You’ve seen the film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," right? Well, today I want to tell you about Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Joy Smith. She didn’t set out to change the world, but she just might—or at least Canada.
In a new blog post at BreakPoint.org, Tessa Littlejohn, a 2008 graduate of our Centurions Program, says that Joy Smith, a school teacher and mother of six kids, was minding her own business when she learned about the horrors of Canada’s flourishing sex trade. Her wake-up call came from seeing the huge physical and emotional toll it took on her son, a police officer who worked in the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit. This is a specialized police force trained in rescuing children from online child predators.
Mrs. Smith was so shaken by what she heard and saw that she has become a modern-day abolitionist, sort of in the mold of William Wilberforce.
According to Littlejohn, Smith “soon discovered a tragedy that parents of trafficking victims know all too well—Canada is considered a haven for predators.” Indeed, it is estimated that pimps in Canada make a cool $280,000 per year—talk about filthy lucre—because demand is so high for trafficked women and the laws are so lax. One convicted trafficker has said, “You can buy a woman for $10,000 and make your money back in a week. Then everything else is profit.”
So Mrs. Smith decided to go to Ottawa, as a Member of Parliament. “Sustained by her faith,” Littlejohn says, “she continues to work to change Canada’s laws and abolish modern-day slavery.” And her efforts to change hearts and laws appear to be paying off!
On December 20, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s weak prostitution laws and gave lawmakers a year to come up with a new approach. According to Littlejohn, “The government has indicated [it] will likely choose either decriminalization or the Nordic model.”
Decriminalization will only make the problem worse, so we can’t go there. What’s the Nordic model? Littlejohn says it involves law enforcement authorities switching their focus from cracking down on prostitutes to going after the pimps and sex traffickers who are often one and the same. This makes a lot of sense, because the women who are caught up in sex trafficking are mostly victims, not criminals. Ninety-two percent of all prostitutes in Canada would quit immediately if they could. So with law enforcement applying the Nordic model, prostitutes are given help to leave the world’s so-called “oldest profession.”
Sweden became the first country to adopt the Nordic model, in 1999. And since then, street prostitution has fallen by nearly two-thirds in Stockholm, and human trafficking has plunged. Traffickers say that Sweden has become a “bad market.” God, give us more “bad markets.”
The same thing needs to happen in Canada, where the average age of entry into prostitution is only thirteen. For the next year, Canada’s government is seeking input from its citizens about what kind of prostitution laws are needed. So this is a great opportunity to pray and to stand with modern-day reformers such as Joy Smith to rescue the girls and women trapped in a world of violence and degradation.
Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to Tessa Littlejohn’s article and to some other helpful resources on how to fight the scourge of human trafficking.
And before I leave you today, I’d like you to think about becoming a Centurion, like Tessa LittleJohn and the thousand others that have been through this marvelous, year-long, intensive worldview training course founded by Chuck Colson. It equips believers to live out their faith in the public square in powerful ways. You’ll join a fellowship of believers, like Tessa, whose eyes are open and who are ready to promote the good for the sake of the Gospel. I’ve taught Centurions for years, and it’s one of the best programs around. For more information, come to centurionsprogram.org. That’s centurionsprogram.org.