Jeff Brodsky: Fighting the Sex Trade Barefoot (Part 2)

John FarrellBy John Farrell14 Minutes

John Farrell: Prior to joining the fight against sex trafficking you were traveling with your clown ministry. Correct?

Jeff Brodsky: Yeah. I was in the ministry of sharing the gospel. God showed me a way that I could share the whole story of Jesus – his death, birth, and resurrection – without saying a word. So, there was no language barrier, and I could share the whole story of Jesus around the world.

We saw hundreds of thousands of salvations all over the world, even in Muslim countries, with that ministry. But when I learned of the plight of what was happening with the child sex trade, my whole ministry dramatically changed.

I consider myself a five-fold ministry evangelist. I want to see people saved, but who’s going to tell the least of these about the love of God? Who’s going to tell a child being used in a brothel to service 10 to 15, and sometimes up to 20, men a day about the love of God? Nobody.

She will be there until she’s dead. She can’t be set free spiritually until she’s set free physically and emotionally. She’s already given up every belief that she ever had in God. ‘If there was a God, how could He allow this to happen to me?’ is the thoughts of these girls. We want to set them free physically and get them in a safe place – a place where they can hear the gospel and see that God didn’t abuse you, it was men that abused you. To see that healing take place, I can’t even begin to share with you how rewarding that is for me to know that Joy International, my organization, played a part in seeing that happen.

JF: In your years of taking on this fight, how many girls and boys have you freed from the bondage of the sex trafficking trade?

Jeff: It’s been over 2,000 that we’ve calculated. The youngest girls that we’ve seen rescued from brothels is four years old, and there’s been quite a few of them at that age. Four-year-old girls are used to satisfy the sick sexual desires of the most violent men on earth.

JF: Wow. That is so sad to hear. It just tears me up.

I’m a little hesitant to ask this, but I’m also interested in hearing what you have to say. What’s the scariest moment you’ve personally faced during your fight against sex trafficking?

Jeff: The scariest moment would probably be a rescue that we had in India where we were fighting one of the most – I don’t like to use the word “successful” – but a gal that was very successful in trafficking teenage and preteen girls. We spent weeks doing surveillance and putting together the operation with the team that I was working with there.

I remember the night that the rescue was about to take place – just one little moment and the whole thing could have gone awry. That scared me. Not for me, but for the two girls that were involved – two virgins that she was trying to sell. That was pretty frightening.

Then there was one time when I used to go undercover. Those were frightening because if you get caught, they’ll literally cut your body into pieces, put you into a tub, pour gasoline over your remains, and light a match. One of the guys that was a part of our team in India was caught with a hidden camera and they hospitalized him. He’s fortunate that they didn’t kill him. So, of course there’s danger.

There was one time when I was barefoot, where I had to walk across a small path that was littered with human waste. That was pretty frightening, worrying about the potential of disease. So, when you get back to your room, you scrub the bottom of your feet like you can’t imagine. Things like that.

The potential of failing on a rescue operation is frightening because you know that lives are at stake. I very rarely feared for my own safety, because I believe that if God has called me to do this, He’s going to get me through any situation where I might have fear. That’s real simple. From the scriptures: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I can’t concern myself with fear. I have to press on and go forward with whatever situation God puts me in. Now, with that being said, I also have to be extremely sensitive to God’s voice, especially when the Holy Spirit is warning me.

I remember several times walking into a brothel or into what’s known as a KTV – a bar that has karaoke where girls are up in front singing and men would choose the girl they wanted – and I would literally be walking over the threshold to go into the facility and it was as if God was grabbing the back of my shirt and pulling me back saying, “Turn around and walk away. There’s danger here.”

Whenever I would be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I wouldn’t even hesitate. I wouldn’t stand there and say, “What do you mean?” I would immediately turn around and walk away. That happened to me several times. Those were the times where there was a little touch of fear when all of a sudden you realize there’s potential extreme danger.

JF: What usually happens to the girls you rescue? Do you take them to a safe haven?

Jeff: We don’t do the rescues. We work with police that we train. We have special teams that are highly skilled and they train anti-human trafficking police teams both overseas and here in America. They know that when those girls are rescued, they need to go to a quality facility.

Once a girl is rescued, the first thing that’s going to happen is they’re going to be taken back to the police station because the first thing they have to find out is who is this girl? How did she get into a brothel? How did she get into the situation she’s in? What country is she from, if she’s not from that particular country? When a rescue is done in a place like Cambodia, is the girl Cambodian? Is she Vietnamese? Is she from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China? Who knows?

You have to find out where she’s from and find out how did she get there. Was she sold? Was she kidnapped? Was she a runaway? Did her parents sell her? Did a boyfriend do this to her? There are so many different variables.

Once that’s determined, the girl is immediately sent to a safe house that we have already prequalified to know that her physical needs will be met. Where there’s no more beatings so she knows that there’ll be physical healing from all the bruises – physical, emotional, and psychological. There’ll be opportunity for vocational training if she’s older and needs a job. Education, if she’s only 10 years old, to go through schooling. And, of course, the most important – spiritual healing.

We will not work with a safe house if they don’t have all six of these elements available for girls that are rescued to help them on the road to restoration.

JF: That’s great to hear.

So, can you please tell me a little bit about your organization, Joy International, and its mission and how it came to be?

Jeff: It came to be in September 1981. I was riding in the back of a car, and I had my Bible. I opened it up and was reading the red. I came across John 15:11 where Jesus was speaking. This was during the time of my clown ministry, but I read the words: “I have spoken these things to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

That verse just leaped out of the pages into my entire being. I came to realize that no matter what we do in the world for joy – at the time with my clown ministry, it’s bringing joy as a clown – it’s only temporary. It’s only while I’m doing my ministry. After I’m gone, then it’s just a memory.

Then I came to realize it’s like that with anything we do in life for joy. I don’t care if it’s going to a movie, listening to music, singing a song during praise and worship, reading a good book, walking hand in hand with the one you love, or celebrating a holiday or birthday or whatever it may be, whatever we do for joy in our lives is temporary. It’s only there while you’re doing that action. After it’s over, it’s just a memory.

The only real joy that we can have in our lives that lasts forever is the eternal joy of knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, just as he speaks in John 15:11 – that your joy may be complete. It was at that moment that I thought, ‘I’m going to start a ministry, and I’m going to call it Joy International.’

The J is for “Jesus,” the O is for “Others,” and the Y is for “You.” If you live your life by putting Jesus first, others second, and yourself third, that’s the only way to experience real joy. That’s the day that Joy International was born.

I traveled the world sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through my clown character – sharing the joy of Jesus until probably about 15 years ago when I learned of the plight of the children that were trafficked that will never have any opportunity to experience any joy in their lives. None. They’re used and abused every day, seven days a week until they’re dead. I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to devote the rest of my life to setting as many of those girls free so they can experience true joy.’ That’s what Joy International is today.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Jeff Brodsky’s Interview

Order The Least of These: One Man’s Remarkable Journey in the Fight Against Child Trafficking by Jeff Brodsky