we began to live out the vision of bigbighouse: safe places… in the darkest places… out of the place of prayer.