By Steve Rees —
Between 1,200- and 1,500 minor children live free, productive lives in Cambodia thanks in part to a heroic man who for 13 years has gone barefoot in obedience to God and solidarity with trafficked and vulnerable people around the world.
“I consider myself a child of God with a unique calling,” said Dr. Jeff Brodsky about his ministry rescuing trafficked children as young as four in India and Africa. “I have made no sacrifice whatsoever in living barefoot; it’s a matter of obedience, not sacrifice,” he added.
Inundated with messages from people worldwide asking if the movie The Sound of Freedom is about him, Brodsky admits he’s lived like former federal agent Tim Ballard – played by actor Jim Caviezel – who worked in the Department of Homeland Security’s Child Crimes Unit.
Before his recognition by brothel owners as the barefoot man, Brodsky would portray the character of an American pedophile in places like India. Under the guise of looking for children ages 12 and younger, Brodsky wore a hidden camera the size of a button or pin that recorded video.
Accompanied by teammates – a chief interrogator and rescue operations personnel – Brodsky captured footage of children as young as four. Turning the video in to police, some corrupt officers tipped off wealthy brothel owners of a pending raid.
“After that happened dozens of times – I’ll never forget the tears – I asked God, ‘What is the best way to do this?’
“That’s when He showed me the best way to do it was to establish anti-human trafficking police teams,” said Brodsky.
In Cambodia he discovered vulnerable children living in squalor. On July 19th, 2010. Dr. Brodsky was at a garbage dump in Phnom Penh with his friend Rev. Jim Rogers, as recounted on his website:
“We were feeding children who lived in and around the dump. We were also looking for children who were at high risk of being taken by predators and sold into brothels. I noticed almost all the children were barefoot. When I went back to my hotel room, as I removed my shoes and socks, I could not get the picture of those barefoot children out of my mind. I began to wonder what it would be like to live barefoot every day. After a serious conversation with God, I felt strongly impressed to go barefoot for one year in solidarity with these children and the many others who were trafficked or at high risk. Living at 8,990′ elevation in the mountains of Colorado, I knew it would be a challenge (especially during the cold winters), but I decided I would just be extremely careful as I knew I had to do this.”
“On July 19th, 2011, my year was complete and I did it. No shoes, no socks for a full year. That morning when I went to put a pair of socks on (I was really excited), I just couldn’t get them past my toes. It was as if an angel was pulling them and preventing me from putting them on. I cried out to God and said, “Lord, what do You want from me, I just went barefoot for a full year!” His response to me (in a still, small voice) was this; “Keep going. Those children are still out there.”
“I’ve been barefoot ever since. I shared with my wife, family and friends (who thought I lost my mind), that if my going barefoot will motivate just 1 person per year to action in a way that helps me rescue even 1 more child a year, I would go barefoot the rest of my life.”
In Cambodia, he found Christians working with police in rescue operations. After the rescues, however, brothel owners found girls to replace the freed ones.
So back in the U.S., Brodsky developed a team of highly qualified people with training in military tactics and initiated a course he calls SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape).
In 1981 he founded JOY International (joy.org), inspired by this verse: “I speak these things to you so that My JOY would be in you and that your JOY would be complete.” (John 15:11)
He also liked the name JOY International® because he wanted to put Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last, the way to experience true JOY.
He hired rescuers, covering expenses for them to travel to Cambodia, where they provided high-level training, turning rescues into huge victories for formerly trafficked people.
“We have somewhere between 1,200- to 1,500 children who have been rescued, freed from bondage, and with opportunities to become productive citizens in Cambodia,” Brodsky said.
Today, JOY International and its partners are dedicated to prevention, freedom, healing and empowerment of trafficked children, teens and young adults worldwide.
With successes in Cambodia, Brodsky’s eyes and feet – always without socks and shoes – are now set on Nepal, where JOY International and its partners plan to rescue trafficked boys and girls, then provide for their healing in Christ-loving homes.
Children placed in high-quality, Christian safe houses, where they hear about the love of God, warms the heart of Brodsky, who is an evangelist. “Who’s going to tell trafficked child about the love of Jesus while they’re alive?” asked Brodsky.
JOY International partners with two Cambodian safehouses, and in the U.S. with homes in Alaska, North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon. Forced sex-trafficking of children, teens and women is a money-pit-hell-on earth in the multiple millions of dollars, fueled by American pornographers.
Sadly, Brodsky notes that the life span of a child in a brothel is five- to seven years, due to disease, suicide, and being tossed out like garbage.
“The Least of These,” one of the books authored by Brodsky, is about people – horrifically abused children in particular – and the reason his life is devoted to searching for them.
Though Brodsky doesn’t provide real names of rescued and restored people, he talks glowingly about JOY’s many successes.
“There are quite a few who are married now with children of their own, and who have gone on to get good educations,” Brodsky said.
In an African country known for forcing children into marriage, JOY, in partnership with other ministries, rescued 37 girls.
One of them, Christine, is in second-year medical school specializing in surgery. She will be the first female doctor to serve her community – an entire region.
Another child bride rescued in Africa is working toward a degree in nursing.
“I think of Anna, who, as a result of the work we do in Africa, is a seamstress and businesswoman. She is in love with Jesus and trains others to sew as well,” said Brodsky, who wears a shirt Anna tailored for him when he preaches among the nations.
A 14-year-old girl who was trafficked several years ago is now part of a rescue team that works with JOY in her nation.
“The end result I look for in the lives of rescued girls is a relationship with Jesus,” said Brodsky. “They’ve also become productive citizens through education, job training and marriage,” he added.