What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”

Speechless


woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body
Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

While doing some book research yesterday, I discovered an organization called Operation Underground Railroad that rescues trafficked children and helps them recover from their trauma. Since writing Dangerous Ground and all the research involved, I’ve been more acutely aware of these horrendous stories. As a matter of fact, even though I tried to carefully depict the tragedy of sex trafficking in my novel, I see now that what I found while researching was only the tip of the iceberg. The situation is even more horrific than the dozens of stories and statistics I read about. I’m so grateful for those organizations that are doing everything they possibly can to rescue, heal, and offer new life to those who have suffered in this way. I still continue to donate half of all the proceeds from my book, Dangerous Ground, to three such organizations.

But I was speechless when I found another group that claims to have rescued more children than all the other groups put together. They’ve been in business for 41 years. In Los Angeles. I had no idea that Children of the Night even existed. Their mission statement says “Empower.

But that’s not the speechless part.

As I scrolled through their board of directors, I saw the name Cooper Hefner.

That’s right. The son of the man who introduced pornography as America’s favorite pastime. Cooper is currently the CCO for the Playboy enterprise. He’s furthering his father’s legacy to expand the porn industry.

And sitting on the board of an organization that rescues children from the same people who feed on that industry.

Can we say “conflict of interest”?

I decided I had to write the founder and question how they could justify this. Here is the email I sent her and her response to me.

“I was so impressed when I found your site and organization. Sex trafficking is a horrific crime that needs to stop. I had no idea that you have been around so long. Your statistics are impressive. So I decided to look more closely into your team. I grew up in Los Angeles. Perhaps someone I know is part of your cause. I considered donating. Until I scrolled through your board of directors and see that Cooper Hefner, the CCO of Playboy is one of them. I’m still so stunned I can hardly believe it. How is it that the pornographic organization which exploits women, pretends that what they promote is in any way helpful, and promotes the very thing your organization fights is represented on your BOD?? Your mission is EMPOWER yet everything Playboy stands for is exploitation of women, children and even men. Where is the empowerment in that? I’m so glad that I looked deeper than the surface of your organization. I suppose some good has come from rescuing, but when you put these victims in the place to be rescued, how is that anything but you creating a situation for which you can pat yourself on the back when you save them? Is this just Playboy’s attempt to legitimize their actions by partnering with an anti-trafficking campaign? I’m shocked and saddened by the hypocrisy of it.”

 

“Hugh Hefner built my work with prostituted children into a corporation. Without his resources there would not be a Children of the Night.

We did this in 1977 because social workers and juvenile courts denied these children services because sex was involved in their victimization.
We have rescued over 11,000 children over the last 41 years starting before the word sex trafficking was created.
Your right it was tough for him to help me because of how he was perceived and he took risks to do so against his lawyers advice.”

Dr Lois Lee

Children of the Night
3450 Cahuenga Blvd
Unit 602
Los Angeles, Ca 90068-1592
I’m sorry. Why again was it tough for him to help? Because it was risky for him to build a corporation to save the children that were being exploited in part because of an industry he helped create?
Did rescuing those children make him and his empire feel better about their role in this evil perpetrated on the innocent?
As I said, I’m speechless. Am I missing something here?
I’m glad to know that there is hope for victims. That is the most important thing. They are loved by their Heavenly Father and Jesus and will use anything to rescue them. Even the misplaced motives of some.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.