Fighting Human Trafficking in Your City

In this episode, Mikel Del Rosario, Rebecca Jowers, and Taylor Ann Weaver discuss fighting human trafficking in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, focusing how people are exploited and how Poeima Foundation ministers to them.

About The Table Podcast

The Table is a weekly podcast on topics related to God, Christianity, and cultural engagement brought to you by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The show features interviews with guests who are experts on the chosen topic, and each episode is hosted by a member of The Hendricks Center’s team.

Timecodes
01:31
Jowers’ background and establishing Poeima Foundation
05:13
What does Poeima Foundation do?
09:16
How Weaver got involved in Poeima
11:38
Ways volunteers at Poeima fight human trafficking
17:49
True stories of fighting human trafficking in the city
23:17
How local churches can get involved
32:52
Lessons learned from doing outreach
40:50
Non-traditional volunteer opportunities at Poeima
Resources

Jower’s human trafficking organization:  Poeima Foundation 

Organization for fighting teen human trafficking: 4theONE  

Book by Nate Larkin:  Samson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood 

Fellowship for Christian men:  The Samson Society 

Transcript

Mikel Del Rosario: 
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I'm Mikel Del Rosario, Cultural Engagement Manager at The Hendricks Center. And our topic on The Table podcast today is fighting human trafficking in your city. I have two guests coming today via Zoom. First guest is Rebecca Jowers. Rebecca is the Assistant Dean of Students at Dallas Seminary and the Founder and Executive Director of the Poiema Foundation. Welcome to the show. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Thank you. It's great to be here. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Yeah, it's good to see you on the show. I know we've talked about having you on the show for a while, so I'm glad we finally got you on. We also have another guest today. Our second guest is Taylor Ann Weaver. Taylor works in Global Trade at Ernst & Young, and she's also a lead volunteer with Poiema Foundation. Welcome to the show, Taylor. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Thanks Mikel. I'm looking forward to discussing human trafficking. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, we just want to dive right in, and Rebecca, I want to start with you and ask you to just give us a little background on how you got involved in this whole area of fighting human trafficking right in your city and in our surrounding area. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
That's a great question because it's definitely not what I had planned for my life. I'm a mom of four daughters and used to be an educator. I taught math and science in both the public schools, private Christian schools and University of Texas at El Paso. I was an educator, stayed home 13 years. I was blessed with that time when we started having a family and my mid-life challenge was: what am I going to do now that my children are entering school full-time? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
My husband challenged me. He goes, "What are you going to do now that the youngest is going to school?" And I said, "What do you think I'm going to do? Grocery, shopping, laundry, dishes. Then there's laundry." Same mom things. I had always been teaching during that time. Bible studies, had a women's study meet in my home for 16 years. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
But it really was a challenge. My husband gave me what's next in this new season of life. I ended up at Dallas Seminary because I really didn't want to teach math and science. The last part of my life, I thought I wanted to have more of an impact on where people spend eternity. So he says, "You love teaching God's word. Why don't you go to Dallas Seminary and get your master's?" 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
That was on my bucket list. I'd started a master's in developmental mathematics. I ended up at Dallas Seminary and through my time there got introduced to the topic of human trafficking. When I left Dallas Seminary, my goals of getting equipped to teach God's word and just teach Bible studies or go back to teaching in a school setting, where I'm teaching Bible all day instead of math and science, took a huge change because God had placed this burden on my heart to do something about this injustice of children being sold for sex. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Actually a pastor at my church asked me, "What are your goals after seminary?" And I said, "Well, my big, hairy audacious goal would be to open a safe house for survivors of human trafficking." Once those words came out of my mouth, I was like, "Can I have those back? I can't believe I actually spoke what had been in my head, hidden for several years." I didn't have the confidence that I would be able to do something like that. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
He just looked at me and he said, "Really?" And I thought, yeah, I know I'm crazy. We ended up going to China on a mission trip and when we came back, he invited me. This is just a warning to people. When your pastor invites you to a meeting to join a team, be aware because you never know where God's going to lead you. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
He said, "I've been wanting to start a human trafficking ministry at our church under the umbrella of child advocacy centers. I'm sorry, under the umbrella of just children's ministry. We have a prevention, crisis pregnancy center ministry. We have adoption foster care, and I want to start an anti-trafficking ministry to help protect children. Do you want to be on the team?" I said, "Sure. I've played sports my whole life. I'd love to be on the team." 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
When I showed up to the meeting, it was me and Pastor Rod, and I thought, I must be early. I don't see the team. Actually I left that meeting thinking, "I think he wants me to start a human trafficking ministry." Really, that's how it began. It was going on a mission trip with my pastor. He said, "I saw leadership on your life. I saw this passion that you have for justice and to be a voice for these children and women and boys who don't have a voice." 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
The next day after I shared my vision of that, he just sent me an email and it was one sentence said, "Follow your heart as the Lord leads." That was the one vote of confidence and I thought, he thinks I can do this. Poiema actually began as an anti-human trafficking ministry at a local church here in Dallas. Then once I realized, this is way bigger than one church, I stepped out in faith to start the nonprofit. That's the history of how Poiema got started. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow, that's amazing. Well, tell us a little bit about what the organization does now. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Okay. We started off with me being an educator, with education. Prevention education is a huge passion of mine, a big part of my heart. If we can prevent the problem from happening, it's much better than trying to have to clean up the mess afterwards. We started off just with education. We had 25 people come to our very first meeting, which was me emailing my friends saying, "Hey, I'm teaching about the dangers of human trafficking in our community. Do you want to come and learn? Invite your friends." 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And educated more than 16,000 people about the dangers of human trafficking, so it's a big portion of what we do. We also have a community outreach. We want to engage... The vision God gave me was the body of Christ coming together in the metroplex to be a voice. That's kinda how Taylor got involved. But we have an outreach ministry where we take posters of missing children throughout the metroplex to hotels, truck stops, convenience stores, and this is done primarily through church partnerships. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Another big thing, we've helped rescue 263 kids off the streets. 146 of them were either sexually exploited or trafficked, so that's a big part of what we do and where we have the church involved. Then a third thing that we do is we have a safe house. They started referring girls to us, and so we had a home donated, fully paid for, fully furnished. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And we provide aftercare for survivors, women that come out of the life. A fourth pillar we are just launching is trying to address the demand. The reason kids and women and boys and girls are being sold, it's because there's people that want to buy them. Men primarily are the ones driving the industry, they're the fires. The only way to stop human trafficking is to stop the demand, and the only way to stop the demand is to change the hearts of men. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
In order to do that, our strategy would be to open a home for boys, and the target would be young boys aging out of foster care who have nowhere to go, who don't have a family support, and have a really discipleship mentorship home where they're mentored by men, they're able to get education, jobs, training and, hopefully, get plugged into a local church. And change the heart of these young men before they get into a lifestyle that either they become a buyer or also potentially a perpetrator. That's our four big pillars, that we do other things but those are the four main pillars that we address with Poiema. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Now in the human trafficking space, there's a name for buyers. They call them "The Johns" or something like that. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Yes. I don't like that word because it's this, "A John", so like Jane Doe, a John could be anybody. But honestly, they're perpetrators. In our industry, we are trying to change but yes, they call them a trick, and then there's a whole vocabulary if you're in the life. Hey, I'm going to turn a trick. I've got a John. But to me there's anonymity, this anonymous person, A John. But you know what, pastors are Johns. Church leaders are Johns. Homeless men are Johns. There's a whole array of who are the buyers. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We are an organization who loves men. We want to protect and pray for men because there's this whole shame aspect. There's a great book called “Samson and the Pirate Monks,” written by... His name just left me. He's a pastor. He has a video on I Am Second video, Nate Larkin. His name is Nate Larkin. He started a ministry called The Samson Society. He was a pastor of a church and for five years had a porn addiction, and actually stepped out and started buying women. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Almost lost his marriage, has two children, but it's a beautiful redemption story of God shining light in an area that was hidden in the dark in his life, and he now has a ministry to men. We love men. We want men to be able to admit their sins in their areas of weakness so God can do a work in that area. That's why I don't like calling buyers Johns. They're people. They're men with stories and their own brokenness and their own addictions they're struggling with. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, you mentioned Taylor earlier, and so I want to throw it over to Taylor and just ask Taylor the same question I asked you in the beginning. Taylor, how did you even get involved in this whole area of fighting human trafficking in your city? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Sure. It's actually a backstory and it started when I was 12 and I first, someone I love dearly had told me that they were sexually abused as a child and at 12, hearing that, it really devastated me, especially someone I love so greatly. Then in teenage years, you hear about sexual abuse. If that's friends, you guys have these conversations and then things occur at parties and that sort of thing. Unfortunately, yes, that happened in my group as well. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Then you learn that this is on a commercial level, that sex is being sold and it's primarily women and it does happen to boys as well. Well, these thoughts never left me, being up close and personal with these people I love and hearing the effect it had on them bothered me greatly. I at nights lost sleep over this, and I've constantly thought about it ever since that time. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
I've never done anything until last year when I was speaking to my husband and I was in another place that I was really upset, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. He was like, "You need to either do something about this or you need to learn to control your thoughts better." Well, that wasn't occurring clearly. I was like, "Okay, I'm going to jump in." 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
I just did a Google search. I live on campus at Dallas Theological Seminary with my husband and Poeima came up first, which was wonderful because meeting Rebecca, I feel like we have kindred spirits. It's been amazing talking to her and working with her. Last year, when I looked at Poiema, one of the volunteer options was to do an outreach. And so we went with Mansfield Bible Church last November, and we did an outreach to look for missing minors and that just changed the way I saw everything, and I just knew I had to get more involved and I couldn't just sit back anymore like I had the past 15 years. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. How long have you been volunteering with Poiema? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Since last November. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Okay. Now, what does a typical day look like for you as a volunteer? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
We do it once a month. We do it on a Saturday. You can choose which day you want to do with your church, but this seems to be the prime day and the best day. You really want to go in between the times that people are checking in or checking out of a hotel. This is a prime time, so 11:00 AM or 3:00 PM. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
You meet up at the church and you guys pray and that sort of thing. We have four people to a vehicle and each person has a role that they play. After you pray, you leave and you go on your routes, and there are routes that are provided by Poiema, as Rebecca was saying, it's hotels, convenience stores, you can go to sex shops. Two months ago, we went to a strip club. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Places in your area where this is happening, where this is occurring with these young kids, or minors, I should say. Once you go out on your route, let's say you go to a hotel and you go around twice of the parking lot. What's happened is one person is taking intel. They're writing down suspicious license plates that you would question, why is this car at this hotel? For instance, why is a Range Rover at a Motel 6? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
That doesn't mean that they're participating in this activity, but it is something that we've learned from data or that's been collected, that these are the types of vehicles to be looking out for. You make two laps and you write that down, so we can do research with that later. While that's occurring, you have someone praying, another person praying in the car. You need to cover this with prayer. I've learned this from Rebecca. It is all on God's timing and that can be difficult when you want to go in and see what everyone is doing in each hotel room, where are these kids? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
The driver of course, will stay in their seats if anything were to occur, so that you guys can get out and leave. Nothing like that has happened. Then another person who is observing the parking lot as well. But the two individuals, we always use the buddy system so you'll go inside and you talk to the clerk. I actually have a sheet just so you can see. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
This is what we would show them. It's a poster of the kids and this is actually one from last month that we used. You just say who you are, that we're with Poiema and we're looking for these kids. There is a tip line at the bottom and they're able to call it anonymously. While that's occurring, both of you are observing the clerk, the front clerk and people in the area. Is the clerk paying attention to the kids? Is he or she looking at one for a longer period of time, these sorts of things and making mental notes. If they have not seen the kids, then that's okay. You ask if you can leave the poster and they can hang it up or if they could monitor this. Obviously if they've seen the kids, then we need to report that. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
This is what occurs at each stop. Now, obviously a gas station, you don't necessarily need to drive around two times. But you're looking for suspicious license plates and that sort of thing. Once you go to each of your stop, this can take around two and a half to three hours and then you get back to the church and we debrief and pray and wait for the next one the following month. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. Wow. You're like a private investigator almost, doing good secretly and secretively. Do you feel any danger at all in what you're doing? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
The first few times I did. And depending, sometimes, sometimes. Then I think the more comfortable you get and the more courage you get, it's not as scary. I haven't heard anything where someone's charged us or anything like that, but it can be. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
You're like a private investigator. You're like a detective. Rebecca, can you tell us a story about when something like this happened and then you actually got to see somebody rescued out of human trafficking? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Yes. I want to address one of the things that Taylor said. We actually partner with an organization called 4theONE and they are all private investigators. We don't ever do anything dangerous. Our teams are trained, you don't go talk to a pimp, you don't walk up to a girl. The only thing we do on outreach is we go in, we hand a poster to the clerk, we say, "Hey, do any of these people look familiar to you?" But we're trained not to engage. That's not what we do. We always call law enforcement to come in. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
If we do get eyes on a minor or a clerk recognizes someone, we give all that information to private investigators that are licensed, and then they follow up on the tips, meaning they may go rent a hotel room at that hotel. They are going to be the eyes and ears. We really encourage to keep our people out of danger because we're using just general citizens. That's a big... I've told Taylor, I've had to have conversations with some people that break protocol, they're not allowed to serve on outreach. We want to keep everybody safe. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Really, we're just letting the community know there's missing kids. They're coming to your hotel most likely. Could you look at these pictures and post it? Then if you see someone, call the tip line, so there's a tip line they call. If they do see danger, they're supposed to leave. One of the things I love about Taylor is her passion and her heart for this. She's been phenomenal and it's such an encouragement to us to have servants like Taylor, who God has really called forward to be a voice in this area. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
I just wanted to affirm you Taylor, that you have been incredible. She got her whole church motivated and she served with Mansfield Bible, but now Dallas Bible Church is a new partner because of Taylor's leadership. Way to go Taylor on that, and thank you for what you've motivated and got your church involved and got them outside the doors of the church, serving the community. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
So you guys are the eyes and ears of the community. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We are the eyes and ears. Really, we are the voice to equip the community to be the eyes and ears. We want everyone in the Metroplex to be able to recognize a victim of human trafficking. I'll tell you one story that's interesting. One of the hotels that some... It was around the 635/75 interchange. And we went into several hotels there and our volunteers, someone like Taylor went in and said, "Do you recognize any of these children on this poster? They're known to be in the area?" 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And the clerk looked at them and said, "I don't recognize any of these people. However, three men came in and rented a block of 12 rooms and we know they have girls in there and we don't know what to do about it." From that information and that tip, our private investigators that we partner with were able to go to the hotel, rent a room, observe. Now, if they had seen a minor, we would have called law enforcement immediately to go in because you don't have to prove force, fraud, or coercion with trafficking if it's a minor. The day that child turns 18, it's a much more challenging effort to get them out of that life. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
The women we saw that night were definitely adults, they were not children. But what we learned from the license plate, so here's an example of the license plate information, we were able to run those license plates and we have a whole team of volunteers that do this. From one of those names, there were 48 phone numbers associated with one of the owners of the vehicle. This is the vehicle parked in one of those rooms that we knew was a pimp. From that license plate, we learned 48 phone numbers associated with this name, 24 had ads online where he was advertising women and girls for sale. We take all that information, tie it up in a bow, give it to law enforcement, and then they follow up on those leads. They were actually already looking for this man, so it just helped to build their case. That's just one example of what we do with outreach. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Now I'll share a story of a local girl who got rescued and it's very interesting. Those license plates actually help girls get rescued. I got a phone call from one of the PI's that said, "Keep the license plates coming. Today two pimps got arrested and two girls got rescued." 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We don't always know the details because we can't, when it's an ongoing investigation, we can't share a lot of those details, but I can also tell you just recently, five young girls got rescued. One was an infant, one was a two-year-old and the other were several young teenage girls. This is happening because our church people are getting into the community, writing down license plates of suspicious vehicles and the police are following up on that. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Now, I can tell you about a local story. There's a young girl that was being trafficked in Dallas and her father was not in the picture. He was in jail, got arrested, so you got a single mom with three kids trying to pay the bills. She and her older daughter who was 16 started walking the streets and trying to get money to pay rent and buy food. This little girl, when she turned 12, 13, they said, you're old enough. You need to come and help. She was working the streets of Dallas. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
What I love about this story is that it was actually a man that helped her instead of buying her. She was on a street corner and a man that drove to work every day, drove home from work every day would see her standing on that corner and he knew what she was doing because he'd been trained to understand it. Rather than look at her through a set of lenses of, hey, here's a bad kid, here's a person supporting their drug habit, he saw a little girl who needed help. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
One day he just stopped and he wrote his phone number. I'm not recommending this is the best way to do it. It'd be better to call an organization like a trafficking organization that knows how to intervene, but God used this, and he just, he wrote his phone number on a piece of paper and he stopped, and of course she thought, I've got a job. Instead, he handed her the piece of paper and he said, I know the life you're in is really difficult. If you ever need help, call me and I'll help you. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
He gave the phone number to her. She saved that phone number for several months, and then after several bad instances of violent buyers and things happening that put her life in danger that I won't share, she was desperate and she called that phone number. This man came and got her and ended up taking her to a shelter. From that shelter, she got referred to a trafficking organization. From that organization, they provided school and GED but they didn't have housing. Safe housing is a huge gap in coverage. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
They referred her to us, so she ended up coming and living in our safe house. We partner with a lot of different nonprofits, so she continued to go to this other nonprofit for counseling and to get her GED, but she had a safe place to live while she did that. She stayed in our home until she got her GED. Actually, this young girl was in Bible college. She was in Bible college, which she ended up coming to us, so she knows the Lord, she has a heart, but she'd been sold since she was 12 years old, so she also struggled with the sex addiction. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
It's a long road to recovery. Once a child gets rescued, you think their life's just going to be easy. These women will struggle for years because often they're abuse started when they were much younger, prior to ever getting recruited into the life of being trafficked. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, I want to come back to the whole safe house thing and how you minister to people on the other side of being rescued. But you mentioned churches and churches getting involved, and so I want to ask Taylor, how did you get your church involved and what do you do to help more people in churches know about these opportunities to help fight human trafficking in their city? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
After I did that one outreach, I reached out to Rebecca and we spoke, and then talked about me adding my church in to be involved. I very quickly went up to the pastor, I think, two weeks after and asked if we could partner and if they would meet Rebecca. I hope I didn't ignore them too much, but I just, I very quickly was like, we need to take action here. It was as simple as them saying yes, Rebecca meeting with them and I know very quickly they bonded and the rest was history from there. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
At your church, I know I've seen on Instagram, I've seen you with a booth at church. What actually practically, if somebody wanted to get their church involved, what would that look like? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
I would say to reach out to Rebecca and to have her come to the church and speak to the pastors or over the phone or that sort of thing so that they can partner. For the booth in particular, that was to recruit volunteers at our church to start going and doing an outreach. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Does the church do things in groups to help or is it more individuals who would sign up to help? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
For the outreach, we do it in the vehicles. You would sign up and we'd all go out in a group and do it together. There's different opportunities that you can volunteer with that Poiema, but that's the one specifically our church helps with the most. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Okay. Well, I want to come back to that, but let me go over to the safe house and the ministry that Poiema does to people on the other side of being rescued. Rebecca, can you tell us a little bit about that? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
It's definitely the most challenging part of our ministry and what we do, is working with trauma, the survivors of trauma. We have a home and we currently have four beds available. Basically, we do a lot of re-parenting in a sense, so many of these young girls that we help either didn't have... Well, I'll tell you, the first five survivors in our house were actually trafficked by their family. Whether it was a biological parent or an adoptive parent. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
What I've learned and God showed me is this is actually an orphan ministry. These women don't have safe families, and so as we opened the home, which was actually donated by a lady in the area, when I was speaking at a church, she came up to me afterwards and said, "God's been preparing me for three years to give my house away and I'm pretty sure he wants me to give it to you." That's how we got our home, which was- 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Wow. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
... a whole another, amazing story. But what I found is as the holidays were approaching, November came, so most people want to be home with their family during Thanksgiving, during Christmas, including staff. Well, when you run a residential home, we had 24/7 staff, we had to have somebody there to care for the girls. I hadn't thought that through in the beginning, and so often Thanksgiving, I would just have the girls from the safe house come spend Thanksgiving with my family. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Sometimes that was very painful for them because they then saw what they don't have: a family, a mom, a dad, kids. A lot of the women have children, based on being in this life and the nature of what it is, but they're not able to parent their children for many different reasons. Holidays are really, really challenging and really difficult and the churches have been wonderful. We've had other church volunteers invite the girls to their home because eventually, I need some holidays with my family without just always having the survivors. They've always been a huge part of our life. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And my family has been wonderful, really, to open up their hearts to them as well. What we do, it's very much family-oriented. My family has to support me in what I do, 100%. They've been very gracious. But the church has played a big role in that too. We re-parent, many of them we help them get a GED. Some girls go to college. What the biggest challenge is them overcoming their trauma so they can actually even get a job. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We had one girl that got a job but every time a man... She was at a fast-food restaurant but every time a man came up to order, she got triggered. If it was a particular man that looked like someone who had been an abuser, she would dissociate become non-verbal and couldn't do her job. So overcoming the trauma is the biggest challenge for the women that we help and it takes a lot of counseling to get them to a point where they can move on with their life. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
You talk about this whole restoration journey. What are the different components of that? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Boy. We talk about it in phases. Phase one is a girl or boy, I'm going to speak specifically to girls since that’s who we help, just rescued off the street. You need a 30-day stabilization program. Basically, 30 days for her central nervous system to come back to equilibrium, to even evaluate what her level of trauma is. Does she need mental health care? Does she need drug rehab? That 30-day evaluation time, we call it stabilization, is just to evaluate and see, what is her level of trauma? What does she need? What are her needs? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Then from there, you want to get them transitioned into a program that's going to meet those needs. Then that typically can be a year, it can be 18 months, it can be two years, that first level of really therapeutic care. That's different for every woman based on their journey and their story. Then from there, we have found that they still need, even though they graduate a program after a year or 18 months, they need additional help. I call this the transitional phase. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
The transitional phase would be like, when you launch a child off to college. Some kids do it great independently but I know I've got four daughters, some have needed a little more support and help and advice and guidance. A transitional home really offers those things. You are there still to continue to just advise and monitor, and also mainly to provide community. To continue to have someone to walk through life with you where you're not just by yourself. That's the transitional phase, and then finally you would graduate to independence, where you're living on your own. Our goal would be to have them have a job that pays a livable wage. That's a big challenge. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
The biggest thing for these girls to overcome is, I can go turn a trick and I could make $1,000, maybe in 15 minutes or 30 minutes, or I can go get a job flipping burgers and make 10 bucks an hour, eight bucks an hour. It's so challenging to get over that mindset of, it's just easy to go turn a trick and make some money and pay my bills. As opposed to this long road of recovery, getting an education, finding a livable wage job. That's a huge burden to overcome for the women. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
How do you determine the line between someone who is being trafficked and somebody who is just in that lifestyle, that they themselves, you're trying to turn them around? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
That is a really, really great question. What I have found that... And I love the way you worded that, Mikel, because a lot of people will say, "What's the difference between human trafficking and prostitution?" We don't usually use the “P” word. Or when they say prostitution, they mean someone choosing that life. Someone who's out there because they've made that choice to be there. What I have found honestly, I have never met with a woman, whether... Should we call them independent sex workers. Someone who is on the streets without a pimp overseeing her and forcing her to do it. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
When we work with women who are working independently, if you look back in their story, I would say 95% of them have already had an abuser, and it might be higher than that. That abuse set them up to being independently on the streets. It could have been a pimp that they got away from but then they have no way to make any money. And they're so broken that all they know is that work. That's often the story that I hear. Then you begin by ministering to them and letting them know, you have value, you have worth, you're loved. We can help you meet your needs, we can help you. Many of them... 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
In fact, we recently had a woman in our home for a year who had that story. She had been in the life, she had been abused by her uncle who used to drive her to church, molest her on the way to church, pay her, drop her off at church. That was how she even knew she could get money for that. In fact, she was even taught, if you do this, you better make sure you get something for it. That was her teaching as a young girl growing up in her home. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Now this woman was under a pimp for a long time and then she was so tired. She said, "This is not what I want to do. I'm tired of this life." She came to Christ. But then how do you change? You're in your 50s. You don't even have a high school education. How do you get a job that pays a livable wage so you can leave the life? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
What we do is a lot of the women that may be in that life without a pimp, we just try to meet their needs and we try to love them where they are. We try to offer them hope and we try to help them get education or training where they can really move forward and change their life and do something different. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Let me go back to Taylor. Taylor, I want to ask you, what are some things that you've learned by being involved in fighting human trafficking in your city about the people who are in this lifestyle? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Oh gosh. I feel like Rebecca's taught me this the most with the perpetrators, that they really are the ones that need prayer the most and they're the ones... Not the most but they're the issue. Learning their side of the story that they have their own story has really changed my mind about them, as hard as that is, hearing what they're doing to these minors. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
But also the depthness of these minor’s stories or human sex trafficking stories. You just don't know how far back this goes, and it is truly everywhere. It's in all 50 states. It is not just an India or other countries around the world. There's the pervasiveness of it, the perverted newness of it and the layers to it, starting from a young child and a home life and psychology and all of that has taught me, it's been very eye-opening. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Have you ever worked with somebody who was rescued but then wanting to go back? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Yeah. On my first rout with our church, this was so exciting. We had gone to a bus or a dock station and put up a poster, and two days later we heard that the girl was found. I was just elated. I was just, "Oh my gosh, this is good, this is meant to be." Then two days later I found out she ran away. I didn't know, that was something that occurred. I thought these kids once they were found, it's like, "I need to go home. I need to be with my family." But that's not the case. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
There are so much background story. You have no idea what they're running from or what is happening behind closed doors at their house. Yes, she went back and that was devastating to hear but that is when my eyes were open to the depthness of this for those kids. I've heard her go back and forth. I can't hear too much about what happens with these kids, but I was given that information. Last I heard she was on a decent path back, but all I can do is pray and continue to keep finding the least of these. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
How do you help somebody like that, who's afraid to go home maybe? 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
That's a great question. Rebecca, can you dive in here? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
It is one of the hardest things that we do. Even the women in our home. I'll share a quick story. We had a lady in our house abused in her family, broken family, parents divorced, then an abusive boyfriend in high school, he gets put in jail. She leaves that city for safety. Moves in with her mom and step-mom here in Dallas. Stepfather had been abusing her. So abuse, abuse, abuse. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Then her savior, she was 18, got kicked out of the house. Her savior, who was a pimp said, "Come live with me, I'll take care of you. I love you." All of that. She then is with him for five years and she wants to commit suicide. She's like, "He promised me it wouldn't be this long. He promised me he would take care of me. I'm having to take care of him. He's telling me I have to do this or we can't pay the bills." 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
A lady in... She was actually really struggling with anxiety and thinking of taking her life. She actually Googled Essential Oils because she had heard that would help. A lady in my Sunday school class sells Essential Oils, and she ends up going to her house and the lady just engages with her and my friend and starts hearing her story and she says she recognized, this girl is being trafficked. But the girl didn't even know it. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
She goes, "You need to come into this. Would you come to this training event that my friend teaches?" She actually came to our human trafficking 101. Now she's 25. The light bulb went off that what was happening to her, my boyfriend's a pimp. I'm being sold. He's trafficking me. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
I built a relationship with her over a year. She finally trusted this enough. She left that life and came and lived at the safe house, got her license to cut hair. We're thinking this girl's great. She's out of the life, everything's going well. Well, what she didn't tell us is one day on the way home from work, her pimp found her and he walked up to her in a gas station and she heard, "That you never thought you'd see me again." And she turned around and her pimp ate her up, hit her on the head. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
She had a cut on her head is bleeding. We didn't know, she didn't tell us. Came to the safe house. We could tell she was dysregulated. We just thought there's all kinds of triggers. It could be a seasonal trigger, it could be... Because of the time of year it could be... We didn't know exactly. So we could tell she was not herself, but she didn't tell us she ran into her pimp. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Two weeks later, Mikel she ran back to her pimp. You know why? The fear of I might run into him, I don't know when I'm going to see him again, I don't know when he's going to show up. She couldn't control that. But what she could control is, I can make that not happen. I'm just going to go back to him. So she went back to him and we were devastated because we love this woman and we thought she was on such a good path. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And so we didn't hear from her for about two months and we prayed and we prayed and we prayed. And of course her phone changed. The pimps take their phone, dump them, get her a new phone. They put trackers on them. About two months later, I got a text from her. "I'm safe. I'm okay. I want out." And so she actually was brave enough to go to law enforcement, to file a complaint of trafficking against her perpetrator. He's still on the streets. They couldn't build enough of a case to get them arrested. So there's a lot of frustration. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
So what we did is she came back to us. We went and picked her up and it's just really, really, really hard for the girls to leave the life for a lot of reasons. Sometimes if they're kids, they're running from something dangerous. Sometimes the women go back because they feel like that's all they're good for. Or they're so helpless or hopeless making $10 an hour. I'm never going to be able to live on my own. Sometimes it's because they truly miss their pimp. Some of the pimps have shown them love, like no one else ever has. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
I had one lady say my pimp was a good man. This pimp was in the '70s. This lady was in her '30s. He said, "He gave me food, he gave me a place to live. And he gave me a job where I could take care of my three children. He was a good man. He took care of me." And so she, was in our safe house for a little while and ran back to her pimp. On average women will leave the life and go back and forth seven times before they finally get away. If they truly love their pimp, there's a trauma bond formed there. She truly loves him and cares about him. This one lady I was telling you about, she felt bad that she left her pimp. She felt bad that she deserted him. She felt bad that she had the phone he bought her. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
So you have to understand these are not healthy people that have ever seen a healthy relationship. To them that their pimp might've been the nicest person in their life that they'd ever explained. So it's really complicated. But what we do is we do not judge the women, we love them where they are, we continue to pray for them. And like the organization we partner with 4theOne. We never give up ever. We will always be there for that girl as long as she's willing to receive support. And that's a huge challenge in our ministry, honestly. Is to just continue to love this broken person. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Well, I think this conversation has been great because it opens everybody's eyes to, especially those of us who are not working in this area. And then all we know about it is maybe things we see on the news or in movies. But some people I think are really excited to get involved and think, wow, I can actually do something. But maybe they don't really know how and they don't know what that looks like. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
They might have ideas of they're going to be kicking down doors at the Motel 6 or they might be actually quite afraid to even write down a license plate number. What options do people have say somebody who is afraid to maybe they have young children and maybe the family wants to get involved. Maybe they don't want to be boots on the ground. What options are there for them to volunteer? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
That is a great question. We have a big array of volunteer opportunities. So number one is our prayer team. Our ministry would not be successful without being covered in prayer and everything we do we ask to be covered in prayer. We have a prayer team. We have a monthly right now that that is over Zoom once a month. And we have people from all over the world actually on our prayer team praying. So that's the number one way I ask people to get involved is to pray. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We're also going to be taking that to the next level. And here locally, doing some prayer, walks, prayer drives driving by areas of the city where we are really covering it in prayer because there's certain areas that are more prevalent to trafficking. So prayer drives. Prayers huge and they can be on our team where they get a weekly email with prayer requests and praises. That's a great way to be involved. Education is another way I need more people to teach. We just recently got certified by the Department of Health and Human Services in Texas to train health providers. They have mandatory licensure requirements to have human trafficking training every two years. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
I need more people to help teach. So people that love to teach and want to get equipped, we have four or five, six different trainings. We can get them trained to teach and be a voice. Another way is to do outreach like Taylor does, and you can even just sit in the car and pray. All you're doing is driving to different places in town. You're not engaging perpetrators but you can even just... We have one group that they have a prayer team at their church that prays for the teams while they're on outreach, because they don't want to go be in a car and be on outreach. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
One thing that we do with young families where we have parents and children go on outreaches, we have them go to fire stations, first responders. And it's so fun to see the kids, a lot of times the fire men will get the hoses out. But there bring the poster and they put together gift bags for the fire men as a thank you to the first responders, popcorn, movies, healthy snacks, that type of thing. Poster of missing girls and a handout on how to identify a victim. First responders are often there on the scene before anybody else. And for them to understand, to learn, to be eyes and ears in the community, looking for these missing people, children, is great. So that's another way to be involved. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And then at the safe house, we have people that sponsor the girls. They need counseling. Counseling is expensive. If a family wanted to pray for a survivor and sponsor a survivor, they could do that, sponsor her counseling, sponsor her incentive program. We've had churches do drives. We had a women's conference. They collected $5-10 gift cards that we then use as an incentive program for our residents. They get paid $10 to just show up at their case management meeting. If you want to sponsor a girl for 40 bucks a month, that pays for her case management. So those types of things. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And then we had a church that did a drive every Saturday in April, we had a wishlist for our home. Toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, anything you need for your home, we need for our home. And every Sunday they had people from the church just bring what items for the home for a month. And at the end of that month, we had the back of, I didn't have to buy a toilet bowl cleaner for six months. We just had everything that we needed food, non-perishable items. So that's a great way. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And then we also need people to just do maintenance on the home. And teams can come in, cut the grass, take care of the bushes. We're going to get our house painted here pretty soon. And we're also building an addition of four new bedrooms and bathrooms; we'll need furniture. I have a couple of women that want to come in and do just décor, decorating the home, painting the home. So any home maintenance projects we need, we desperately need. So those are just some ways. There's a lot of other ways. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
We have a pen pal ministry where you can write words, letters of encouragement to women in the home, girls in the life, and also our staff. Our staff needs help and encouragement. We have a lot of volunteers that come to the home and they can teach life skills. Monday nights, we have volunteers prepare a meal and eat dinner with the women. So there's a lot of different ways. We teach life skills. So if you have something you want to come in and teach to the women, a photography class. And we want men involved too because I've had a lot of men say, "Well, I can't come to the home." Well they can. They go through the training? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
But these women need to know they're safe men in the world. And the only way they're going to learn that is to have a safe relationship with someone. So when we have men come and have dinner with them on a Monday night and then teach a skills class, it may make our women uncomfortable, it may make our men uncomfortable, but we're all learning and we're all showing unconditional love. And so it's a big journey and the women on their healing path to be able to sit across from a man who's safe and doesn't want something from them. So those are some great ways to be involved. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
That's an amazing array of ways that anybody can be involved, it sounds like. Taylor, last question for you is going to be, think about where you were before, before you were involved in this organization and where you are now. As a volunteer, what would you say the largest impact, the biggest takeaway, on your life has been being involved? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Just the pervasiveness of it and how close it is to home. It's just truly unbelievable and that's been the most impact to me is that it is truly in your backyard in all 50 states. And we need help. We need people to fight for this cause more than ever. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
So if somebody would want to get in touch with your ministry Rebecca, how could they do that? 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
They can just send an email to info@poiemafoundation.org. It's P-O-I-E-M-A foundation.org. So if they send it an information email, they can also go to our website. And if they go to our website, there's a volunteer application, they can see all the volunteer opportunities and there's different links there. They can request more information in a specific area. This would probably be the best ways to get it too. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And they can also call our office. That would be another. But most people typically like to get on the Internet. I was going to look up her phone number since I never call it. I don't know it. But so our phone number, if they wanted to call would be 469-757-8888. They could also call them and get some information that way. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Awesome. We'll be linking to those resources. If you're watching this on our website, we'll link those in the description. And also in the transcript, you can check that out. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
And Mikel if I can add one quick thing. And we also have Pioema campuses in Oklahoma and South Carolina. And so we're not just in the Dallas Area, we've been branching out nationally. So if there even people, in fact, I think Amarillo has got a big movement there, Colorado. So the Lord is moving and raising up people. And so if they're interested and they do live in another city, they can still contact us and we can reach out and have a conversation, what it might look like. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Awesome. Well, Taylor, thank you for being on the show. 
 
Taylor Ann Weaver: 
Thank you so much. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
Rebecca. Thank you for being on the show as well. 
 
Rebecca Jowers: 
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to share what God's doing. 
 
Mikel Del Rosario: 
And we do thank you for joining us on The Table once again today. Please do leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you're listening to this. It really does help people learn more about the show and learned that they can get this kind of content. And it does help us reach more people. So thank you so much. We hope that we will see you again next time on The Table, where we discuss issues of God and culture. 

Mikel Del Rosario
Mikel Del Rosario (ThM, 2016; PhD, 2022) is Associate Professor of Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute. While at DTS, he served as project manager for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center, producing and hosting The Table podcast. You can find him online at ApologeticsGuy.com, the Apologetics Guy YouTube channel, and The Apologetics Guy Show podcast.
Rebecca Jowers
Rebecca Jowers received a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she graduated summa cum laude and played collegiate basketball. She taught math and science in both public and private schools as well as the collegiate level. Rebecca continued her education, earning a Master's degree from Dallas Seminary and received the Howard Hendricks' Award for the Department of Christian Education's most outstanding work. While at DTS, she worked in the Spiritual Formation Department as a Fellow. After graduating from DTS, Rebecca founded The Poiema Foundation, a non-profit that fights human trafficking through education and community outreach. Poiema provides long-term, trauma-informed care and the unconditional love of Christ to women on their journey from victim to survivor. In addition to her work with Poiema, Rebecca recently accepted the role of Assistant Dean of Students and Advisor to Women at Dallas Seminary and is pursuing a Doctorate of Educational Ministries. She has been married to her husband, Raymond, for 30 years and they have four grown daughters. 
Taylor Weaver
Taylor A. Weaver is a Licensed Customs Broker at EY, where she works in global trade. Taylor also serves as a Community Awareness Outreach Volunteer with Poiema Foundation and is the liaison for Dallas Bible Church. In this position, Taylor helps educate the public and raise awareness in order to prevent sex trafficking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas. She and her husband T.S. currently reside in Dallas. 
Contributors
Mikel Del Rosario
Rebecca Jowers
Taylor Weaver
Details
September 21, 2021
children, church, evangelism, human trafficking, women
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