Ogden missionary fights human trafficking abroad

Saturday , October 21, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Judah Becker would give anything to save a child from the horrors of human trafficking.

Even some of his own sanity.

The 63-year-old Ogden resident said nearly 20 years of seeing children forced to be sex slaves has left him with PTSD.

Yet he keeps fighting anyway.

“I see a lot of things people should not have to see,” Becker said. “The dark underbelly of the world is very black. There are more hideous things than you can imagine happening every day.”

His passion started with seeing children he couldn’t save in Thailand.

“There was a truckful of children,” Becker said. “That’s normally how they traveled to school. These children were all crying.”

When Becker arrived at the village the children had left, he was shocked to discover the reason for the children’s tears.

“The adults were crying,” he said. “I asked an interpreter why.”

He discovered their parents had sold them to human traffickers in order pay taxes so the government would not be able to push them off their land.

“I said ‘God, not on my shift. Show me how to make a difference,’” he said.

That was in 1998, when Becker was on his first mission trip to develop water systems for remote villages.

His focus changed the moment he realized he couldn’t save those children but he could save others, he said.

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He’s taken dozens of trips to a handful of countries to fight human trafficking, he said.  

“I have rescued kids from brothels,” he said. “I just rescue a few at a time and get them into orphanages.”

Mercy House was the name of the first place he visited where he saw he could make a real difference. He now has a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with that name.

“There were 12 kids in the back room of this man’s house,” he said. “They were all living in one bedroom. This man had rescued 12 kids.”

Becker said the man turned to him and said, “Judah, you and I are going to build an orphanage.”

The result was a 3,000-square-foot facility.

“We’ve been doing this ever since,” Becker said, noting that he married his wife Katie 10 years ago and she has joined in his effort.

“Our goal is to rescue 10 million kids by training people how to rescue people and building homes along the way,” Becker said. “My belief is the locals can do a much better job and will be there for a much longer period of time. We inspire locals in what to do and do it better.”

Becker’s wife, Katie Becker, said with the funds provided by Utahns, those who are rescued find good homes as they cannot go back to where they lived before they were put into human trafficking.

“Utah people are pretty generous,” she said. “We live in the most charitable nation in the world.”

Besides their own funds, she said money raised in Utah has helped the couple sponsor more than 1,000 children with good homes, schooling and health care.

Their nonprofit sells coffee, CDs and art prints as a means to help the children they target. They also collect sponsorships to help them set up entrepreneurial academies and eliminate poverty by teaching villagers how to build self-sustaining gardens. 

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They raise funds year-round through their nonprofit website they started when they were married a decade ago, mercyhouseministry.org.

Becker said $30 a month provides health care, schooling and a good home to one child. “It’s amazing what we can do overseas,” he said. “It’s very, very good.”

The Beckers are planning a mission trip to Nepal, India and Thailand in December.

While she plans to stay a few months, he will spend half a year on the mission. They are visiting various church congregations in the area raising funds for their upcoming effort.

Becker is retired and lives off of investments he made earlier on in his life. An entrepreneur, he said his first job was a lemonade stand.

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A Messianic Jew who believes in Jesus Christ, Becker’s motto is James 1:27.

“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” the verse reads.

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Becker said he tries to follow that guidance as much as he can.

“I am a father to the fatherless and a big brother to the husbands,” Becker said.

Connie York-Yow has participated with the Beckers on some of their missions. She said the experience changed her.

“Regular middle-income people like me, we don’t realize the impact Jesus can have,” York-Yow said. 

“Living in a Christian nation is different than one that is, generally speaking, not,” she said.

While she recognized that not all children can be saved and that the problem of human trafficking is massive, she said those who are saved can live a changed life.

“You save that one little girl and you introduce her to Jesus, she is going to grow up and have Jesus and she’s not going to sell her kid,” York-Yow said.

For more information about Mercy House Ministry, visit the website or call (253) 861-5715.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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