Church Member Writes Book to Bring Awareness to Child Trafficking

They Called Us Baby is a hopeful and heartwarming story. It’s also a serious book because it tells the true story of an escape from human trafficking. 

Wendy Williams, the author, is a member of the Cloverdale Church, in Boise, Idaho. She learned about child sex trafficking six years ago, and when she discovered that it happens in her community, she was enraged. 

Anger served as motivation for action. Williams dove into the subject, finding very troubling statistics. At first, like many, she tried to ignore it, hoping that experts would take care of the problems. She understood she couldn’t expect trafficking to go away or that someone else would handle it. God, however, had other plans. 

One of Williams' friends rescued a dog that previously belonged to a young victim of trafficking. As a result of witnessing the girl’s abuse, the dog exhibited many signs of trauma.

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Wendy Williams, author of They Called Us Baby.

When Williams suggested he write a book about the subject, he said that she should write the book. She decided she would, but that it would be a children’s book, designed for parents to read with their children to start age-appropriate conversations about this uncomfortable subject .

As Williams researched child trafficking to write her book They Called Us Baby, she discovered that a childhood friend had been dealing with the trauma of sex trafficking. She described him as one of the kindest, most thoughtful people she’s known .

When Williams met her friend, he was in foster care. As the years went by, she watched him make a series of unfortunate choices. What she hadn’t known was that before he was even four years old, he had been sold repeatedly to support his mother's drug addiction.

A few years ago, this friend passed away from HIV/AIDS. During her grief, Williams questioned many things about our corporate church and how we handle controversial topics and controversial people. She wondered how different her friend's life would have been had he received the correct help, tailored to him.

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They Called Us Baby is a book written for children and their parents.

Grief also served Williams as she continued researching and writing her book. They Called Us Baby begins with a dog named Baby who ran away because of trouble at home. The dog then finds a young girl who also ran away because of trouble at home.

Williams was careful to carve out pieces of the story that might scare children while still preserving information to educate people on the serious problem. She researched and talked with experts. They reviewed and approved every word and illustration.

God led Williams to Jessie Nilo, a wonderful illustrator, who created the image of the girl to represent all ethnicities and nationalities. Nilo used the color purple for the girl’s dress and the dog’s collar to represent royalty — because the girl is still a child of God, a child of the King and a child of royalty.

When the book was finally published, without previous knowledge or experience, Williams became her own marketing and sales department. Throughout the process, God showed her she didn't need to worry over the details .

One day, after having brunch with one of her greatest supporters, Williams headed to her next destination to drop off complimentary copies of the book. After driving down the road for a couple of miles, the GPS suddenly told her to turn left in 200 feet and make a U-turn. Annoyed that it hadn’t properly instructed her, she turned left into a parking lot.

Muttering under her breath, Williams began turning her car around, then stopped to regain her bearings. When she looked up, she was staring directly at the Idaho Youth Ranch Counseling headquarters, a non-profit organization that helps troubled youth. Williams knew about the organization's thrift stores across the greater Boise area, but she had never visited one. Naturally, she left a book with one of the clinicians.

As Williams returned to her car and prepared to exit the parking lot, she anticipated the turn the GPS had previously indicated, and waited for its instructions. But no U-turn was needed after all. It turned out that she had been on the right route all along!

It was evident that God was and is behind the story. With this in mind, Williams says that prayer is her greatest need to continue this project. It’s a dark subject, and it is very easy to allow that darkness to inhabit her thoughts and to get discouraged by all the work. She would love to have a traditional publisher instead of self-printing and promoting. She even hopes to have it translated into Spanish. It is faith that keeps her motivated — God was and is behind her.

Child Sex Trafficking Facts:

  • In the United States, the targeted age for human trafficking is 12–141
  • The U.S. is the highest consumer of child pornography2
  • Child sex trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the U.S.1
  • The industry has surpassed $150 billion annually1
  • Every 30 seconds a child is sold into sexual slavery1
  • A child can be sold for sex acts 20 to 30 times a day1
  • Children are trafficked four times more than adults1
  • Online grooming increased by over 30% during the pandemic3
  • Once a child is forced into this type of slavery, their expected lifespan is seven years — this means, if a 12-year-old child is trafficked, they may only live to age 194

You’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So what would that prevention look like? When Williams was prompted to write They Called Us Baby, it was because she realized she could be the ounce of prevention for other people.

They Called Us Baby is a heartwarming book designed to be read with trusted adults. It is written for a third-grade reading and maturity level and has been reviewed by experts. The book includes age-appropriate questions to help facilitate discussions.

While some feel this may be alarming to children, the goal is to bring awareness to children and parents alike. It is alarming. While it’s not a child’s responsibility to protect themselves, awareness can be the ounce of prevention.

You, too, can be an ounce of prevention. Help protect the vulnerable. Familiarize yourself with the language used by traffickers as well as their victims. You can start a ministry for families for prevention. You can get involved in a rescue and rehab program. You can provide copies of They Called Us Baby to schools, children’s clubs, medical offices and other ministries already helping people.

They Called Us Baby is available on lulu.com.

 

1 Child Liberation Foundation
2 THORN
3 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
4 FBI.gov law enforcement bulletin, March 1, 2011

Featured in: September/October 2022

Author

Eve Rusk

Idaho Conference communications director