Sunday, January 16, 2011

What do Sex, Slavery, and the Super Bowl Have in Common?

The SUPER BOWL IS COMING TO ARLINGTON! I remember bursting with pride on the exciting day in 2007 when the news came out that my hometown was playing host to the granddaddy of all sporting events, the Super Bowl. Finally, the world was going to see what a great town Arlington is!

I began to think about what the Super Bowl would mean for Arlington, and for that matter, all of North Texas. Obviously, it will be an enormous boon to the economy, which we can definitely use. In addition, as the eyes of the world are upon us, they will see that we Texans are not a bunch of ranchers sporting cowboy hats and six-shooters. Most of us don't live on large swaths of land featuring oil wells and tumbleweeds. We don't all drive pick-up trucks and eat barbecue at least once a day. Our town is diverse, friendly, hospitable, and fun. And even though I'm not attending the game, I get excited when I think of all the immense energy that will vibrate through every crevice of the Metroplex when the AFL and NFL champs arrive in town to do battle. Yea!!!

I recently came off my Super-Bowl high about two weeks ago when I was smacked in the face with this unbelievable fact: the Super Bowl (where ever it is held) is sex trafficking's biggest weekend. Now, from what I hear, there are plenty of prostitutes already in Dallas. It boggles the mind that there will be ten thousand or more additional sex workers brought in specifically for the Super Bowl--and many of them will be under-aged children who are forced to work as sex slaves.

I shake my head in horror and disgust when I watch a TV show or read an article about the selling of boys and girls in filthy brothels in places like Cambodia or the Philippines. I tell myself that we in America are far more cultured and refined; sure, there is plenty of sex sold between supposedly willing adults, but the buying and selling of children so they can be raped by the highest bidder is extremely rare. WRONG.

Why all the trafficking of children during a massive sporting event? Apparently, the Super Bowl is ripe for this kind of exploitation for the following reasons: large numbers of male tourists travelling without family, lots of drugs and drinking, and revelers with money to spend. Add to this the fact that 40,000 people come to the Super Bowl host city who don't even have a ticket to the game--they just love the party atmosphere.

According to the Department of Justice, "Children trafficked into prostitution are often found around major sporting events. Since children are often more vulnerable, they are easy to move and in high demand, they make ideal victims to travel to major sporting events." Online sites like make it easy to "advertise" children; customers can scroll through page after page of exploited children as though they are choosing a consumable product from a catalog. Many pimps and traffickers will rent homes or apartments near the event to establish a brothel to satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand for sex with underage minors.

I have to admit, when I hear about things like this--the evil underbelly of one of our most cherished cultural and uniquely American events--I want to pretend it does not exist and hope it will go away on its own. I do not want to even consider the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated against innocent ones who are made in God's image the same as my own daughters. But in my heart I know that turning a blind eye is not the answer; only when it is exposed and dismantled will there be healing, restoration, and justice.

But what can be done? Obviously, part of the answer lies with law enforcement. I am glad to see the Texas Attorney General, the FBI, and the Metroplex police forces are taking this issue seriously and training and dispatching extra staffers, analysts, and officers to deal with this problem.

Also, I came across an organization called Love 146 ( who is doing all they can to prevent this type of atrocity from happening at the Super Bowl and to rescue children who are brought to Arlington and surrounding areas for the event. You may be curious how Love 146 got it's name. I read the story behind the name on their website and it is so disturbing to me that I'll omit most of the details and simply say that the number "146" was pinned to a little girl's dress in a Cambodian brothel where an undercover sting operation was taking place.

Both Love146 and Traffick 911 are planning a number of events prior to the Super Bowl. These include a screening of "The Playground" (a movie about child sexual exploitation), a community prayer service, a tailgate party to raise awareness of the issue, fliers posted in high-risk neighborhoods, and billboards posted around the Metroplex. Both groups will continue to be active after the Super Bowl, involved in the restoration of children who have been rescued.

If you live in the DFW area, please consider attending a Prayer and Awareness Event at Irving Bible Church on January 28, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. (

Really, I think the absolute most powerful weapon against the horrors of child trafficking is prayer. Prayer can be done anywhere and anytime--prompts like a billboard or TV commercial advertising the Super Bowl can remind us to offer up a prayer for any young victim whose health and life is at stake as she is being prepped to be trafficked and abused during the Super Bowl.

A few prayer thoughts that came to my mind:

1) pray for a spotlight to be shined on this type of evil--making brutalization that thrives on secrecy more difficult.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

pray for freedom from those held in bondage

[Jesus said] "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has send me to proclaim freedom of the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed." Luke 4:18

3) pray that justice will be manifested in the lives of the pimps, the customers, and the victims.

"It is not good to be partial to the wicked or deprive the innocent of justice." Prov. 17:5

4) pray that these precious children will come to understand God's love for them.

[Jesus said] "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:13

5) pray that a canopy of angels surround the Metroplex during the Super Bowl and that the forces of evil will be brought to ruin and destruction.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph. 6:12

For more information, see or

If you happen to encounter anyone you think could be a victim or to report suspicious behavior, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888.

Monday, January 3, 2011


SOLD OUT in six minutes! Many are disappointed they won't be at the event, and others are going to show up at the venue and beg to be allowed entrance, even if they have to sit on the floor. There's a lot of buzz on the Internet. Facebook updates spring up about who was able to obtain a ticket and who wasn't. There are numerous pleas for extra tickets that people might have to spare.

Certainly I must be talking about the Super Bowl, a Bon Jovi concert, or the "game of the year" between two college rivalries with a slew of die hard fans. Actually, the above scenario played out recently with people trying to get into church to study the Bible!

David Platt is pastor of a church at Brook Hills in Alabama. He has travelled all over the world, including to many places where sharing the gospel will get you killed. He has met with house churches in secret. These brave and devoted followers of Christ will gladly sit in a dark cramped room for 12 hours at a time because they are so excited to hear the Bible taught and have such a passion for God's word.

So, David Platt got an idea: what if he designated six hours on a Friday night (although he never finishes on time) from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. to gather and study a portion of the Bible in depth and also pray for the persecuted church around the world? There would not be a meal served, socializing, or entertainment. It would be called "Secret Church," after the many house churches he has visited around the world. Would anybody come?

Yes! Over a thousand came that first night. Before long, Secret Church was standing room only. At one point, so many thousands of people showed up for the quarterly event that many had to be turned away. So the church resorted to giving away free tickets so everyone with a ticket would be guaranteed a spot.

The latest Secret Church was held in November 2010, and tickets "sold out" on the Internet in six minutes. The 2500 free tickets, plus several hundred for an overflow room were gone quickly. A sell-out to study the Bible on Friday night? What could possibly going on?

David Platt believes that "Biblical literacy is a precursor to Biblical transformation." He is intent on teaching the Bible in a way that is meaningful and practical and that will ultimately change people to become more like Christ. He is also passionately committed to taking the gospel to the nations and supporting the persecuted church.

It is so exciting and refreshing to hear about people being so serious and interested in prayer and Bible study. The "Secret Church" page on Facebook is replete with those saying they have extra tickets they cannot use and others trying to be the first to snatch them up. The vast majority of those with extra tickets give them away, but a few are even selling tickets to Secret Church!

I definitely believe that those who have spare tickets should not sell them, but this does bring up an almost unheard of scenario: people actually scalping tickets for a Bible study!

This is made even more remarkable by the fact that Dr. Platt's teaching is deep, hard-hitting and convicting; much of it is counter-cultural. He does not pull punches and is not afraid to offend if he feels he is truthfully speaking from the Word of God. (As my friend Karin likes to say, "sometimes I need to be offended, because otherwise, I won't ever change.")

What this tells me is that people are hungry for truth from the Bible. They do not need their ears tickled by watered down, feel-good drivel. They do not need to hear a lot of opinions from the pastor. They do not need for their pastor to apologize for the Bible because there are some passages that are difficult to accept or understand, or because they are controversial. They do not need another self-help, "10 ways to be a better person" style sermon.

The result is that more and more people are coming. Many (including me) have heard the teachings from Secret Church on the church's website. The next time Secret Church is held, there will likely be live streaming video available for those unable to attend personally.

Of course, there is a danger here. Though Dr. Platt approaches his teaching humbly and constantly aims to deflect any attention from himself and onto the Bible and Christ, there is no question that he is a gifted and anointed teacher and many people are drawn in because of him. If they ever had a "guest speaker" for Secret Church, it is unlikely the crowds would be as large or the enthusiasm so intense. Also, I'm sure his theology is not 100% perfect, because no one's is.

Still, I am heartened that he has created a lot of interest in serious study of the Bible. He and a handful of other prominent pastors in America have decided to be unafraid in their preaching. Whether 1000 people or 10 people show up, they are committed to teaching the Word unapologeticlly and with zeal. I hope this will give more pastors the courage to speak the truth, and not to base their teaching on concerns about church growth or political correctness.

In our culture, we hear a lot about celebrities who can sell tickets quickly. For example, last year Taylor Swift sold out her show at the Staples Center (20,000 seats) in ten minutes.

The venue for Secret Church (about 3,000) is small compared to the Staples center. Yet it is HUGE when you take into consideration the lackluster commitment that many Christians have to serious Bible study. Now, there is a stampede for tickets to an event where attendees spend six hours with an open Bible in their laps. Who knows, maybe someday sports and entertainment arenas will be filled with people who want to pray and learn from the Bible. That would be awesome, indeed!

For more information on Secret Church or to listen to the teaching, visit