In recent years, Christians have become increasingly active in the fight against human trafficking and prostitution. We’ve reached out to the victims, helping them to take steps toward freedom, recovery, and new lives.
But what about the customers?
That was the thought that came to Anna Broadway one day—and once it came, it wouldn’t go away. From that thought came a new project: Pray for the Johns Day.
“The demand [for sex] is a huge problem,” Anna told me in an interview late last week. “Legal responses” can take care of part of that problem, but “in terms of people’s hearts and what actually motivates them to pay for sex, that’s not really something that humans can change.” Instead, she believes, we need to rely on the power of prayer for these men.
Anna has long been interested in the subject of “relational brokenness” among Christians. A few years ago, she wrote Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity, a book whose title alone sums up the experience of many single Christians. She has also been involved for some time in a prayer initiative known as fast. pray. The increasingly popular group, founded in 2007, encourages single Christian women to fast and pray once a week “for God to change us, strengthen men, and give the gift of marriage.”
Praying this way helped Anna realize “that there’s kind of something larger that’s going on in our culture. A lot of the ways that men and women are relating right now are more confused than they were in the past. A lot of really destructive things . . . are happening.” And in a culture that often devalues and demeans them, “young men . . . can get a little bit left behind.” The fallout was easy to see, in the multitude of sex shops and strip clubs that she passed while doing prayer walks through her San Francisco neighborhood.
Everything that had been going on in Anna’s prayers and thoughts came to the fore when she interviewed Faith Huckel of Restore NYC, a ministry that cares for trafficking victims.
“I just asked if she prayed about the men,” Anna says. “And she certainly acknowledged the need for that,” even though her own ministry was more focused on the victims.
But once that idea had struck Anna, she explains, “it just really kind of haunted me.” She came to believe that God was calling her to do something about it. And so Pray for the Johns Day was born.
“This is not in any way to minimize the seriousness of the harm and the wrongdoing that johns are often involved in,” Anna emphasizes. “[We’re] praying that they would turn from the sin and the harm and the wrong that they’re doing, and repent of it. That their lives would transform and they would become the men God made them to be.” Her concern for these men is twofold: It’s about “sins of omission” as well as “sins of commission.” It’s about “the good works they’re not doing because of this.”
Church leaders are encouraged to mention the project and to pray in church on Sunday, February 12; individuals and small groups are invited to pray on Tuesday, February 14. The pastors she’s talked to so far “have generally responded very, very positively” to the idea of a churchwide effort.
As for individuals, “it’s pretty basic,” Anna says. “It could be as simple as praying about it for the time while you’re waiting for your car to warm up in the morning or waiting for your computer to boot up, or taking a walk during lunch and praying.”
As Anna sees it, revivals and transformation always require prayer. She cites the Clapham Circle, of which William Wilberforce was a member, as an example of this.
“Who else do you turn to for that kind of radical transformation?” she asks. “That’s [God's] thing. Jesus really tied His ability to do miracles to people’s faith. . . . That’s been really encouraging to me. Yes, this is crazy, but if God is putting this on my heart, maybe He really wants me to do something.”
You can learn more about Pray for the Johns Day at its website.
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