Category "USA"

Witnessing Jesus in the Midst of Human Trafficking Investigations: A Testimony from Brad Ortenzi

February 28, 2024

During a recent church service at Petra in PA, ZOE’s USA Eastern Regional Director, Brad Ortenzi, had the privilege of sharing some insights gleaned from his experiences with ZOE International and on the heart of God: A Warrior Rescuer, Tender Father.

“I’m often asked what I’ve learned about Jesus through my involvement in child trafficking investigations. My answer remains consistent: Jesus has revealed to me a duality of His nature, manifesting as a fierce Warrior to rescue and a tender Daddy to restore. This revelation has been evident to me from the very beginning of my journey in this work. I’ve witnessed the transformative power of Jesus as He intervenes in the lives of trafficking victims, both rescuing them from their plight and tenderly restoring their spirits.

In CS Lewis’s book, The Chronicles of Narnia, there’s a memorable scene where Lucy observes Aslan walking away from a celebration. Feeling sad, she asks if he will come back. Mr. Tumnus assures her, stating that while Aslan is not a tame lion, he is good. This duality of Jesus—a gentle, loving nature combined with fierce strength—is beautifully exemplified in the work of ZOE International, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from trafficking and sharing the gospel.” 

One of the most emotionally moving moments of the service was when Brad reflected on real-life trafficking investigations that he was part of. He recounted an undercover operation in Thailand, where they awaited the delivery of two young boys to a client at a hotel. The team could feel the tension as they prayed for a successful outcome. Witnessing firsthand the rescue of these boys and their restoration at ZOE’s Children Home was a testament to Jesus’ unwavering commitment to rescue and restore the oppressed.

Other stories Brad shared from Thailand further highlighted Jesus’ tender care for the rescued children. Through corporate prayer sessions at ZOE Thailand, the ZOE team witnessed the transformative power of His love as children found healing and acceptance in God’s loving embrace. Each of their journeys from shame and brokenness to wholeness and joy serve as a powerful reminder of Jesus’ tender compassion and desire to restore hearts that are brokenhearted.

Near the end, Brad encouraged listeners that as followers of Christ, we are called to be His hands and feet in combating human trafficking. While every person has their role to play, the church has a unique responsibility to lead the charge. 

“The journey of combating human trafficking has taught me invaluable lessons about the character of Jesus. His duality as a fierce Warrior and a tender Daddy is evident in every rescue and restoration. As we continue to fight against this injustice, let us draw strength from the knowledge that Jesus is with us, leading the way with His unwavering love and compassion.”

Do you want to learn more about ZOE’s work on the East Coast? Click here! Or interested in having a ZOE leader come speak at your church or event? Fill out our Request a Speaker form and we’ll be in touch!

ZOE Partners with Santa Clarita, CA Churches for Anti-Trafficking Sundays

February 15, 2024

At ZOE International, our commitment to combating human trafficking begins with prevention and awareness efforts in the local community. We believe that education is the first crucial step in eliminating human trafficking.

Recently, ZOE partnered with local churches in the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV), CA for a significant initiative: SCV Anti-Trafficking Sundays. These events held the last two Sundays of January were aimed to raise awareness and mobilize communities to combat human trafficking. These Anti-Trafficking Sunday events served as a focal point for local churches and community members to come together, learn, and take action against the grave issue of child trafficking.

Pastor Cavin, from Northpark Community Church in Valencia, CA, shared, “ZOE International is one of the mission organizations that we’ve supported for many years. We are very familiar with ZOE’s work internationally and domestically including their rescue and restoration work with the victims of sex trafficking in LA County and Santa Clarita. 

I’m thankful for Ester, a representative from ZOE, who joined me last Sunday to discuss the reality of sex trafficking in SCV educating our congregation on prevention as well as ways our people could support ZOE International with their time, talents, and resources.” 

ZOE’s Assistant Western Regional Director, Ester Yu, shared about an impactful conversation she had after the event. “One church member shared that the exact warning I gave to the church about how boys are being targeted by predators happened to their family friend…a boy thought he was communicating with a female peer and sent compromising images to her, but instead it was a male predator who was blackmailing him. Thankfully he told his family and they were able to intervene. And that’s what’s important, that our children know, no matter what they have done or think they have done, they have a safe adult they can tell to help them. There is always a way out.”

The ZOE team would like to acknowledge the support of various churches in Santa Clarita, CA for their collaboration and community support along with ZOE staff representatives who shared their expertise and experiences in the ZOE’s prevention, rescue, and restoration programs below: 

  • Crossroads Community Church 
  • Valencia Hills Community Church
  • The Sanctuary
  • Northpark Community Church
  • Heart of the Canyons
  • High Vision Church 

A key ZOE community partner and SCV Human Trafficking Task Force Leader, Pastor Dan Broyles from Valencia Hills Community Church added, We are excited that about 10 churches in Santa Clarita agreed to bring greater awareness about human trafficking throughout our community and across the world. Churches agreed to spend time praying for, supporting and educating their respective congregations regarding an issue that is not just in other countries, but that is occurring in Santa Clarita and throughout Southern California. 

ZOE was able to speak at many of these churches, and ZOE continues to be a leader in both prevention and restoration regarding those impacted by trafficking. January is anti-trafficking month and the churches believe that they are called by God to care for people in need and this was one small step to care for those who do not have a voice.”

Pastor Jim from Heart of the Canyons shared, “Matthew 25 tells us that the greatest ministry we can give to Jesus is our ministry to the “least of these” (the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned — those who are in need). It’s time for the voices of those impacted by and trapped in human trafficking to be heard, supported, and protected and we are proud to partner with ZOE in their mission to reach every person and rescue every child.”

Another church partner from The Sanctuary, Pastor Marty Walker, shared, “It is our pleasure to continue our partnership with ZOE International. Having them (and their table) present at our Sunday morning services VERY IMPACTFUL. Their presence and availability to engage in conversations with information so vital in our world today was invaluable. Thank you, ZOE!”

Thanks to you, our faithful partners and supporters, together, we’re making strides towards a future where innocence is protected, and lives are transformed through Jesus. 

We believe that the Body of Christ carries the answer inside us for every crisis on earth.

If you are interested in having ZOE speak about human trafficking at your church, or bible study or have an information table, please email Ester Yu at ester@goZOE.org.

 

*Photo credit: Lucas Nava/The Signal

 

USA East Coast Outreach: Transforming Lives and Offering Hope through Personal Connection

January 8, 2024
Update from ZOE’s East Coast Advocate After Meeting A Young Woman On A Recent Sting Operation

 

“I met with a lady for the first time since I saw her on the sting operation we did over a month ago. We talked about meeting many times, but she was hesitant. We would plan things and then she wouldn’t get back to me the day of. It was so exciting to be able to see her again and hear how she was doing.

I was able to give her a nice, new winter coat, a pair of gloves and a big bag full of snacks. I also wrote her a note telling her that she is loved and cared for and bought her a sundae from McDonalds. She was so surprised! She said that she is not used to people being this nice to her… 

She also shared with me that she is trying to get sober and hasn’t done any drugs in two days. She said she has a new group of friends that is supportive of her getting clean. She said she has been having video visits with her children and is hoping to see them soon. It was amazing to hear how she is doing better! She said that she can’t stop thinking about the night we encountered her on the sting. 

She said that something one of the detectives said has really stuck with her. He said, ‘maybe the third time’s the charm.’ This was the third time this detective encountered her at a sting operation. He specifically planned to try to get in contact with her that night and have the advocates speak with her. At the end of our visit, she said that she would be willing to look into detox programs with me because ‘maybe I need some help detoxing after all.’ 

Since we met her, she has been saying that she does not need any detox and so this is huge progress! I am thanking Jesus for this opportunity to love on her. I really feel like the meeting built trust with her and I am looking forward to continuing a relationship with her.” 



Get to Know ZOE’s USA West Coast Clinical Director—Lawrence Franklin

August 13, 2023

 

As ZOE’s USA West Coast Clinical Director, I have the privilege of working alongside our team as we care for our youth at our ZOE Home for Youth (ZHY) and through our Advocacy program. I’ve seen firsthand the healing and restoration that happens, and ZOE’s goal is to always reflect the heart of Jesus in everything we do!

Overseeing ZOE’s West Coast program and services with a clinical perspective, I work with our team to cultivate a safe, healthy, and therapeutic environment for the child trafficking survivors in our care. We provide training, clinical consultation, crisis support for staff and youth, therapy (as needed) for the youth, and therapeutic support for our ZOE team.

I work with our team to cultivate a safe, healthy, and therapeutic environment for the child trafficking survivors in ZOE’s care.

Growing up in Inglewood, California, I’m aware of the challenges that youth face in the inner cities. Raised by a loving family and having a close relationship with my father, I evaded a lot of the crime and drugs that my peers fell into. Family means everything to me, and I’m supported by my wife of 13 years and children (ages 5, 8).

As I engage with the youth at the home and listen to their stories, the reality is that many of these girls come from broken homes. Many of them have experienced severe forms of trauma and have engaged in harmful activities to numb themselves and cope with their pain and stress.

ZOE’s Home for Youth (ZHY) in Los Angeles is just one of many homes in the United States that we hope to build for young survivors of human trafficking. Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support to one day make this dream a reality. Thank you for joining us as we walk alongside these young girls in their healing.

Epic 3,000-Mile Race Finish is Second Place to Main Goal: Ending Child Trafficking

July 3, 2023

 

Team ZOE International entered the Race Across America bicycle race on June 17 with thousands of training miles behind them. They expected grueling days, weather challenges and money to be raised toward the goal of rescuing children from human trafficking.

But it’s impossible to prepare for the emotions that churn with every pump of the pedals.

“I’d describe it as a mountaintop experience – definitely next-level emotionally,” said first-time ZOE cyclist Kevin Quinter, who is a detective in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and works on an anti-trafficking task force in eastern Pennsylvania.

The emotions came in waves as the team rode to a second-place finish in Annapolis, Maryland. On the third day of the seven-day relay ride from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis that concluded last Friday, June 23, rider Jeff Conaway from Littleton, Colorado, crashed on a descent through a remote area of the Rocky Mountains near Trinidad, Colorado.

“When we came around the corner, I thought for sure there’s a 50% chance he was not alive,” said Quinter, who was in the trail van with two other riders.

Conaway broke his collar bone, scapula, and had head injuries, but fortunately he is now recovering from his home in Colorado with an excellent prognosis. But the race had to continue for the other seven riders. Quinter jumped on his bike while Conaway, now awake, was still unstable and the ambulance had not reached them.

Coming off their Rocky Mountain low, the team’s emotions ran high. Each rider had to take on some of the miles that Conaway would have ridden.

“Even though we had Jeff go down in Colorado, it really brought the team even closer together,” said Brad Ortenzi, the team’s general manager and the Eastern USA Regional Director for ZOE.

The purpose of the race kept the team motivated as well. They exceeded their goal of raising $500,000 and are currently at $550,000. In 2019, Team ZOE raised $180,000, and in 2021 they raised $380,000.

“There’s more awareness of child trafficking and ZOE’s efforts to fight it with each year; there’s more of a momentum behind it,” Ortenzi said. “And a large percentage of what we’re doing comes from two counties within Pennsylvania. The race has brought a lot of exposure to ZOE and what we’re doing.”

ZOE (gozoe.org) prevents child trafficking and rescues and restores children out of trafficking in the U.S., Thailand, Mexico, Australia, and Japan. The organization was founded in 2003 by Mike and Carol Hart.

Ortenzi, a retired detective and online child exploitation investigator, is ZOE’s coordinator with task forces in Berks and Lancaster counties. He oversees restorative efforts and other needs for those rescued from trafficking.

Awareness for ZOE grew during the race on social media, which included livestreaming on Facebook. Quinter and his fellow riders were motivated by what they saw happening on social media.

“We had so much buzz on social media about ZOE and what they are doing and success stories and how they’re rescuing kids out of this,” Quinter said. “I knew it would be big, but that was huge. And the number of people who followed us, who were praying for us, who were encouraging us – that was big. It was very emotional.”

The emotions ran so high, and minds ran so busy thinking about the next day, that the four who were not riding and were on the team bus struggled to sleep. They drove ahead to the next spot, sometimes on bumpy roads, to change over 12 hours later.

“I would have never expected to not sleep,” Quinter said. “If we got three hours a night, riders and crew, people were saying, ‘I got two full straight hours,’ and they were excited. That added to some of the emotion, emotional response that we had.

“But it was big, way bigger than us. And just to see God working through it was crazy.”

…….

To schedule an interview with Brad Ortenzi or Kevin Quinter, email Clem Boyd, Director of Public Relations, at clem@infinityconcepts.com or text or call him at (724) 930-4003. For more information about team ZOE, visit ZOERAAM.com and to learn about ZOE International, visit gozoe.org.

ZOE East Coast Team Participates in Multiple Sting Operations

April 10, 2023

During March, the ZOE East Coast team collaborated in two separate multi-sting operations where local police arrested men suspected of targeting minors for sex. Additionally, through these investigative operations, ZOE advocates had impactful conversations with several women providing trauma-informed care and resources to assist in the operation.

Brad continued, “We count this as success, knowing that day, these girls were not alone, and our advocates were able to pray for, love, and care for them. This is why we do what we do.”

ZOE advocates assess gaps in services with each survivor and provides necessary connections to resources within their community. When possible, ZOE advocates will remain in touch with survivors to build relationships with them and provide ongoing support. ZOE also supports survivors through court cases, trials, and investigations and provides local resources for continued help and services.

Brad added, “We are grateful for our East Coast supporters and fans across the country who have come alongside our teams over the years to bring awareness to human trafficking and provide financial resources for our East Coast team to expand and serve our community.”

ZOE Los Angeles First Quarter Update

March 21, 2022

ZOE Advocacy Program

Thanks to you, our donors and partners, the children that ZOE serves in our Advocacy Program, and our ZOE Home for Youth experienced a wonderful Christmas, being reminded that they are loved and valued. More than 50 children in our Advocacy Program received items from their wishlists, gift cards, Christmas stockings full of gifts, and more, all donated! The holidays can often be a painful time for our children as they long to be with family they can’t be with or long to have a family of their own, often leading them to hurt themselves or engage in harmful activities. The youth were reminded by you how loved and precious they are. One child received a keyboard she requested to practice piano. Another child received a nail kit set to practice nail design, part of her future vocational goals. These are healthy activities to bring joy and positive coping skills. 

ZOE Home for Youth

At ZOE’s Home for Youth, the girls were all giddy for Christmas. “They asked if they could open their Christmas gifts at midnight instead of waiting until Christmas morning,” said Vickie McCoy, ZOE’s Residential Manager. As they opened the gifts they received, they screamed with excitement. The youth shared, “I have never received this many gifts before!” Material gifts cannot fill the pain and holes left by the trauma and abuse they have experienced, but celebrations with staff and each other, meaningful conversations, and messages of hope created a sense of family and belonging that they have not experienced in a long time or ever before.

Thank you to all our donors, churches, and partners who made this Christmas so special! 

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild

Operation Reclaim and RebuildAs part of the LA Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, ZOE partners with law enforcement, social workers, and other government and community agencies to help recover children from human trafficking and provide ongoing support to the children and families.

In February, ZOE took part in a week-long state-wide effort to combat human trafficking called Operation Reclaim and Rebuild. Sixty-five adult and 7 minor victims were recovered, 182 males were arrested for soliciting prostitution, and 30 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested.

We applaud the LA Regional Human Trafficking Task Force for doing a great job arresting traffickers and recovering victims of human trafficking during this week-long operation. “We need our police force to help us end child trafficking,” said Dave.

Please join with us and pray the survivors get the support they need and those who exploited others get the justice and resources they need to stop hurting others.

ZOE East Coast Helps Launch Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Task Force

March 21, 2022

On January 11th, which was National Human Trafficking Awareness Da, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force was launched. ZOE International is privileged to be a part of this task force. Our East Coast staff was a vital part of conducting the research and building the structure for the task force, which is composed of three components: 1. law enforcement and prosecution, 2. victim restorative services, 3. community outreach.

Lancaster County DA SealOver the past year, members of ZOE conducted interviews and garnished data from Pennsylvania human trafficking task forces and implemented ZOE International’s global best practices to craft the structure of the task force. Data from the US State Department’s Trafficking In Person’s (TIP) report and the Department of Justice/Office of Victims of Crime’s human trafficking task force suggestions were also implemented. The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Human Trafficking task force is a comprehensive array of supporting services with a victim-centered approach for trafficking victims. This task force also will be beneficial in prosecuting traffickers in Lancaster County.

ZOE Advocacy Graduations

November 12, 2021

In 2019, ZOE was awarded a contract with Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services to provide advocacy services for children who are victims of sex trafficking or highly at risk of becoming victims.

When law enforcement recovers a child from sex trafficking in the North LA County area, they will call ZOE to respond within 90 minutes to provide victim advocacy support alongside a social worker. Or when a social worker or probation officer believes the child they are serving is a victim of sex trafficking or highly at risk of becoming a victim, they can request a ZOE Advocate to come alongside that youth to build relationship with to help the youth toward goals of safety, well-being, self-sufficiency, and a permanent home.

In 2020, ZOE served 112 youth through this program.These youth are served by an amazing team of about 12 ZOE Advocates including Case Managers, Survivor Advocates who have experienced and overcome commercial sexual exploitation themselves, and aParent Advocate whose child has recovered from sex trafficking.
Advocates’ primary focus in the beginning is to help the youth feel safe emotionally and physically. Many times, youth are in the midst of being controlled, influenced, threatened by traffickers so Advocates learn about the youth’s current circumstances; immediate physical, emotional, social, and other needs; and help the youth problem-solve their very dangerous situations. Through weekly in-person meetings, meals, healthy activities, and simply doing “life” together, Advocates become a mentor and safe person for youth to reach out to in times of need. Advocates spend most of their time on the field driving as far north as Lancaster, as far south as Long Beach, and as far east as Pomona.
ZOE is able to provide formal support up to a year and a half. For youth who complete the program, ZOE hosts a graduation celebration to honor their achievements and strengths. Due to COVID, ZOE had our first graduation in March 2021 and have since had two more graduations. We anticipate hosting approximately

five or six graduations a year.

At the graduations, youth are able to share any words of reflection from the past year while Advocates are able to praise them for their accomplishments. It is always an emotional, encouraging time to remember how far the youth have come. Youth have shared:
“I want to say thank you to my Advocates because if I didn’t have ZOE, I don’t think I would be here today. I think I would be in a very dangerous situation.”

“Looking at myself and comparing it to back then, I’m a completely different person. I know when I’m mad to talk to someone and use my communication. And I know how to have situations in a positive manner. I’m thankful for people who helped me through it all, every step of the way. But all the hard work was from me but I couldn’t have done it without the comfort, the motivation from my Advocate who has helped me in all the ways that she could. To all the Advocates and just the ZOE program in general, I personally would like to say that I appreciate all of you for changing this path and helping kids to thrive.”

At our most recent graduation in August 2021, a youth and his ZOE Advocate shared about how he struggled to engage in the beginning of the program. But with the persistent efforts and care of the Advocate, he began to meet, improve his relationship with his mother, and began to complete school assignments. He also shared about his dream to open his own clothing business. ZOE took him

 on outings to visit the fashion district, interview a business owner, and create a design for his own clothing line with a graphic designer. At the graduation, ZOE was able to present him with a tshirt and sweatshirt with his design. It was a physical representation and reminder of all the hard work he did in the program.

In addition, our Parent Advocate was also able to honor parents who participated in ZOE’s program by encouraging them to continue to love their children unconditionally and support them intheir journey toward healing.

Ongoingly, if individuals, organizations, or businesses wish to support the children served in ZOE’s Advocacy Program, the following are always in need:

  • Updated Amazon wishlist: https://a.co/elZDNLZ
  • Gift cards for birthday/graduation/baby shower celebrations or meals with Advocates: Starbucks, McDonalds, Wingstop, Panda Express, Subway, Chick Fil A, Michaels, Amazon, Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Target, Walmart, Foot Locker, Bath & Body, Uber
  • Grocery gift cards: Food for Less, Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs
  • Snacks: Fruit flavored cans of Arizona Iced Tea, cans/bottles of Coke, spicy chips, cup o noodles, Goldfish crackers
  • Help with special events (baby shower, graduations, shopping for gifts on child’s Christmas wishlist)
  • Church groups all over LA County willing to be trained to minister to some of our families who have basic needs and that we can connect our families to.
  • Be on emergency needs list: We can reach out when we have an urgent need if they are able to help
  • Vehicles/drivers to delivery donated furniture
  • Hosting support groups and events at safe settings like churches
  • Meals for support groups

We are so thankful for community, business, and church partners who have helped ZOE meet the needs of these precious children, including:

  • First and last month’s rent deposit to relocate in order to escape threats from traffickers
  • Extensive dental treatment allowing a youth to smile for the first time in two years after the loss of her front teeth from an assault
  • Emergency cell phones for youth to contact ZOE in crisis
  • Emergency hotel stay for 18+ youth who are escaping traffickers
  • Uber rides for 18+ youth who need last-minute transportation to their job or to escape traffickers
  • Furniture for families whose child is returning home after being reunified

ZOE’s Advocacy Program in Los Angeles

November 2, 2021
Through ZOE’s Advocacy Program in Los Angeles, we serve children and families who have been impacted by human trafficking or highly at risk of trafficking. We are so thankful for our amazing partners who provide opportunities and experiences for the children we serve. Recently, ZOE partnered with New Dawn Foundation to provide an experience with horses, which has been found to be therapeutic and healing for survivors of trauma and trafficking.
Most of the teens were excited to walk the ponies, pet and brush them, and even guide them through obstacles. Later, the group had time to process what everyone was feeling and thinking.
In one instance, a teen was hesitant to engage. A pony continued to walk over to her, brush up against her, trying to get her attention. Eventually, the teen pet it gently and participated in the next activity. At the end of the day, the youth whispered:
“I loved it.”
If you would like to learn more about how you can be a part of the healing and restoration of the children ZOE serves, contact info@gozoe.org.

ZOE USA receives license to open ZOE Home for Youth in Los Angeles

September 17, 2021

We are so excited to have finally received our license to open the ZOE Home for Youth (ZHY). “From 2016, when we closed escrow and submitted our plans to receiving our license to open, God has been guiding us, answering prayers and performing miracles along the way,” said Vickie McCoy, ZHY Residential Manager.

Eight Lancaster County Men Win the 2021 Ultra-Cycling Event, Race Across America

July 14, 2021

On June 25, 2021, eight cyclists from Lancaster County and twelve crew members, all representing ZOE International, finished first place in the non-stop, 3,000-mile transcontinental relay race from California to Maryland, Race Across America (RAAM).

The 2021 RAAM consisted of 7, 8-man cycling teams and 17 teams of 2, 4, and 8, along with 12 solo racers. The ZOE cycling team completed the race in 6 days and 27 minutes with an average speed of 21.03 mph while climbing over 100,000+ feet.

“After competing in 2019, we knew our limitations and capabilities and thought we might have a chance to win this year,” shared Brad. “We set out to do our race and not let the competitors set the race for us. We knew we couldn’t make a mistake. So we plugged all the gaps we had in 2019, and we trained a lot harder this year. Ultimately, we capitalized on the experience we had from 2019 to win the race in 2021!”

For 39 years, the RAAM has become a global icon, challenging ultra-cyclists from over 35 countries to push their physical and mental limits to the utmost. RAAM has also become an enormous platform for cyclists to raise funds for charities that they hold close to their hearts. Each year, RAAM cyclists raise over 10 million dollars in donations, dispersed to multiple charities.

In 2019, the 8-man cyclist team placed third and raised over $175,000 for ZOE International.

ZOE RAAM Team cyclists at the finish line winning first place

ZOE RAAM Team cyclists at the finish line winning first place

This year the team raised over $350,000 for ZOE International. The issue of child sex trafficking is an issue that is close to the team’s heart. “The idea to compete in this race all began when I first traveled to ZOE International in Thailand in 2014,” said Brad Ortenzi, ZOE International Eastern US Regional Director and Race Across America Director and Cyclist.

“While visiting the home for children who have been trafficked at ZOE Thailand, I was inspired by the children’s fight. Every one of them was a fighter – fighting to get their life back. Contact: Brad Ortenzi (717) 708-8109- cell brad@goZOE.org Lonna Gibson (661) 388-1295 lonna@goZOE.org – Continued – Lonna Gibson (661) 388-1295 lonna@goZOE.org Their fight inspired me and changed my life. Competing in the Race Across America allows ZOE to take this fight against child sex trafficking across the United States.”

The eight-man cycling team included Nate Eakin, Matt Lapp, Allen Fisher, Sam Lapp, Elmer Fisher, Jonathan Fisher, Allan Fisher, and Brad Ortenzi – all from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Many team members began training as early as the Fall of 2020, putting in the hours on stationary bikes, riding outdoors, strength training, and swimming.

Cyclist Allan Fisher added, “I wasn’t aware of human trafficking happening in the states. ZOE is bringing freedom to many children, and I want to stand with them because I believe in what they are doing.”

Not only do the cyclists compete in the race, but they also have a goal to raise $20,000 each for ZOE International.

“It costs about $70,000 for us to compete in the race, including the entrance fee, uniforms, helmets, fuel, and travel,” said Brad. “Any additional monies raised over the cost of expenses are donated to ZOE International to help rescue more children and care for and restore the rescued children entrusted in their care.”

Current sponsors for ZOE’s RAAM team are Breeo, Country Lane Gazebos, Weaver Construction, Lapp Structures, Sensenig’s Feed Mill, Select Carpentry, Earthsource, Fisher Brothers, Eagle Rental, Urban Southern, TLS Carpentry, US Boiler Company, Lititz VFW, Lancaster Bike Shop, Bicycle Barn and Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE).

Locally, Brad is also the Coordinator for the Lancaster County Task Force working alongside the District Attorney’s office and is a few months away from officially launching. The Lancaster County Human Trafficking Task Force will investigate, prosecute, and find restorative paths for trafficking survivors within Lancaster County. This will also include community outreach with prevention education and awareness of trafficking.

ZOE International was founded in 2002 with a mission to reach every person with God’s love and rescue every child from human trafficking through prevention, rescue, and restoration efforts in the USA, Thailand, Mexico, Japan, and Australia. More information about ZOE International can be found at goZOE.org and the 2021 Race Across America at www.raceacrossamerica.org.

Contact:

Brad Ortenzi (717) 708-8109- cell brad@goZOE.org

Lonna Gibson (661) 388-1295 lonna@goZOE.org