Many of our readers know we follow the Human Trafficking issue very closely in Oklahoma. The following is a story about Jason & Kristin Weis in the Tulsa World:
Jason and Kristin Weis had a comfortable life in Denver. Two kids. House in a neighborhood cul de sac. Good jobs. Financial security. Nearby family and friends. Then a local TV news report “changed everything,” Kristin Weis recalled.
Now, the Jenks couple in their early 40s work together to raise funds and awareness about the national organization Stop Child Trafficking Now, which “addresses the demand side of child sex trafficking by targeting buyers/predators for prosecution and conviction,” according to its website, tulsaworld.com/sctnow
This year alone, the couple helped organize a July benefit golf tournament at Golf Club of Oklahoma and an October benefit walk at the RiverWalk in Jenks. And they worked with the owner of the Jenks FreshBerry to donate $1 for every cup of yogurt sold from Nov. 1 through the end of this year. Other fundraisers are in the planning stages, including a January black-tie event. In all, Jason Weis said the couple have helped SCTN raise about $750,000 in the past two years.
Since its founding in 2008, the organization has formed a Tulsa-based special operative team that includes former Navy Seal members. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Tulsa County Undersheriff Brian Edwards and City Councilor Rick Westcott have publicly supported SCTN. Lynette Lewis, SCTN’s president and founder, lived in Tulsa for 25 years and worked at Oral Roberts University. She now lives in New York City.
Lewis said of Jason and Kristin Weis: “What Tulsa has become, through their leadership, is our hallmark city. Tulsa, in the entire nation for us, is now our forerunner city, where the strategy, the ops team working with local law enforcement, is way down the line compared to other cities. “And it’s all because of their leadership.
One night about six years ago, the couple’s two young children were already in bed when a nightmare slipped into the TV news: A father had videotaped himself raping his 2-year-old daughter. Thousands of people later watched it all unfold online.
Kristin Weis said, “It’s hard to describe in words how defining that moment was.”
Jason Weis said, “That was the line-in-the-sand moment. We had to get involved and do something.”
But how could they? Kristin Weis cut hair for a living. Jason Weis co-owned a business that made banners and signs. They were seemingly no match for pure evil.
The rage Kristin Weis felt that night followed her to a meeting with Flo Shannon, a Denver prayer minister and a graduate of Tulsa’s Victory Bible Institute. Once Kristin Weis revealed her need to fight child sexual exploitation, Shannon pointed the way to Tulsa and VBI. If the Weises were serious about fighting evil, Shannon knew they’d first need VBI’s spiritual armor to engage in, as Jason Weis called it, “demonic battle.”
When Kristin Weis initially told her husband they needed to move to Tulsa to attend VBI, he laughed. She remembers him telling her, “We’re not going to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We’re not going to move our family, quit our jobs and move to Tulsa.” Plus, Kristin Weis’ mother, who lived in Denver, was dying of cancer. They couldn’t leave her. So the couple decided to enroll in the VBI online and correspondence program. But Shannon, the prayer minister, once again told Kristin Weis she and her husband needed to move to Tulsa to attend VBI. Unlike the first time Kristin Weis said they needed to relocate to Tulsa, about a year before, Jason Weis agreed to sell his part in the sign and banner business to begin a new endeavor: fighting child sexual exploitation.
“It was the perfect timing,” Kristin Weis said. However, it was difficult to leave behind her mother, who died a year after the couple moved to Jenks. Her family vehemently disagreed with the move. “They were hurt; they didn’t want to see their family leaving,” Kristin Weis said. “But we knew what we had to do. For us, anyway, there was no turning back.
When you hear stories of children that are being raped, and it’s getting worse, and it’s getting worse – and the kids are getting younger. Organized crime is getting into it. The mafia. Child pornography is exploding. “When you hear those types of things, it was impossible for us to go back to a normal life.” About three months after making the decision to leave Denver in favor of attending VBI, the couple and their two young children moved to Jenks just before school started in August 2006.
For the next three years, the couple balanced their VBI school work, family time, their volunteer work with SCTN and full-time jobs. Kristin Weis cuts hair, and Jason Weis eventually became VBI’s director of online and correspondence programs. The couple, through “divine connections,” Jason Weis said, joined SCTN in late 2008.
In mid-2009, they were in the kitchen when Kristin Weis began to cry. As the tears fell, she said, “This is too big. How are we going to change anything?” But the couple are not alone in the fight.
“We may not be able to bust in the doors of a brothel,” Kristin Weis said, “but we can fund the guys that can partner with the guys who can bust in the doors.”
Six years ago, the couple could have simply changed the channel when the nightmarish news report revealed a father’s evil act.
They didn’t, however, because, as Kristin Weis said: “So many people, they won’t do anything because it’s too scary, it’s too evil, it’s too horrible and they don’t want to look at it. But it’s not going to change it if you run away from it.”
Original Print Headline: Haunting reality
Matt Gleason 581-8473 firstname.lastname@example.orgBy MATT GLEASON World Scene Writer
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/article.aspx?subjectid=370&articleid=20101220_38_D1_CUTLIN215919&archive=yes
SCTNow will be a featured guest at Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Tulsa January 11th at Agora Coffee.
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