“The faith community has taken a very positive role in leading initiatives outside of their houses of worship and into the entire community.” -Ashland Police Chief David Marcelli
News Staff : Sep 16, 2020 FrontlinesOhio.com
(North Central Ohio) — [FrontlinesOhio.com] Clergy initiatives combating pornography and human trafficking in the Buckeye Bible Belt is resulting in what one pastor calls a “divine dragnet” after US Marshals conducted recent sting operations. (Image: Ashland May Matt Miller /Ashland Pictures via Frontlines Ohio)
Pastor Bruce Philippi of Journey Life Center in Mansfield is one of the seventy-four clergy cosigners calling for pornography to be declared a public health crisis due to its link to human trafficking.
“We are seeing remarkable spiritual momentum from increased hunger in our region. At the same time (neighboring) Ashland County held a sacred assembly with several speakers leading prayer for the welfare of women and children, a divine dragnet by US Marshals was occurring. These raids are resulting in the rescue of children and the arrests of persons involved in criminal behavior.”
Pastor Philippi believes the August 23rd assembly is a pivot point for the region desiring spiritual and social breakthrough. During the sacred assembly, the Mayor of Ashland dedicated the city to the “supremacy of the LORD Jesus Christ.” Just several months prior, the nearby Mansfield Mayor declared the city as “Godsfield.” Little did the clergy know justice was coming just around the corner.
One day later, “Operation Moving Target” began with US Marshals between August 24-27th arresting twenty-seven persons in Northern Ohio involved with sexually explicit conversations online with undercover agents posing as children. But that is not all that took place.
“Operation Safety Net” involving the rescue of twenty-five children from human trafficking began August 17th, the same day clergy presented their porn resolution to Richland Public Health. The operation is still underway with the cooperation of the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force.
Officials point out “Operation Safety Net” was the first time multiple law enforcement agencies had conducted such a rescue mission. Due to its success, similar missions will take place in the future.
According to Ashland Police Chief David Marcelli, “The faith community has taken a very positive role in leading initiatives outside of their houses of worship and into the entire community,” says the thirty-two year veteran.
By the same token, the Mansfield Police Chief stated in 2018 there has been “unprecedented church involvement in recent years.” Consequently, violent crime in the city has declined for five consecutive years prior to the pandemic.
Recently Pastor Philippi had an eye-opening testimony shared at his congregation during his church service.
Mansfield native Candace Williams testified that she identified a case of human trafficking while visiting the Cedar Point Amusement Park on August 29th. As she was waiting in line for a roller coaster, she noticed a young teenage girl accompanied by several older men in line. After noticing the girl had a black eye, she prayed to GOD and asked for help.
“I prayed ‘LORD, what do You want me to do?” says Williams. “As soon as I prayed, my eyes were drawn to someone wearing a T-shirt which said in bold letters: “DO WHAT YOU CAN.”
After the timely advice, Williams took action by taking photos, messaging the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and reporting the incident to park staff. From there park security was alerted and the teenage girl was taken by medics.
“GOD put me in the right place with His perfect timing,” says Williams. “He made me fearless.”
Chief Marcelli comments, “I believe God has His hands in all things. We are placed in situations of His making and yet are free to respond as we determine.”
“With the clarion call by area clergy, and the corporate sacred assembly, this has been a roller coaster month for our area,” says Pastor Philippi. “Except I think it is the human traffickers who are afraid of the heights now.” Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here
Click Here to listen to John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, discussing the recent Ohio sting operations on BreakPoint, a nationally syndicated commentary on the culture.