Veronica, a prostituted woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a sexual object—an attraction for men to receive sexual pleasure when they visit the red-light area where she is held captive.
When she was sold into the sex trafficking industry, Veronica gave birth to two children. When the children were just toddlers, her owner realized he could make more money prostituting the children than with Veronica. As a result, he forced the children to be sex slaves and sold Veronica to another man.
While she was with her second owner, she gave birth to two more children. Out of fear that her children would suffer through the trafficking industry, she contacted her sister to take the children 200 kilometers away. Veronica was sold again to another man.
The third owner was a violent man who used Veronica’s children to keep her imprisoned. He held up a photo of her daughter and said, “If I think you want to leave, I will go get her. Do you want her to take your place?”
Sadly, hundreds of thousands of women like Veronica are held captive and robbed of an ability to embrace their God-given identities.
The International Labor Organization estimates globally there are approximately 20.9 million victims of human trafficking. That number is higher than the total number of residents in the State of Florida. Of those victims, 68% are trapped in forced labor and 55% are women and girls. The International Labor Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation.
Sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world.
Alumna Brandy Tuesday passionately desires to reach prostituted and sexually traumatized women and lead them to health, healing, and wholeness. Most importantly, she desires to help them understand the identity they can have in Christ.
“As Veronica and I began to build a friendship, she began to realize that what was happening to her body did not need to affect her eternity," says Tuesday. "Watching her come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ was phenomenal.”
Tuesday is an Assemblies of God missionary and team lead for the LIVE Initiative of Nurture Hope, the anti-trafficking arm of Assemblies of God World Ministries International Ministries. Nurture Hope helps local communities of faith “Get there before the trafficker” and bring health, healing, and wholeness to sexually exploited populations.
For approximately 19 years, Tuesday has served in ministries specifically purposed to minister to suffering women enslaved by the sex trafficking industry.
In her current position at Nurture Hope, she travels throughout the world to implement the training frameworks established by the Integrated Freedom Approach (IFA), a three-pronged approach that Tuesday has developed over the course of her career. IFA is designed to effectively minister to and revitalize sexually traumatized and enslaved populations by focusing on three distinct areas: health, healing, and wholeness.
Health: Nurture Hope partners with local medical practitioners, doctors, and HIV specialists to establish local medical clinics and STD and HIV clinics.
“It is not a matter of if,” says Tuesday. “All prostituted women will at some point contract HIV and be infected with numerous STDs and STIs. They are often given zero prenatal care. If there is not a clinic in their brothel or red-light area, they simply have no access to a doctor. That is why we are partnering with local doctors so that prostituted and sexualized traumatized women will be empowered to care for their physical needs.”
Healing: Assisting women to cope with life after suffering from an attacked identity and living in constant trauma.
Enslaved and prostituted women carry deep trauma. This damage will often inhibit them from the ability to verbally process their pain. “To tell an enslaved woman at first that she is free in Christ is almost like speaking a foreign language,” says Tuesday. As a result, all teams are trained to administer different methods of self-help, such as therapeutic art. In this way, a prostituted woman can communicate without speaking a word. Mobile art stations that are set up on the streets work as a point of connection and are a way to build a presence in the community.
Contextualizing redemption using art speaks to women whose photos and names are pornographically printed on fliers and plastered on walls for the financial profit of their pimp or owner.
“Art helps women learn to live in the midst of trauma with an intact identity,” says Tuesday. “Being raped 15 to 30 times within each 12-hour shift damages every fiber of a woman’s being. IFA helps women to walk through the healing process, despite an attacked identity.”
Wholeness: Developing Communities of Faith - Planted among traumatized women in red-light areas around the world.
How do you establish a safe place for women who have not experienced the comfort of security? Tuesday expresses the importance of meeting women in red-light areas and areas of captivity. Mobile art studios, coffee shops, dance, and visual art exhibits are ways to engage with the community. Because of the culture within these locations, these contact methods are seen as appropriate and useful for the community and also help establish safe zones for enslaved women. Community engagement allows for discipleship without putting the enslaved women at risk and without risking the safety of their children and loved ones.
Leah is a beautiful example of the power of these communities of faith. As a former sex slave in a violent brothel in the Asia Pacific region, she dealt with extreme Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When she first met Tuesday and the team, she was unable to make eye contact or have a coherent conversation. Through months of training and time spent at a local community of faith, she began to open up. Through one-on-one mentoring by team members, Leah learned how to market through social media platforms and perform public relations-related tasks for businesses. Fast-forward a year and two months, and Leah is free from the bonds of prostitution and has a salaried job. Tuesday says, “She looked at me and said, ‘Please take my picture and tell people back in America, thank you because this is my first salary that did not involve rape.’”
“It excites me to know that opportunities are waiting for women like Leah. I get to be a part of helping women realize that through Christ they can come to understand authentic freedom.”
Tuesday’s U.S. office is currently at International Ministries’ compassion office in Springfield, Missouri. However, Brandy is committed to walking with and training teams throughout the world for one to three years, depending on the experience of the teams. As the team leader, she develops training materials and resources while making contact with missionaries and workers around the world. At times, Tuesday has spent more than 60% of the year overseas training teams.
Tuesday sensed a call to missions when she was only 12 years old. While preparing for her first missions trip, she had a dream that would alter the course of her life and eternity. She remembers being awakened early one morning in 1988 with a vision God placed on her heart in which she saw faces of little girls engulfed in flames. “The Holy Spirit said to me,” Your response to this dream will not only affect your eternity but the eternity of girls throughout the world.” At the time, she was unaware of what specific ministry God was calling her to.
She also experienced sexual trauma during her childhood and adolescent years. “I knew Jesus,” she said. “Regardless of what was happening to my body. I knew Jesus.” Due to the sexual violence, Tuesday struggled with her faith and spent much of her teenage years away from the Lord. “I did not want anything to do with a God who could allow the years of sexual trauma.”
At age 17, the Holy Spirit met her in a very real way during a revival service. She rededicated her life to the Lord and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Her call to missions was reaffirmed that night.
“Because of the sexual trauma that I experienced in my own life, I can understand the women whose bodies are being traumatized. I can understand their hearts, their dreams, their hurts, their thinking, and their emotions on a level that many cannot. The Lord has used that early trauma to place me where I am today. Sexual trauma affects all of us differently. The nuances of how we are affected are unique to each woman. The ability to live in trauma with an intact identity is possible for all of us.”
Years later as a student at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, the Lord began to unveil the vision He had placed on her heart at age 12. It was also during her time as a student at SAGU that she experienced the power of prayer walking from Professor Dr. Adonna Otwell. Prayer walking plays a vital role in Nurture Hope’s ministry. Teams spend three months walking and praying the Scriptures, as part of the community mapping process, in red-light districts before planting communities of faith.
After college, Tuesday pursued full-time ministry. As a single woman in ministry, Tuesday will be the first to tell you that she has had her share of struggles. “It is challenging to be a single woman in ministry,” says Tuesday. “When I have been asked to speak, I have often been asked, ‘Will your husband be joining us tonight?’ As a woman in ministry, many individuals expect you to have a husband as a covering. Wonderful, single women have encouraged and served as godly and courageous models and mentors. They forged a path for single women in ministry today. Also within the Assemblies of God, we have amazing men and women who champion and adhere to the full gospel. Joel prophesied and then Peter preached that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, male and female. We continue to see the evidence of this today.”
Tuesday’s response to single women concerned about going into full-time ministry was simple: “Just do it. If you feel the Holy Spirit calling you, don’t tiptoe, dive. Realize that your covering is the same as others–Jesus. He is the head of the church. Your marital status does not deter you from fulfilling God’s will for your life.”
After nearly 19 years of ministry to prostituted and traumatized women, Tuesday is optimistic for the future of ministries specifically geared towards reaching women in human trafficking. As Nurture Hope and similar programs continue to experience growth, more churches and communities in the United States become aware of the severity of the human trafficking industry throughout the world. Tuesday is also excited for the next generation of women whom God is calling to reach prostituted and sexually traumatized women worldwide.
“As Pentecostal women, we have a unique voice. We have the privilege to be conduits of the peace of the Holy Spirit. However, I always caution that ministry in red-light areas and brothels can sound very romantic, since some people may think they should go into brothels to 'rescue' women. That is not always a reality. The reality is that ministry to the sexually assaulted is hard. It looks different in each area of the world, but you do have a voice as a Christian woman. We do not always know, although sometimes we think we know, what trafficked women need. The truth is that we have the ability to listen to the Holy Spirit, and He does know what sexually traumatized women need. Because of this, by the Holy Spirit, we can have a role in reaching exploited girls and women.”