Matthew 18:5-6 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
In my current job, I work with police departments across the country to map the social networks of street gangs, cartels and more recently, human trafficking organizations. The power that pimps have over the women they sell for sex is nothing short of demonic. The psychological grip these suspects hold over women in their teens and early twenties is so strong that it can take years to break the victims free from the sex trade. This control is rooted in the reality that these women are starved for parental love, affirmation and support that they do not get at home. The evil is that the twisted love offered by pimps is nothing more than mind control that starts with the promise of forever, expensive gifts and “protection” from people who have let them down. What follows is a nightmare of sustained physical and mental abuse from which these women do not believe there is any escape.
The war to free these victims is in the hands of men and women in law enforcement whose mission is to arrest the perpetrators and work to break the cycle of sexual abuse and violence. The police officer who can stay focused on finding ways to prosecute the suspects and simultaneously care for the victims to get them out of the cycle servitude is nothing short of incredible.
This cop story is about Kim. She is a detective with a California law enforcement agency and currently assigned to a human trafficking task force. As for her faith, Kim grew up with agnostic parents. She started a search for a church five years ago; being baptized on Easter Sunday just over two years ago. I got to know Kim after she was pulled into a brief I was giving on social network analysis (SNA) and how it can be used to break criminal enterprises. It was the final brief I was giving to a group of detectives and Kim was brought in late, having no idea about the meeting she was being told to attend.
The key to getting police departments to use SNA is to find that person in the organization who sees the value of targeting networks to reduce crime. Kim was the one who “caught the vision” of SNA, jumping in to learn the methodology and application. Over the next year, Kim gave me a crash course in human trafficking that I had not previously known or understood. As she worked to use SNA to map out prostitution rings using SNA, I noticed that there was something about Kim that made her stand out from other detectives. She had compassion for the women she was trying to free from a life of sexual bondage. Her motivation became clearer to me over time as she talked about the cases she worked and the girls she tried rescue.
Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will
Like many of us, Kim had plans for what she believed was the right professional path for her law enforcement career. She wanted to be a homicide detective. She worked hard as a patrol officer to gain experience responding to violent crimes and attended various training events to learn the craft of homicide investigation. When the opportunity came for her to test for detective, she was selected…to the Narcotics and Vice Unit. It was not the direction she wanted to go but accepted the position and eighteen months later, was reassigned to a human trafficking task force. Kim would say, “It is in God’s hands.” But that did not keep her from a small grumble now and then about not getting the spot in homicide. Here is where I came in…
I was with Kim a few weeks ago wrapping up my project with her department. Her team and I presented how the SNA processes were used at their department to the command staff and homicide detectives. Kim was up late the night before dealing with a prostitution case where they rescued a young girl from a pimp. The homicide detectives knew about the investigation and were quizzing Kim about the case. They wanted details about what the victim had to say. Kim did not interview the girl because as she said, “She was just too tired and she needed to get some sleep.” My impression was that the other detectives were more interested in the facts of the case and not so much about the condition of the victim. Kim told me later that these guys could be difficult and were not always team players at the department.
It was not long after the briefing ended that Kim got a telephone call. At first I thought she was talking to her daughter, “Hey darling! How are you feeling today? Did you get some sleep because you looked so exhausted last night?” As the conversation went on, I realized that she was talking with the girl she rescued the night before. I was humbled at the compassion that Kim showed as if this little girl were her own.
After the briefings ended, it was time for me to get going to the airport. Kim was walking me out of the building and I told her that it was (and continues to be) God’s plan that she is fighting against prostitution. I told her that if she had been selected to be a homicide detective, she would be frustrated. She would be working with people she did not respect. Not only that, she would not be able to help murder victims since they were, after all, dead. No, Kim was right where God wanted her to be. She was the, “an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Check out Romans 13) More important than that, Kim is loving the unloved. She is the light on the hill showing compassion and giving hope to prostitutes. She is the hand of Jesus.
Who is it in your life who is unlovable? Have you accepted your calling even though it might not be exactly what you think is the best for you? What is it that God calls you to do?