The ProLife Team Podcast 98 | Karolyn Schrage & Jacob Barr | The Mission Field at a Strip Club

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast 98 | Karolyn Schrage & Jacob Barr | The Mission Field at a Strip Club
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Listen to Karolyn Schrage and Jacob Barr talk about the work that Karolyn’s team has done to help women marginalized by strip clubs. They have provided relationships, food, medical services, and creative ideas to invite each woman to see Jesus.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and I recently had the privilege of hosting Karolyn Schrage on our Pro-life Team Podcast. Karolyn, the Executive Director of Life Choices Health Network, shared her remarkable experiences and insights into reaching out to the sexually marginalized, particularly those hidden in plain sight in our communities.

Karolyn highlighted their mission of empowering individuals to make healthy life choices through comprehensive medical and educational services. She emphasized the importance of providing safe healthcare access to those marginalized, especially victims of trafficking, who often avoid mainstream healthcare due to fear and control by their traffickers.

We discussed the critical role of healthcare providers in identifying and assisting victims of sexual exploitation. Karolyn elaborated on the training and tools necessary for recognizing red flag indicators and establishing trust with victims. She also underscored the significance of collaboration with law enforcement and other community resources to offer comprehensive care and support.

Furthermore, Karolyn shared the innovative approach of her organization in reaching out to women in commercial sex industries, like strip clubs, to offer support, healthcare services, and a path to a better life. This outreach involves building relationships and trust, often leading to transformative changes in these women’s lives.

Karolyn’s message was clear: being proactive and mission-driven in such endeavors is not just about treating symptoms but addressing the systemic issues of a broken world. She called for unity and alignment in leadership and a genuine desire to make a difference as the driving force behind such missions.

In conclusion, our conversation was a powerful testament to the importance of expanding our mission beyond traditional boundaries to address the broader issues of sexual exploitation and trafficking. It was an inspiring reminder of the impact we can have when we bring the light of hope and healing into the darkest corners of our communities.

Relevant hashtags to this podcast would be: #ProLifeLeadership, #SexualMarginalization, #HumanTraffickingAwareness, #HealthcareOutreach, #CommunityCollaboration, #EmpowermentThroughEducation, #VictimSupport, #FaithInAction, #MissionDrivenOutreach, #TransformativeChange.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Karolyn Schrage :

Welcome to this podcast my name is Karolyn Schrage, I’m the Executive Director with Life Choices Health Network, and Jacob has kindly invited me on this podcast to really explore what it’s like to reach out with sort of a covert mission to the sexually marginalized that are hidden in plain sight in our very own communities.

Jacob Barr :

So Karolyn, I’m excited to have you on the pro-life Team Podcast. Would you introduce yourself for essentially to those who are listening, which is probably made-up of executive directors of Prancy clinics and different pro-life leaders?

Karolyn Schrage :

Sure well, thank you for the invite, Jacob to join you. And to our greater audience, I appreciate the opportunity to just share what God’s doing in our corner of the world. I am a registered nurse and have worked with the Life Choices Health Network for the last 20 years, with the last 16 years serving as the executive director for our sexual health clinic. We do a prevention, we do an intervention and we do an extension as kind of the pillars of our mission statement, which is to empower individuals to make healthy life choices through medical and educational services.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome and yeah the ministry that I wanted to yeah hear what you’re you hear about what you’re doing and really just to share what you’re doing with those who are listening was the work that you’re doing with the clubs and this. Well essentially those who may be found in a trafficking or you know working in that working at a club when they would like to have a way out can you share like the overall idea for that work that you’re working on?

Karolyn Schrage :

Sure i think we know that the sexually marginalized community does not often feel like they have many safe places to go, especially when they’re trying to access healthcare. And we know that a lot of those that may be overseeing or trafficking them obviously don’t want them to go through mainstream healthcare entities. And so we find ourselves being in a position where because we are offering the full sexual health services with the pregnancy services, with pregnancy verification and ultrasound that we are a prime spot where some of those individuals might test us out to see if we could provide the services that they’re needing. And I think one of the studies that really kind of sparked our desire to serve more and to understand better was the study that was done by Loyola University in regards to their interviewing of survivors of trafficking. And they made mention that about 88 % of those that have had some kind of sexual exploitation, especially in the world of trafficking, that those survivors reported that during their victimization they accessed healthcare entities. But yet only 4 % of all reports came from the healthcare sector. And we know that many of those that went into an setting because of a pregnancy issue, a miscarriage, a forced abortion, any kind of sexual health needs, about 96 % were not even asked if they needed assistance or they needed a way out which I think is probably the beauty that I see with those of us in the pregnancy help setting is that we do take that time. We do have that ability to listen, to learn and to really understand where a person’s at. It’s not a matter of just a statistic getting someone run through the process because one, we’re not a for profit entity that limits the time and the focus. But we also know this is a demographic of individuals that so needs access not just to the healthcare, but far more important, it needs access to that spiritual and that emotional support that is so important if we’re looking for transformational change and we’re looking for hope in desperate situations.

Jacob Barr :

Wow so yeah, only 4 % were reported by the healthcare industry. So a couple of thoughts on that one would be what has helped your group? What can help a person in this healthcare industry identify when someone is in a sex trafficking situation in order to then report that? And where should someone report when they do identify that?

Karolyn Schrage :

I think it truly for us the medical integrity of offering the sexual health services has put us in a platform where we are receiving referrals from ERS, from other health entities. When people are looking for testing for HIV STD’s for planned unplanned pregnancies, even planned pregnancies, where there is that confusion as to maybe exactly what those healthcare needs may be. And so I think for us it was tooling up our staff so that we could look for the red flag indicators and there’s really a plethora of different options to go to get some of that information i know through the bright courses that are offered that many in our pregnancy help center gravitate to they have an excellent program that helps to tool up staff to see the red flag indicators to know what to look for. Again, I think it goes back to listening to learn, but to be very aware of what we what those clues are, what do we need to look at. And then I think also just being very aware that at times an individual may not disclose and so we’ve even seen where we have seen the same person maybe three or four times prior for some kind of a sexual health situation. We knew something wasn’t quite right, but maybe the time for them was not right to disclose just how unsafe they were. And so we have to be patient to build a relationship and build an atmosphere of trust. So when that time comes, they already know that we’re a safe place and so, knowing that, sometimes it takes seven times for an individual to leave a unsafe trafficking situation to get out and stay out, we want to be there for the fourth, time the fifth time that may then expedite them choosing to disclose and get help i think another important aspect is developing good relationships with your law enforcement. We are very honored and I think blessed and don’t take for granted that we’ve worked hard at building relationships with our law enforcement. And so they often are the ones that are referring someone to come to us for testing and or if they feel that they have someone that is being victimized, they will reach out to our team to send one of our team members down to be there at the police station or whatever location this individual may be at. So that we’re included from the very beginning in their interview process. That way it’s not double traumatization. If they’re being interviewed and they’re having to share the information with law enforcement and then with another entity and then with healthcare and then with an advocate, they can share it with law enforcement but also with one of our advocate slash medical team. So that we’re really lessening the trauma intensity that this individual is going through by recounting their story over and over and over and so with our team being part of our RISE coalition, which is our stand against trafficking, we’re able then to kind of expedite the greater care team in our community to be the ones to make that call if shelter is needed, if transportation is an issue. We’re very fortunate to have a donor who has his own business and has his own plane. And so at times he has taken myself a security member and the individual and we’ve been able to fly them to a long term recovery center or to a safe family member to get them out of an unsafe situation so it’s really just networking in your community with many of the resources that are there that are untapped, but also envisioning to our community that everyone has a voice. If we have a disclosure that’s made in our clinic, then we operate under the see something, say something we are mandatory reporters. If an individual is not willing to cooperate with the police that sometimes restricts also with HIPAA confines. We have to be very careful that we’re not overstepping in those arenas, but there’s often ways to build trust so that we can bring in those individuals that are very trauma informed so that the individual feels more comfortable in seeing law enforcement as an option for safety.

Jacob Barr :

Wow, that’s a lot of good information and it’s so. Can you tell me more about what it looks like to have a partnership with law enforcement like how is that established and what kind of referrals might they provide?

Karolyn Schrage :

Well, I think for us it started with our team reaching out to our local law enforcement and just saying, hey, we want to be a resource to you what would be most helpful to you in terms of those that are being sexually exploited? Because we have a program that goes into the schools and we help educate about 10.000 thousand students a year. One of the areas was definitely the cyber safety, predatory grooming, the human trafficking issues. And so that put us in connection with the Internet crimes against children sort of task force. And we were able to put on some events that helped to encourage parents to be aware about apps and to be aware of the predatory grooming that can happen that can put their child in that very unsafe space where they might need our services for sexual health. I think that complemented then the ability for law enforcement to know that we had the medical services to provide that full sexually transmitted infection services and those that had unplanned pregnancies so if they found someone that was in a exploitive type situation that were pregnant, we were then the go to people for them to refer for additional help. That then developed as the integrity and as the credibility for them to say one of the identified needs that law enforcement has is often if they’ve arrested a trafficker, they’ve arrested a pimp and the girl is not going to be arrested. But maybe that is all transpired while she’s working at a hotel and all she has is her working clothes. How with dignity and respect can they find shelter for her can they find a location for her to go and one of the things they mentioned was if there was a resource like a go bag that would have night clothing, undergarments, hygiene items, and then we kind of specialized that for those that needed the an amenities so we always have a T-shirt a hoodie, a cap, sunglasses, a scarf. Always have those comfort items such as a warm fleecy blanket, a comfort animal in, you know, a little stuffed animal, fidget items. Also gift cards and obviously we always have candy and so does that you know, chocolate helps make everything better, but we always include in that a chapstick and the chapstick simply has a barcode with a name or with a number on the end so should they take the go bag? But they don’t want any other services. They can always use the number on that Chapstick that goes straight to a helpline that helps us to be able to connect with them down the road so should they not want any services from us at that point in time or with law enforcement, They still have this piece of helpful information for when they do decide that they need to disclose so that was a tangible way that we could pull our community together to provide go bags for law enforcement and for any other social services entity. So now we will get referrals from our two major hospitals that have behavioral health units that often have individuals that have been exploited. We take referrals from our homeless shelters. We take referrals from, you know, any entity that might have a cross section with this population. I’m sorry my answers are really long Jacob, but I just feel like there’s a lot of information that each one of your questions is evoking a lot of information so I hope I’m not over sharing.

Jacob Barr :

No, this is perfect i like to ask you know simple questions and then let you Share your story. You know some podcasts are back and forth between a guest and a host but this is my goal is to let your story be told fully and then this is a really good story to share because honestly most Prancy clinics i feel like and the greater pro-life sphere I feel like the sex trafficking space has not been fully connected to the pro-life the pacey clinic world and sphere and I feel like there’s a great need for that to be strengthened and grown or connected in some way and so I’m really glad you’re sharing on this topic. I’ve got some more questions so is the go bag given to police to then be able to have available to hand out to someone when they identify someone in that scenario based on a call and so they keep that in their squad car or is it or is that something that they would keep at their at the police station to be able to give to someone who would be coming into the station? Yeah how is that? Like is it something that you would give the police station 2020 go bags and you know what, What’s that look like to ask them to keep them on hand and then to deliver them in the strategic way with the contents?

Karolyn Schrage :

Good question and I think what we found is in different scenarios, different ones use it differently. For our local Police Department, what they did is they took a medium and a large every detective because typically if there is a situation like this that maybe has been identified by a patrol officer, by a street officer, then it’s going to be the detective that’s brought in for further investigation so a lot of times it’s the detective that we’ll have, but then our Police Department does keep a few extra on hand. They prefer it far more that we show up with the go bag and that we’re the ones that are able to. So it’s connected to a person and for us we find that that’s hugely advantageous because often we can begin that trust factor because when they say this is my friend Carolyn from the community and I want you to talk with her because I think she’s got some resources, I can then validate that yes, I am from the community, yes, I am from a medical clinic that can offer services, but I’m also not from the government and I’m not a part of law enforcement. So that I can help them know who I am and who I’m not, which often then begins to bridge maybe a little bit more of that trust and that communication so that’s kind of how the go bag aspect works. Now what we were finding is concurrently some of the individuals that were already accessing our services that we were seeing, we realized that here we were with the Great Commission that says go and yet we were staying in our clinic hoping that the world would come to us and so as we began to look at this field, we went well, how can we be more Great Commission driven and how can we go. And one of the fields that we determined that we wanted to explore a little bit more was with our mobile unit and was going and offering to go to those places where maybe that cross section, so truck stops. And one of those aspects that we wanted to sort of explore a little bit more were the and I use this term lightly, but the world refers to them as gentlemen’s club farther from the truth than that could be but those entities where there is predominantly adult commercial sex industry and so that’s when we decided that we wanted to take more of an outreach team approach. And so for our team on Wednesday nights, we have three to four females that are on the team and we have about two guys that always go with us, sometimes 3. But we have our men that are in the parking lot praying over us, watching over us very strategically security aware. And then while they’re praying they’re often mingling with the bouncers, having conversations with the managers etcetera in the parking lot depending on whether and then our three to four group of women were going in where we’re just literally going in to be in their corner. It usually means that the access to get in is either goodie bags and or we’re taking in a home cooked meal. Those things seem to allow us to loiter with intent, but often they’ll ask So what church sent you and then we have the opportunity to say, well actually a church didn’t send us. We each come from different churches, but we’re pulled together with a common interest in wanting to just be sort of cheerleaders in your corner, knowing that there’s not a lot of people that can come and give you encouragement. And that aspect has really opened up the doors to where the other night as I was falling asleep, I was just counting the number of babies that I know have been born to women who worked in the club industry that had come to us. Very abortion minded. But coming into the clinic, we’ve seen that often it is through a pregnancy that a woman. Will sometimes choose to leave the sexual commercial industry and we have a part in that dual tracking one, in helping her to see the child through the incredible aspect of the ultrasound. But two, being able to give her resources so that she doesn’t feel like working at the club is the only way that she can provide formula or buy the diapers. But we can connect her through our care coordination to churches where churches can then love on individuals in a very non judgmental way, but really doing what the church body should. And that’s to love individuals through whatever journey they’re walking On. One particular individual that we’ve worked with recently from a trafficking situation, she made the comment that, you know, I’ve never been a fan of churches because of the hurt that I’ve had, but I like it that working with a place like you all, you allowed Jesus to be invited in. You don’t cram religion down our throats. And I think that falls in with the way in which many of us in the pregnancy help movement are seeing that we have this opportunity to be gospel whisperers and to really whisper the gospel through the tangible resources of medical ultrasound, STD testing.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. So three or four women will go into one of these strip clubs and provide meals and or a goodie bag with kindness, it sounds like inside the bag and then essentially build relationships and conversation to invite someone. Yeah so what are the invitations that someone’s being invited to is it like STI testing, relationship building conversation can you tell me more about those conversations and like what yeah, what does that look like for those conversations to take place?

Karolyn Schrage :

I think first and foremost, it’s an invite to relationship. It’s not invite to a program or to services, but it’s people to people. And so as they see that we’re taking a genuine interest in them, in any children they may have, in what life looks like for them, we’re being Jesus with skin on it. That is just really letting them share their stories and choosing not to bring condemnation, but to sometimes be a solution to the problems that they have. It’s often now more of a word referral that if someone has an unplanned pregnancy that someone else in the club may be saying, hey, I think this person needs to talk to you. Or hey, I’ve told her that she can make an appointment with you so it’s over seasons of trust over years of trust building. Many others are the greater advocate for our clinic services than we ever have to be. Or someone will say Oh my gosh, I went down there and man, I got tested because you know this guy cheated on me and they were there to help me walk through that. So it’s really inviting them to have that relationship and to know that we are never going to state if we do know that someone’s come in to us, we make sure that we assure them that their confidentiality is top priority for us so we’re someone else, we walk in the dressing room and someone else may say, Oh my gosh, it was so glad to see you thanks for doing all that testing and declare it to the whole room another person may never want anyone else in that room to be aware so we let them choose to disseminate whatever information they feel comfortable with. But it’s that invitation to relationship. There are many times that we will say, hey, our church is having a special moms to mom Bible study. If anybody’s interested, let us know. Or it may be that it’s at Easter time and one of the churches is doing a passion play and so we’ll bring in Flyers about, hey, did you know this church down the road from mine is doing a live passion play or at Christmas time, If we know that there’s a church that’s doing a special pajama giveaway? We’re always looking for ways that we can connect not with just our personal church, but with churches that we know are connected as supporters for our pregnancy help centers and really trying to connect people with the churches that are in their area closest to them. So it allows us to be a bridge between culture and Christ when we know that there’s this huge divide and so we’re just able to step in there and really, you know, invite them to Christ, not to church per southeast. Knowing that eventually church and that church family is going to provide that community that many of them are longing for and so i think that all dovetails together is if I have the opportunity to connect them with a food bank that is connected to a church, that’s going to be a double win as opposed to a food bank that has no Jesus affiliation or connection and so looking for those opportunities sort of in that genre and along the way, like I said, because they trust us once they learn where we work at, they’re much more likely to want to come with their issues to us. Also find that it’s through our relationship, that it’s after the hours after we’re not in the club that we have most of them that will reach out to say, hey, my dad just was put on Hospice, I know that you’re a praying person. Would you pray for my dad? And so we’re able to sometimes even text back a prayer that kind of includes and models what praying is like. Or at times to say, hey, my husband and I are going to be at Starbucks at 9:00 We go to church at 10, but you want to come grab a coffee with us. And a lot of times that will lend itself then to an invitation hey, our church is just up the road. Why don’t you just jump in the car and go with us and then we’ll bring you back to your car. Well, a lot of times nobody wants to walk into a church foyer for the first time and not know anyone so we find that sometimes being the church through a cup of coffee often opens the door for the greater Community Church connection.

Jacob Barr :

That makes sense. So I’ve got a couple of questions. When your help, when these women are receiving help, what does it look like for them to get career opportunities or career education to, you know, to see a pathway towards replacing their household income that they’re currently bringing in what does that look like?

Karolyn Schrage :

I wish it looked like I had a much better solution than is out there. Because it’s very difficult in the job market to encourage them to get a job at Wendy’s or McDonald’s or when for three nights a week they can work at night while someone else is sleeping and watching their kids per southeast. And they’re able to make the income to pay the rent, to get the kids, the school supplies they need. And so that’s a huge challenge. So it’s not so much the lure of a job as it is helping that mindset to help them understand that you might not have to spend as much from your budget on booze, on, you know, illegal substances, on those things that help to numb the objectification that we know comes with often being in those roles. And often the first step is to help them get to some kind of a rehab treatment center to get off of the substances that the club sort of seen often perpetuates. And so it sometimes is a dual aspect of helping them to know how to navigate the healthy system cycles that can replace the old habits and break down what maybe many of them have only known from a small child because their own family was in such disarray or their own family members were involved in some kind of exploitation i think the other thing is what we realize in that particular aspect of ministry is that the majority of those that are in that kind of a commercial sex industry have themselves been abused incest you know some kind of sexual assault harm that has left them feeling like they are less than worthy. And so the jump or the default to them being the ones in charge of their sexuality and charging and or having the power over men on stage that complexity of the mental trauma that also adds another layer of challenging complexities to sort of that emotional and the mental health that has played into them sometimes landing where they really didn’t want to. We know that there’s a huge connection between strip clubs, casino work, escort work, the human trafficking and men that will exploit women out of a club situation. There’s just a huge overlay there and when you look at statistics of those that have had unplanned pregnancies within the trafficking and have had forced abortions, we can’t help but not want to be a response to that critical piece of just the overlay of trauma and drama that happens with demand and the sexual demand in our culture you know, the USA is one of the largest purchasers of sex in the entire world. And not only do they go overseas, but most of the sex is purchased here in our country and we have more strip clubs per capita than any other country in the world. Well, that’s a sad indictment on a country that was developed as one nation under God to say that, Well, that seems to apply, except when it comes to issues of pornography, of sexual addiction and I think we help bring a voice and help bring awareness to that.

Jacob Barr :

So one of the main pillars of this podcast is to share new ideas, to praise the clinic, directors and leadership teams and I think this is definitely in that genre of a new idea or an idea that’s not commonly well exposed. So what how many clinics are offering a service like this have you come across other clinics who are doing this, or is this because it feels like you’re trailblazing, a really incredible idea, but I don’t. Is this something that you’ve seen other clinics adopt, or you’ve gotten some ideas from other groups, or just primarily trailblazing?

Karolyn Schrage :

I don’t know that we were aware of anyone else that was doing this when we started in regards to the pregnancy help movement. We had been aware obviously of other nonprofits that were specifically geared towards trafficking and or club outreach, but to integrate that in the pregnancy help center, we were not aware of others now I do believe that through our national affiliations that there are other organizations and some that have even taken this to the next level. There are those in one of the Carolinas that you know has a sex trafficking survivor home for those individuals so they’re even taking it to the next level of providing housing for these individuals. And there are others that are doing a lot of training. I think it’s becoming more and more advantageous by many directors to see that equipping their staff to understand the red flags and to also build relationships with social services entities or with law enforcement. I think there is a welling up and a swelling of just that compassion to blend in the services that you can’t really just cut and dry and segment because there is such a meshing. And now that we are aware and we know that domestic trafficking is such a reality, we’re reframing, I think our traditional mindset that it’s, oh, it’s a movie like Taken or it’s a movie like Sound of Freedom where it’s really dealing with trafficking in other entities in other worlds. And we’re saying no, this is often the girl that walks in with an unplanned pregnancy this is often that young Teen Mom that felt like she had no other job opportunity and how are we being part of the solution to the chaoticness of the world and i think there is probably those that would run it through the analytics of is this mission creep. You know, for us what we have found is there could be nothing further than the truth. This is mission expansion that whether it is a voiceless victim in the womb or it is the victim of trafficking, who is the mother. Are we not helping on both ends of the spectrum and are we also taking that family approach that would say maybe our crossroads section of providing services to this woman at this moment will decrease the chances for the child in utero or future children becoming part of that cycle of sexual exploitation.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah when it comes to like mission creep versus mission expansion, I was talking with Diana Monahan recently and one of the things that came up in conversation was essentially as our, yeah, as the as the enemy increases scope of damage or increases scope of attack as they have in recent years or you know, in different times but essentially I think our response is to increase scope of healing and I feel like you know that’s you know really what previously clinics do it is essentially we are responding to damage that’s been created and we are responding with healing. And that’s really I would probably summarize that best is inviting people towards spiritual healing psychological and you know some cases psychological slash counseling healing, physical healing. But these are, these are areas where you know we’re responding with God’s grace and healing based off of our enemy increasing his attack as he’s trying to devour those who are weak and those who are vulnerable. And so all that to say is, you know, when someone says we need to stay in our own lane, yeah, part of it is we’re responding to an attacker. And as the attacker throws darts in new areas, there is damage being done and healing that it’s now being created there is an opportunity to help someone. So for a director who is thinking this sounds really intriguing, I would like to learn more. I’d like to share this with my board. I would like to explore what we could do in our county. Would it be appropriate for them to reach out to you? Would it be appropriate for them to get redirected to a education group what would you say to someone who’s thinking like I would like to look into this more for my county?

Karolyn Schrage :

You know, i think they’re most welcome to reach out to me i’m, I am very glad to lessen the learning curve by things, speed bumps, detours that maybe we’ve taken. If anybody you know just wants to reach out for a phone call or an email, I’m glad to share how we got started, how we got in the door. I think also you know tapping into a couple of the different educational programs that are already out there like I mentioned, I know that bright course that many of us are familiar with, they have a course also there is a program that is called SOAR SOAR that also will provide CE US for nurses that want to get much more grounded in the human trafficking identification. So if you’re an executive director and you want to dual purpose CEU credits for your nurses, that may be a way that you can empower them and also kind of gain ground in that in that arena. You know, i think going back to what you said about the mission creep etcetera, I think we have as a movement often been very agenda driven really focusing on one symptom of our broken world and that being the symptom of abortion. But I think when we’re looking at that Kingdom expansion, we know that really ultimately it’s a systemic approach that is going to include all things sexually broken, that we really as the pregnancy help movement are very postured to take a more systemic approach instead of a symptomatic. So whether it’s pornography, whether it’s sex trafficking, STD’s and, you know, an abortion issue, we have the answer and that’s Jesus. And so being able to dovetail those together, what I found is by having a proactive mission mindset in this regard, our community is seeing us as leaders. And that’s not always how most communities embrace their pregnancy center entities.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah. So can you speak to a contrasting response one would be like an individual church adopting this ministry compared to a pregnancy clinic who might have let’s say 7 plus churches within the staff and volunteer and support sphere coming together to work on this as more of like, you know, greater than a single body or single location church maybe it’s more of like it’s more like a bridge between seven plus churches and you know, how does that contrast or how does that you know, How would you compare those two? You know those two concepts. Maybe both are good, or maybe one seems to provide a better approach perhaps, I’m not sure.

Karolyn Schrage :

I think it can be a both and like we as our pregnancy help center our clinic, we sort of are the tip of the spear as far as the victim services response. But underneath that tip is all the power of the churches that really come together so I know I can reach out to this church and say, hey, I need pilot fuel, I need jet fuel to get this person’s safety or hey, this person has a specific need for a new wardrobe because they’re looking at this new job. There’s different people in our churches that very much express certain gifts and talents i’ve got someone in one church that is a salon stylist, and so if I’ve got someone that needs a cut and a color and a relook, I know I can call that member of that church i’ve got another member in a different church that is a Christian tattoo artist. And so when we’re talking about doing cover ups of a branding mark that’s been left, I know I can reach out to the to them and that sort of builds synergy. If we’re doing a training, we may ask a particular church to host it, but they’re inviting other churches to come to that training. So while we might be the person that is part of setting up the coalition against trafficking in our community, my best go to people are people in the church and part of the church and church leaderships that are banding together to provide that prayer coverage. So i think it can be a combination of no one. I don’t think anyone can give pushback to this not being a human rights platform that everybody can get behind. But how even much more beautiful when it’s those of us that are fighting for a culture of life through the pregnancy center to kind of be leading the way of saying we aren’t just this, we are this and because we care about the moms of these kids, we care about how they’re getting help and how they’re changing that cycle. I don’t know did.

Jacob Barr :

That answer, yes, no, that yeah to me, I feel like the answer yeah what I heard was the body of Christ includes people that have certain gifting and talents and interests and having, you know, several, several body parts within this body to essentially to come alongside someone who needs help. Because sometimes you’ll need the ear or sometimes you’ll need the heart sometimes you’ll need, you know, that part of that body of people. And coming together to. Yeah, essentially to be able to respond to a variety of needs or a variety of requests makes sense because we can’t always rely on a certain part of the body to be the right part. And so I think having that variety is really helpful to be able to solve essentially to. Yeah to solve different scenarios or to respond to different scenarios.

Karolyn Schrage :

And what I found as well is our team now is often requested by other law enforcement departments like Homeland Security or like the FBI. And so when they ask us to bring our medical team and our mobile unit and go to another part of our state or neighboring states, it’s often us being able to reach out and figure out where is a church in that community that we know is very active in reaching out to the unreached. And often times it is a church that is used as the processing center when they’re doing a large sting operation. And it’s also so advantageous if we know who are the God people in this community that we can connect people to in that community where there is maybe an active pregnancy center that you know on two different deployments we’ve now done 26 operations with higher level law enforcement operations in the sting operations and in two of those we always do the STI testing as requested. And all of that always involves a pregnancy test. And with that, then in two different situations, we found out that there was an unknown pregnancy, but with the beauty of the ultrasound, we’ve been able to have our portable ultrasound machines right there and be able to show life within the womb so in my mind, there is absolutely no segregation of pregnancy center help and trafficking because they all are part of the sexual brokenness in our world.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that’s a wow that’s such amazing to think about that you’ve been a part of 26 operations for these sting operations or your group has been. Can you tell me more about when it comes to communicating with the supporters, the you know, the prayer warriors, those who are donating, volunteering, helping you know, have a desire to help grow your mission and vision. When it comes to communicating with your supporters about this work within you know, with, you know, helping women in the sex trafficking situation. What has been your posture or how have you taken you know how is the messaging gone is it been difficult? Is it been you know how? How is that gone when it comes to communicating the work being done in order to ask for support?

Karolyn Schrage :

I think that’s where we we’ve been very careful about how we are approaching this because we never want to sensationalize it. We never want to be the exploiter of a victimization individual in effort to get fundraising. So really we’ve kept most of our fundraising efforts towards reaching a healthy family. But with church leaderships, we’ve had the ability to say, hey, we are the covert team that is being sent into dark places where the church might never be invited in. And we want you to know that your church dollars are really reaching the unreached people groups here in our own community. So we we’re careful that even as we’ve written maybe a newsletter article about reaching we we’re careful we don’t label individuals as victims. We’re careful to show the overlay of an unplanned pregnancy blur out any faces we we’ve chosen not to use any victim of trafficking as like our client story just because that can be seen as highly sensationalized and we want to protect them from any undue trauma. So again, it’s a very delicate dance like I never know if someone sitting in the audience may be someone who is actually purchasing sex at one of the clubs. Because we know that happens. And we also know that as I invite someone to church, I don’t want them to be hearing an announcement about life choices and their efforts in going into the strip clubs to save those poor people like so it is one of those things where we realize that a lot of times our clients can be those individuals that are in the church Pew. And so again, choosing to be very respectful and filled with dignity, not hiding from what we’re doing. But I think it’s like with our special OPS teams on behalf of the US government, they don’t broadcast when they’re going to do a special operation they don’t broadcast where they are in that moment they can, in generalities report back to our nation that, you know, certain initiatives have happened, but with us we’re just careful with any details.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. So it sounds like with a sting operation, there might be several people who receive medical care. And then it sounds like some people, yeah, some of the women might be, you know, essentially in need of counseling and, you know, all sorts of care. What different classifications would you say the women, you know, how do you know, do all women receive the same offering of services or is it based off of, you know, yeah, how would you know, I guess what kind of different people are being helped after one of these sting operations?

Karolyn Schrage :

It’s very much going to depend on the individual. In some scenarios, a woman doesn’t want help. They don’t see themselves being victimized and they’re going to turn down everything they’re just furious at the entrapment that’s happened in this particular night. With others, they really have found themselves in a tough spot they never aspired or dreamed to be caught in that kind of a situation. And so for them, they are looking for a way out for some. So again, it we can textualize it if it’s someone that needs rehab, we’re going to have those referrals if it’s someone that needs long term residential where maybe they are tooled up with different job skills or schooling, it may be emergency shelter that hey, I paid for this hotel room, I’ve flown in from another city just for this special football game or whatever golf tournament or whatever, because I know that there’s going to be a lot more demand attention and now I don’t have enough money to get back to where I need to go so again, it’s really looking at what is needed for some it’s just, man, if I just had formula and diapers, maybe I could get back on track and so with most every single individual there is that component of the need for professional counseling for that mental health focus and so really connecting them with whatever they are needing and are ready for in that moment. But I think far and large it’s really finding those entities that do case management so if it’s not in our community looking for what are those resources or who is that system navigate and navigating advocate in their community?

Jacob Barr :

Where have you seen God’s fingerprints in this work? And with the connection with churches and church leadership.

Karolyn Schrage :

Wow, that’s I think there are some when the Roe versus Wade reversal was announced that wanted to quickly jump on the bandwagon that well maybe the need for any kind of abortion, anti abortion services need to be downplayed because there was a national solution. I think no one thought that at all about our organization because we were already providing services in the schools. We had a health clinic that really was serving whether you had a pregnancy or didn’t have a pregnancy we were already serving men and we were serving in the trafficking arenas. And so I think church leadership has seen us as being very relevant, very pivot ready and looking at the broader Kingdom impact that a systemic approach can have as opposed to 1 aspect of fighting the abortion issue only Now i will tell you that you know some would say well have your abortion minded individuals go down. No, last week we had more abortion minded in that one week period than we’ve had in some months. So definitely as we’re casting a broader vision and a broader net, our opportunity has been to glean more that come to us because they do feel like we’re a safe space. And we aren’t just focused on those that have a functioning uterus that happens to be implanted with a clump of cells. Know they see us as caring for the whole person, both father of the baby, mother of the baby, and even relationally building relationships with those that aren’t pregnant in that moment and so i think church leadership is seeing that we do have that missionary mindset for anyone in our spirit sphere of influence. We want to be there as the safe space for those sexual health concerns.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, I like, I like that word missionary work when it comes to certain spheres within a given community, that makes a lot of sense. Have you seen people who were, you know, who are trafficked and rescued? Have you seen some of them taking on this work of helping others get out?

Karolyn Schrage :

Not anyone specific and often that comes with allowing them plenty of time to heal emotionally, physically and spiritually. There is one young woman that when I first met her she was 18. She had been lured into the into the business of the commercial sex industry with a promise of being able to make her car payments while she was attending her freshman year of college. But obviously the objectification, the need for chemical substances to keep her going very quickly derailed any educational plans. And when things got so bad that it precipitated that further step between her and us, we were able to fly her out to a long term recovery facility where she really just got to have that recalibration that reset and she is now getting ready to complete her law degree and we’ll be setting the bar come this spring. So she is one of those that has said when I get my law degree, you better believe that part of my work in the field of law will be pro bonoing help to those individuals that are fighting, stalking or fighting a trafficker. And I think her coming from a place where she didn’t see herself as a victim. And even after she left the life for a while, it wasn’t until she had a victimology class in her criminal justice undergrad did she go, Oh my gosh, like, yes. I was that proverbial vulnerable victim that thought I was in control when I wasn’t. So that that’s an exciting extrapolation of seeing it come to fruition and hopefully one day she will be able to pay it back.

Jacob Barr :

Oh wow. That’s yeah, what an amazing story. So when it comes to the women who are going in and interacting and building relationships and the men who are in the parking lot providing security and support and prayer support, what is the makeup of someone who is built to help in this area or what is the spiritual makeup of these women and men like, how would you? You know what gifting do they have that might be an indicator that they may be a good fit for this kind of work.

Karolyn Schrage :

You know, that’s a really good question and I wish I could say, oh, it’s built on a set of these point, bullet point characteristics. But I think first and foremost there has to be that ability to see the individual in the image of God and to have that calling that says, you know, this could be my daughter, this could be my grandchild. I just want to love unabashedly and to have that unrelenting desire to let God chase them down through me. And so i think that is the culmination is you just have to have that calling on your life to want to make a difference and to know that it isn’t sexy or glamorous And you walk away with this often on Wednesday nights I leave with the spirit of I just want to weep. And I hope that if I get to the point that I don’t feel like I want to weep that God will let me know I’m done. Because I think if we aren’t broken, for those who are broken, then our time is maybe done and different times different seasons you know, if we have someone that really feels a calling and they start in maybe in a dating relationship or they become engaged or they’re getting ready to get married, we asked them to step off of the team. If we have someone that is newly pregnant, we ask them to step aside during the pregnancy and for the duration of that. Because we know that at different times the environment is not as healthy for you both mentally and physically and so there are different seasons when it is right for some people. Like who would have ever thought that? Me as a grandma, that this would be an area that I would go into. So we’ve had college students that are upperclassmen that have been well vetted all the way to those my age that we know that God uses and takes the spirit and takes the genuine love for others and makes it a fit. Different individuals in that club setting have different mindsets, different age, different background, different experiences with religion that sometimes it’s the most unlikely fit that goes with someone that there’s just that connection and it’s the same for those that are in the parking lot now I allow one of our individuals that is a donor that is also part of our team. He does all the vetting for those that are going to serve in that area because obviously we want to be very aware that if you have had a past with purchasing prostitution and or high issues with pornography or some of those things that might be a temptation or a stumbling block, then this is as much as you want to do it. We may say this is probably not the type of ministry that is a fit for you so I let them have those conversations so that we know that those that are serving in that area are really well vetted and really tuned up for this and ultimately, we always start every evening with prayer, with updates. And we end every evening going back to the author and creator of all life, to give us that cleansing, but also to take whatever seeds of light, whatever glimmer of hope, and allow God to increase the effectivity of that light, to linger much longer than the time that we were there. And so we give it all back to God.

Jacob Barr :

How often does this group, your group go in did you say once per week? Is it you said on Wednesdays is that what you said or?

Karolyn Schrage :

Our particular group, we’ve been going in once a week now there are other entities and groups that may go to two or three clubs once a month or every other week. We just found that weekly connection. So it’s kind of like my Wednesday night small group only it’s just in the most unlikely spot but those of us that are serving, we go in there, we spend, you know, two sometimes 3 hours depending on how the spirit and the mood may lead. Also if it’s for whatever reason a very busy business night, we’re cautious that we’re not interfering in a very tangible way against hopefully our prayers are interfering, but sometimes the gals will laugh that they just don’t have as much customers on a Wednesday night. And it must be because the church ladies are there and so, you know, sometimes it’s like, OK, that’s our door that’s our opening, to be able to serve in ways in that space that allow God the opportunity to grow and increase.

Jacob Barr :

Ok so I’ve got one more question I think and that is what would you like an executive director or a board member who’s listening to, listening to this conversation? What would you like them to hear when they consider perfectly considering, you know, when they decide to maybe can perfectly consider this ministry as something that they would like to explore and pursue or seek as a way of serving their community And you know and bringing Jesus and light into this, into these dark corners or dark spaces within their county. What would you like them to consider perfectly?

Karolyn Schrage :

I think first and foremost is do you have collective unity and alignment with your leadership? And is your motivation truly to be the missionary hearted individual that your mission would allow to go at it as a means of building credibility or building relationships or donor procurement? Those are sidebar wins that we’ve seen. But the motivation in the heart has to be the driving force that we are literally taking the gospel outside of the walls of traditional cultivation of Kingdom expansion. And we’re choosing to go and make disciples, not stay and make disciples and so it it’s a tough field, but I think choosing to be gospel whispers, is it right for you and your organization to realize that we’ve all been deputized as sex missionaries to a broken world?

Jacob Barr :

All right, so I’ve got one more question actually. So when your group goes in, do you wear like a shirt that represents your group or your pacey clinic or in the. And for the men outside, you know, do they wear, you know, are you wearing casual clothes or are you wearing like a, you know, a professional shirt of some sort to show that you’re together And with this, you know, yeah, that you’re together with the same logo or something on the shirts.

Karolyn Schrage :

To kind of blend in with the to a certain degree so we’re not going in with logo shirts. The men in the parking lot, we always take the same vehicle so that the owner knows the license plate we also, I’ve had conversations with local law enforcement to say, hey, if you’re going to do any kind of bust, could you not do it on a Wednesday night when our group is there And if you see this license plate, please know that that’s connected with us. And for those of us that are going in, we want to make sure that we are modeling modesty, but we are not overdressing in terms of them feeling less comfortable. But honestly, Jacob, for that particular avenue whatever we wear is a heck of a lot more than those in the dressing room. So, you know, we’re just trying to represent modest but not affluence in any way and how we dress.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome well, I really appreciate your trailblazing into this in this space and then you may not be the only trailblazer but as far as I can see this is a very unique work within the precise clinic work and I would love to see people follow in your footsteps and also to see people fast track their learning curves by calling and learning from your experience and so I think that would be amazing and I feel like the pre C clinic movement as a whole or the pro-life movement as a whole, you know, really we I feel like there’s a greater connection and there’s a need for greater connection when it comes to spaces like this in the sex trafficking and in the in these arenas and i feel like there’s a need for growth and a need for adopting more care towards, yeah, these areas of our world. And so would you, would you mind closing our podcast with a with a prayer that those who are listening could, you know, participate or join in as they’re on their daily commute?

Karolyn Schrage :

I would be glad to do that Father God, we just thank you that you allow us the creativity, the wisdom to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves as we seek to be gospel whispers to a world that is filled with pre followers that have yet to connect with the awesome God that you are. Father, we know that ultimately you are the orchestrator you are the provider you are the strategic God that deems all of our plans as your plan so help us, Lord, not to in any way feel that nudge of comparison from one ministry to another, nor to feel any inadequacy from one to another. But, Father, we can focus on where those strengths are, but that we can also be open, Lord, not to become complacent in the status quo of where we are, but sometimes to be nudged to consider what that might look like in our community and so, Father, I thank you for Jacob and for the many years that he has been just a part of getting the message out and helping our donors to see the broader message. And Father, I just ask for a special blessing of just being infused with your spirit and that the stamina of serving you might be with us all for many years to come and it’s in your name, Father, and only in your name that we do pray amen.

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