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The Exodus Road: One Wife's Journey Into Sex Trafficking and Rescue Paperback – August 5, 2013
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About the Author
Laura Parker is an accomplished author, both online and in print. A popular blogger, she first began writing honestly about her experience living overseas with her young family as she did humanitarian work. Laura has worked as a writer and photographer for Compassion International and has had her works published in MomSense Magazine and several online avenues websites, as well. Currently, she serves as the Co-Founder and Senior Vice-President for The Exodus Road. Her personal site can be found at: www.LauraParkerBlog.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
That was equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting.
While this is, in some ways, an advertisement for the titular organization, it felt like nothing short of a heart yearning to relieve a burden that could not be carried on its own or in private. An intensely personal issue and a struggle to understand one's personal responsibility vis-à-vis one's responsibility to the world in which we live, this was much more than a personal burden being laid upon one woman's (or one family's) heart but the burden of 27 million voices crying out for help. Voices that can now be heard.
Despite the grave subject matter, the thing that is sticking with me the most is the incredible amount of love, trust, and caring exhibited by these reluctant heroes that feels palpable even through the separation of time and distance. I don't believe it's possible to write a book like this or live a life like this if your heart is not full of Love. Each carefully selected anecdote leaves no doubt about the love between Matt and Laura and for their three children. The choices they make to ease the suffering of others crystalizes just how much Love they have for the least of these. For *all* of these. The level of trust and the complete belief each had to have in the other to walk this road isn't something you stumble upon. It's not something everyone has the opportunity to experience, and it's not something that, if you find it, you ever let go. The ability to take the gift they have been given and use it in service to others... others for whom, somehow, they have enough Love left over to give freely and fully... is a force few things can withstand.
The creation of this foundation and the writing of this book were not attempts at self-aggrandizement. These things were not planned, but they had to happen. The narrative reads so smoothly as the path is traced from outside observers to full-fledged freedom fighters that it's nearly impossible to conceive any other outcome from these people, full of Love, who found themselves at the right place and in the right time to share their gifts with the world. There was no manual for what transpired here. There were, apparently, few people who even dared to walk the path - to do so required a tremendous amount of belief that what was happening was right. Was right and was necessary. Was right, necessary, and had the full support of both husband and wife... and father and mother.
With that support, the taillight disappeared into the darkness over and over again. With that support, the motorbike emerged from the dark equally as often. To see the love and care that was the inspiration for two begin to slowly and steadily affect those around them until it snowballed into something far beyond their control was invigorating. Look what people can do! The motorbike turned into a taxi, the taxi to a SWAT team... the duffle bag into a shaky hidden camera into some of the best technology available... the forlorn plea for rescue on the back of a dollar into eighty-nine slaves... no... people, finding comfort in the arms of other people, though worlds away, inextricably intertwined.
I found as much, if not more, pain at the breakfast table with coffee thinned by tears than in the dingy fishbowl bars with children tugging uncomfortably at their clothes. This is why, for me, this story works so well. How can I, from my comfortably insulated life possibly connect emotionally with these people from whose circumstances I am so far removed? This is a hidden world... a foreign world... one into which we are drawn through the painful familiarity of personal loss, fear, and sacrifice. There is a loss of innocence here, a shedding of skin, and a building of armor. I do not worry that the pain will harden these hearts.
While it may be true, to use her metaphor, that ground can become too water-logged to accept anything more, I hope that the lesson learned here is that there is always more soil down the hill able to help accept the runoff. As depressing as it is to know these things are happening in the world... to real people... not faceless masses... to see how two people, committed to Love, can bring others together to create real change in the lives of strangers will nearly bring you to tears. Rarely from sadness, but often from Hope.
I like that Laura explained the difference between prostitution and trafficking. In relation to this she writes: While we would agree that there is often exploitation in prostitution itself, the work described in these pages is not primarily centered around "rescuing" or ministering to prostitutes-though this is a noble, important work. Rather, our efforts are focused on gaining freedom from sex trafficking for those who are trapped against their wills or who work in the sex trade and are under the age of 18 years old.
In an easy conversation style, Laura tells of text messages back and forth as Matt would be at a brothel. Matt had no undercover training but was able to rig up a surveillance camera that he wore. Laura watched these videos as a means of accountability with her husband and desire to be connected with what he was doing:
"We couldn't get past the idea that maybe there was a noble reason for a good man to frequent a brothel, after all."
As time passed, Matt began meeting other undercover investigators and developing relationships with them. He saw their needs and from this he created a coalition of men who were in the midst of sex trafficking intervention-the beginnings of The Exodus Road. Matt, Laura and their family would leave the field so Matt could be the voice of the investigators that could not make themselves public.
"Because justice is in the hands of the ordinary, and if rescue is going to come on our watch, we need an army of passionate, committed people to bring it."
Matt, Laura and their Exodus Road team are part of this passionate army.
I highly recommend this book for those who want a better understanding of this modern day slavery.