One year ago, NightLight Branson was born. During that year, I have been asked a ton of questions. There are always four questions that I am consistently asked. I thought it might be easier to go ahead and answer these questions here. I will start with the least important and move on to the only one that really matters.
1: How old are you? 26, and yes I am already aware I look 14.
2: What does your husband think about your job? Is he concerned? I do not have a husband/boyfriend/or love life. So no. He does not care.
3: I will present this question in the form that the conversation really takes place.
Other person: Where are you from?
Other Person: Where are you really from?
Other person: Where were you born?
Other Person: Ohhhhh that explains it.
Let’s be honest people. The real question here is, ” Why are you brown?” That is a good question. I am half Hispanic (thanks, mom) and half question mark. The truth is, I don’t know my biological father and so I cannot really answer this question. My family calls me the Mexaranian princess. You may as well. Also, I love being brown.
4: Why Branson? This is a legitimate question. I mean, does trafficking and prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation, actually happen in the Branson/Springfield area? Yes! It happens EVERYWHERE. No city is immune; not even Branson. The reason NightLight chose Branson as their 4th location really was because I felt called here. I grew up in Branson. I could see the need in Branson, and God called me to do something about it. Below are some stats on why the need in Branson is obvious to me.
There are five obvious factors that play into the issue of sexual exploitation. Honestly, there are more, but we will start with these five: tourism, drug usage and trafficking, former abuse, single-parent homes and neglect, and poverty. The numbers below are for Taney, Greene, and Christian counties, the counties NightLight Branson is currently focused on.
Tourism: Branson has 8 million visitors in a year. Where there is demand, there is supply. Tourism creates demand.
Drug usage and trafficking: Missouri is leading in the nation for meth production. Greene and Christian counties are on the Federal High-Density Drug Producing Counties in the nation. We’ve got meth coming out our ears, people. As I like to say at events, “We love Jesus, America, and meth.”
Former abuse: This is probably the biggest contributing factor to the issue of sexual exploitation. The reason? When a person is abused, this speaks negatively to their identity. A person begins believing that if they’ve been abused, they are less valuable. First, let me say to anyone out there that has been abused: YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE PURPOSED. YOU ARE LOVED. Secondly, last year in Taney County alone, 2500 women were physically or sexually abused. This is just the report from one shelter, in one county. We have an issue that needs to be addressed.
Single-parent homes and neglect: When a child lives in a single-parent home, they are often neglected. This may or may not be on purpose, but it is often true. When a child is uncared for, they are often exposed to dangerous situations, with dangerous people who want to exploit them. Currently, 27% of families are single-parent families in the Tri-Lakes area. The children in our communities are at risk of exploitation.
Poverty: Poverty is a risk factor for the same reason single-parent homes are a risk factor. Poor families are an easy target for traffickers and pimps. In the Tri-Lakes area, 30% of families live below the federal poverty line.
Sooooo there are the numbers. No, I don’t have any specific information on the number of women soliciting in the area. What I can tell you is that we’ve had 3 women referred to us in Branson since our launch, and we’ve encountered over 100 women working in the strip clubs in Springfield. Those women are enough reason for us to be here doing what we are doing. The truth is, I also grew up in a very Jerry Springer-like environment with these risk factors existing in my life in some way, shape, or form. I’ve seen the damage that the sex industry has done to individuals, families and the church in my community. That is more than enough reason for me to start a NightLight location in Branson. So that, my friends, is Why, Branson.
If you are wondering why I chose NightLight, you can find out here. Also know NightLight chose me, and I am grateful.
What about you? Have any questions you are itching to have answered? Spit yo game. I am ready for your questions. Your questions don’t have to be NightLight-related, so just ask.
In Reckless Pursuit,