“I first heard of human trafficking in 2007,” says Pinnacle Forum Partner, Debbie Johnson, Founder and CEO of Without Permission, Inc (www.withoutpermission.org). “Learning of the sale, sexual exploitation and murder of little girls in Mexico broke my heart. I began to research this bondage and it has become my life’s mission to expose sexual slavery in America.
“In 2008, I began talking with my staff, peers and Senior Pastor to educate and inspire them to fight this battle with me,” Debbie explains. At the time, she served as the Women’s Pastor at The House Modesto, her home church. “In 2009, I shared the vision God had given me for Without Permission with 100 women of Refresh Women’s Ministry at Calvary Temple Worship Center. That night, two women told me of their encounters with trafficking in Modesto a decade earlier.
“My mentor and friend, Lisa Santagate, also confided in me how God was pulling her to do something about this battle,” Debbie continues. “This was the witness I needed from the Lord that it was time to go public and go hard to recruit and mobilize an army of people willing to go to the darkest place in our landscape.”
Locally, the ministry works to fight sex-trafficking in Stanislaus County (Modesto). Debbie networks with key leaders in law enforcement, social services, education and medicine. Without Permission’s efforts focus on three areas: Preventative Education, Survivor Support and Justice Projects. Another way to say it is PREVENTION, PROTECTION and PROSECUTION. They hold themselves accountable by publishing their track record in each area on their website.
Pinnacle Forum Partner
Debbie got involved with Pinnacle Forum through Chuck Bryant, who happens to own the building where Without Permission has its offices. She also knows Cindy Marks, whose story is related in an earlier Pinnacle Pulse: https://pinnacleforum.com/execute/2014/7/22/.
As busy as she is, Debbie makes time for a Forum, because as she says, “Relationships are important. I’ve been in the corporate world and in full-time ministry and in both arenas I’ve needed to network with likeminded leaders. Pinnacle Forum is the right place for me to find both.
“I’m pioneering a work and I need feedback on practical things like board development. The Partners are a huge resource because they have executive experience, and they understand ethical and biblical principles. I can glean so much more from them in personal relationships than I can sitting through lectures and conferences.”
Debbie doesn’t accept the excuse that busy people don’t have time for another group. “You won’t have time until it becomes a priority,” she insists. “Then you will make time by letting go of something less important.”
Debbie has received numerous awards and national recognition for her work, including the 2013 National FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. She’s a highly respected speaker and sought-after trainer in the area of sex trafficking.
“Many people are touched by this tragedy,” Debbie says. “If you think you have encountered a victim of human trafficking, you can call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-3737-888) or visit their website (https://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/overview).”
If there’s a verse that sums up Debbie’s motivation it’s Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Without Permission is her personal response.
- In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris, received reports of 3,598 sex trafficking cases inside the United States.
- In 2014, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
- Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.