The New Abolitionists
Somewhere in East Asia, a man walks into a brothel. It’s a place of human slavery and degradation. This man has his eye on a certain teenager, although his reasons might surprise you as much as they are about to surprise the proprietor and security personnel in this hideous business establishment.
Suddenly fireworks go off somewhere in the building. Is that gunfire? In the pandemonium, the young woman and man sprint away to a safe house. She has nothing but what she’s wearing, but she will happily begin the arduous journey to recovery and a better life.
How is such a rescue possible? This escape is the result of a near-death tractor accident suffered in Iowa by a Christian farmer, and the Health Care Sharing Ministry that helped put him back together again.
This is how it happened. Every year, a driver somewhere rolls a tractor, and that’s what happened to Brad Hopp. He landed in a ditch, and the tractor landed on top of him. The tractor crushed his pelvis and Hopp required 12 screws to hold the shattered pieces together. The accident caused so much damage the EMTs were surprised he lived to tell the tale.
Hopp had monstrous medical bills to remind him that survival, too, has costs. Financial burdens quickly became a second crisis. Along with those expenses, however, Hopp also had a community to turn to, and it made all the difference. A few years before, Hopp and his family joined a Christian Health Care Sharing Ministry, which negotiated Hopp’s bills of $150,000 to $130,000, and then cost-shared the $130,000. The community’s generosity was remarkable.
To express his deep gratitude to his health-sharing community, and to celebrate his deliverance from death, Hopp wanted to help others. So Hopp started an online business to help fund the rescue and deliverance of young women from a life of sex slavery. Hopp’s company, Teshuah Tea, uses funds from sales to rescue girls and women from unimaginable situations and place them in a safe house to slowly reintroduce them back into society. “Teshuah” is the Hebrew word for deliverance.
Human trafficking is an evil reality around the world, and greed is a deadly vice. But we have seen this before. Hundreds of years ago, an economist forecast that the profits of racial slavery would make it untouchable. Thank God he was wrong.
Today, the economist might make the same prediction about the business of human trafficking, which is also grotesque and far too profitable. As reported in Psychology Today, this corrupting and abusive practice is a global $150 billion a year business. But there is no financial calculation that captures the cost to each person used and destroyed in this grotesque practice.
Some of the victims are as young as 11 years of age. How do these girls end up in the backrooms of these clubs? Poor rural parents want something better for their daughters. They hear or read about opportunities in the big city, and their daughters, hopeful of a job, travel from home only to become trapped -- sometimes kidnapped -- into a nightmare of slavery.
We will never know what God will do with a tragedy. As Hopp explains his near-death experience, he credits the incredible model of health care sharing: “Health Care Sharing Ministries are just a group of Christians that get together and live out the biblical model set forth by the early church. We share each other’s medical bills. It’s a model I like. Payments go directly to members. Whether I know that person or not, I know I have a brother or sister out there who I’m watching out for and helping to support.”
Like abolitionists of days gone by, Hopp and his company will do what they can to disrupt the disgusting business of sexual slavery and work for its termination. And to think this work is the result of the prayer and support from the Health Care Sharing Ministry makes an even greater difference than money. Members “really dig into prayer, and that’s always been amazing to me,” Hopp says. “I can call these people I don’t know, and they’re ready to help.”
Hopp concludes, “Just as the health care sharing community helped me when I needed them, I want to help others in need.”
Executive Director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, Katy Talento is a veteran policy advisor, health care reformer, epidemiologist and thought leader. She was the top health advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council and an oversight investigator and legislative director on Capitol Hill, spearheading transformative policies to protect religious liberty in health care, and end secret health care prices.