December 1, 2011
Behind the Anti-Trafficking Tour
Thanks to our IVP Books print publicist, Suanne Camfield for this post!
It was late Wednesday night when we finally met. After circling the airport three times, I spotted him in black dress pants and a dark winter coat. After months of planning, plotting, strategizing, exchanging emails, and conference-calling, Daniel Walker, author of God in a Brothel: An Undercover Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue, had finally touched down in Chicago.
I was busting at the seams.
The Anti Trafficking Tour that had begun in California exactly one week earlier was already a success. Kicking off with the Global Forum on Human Trafficking and followed by college and church events, crowds of all ages were responding to Daniel's message about modern-day slavery. But while my coworkers and I had heard great reports from the field (our online publicist Adrianna Wright, who had accompanied Daniel to California, told us, "He's pretty much a rock star"), I don't think any of us were prepared to hear Daniel's story firsthand.
We had invited Daniel to "IVP Day" --our annual, offsite company-wide gathering. After a few jetlagged hours of sleep, Daniel stood at a podium in front of all ninety-plus of us and began with a warm New Zealand "G'Day", making the room ripple with laughter. It wasn't long, however, before his comments turned serious: today, more than two million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry. As an undercover investigator, Daniel had rescued hundreds of these children, but couldn't possibly save them all. His encounters with girls like Maria, Paks and Jenni were enough to make a person clap in triumph at the same time she weeps in disgust. Hope and despair, all wrapped up in the same twisted story.
Maybe that's why, after Daniel finished speaking, our staff lined up to shake his hand and offer their own word of thanks. It's not everyday we get to see the fruits of our publishing labor, a tangible reminder that what we do--behind computers and marketing plans and spreadsheets and cover designs and packaging peanuts and forklifts--matters. What we do actually makes a difference.
Over the course of the next ten days, I listened to Daniel's story another dozen times. From Chicago to New York, in radio and magazine interviews, on city campuses and in suburban churches, even in the halls of MSNBC, I heard Daniel advocate for young girls, boys and women with clarity, passion and conviction. I watched crowds at every stop swipe at their tears and gasp in disbelief, and even though by the end l had heard the talk so often that I could anticipate each word, at every stop I found myself doing the same thing. I witnessed firsthand what happens when kingdom people catch a vision for the least of these.
Through our Anti-Trafficking Tour, in partnership with Compassion International and Hagar International, nearly a hundred children vulnerable to being sold into slavery were sponsored by individuals and families like you. Because of Compassion's extraordinary prevention program, these children will not fall prey to the wiles of human traffickers. In addition, Hagar International collected hundreds of emails from those interested in the difficult but critical work of restoring rescued victims physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The tour was the first of its kind for IVP. It had its ups and downs; details got rearranged, directions misconstrued, hotel reservations mysteriously lost and meetings cancelled and rescheduled. But when it was all said and done, Daniel gave more than twenty interviews, spoke to nearly a thousand people and--always a perk for a publisher--we sold a lot of books. More importantly though, the Anti-Trafficking Tour helped all of us here at IVP embrace and live out one of our core values: "to influence, engage and shape the university world and our contemporary culture for the sake of Jesus Christ and his kingdom in the world."It's why we love being behind the books.