Daniel Lemke is the founder of Bike Through Traffic.
Above all, I love Jesus Christ, and I strive to show that through my work as a missionary, entrepreneur, and abolitionist. I began the nonprofit organization Bike Through Traffic in 2014 to help eradicate domestic sex trafficking.
While attending North Park University to obtain my biblical and theological degree with a minor in business. I worked at a gym where I met a police officer. He would often regale us with the stories behind the cases he’d just closed. On a day like any other, which proved to be a day in my life like none before it, this officer told us about an older case that had happened just three stores down from our gym. The storefront was a nail salon, but the manager had been found out selling children to strangers for sex in the back of the building. After more than two years, the female sex trafficker was finally convicted, only to serve four months of jail time.
I was furious and confused. How does something like that happen in a place like this? Or anywhere on this earth? On that day, God used that story to birth a protective spirit within me that, still to this day, seeks to help the victims of sex trafficking.
In my subsequent research, I discovered the shocking statistic that there were tens of thousands of similar cases just in the United States. I asked friends, coworkers, teachers, and pastors if they knew about this epidemic. Many did not. If they did, they thought it surely couldn’t be happening so rampantly on American soil. Or that if it was happening, it was just in the big cities. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
From small towns to metroplexes, and affecting every gender, ethnicity, and income level, the map of known sex-trafficking within the United States looks like a cell phone provider’s map boasting about its coverage area.
I couldn’t sit idly by knowing that such a problem was going on, so I got on my bike and rode across the country, seeking to spread this terrible knowledge about our homegrown epidemic of sex trafficking.
I met pimps and johns, Hell’s Angels and skinheads, Bandidos and drug dealers, and porn producers and just-released inmates. I even stayed at some of their houses. I spoke with victims of sex trafficking, recovering drug addicts, the homeless, the abused, the mistreated, the outcast, and the unloved. I witnessed to atheists, Satanists, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and New Age free spirits.
I spoke about sex trafficking and pornography to seemingly every major church denomination, from full congregations to small groups to youth ministries. Some churches welcomed me; others told me what I was doing surely wasn’t biblical.
I spoke in sanctuaries, bars, concert halls, festivals, cafes, and every kind of school building imaginable, from elementary to university. I discussed how to fix the problem of sex trafficking with politicians and judges. I even taught a few law enforcement personnel and firefighters what to look for when they may be assisting a victim of sex trafficking so that they’d arrest the right people and not the people being forced to do the wrong things. I’ve also established educational programs in universities so students can know what to look for if they ever encounter a sex trafficking victim. Lastly, I’ve discussed plans of action with CEOs of major corporations who have now implemented those ideas.
I accomplished all of that in fifteen months. I am in the process of writing a book, which I hope will reach so many more—Lord willing.
Next step is to build businesses that hire victims of sex trafficking in order to reintegrate them back into society.