Jeff Brodsky

Jeff Brodsky: Fighting the Sex Trade Barefoot (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell16 Minutes

John Farrell: What was the reason and inspiration for writing The Least of These?

Jeff Brodsky: People have been hounding me for years because of the many experiences I’ve had, and I am invited to speak at different places. I speak all over the world. I’ve been to 74 countries, and I would never have anything planned. I would just go by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve had some pretty unique experiences. There would be some stories that I would share, even stories in my book that I didn’t want to share, but my editor insisted that I share everything. After praying about it and speaking to my wife and my children, because some of the stories are very personal, I decided that I wouldn’t hold anything back.

So, many times when I would share my stories, whether it be in churches, schools, colleges, universities, civic or social organizations, men’s groups, or women’s groups, I would have people come up to me constantly, “Do you have a book? Do you have a book? Do you have a book? You should put this in a book.”

Finally, I decided, I think it’s time. So, I started writing it. It took me a few years to write, and then with the editor that I finally had come onboard – a gentleman out of California, who was the senior editor for Charisma Magazine, Christianity Today, and other major publications.

I remember one time I sat with him for a week in California with just a microphone. He said, “Jeff, tell me your stories. We’ll take those stories – they’re your words – I’m just going to edit them. You’re the author, I’m just the editor.” That helped me tremendously in finally getting the book out.

As far as the inspiration, the inspiration were my life stories of what happened to me over the last 39 years. This is our 39th year of ministry with JOY International. During those 39 years and the experiences that I’ve had, I would say the inspiration were the people who told me how inspired they were from hearing my stories. Well, I could only share those stories with so many people at a time, so putting it in a book opened it to the world.

JF: What is the overall message you hope readers take from the book?

Jeff: To me, it’s to search. When I titled the book The Least of These, it was based on the Scriptures – reading the red as I call it, reading the words of Jesus. When He spoke about the least of these, I questioned why would He put it like that without giving a clear definition of who the least of these were?

It started me on a lifelong journey of discovery of who are the least of these? Who is God actually speaking of when he spoke about the least of these? It started me on this journey.

With each experience I had, whether it be with the invitation I received from Mother Teresa to visit her home for the destitute and dying in India or visiting leper colonies or the children of Biafra in the seventies with AIDS in Africa, no matter where I went, I was always searching who are the least of these. Is it this group, this group, this group?

When I heard of the plight of children that were being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced to be literally child sex slaves, my search ended. But with the book and the title of the book, The Least of These, I did not want people to think that I was telling them the least of these is what I believe is the least of these.

This was a search I did. What God showed me was the least of these for me, for my life, and the calling that He placed on me. When I found what I believed to be the least of these, I made a decision. I would devote the rest of my life to helping as many as I could to fight that evil in our world.

But the challenge, if you’ve read the book, at the end is now that I’ve shared with you who the least of these were for me, I challenge you to do a search to find who the least of these is for you. I didn’t want to put what I believed was what you had to accept as the least of these for you. That wasn’t what my intention was. I think I made it pretty clear, especially at the end of the book.

JF: What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?

Jeff: That I’ve had an incredible lifetime of experiences and that God has used me as his tool, as his voice to motivate people to action. I learned that God has given me a gift in sharing my heart, sharing my passion, sharing the experiences that I’ve had with people in a way that motivates them to action. And I think more than anything, that’s what I try to do with every opportunity that I have.

Talking with you, I have one goal. I have one motivation today … that what I share with you will be put in a way that will motivate at least one of your readers to action in a way that would help me be more successful in the calling that God has given me in rescuing children, teens, and young women out of the sex trade. That’s the only reason I’m on this call with you. I believe there is a possibility that it could motivate people to action.

JF: I pray that not just one, but many people are impacted. And if only one is, that’s awesome, too.

While you were writing the book, what kind of worries or fears did you have? Were there any particular chapters or experiences that you struggled with and thought to yourself, “Do I really want to tell this story? Is this necessary?” But, as you said previously, you decided to lay it all out.

Jeff: That’s easy. Some of the personal experiences I had in communicating with God that people would think is this guy out of his mind? Is he a lunatic? How can he really believe that God has asked him to walk barefoot all over the world for what will be in a couple of months 10 years?

Does he really believe that God spoke to him one night and gave him an experience for seven seconds that he actually experienced what one of these girls feels while they’re being ravaged? How is that even possible?

When I was writing it, I thought is this what people are gonna think of me? But after putting it into words and really praying about it and having a confirmation in my heart and in my life and in my spirit that God was saying, “I didn’t give you these experiences to keep to yourself. I gave you these experiences to share with the world.” Again, to hopefully motivate people to action. Whether people looked at me as though I was a fool or whether I was some lunatic, it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if people believe me. I shared in my words exactly what happened and how God used those experiences to motivate me to action.

I think more than anything, those were probably the fears I had while writing, that people would look at me as some sort of a lunatic. But, when you look at the Scriptures and you look at some of the things that people experienced in the Bible and some of the things that God allowed to happen in people’s lives throughout the Scriptures, some pretty wild things happened and you see that you’re in good company.

JF: One of the chapters that stood out to me – you just mentioned it – was the “Seven Seconds of Terror.” Tell me about those seven seconds of terror and what happened as a result of those seven seconds?

Jeff: When I was first researching, I had watched an expose on television on the child sex trade. As I was watching it – I had traveled the world at that time to many countries through my clown ministry, which I haven’t done in over 20 years now. So, I had roamed the streets of third-world countries all over the world. I remember when I was watching that expose turning to my wife and saying, “Gail, how could this be happening and me not know about it with all the travel and ministry I do with children all over the world?”

I had a hard time believing that it was as bad as they showed it on television. I’m a research fanatic, so I began to research it to the nth degree. The more I researched it, the more immersed I became in it, the more appalled I was that it wasn’t only happening in a way that they showed on that expose, but it was much, much worse than what they were showing.

It was during that time of research that one night I went to sleep and in the middle of the night God woke me with those seven seconds to the point where I was an emotional wreck. I woke up my wife. I didn’t wake her; she just woke up and heard me crying hysterically.

She woke up and said, “Honey, what’s wrong?” I said, “I have to go and pray. I don’t know what happened just now, but I have to go and pray.” I went into my living room, laid face down on the ground, prostrate before the Lord, and poured my heart out to him. I just needed to find out what He was trying to show me and what I experienced, was it real?

When my wife woke up a few hours later, she came out and said, “What happened?” I finally was able to share with her. I said, “Gail, I don’t know if it was real or if it was a dream, but for about seven seconds, God gave me the emotion – the literal, physical, and emotional emotion – of what one of these girls feel while they’re being ravaged. I said, “Those seven seconds felt like seven minutes. It was so vivid and so clear. I don’t know how to put it into words.”

It took me years before I would even share that story publicly. When I finally did, I would be a wreck every time I shared it. But that’s what happened.

I really struggled with putting it in the book. Not because of any reason other than how are people going to look at me sharing a story like that. But I came to a place where I don’t care. Doesn’t matter to me how people see me or what they think about me or what they think about the story. I know what happened and I’m going to share it.

I’m literally amazed at how that story has touched people. And like I wrote in the book and like I share with people all the time, all the gifts that we pray for as Christians – gift of healing or miracles, things like that – I’ve asked God for one gift. I have pleaded with him through the years, “Just give me one gift, Lord. Give me the ability to take my finger and touch a man and let them feel what I felt for those seven seconds and I could change the world.” I could have men on fire to fight this, especially if I were able to touch a man who was an abuser when he realizes the pain that he causes one of these children.

That’s what the seven seconds of terror were.

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