Anya is a 22-year-old white Russian girl offering all kinds of “erotic services” in Moscow, whose ad could be found on an international escorting website.
During the World Cup, sex buyers (aka “Johns”) scoured the internet looking for women they could purchase nearby. Many came across Anya’s ad and sent her a text.
Here are two actual text exchanges between Anya and prospective sex buyers.
But Anya isn’t real.
Our outreach team created Anya as part of a sting operation in which we lure sex buyers. These men believe they are about to meet with a girl they can purchase sex from, but we use this opportunity to meet with them—and kindly educate them—on the tragic reality of prostitution, sex trafficking, and how these girls end up in this vulnerable place.
Once Anya’s ad went up we received texts and calls almost daily.
Michael* is one young man in his early twenties who came across Anya’s ad—an American from California who came to Moscow for the World Cup. He was exactly the type of guy we had prayed for.
Our Director of Outreach, Helen, was the real “Anya” behind the scenes. She had created Anya’s ad and was texting back and forth with him. While Michael went to the hotel looking for Anya, Helen prayed over the situation, safely hidden in a nearby room. Two guys on our outreach team approached Michael in the lobby and began to share some prophetic words with him. He seemed quite nervous but really open to them.
After the guys had been chatting with him about ten minutes, one explained “Listen, you’re not going to be meeting with Anya tonight, as we actually set it up, and here’s why.”
They went on to talk with him for over an hour about his true identity and worth, the Father’s love, and the reality of exploitation. It was extremely powerful! He told them it was his second attempt to purchase sex since being there and he said the first time he got so nervous he chickened out. So this would have been his first time! God is so merciful in the way He intervened, before a dark line was crossed!
Michael was feeling in a very low and lonely place in his life and opened up to the guys in a big way. They talked about faith and prayed for him. He said he felt extremely guilty about what he was about to do, but deeply aware that God had majorly intervened in his life. He had experienced the power of God and a healing miracle in his past so he did believe in the Lord, but just didn’t know Him in a personal way.
Helen describes what happened next.
“The following day Michael met with one of the guys to watch a soccer match, and then joined our team for dinner! We welcomed him and I did not tell him I was actually ‘Anya.’ He asked us to connect him with a church back in California! He seemed so happy to make some more friends and his heart was so open. I was so proud of the team! The outreach felt like such a powerful divine appointment, and one of the most beautiful ‘success stories’ of our trip!! The ultimate prevention intervention.”
After the success of the first John outreach, we decided to arrange another one.
Helen shares on how it unfolded.
“A man happened to text me on the ‘Johns phone’ two hours before a pre-planned outreach so I conveniently arranged to meet with him. We conducted it at a hotel where three other meet-ups with exploited girls were happening at the same time! (We were taking over that Hilton by the end of this trip!)
Once again, our guys approached the John, chatted for a few minutes and then explained, “We know why you’re here…you’re not meeting Anya tonight, as we set it up, and we want to explain why.” One of our team members went on to share about the devastating impact of his father being a sex addict—how it can tear lives and families apart—and described the impact it has on the girl who does not truly wish to be exploited. The John became very serious and agreed that it was destructive behavior as he slowly said, ‘Wow, this meeting has been a wake up call.’ He left after that, clearly shaken up with a lot to think about.”
We had such great success with our sex buyer outreach that it has inspired us to launch our own back home in Kansas City. As we often say, sex trafficking would end today if men stopped purchasing sex. A critical part of abolition is to reach the hearts of men to turn the tide on this injustice. But it’s not just a lofty goal—it’s more within reach than we may think. It starts with one, and then it grows…
We have more exciting stories from Moscow to share so stay tuned for future posts!
UPDATE 8/15/18: We just received this encouraging message from Michael! “…Our meeting in Moscow has encouraged me to start getting close to Jesus and modify my lifestyle. Meeting you guys made a big impact on my soul and I want you to know that the ministry you are doing makes a difference in people’s lives.”
*name changed to protect privacy