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Ohio Family Values Circumvent Human Trafficking Jam along I-71 Corridor: 'If The Church Becomes Salt and Light, It Will Literally Change the Flavor of a Culture'

Admin : Jan 26, 2023  Frontlines Ohio

"To the natural eye, it makes no sense for an exotic dance club to close its doors beside an interstate highway with one hundred thousand motorists driving past it every day. That is unless the owner of the strip club commits her heart to Christ..." -Pastor John Bouquet

airlift(North Central Ohio) — [] January Eleventh is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. With the nation's borders wide open to human smugglers, one region's faith community has been a driving force combating sex trafficking. When it comes to the I-71 corridor, these faith leaders believe it is either "GOD's way or the highway." (Screengrab image)

While the region is no stranger to pornography addiction, two brick and mortar sexually-oriented businesses along Interstate 71 have closed down. With the defunct businesses only thirty-eight miles apart, clergy in the area refuse to take a backseat to the sex trafficking problem.

"The culture war is best defined not by the issues we battle but rather by the calling the Church has to be salt and light," says Ashland Pastor John Bouquet. "Just like with popcorn, it does not take a lot of salt to change the flavoring of something. If the Church becomes salt and light, it will literally change the flavor of a culture."

It appears peoples' tastes are indeed changing along one major thoroughfare in the state.

In 2021, Showtime strip club near the State Route 30/I-71 interchange in Richland County closed its doors. The property was bought and repurposed as Ronks' Towing company. The exotic dance club had previously been a hub for prostitution and drug use for most of its thirty-year history-that is until recently.

The club's owner, Donna Holbrook had an encounter with Christ, changing the path of her life and changing her career. Her new direction brought her from a former dancer/owner of a strip club to a new creation in Christ. She began to help other women ensnared in the sex industry encouraging them to attend church and to start a new job path.

Nine months prior to the property sale, clergy representing seventy-four local congregations presented a resolution for the local board of health to declare pornography addiction as a "public health crisis." The extensive clergy resolution chronicled the community's opposition to pornography and described its affiliation with human trafficking. While the health board rejected the pastors' request, in the long run, it really did not matter.

Almost one year later, The Lion's Den, a sexual novelty store located along the State Route 61/I-71 interchange closed to make room for a new Sheetz gas station.

"With the closure of two sexually-oriented businesses in an area, I think it demonstrates how important it is to have a community effort," says Pastor Steve Brenneman and former Morrow County Sheriff for twelve years. "It is important to note that for many years, the neighborhood at the Marengo exit had a billboard beside the business disapproving of the sex novelty store. There are secondary adverse effects associated with sexually-oriented businesses that bring dysfunction to society. Down the road, these businesses become crime magnets for human trafficking and other illicit behavior if left unchecked."

To prevent easy access to surrounding land around I-71, nearby township trustee boards in Morrow County are passing restrictive regulations written by the State Attorney General (AG)'s office to put the brakes on future potential sex businesses. The Ohio AG will represent the jurisdiction in the event of legal challenges. Ten municipalities and thirteen of the eighteen townships in adjacent Richland County also passed these criminal and licensing ordinances.

Historically, the clergy have engaged the culture war on human trafficking from the spiritual side. In 2015, sixty-six clergymen called for a day of prayer and repentance for the societal sin of immorality; specifically the use of pornography. Subsequently, "Pornography Awareness Week" was declared by eight out of nine communities across Richland County the following year. In 2017, fourteen clergy assisted the police in the closure of a local clandestine brothel. That tip helped uncover a criminal network of sex trafficking leading to a raid of another brothel in Lancaster, Ohio.

Bouquet says, "To the natural eye, it makes no sense for an exotic dance club to close its doors beside an interstate highway with one hundred thousand motorists driving past it every day. That is unless the owner of the strip club commits her heart to Christ. In a community, you really do not have to change everything for everything to change." Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

If you have information on a sex trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.

The Bottom Line:

The Bible says in Job Chapter Twenty-Two, "Declare a matter and it shall be established and light will shine on your ways."

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