High School Youth Host Justice Lock-In
On March 9th and 10th, I participated in the LTF’s lock-in to learn about and discuss human trafficking. The thought of modern slavery and sex trafficking makes one’s blood boil, as trafficking is one of man’s more despicable acts towards some of the most innocent and vulnerable. How does someone end up being trafficked? What is it liked to be sold against your will? What can we do to prevent such a heinous act? Heartfelt questions reverberated through all the youth who attended over the weekend.
Some stats that the youth group would like to share: Human trafficking is a $150 billion criminal industry world wide, only trumped by drugs and guns. Slavery is illegal in every country, and yet there are over 45 million slaves today all around the globe. Human traffickers transport 600,000 to 800,000 people across America’s borders every year with 80% being women and children.
It’s easy to say that this problem only occurs outside of the United States, but there is a real problem in the U.S. and even here in Indiana. Ascent 121, an organization in Indianapolis that specializes in therapy for trafficking survivors, stated that they provide residential care for girls ages 12 to 18. But due to high demand for child sex, the not-for-profit has had to lower their age for treatments to age 10. Here! In Indiana! There is market for 10 year-old girls and boys! Boys are less likely to be trafficked, but are still exploited. We all know children - our sisters, daughters, or grandchildren - we would do anything to protect. The thought of someone paying for sex with them fills us with disgust and righteous indignation. So what can we do?
There are many ways to fight trafficking: raising awareness, pushing legislation, service to nonprofits, prayer, etc. For the youth group, this meant adding a little color to the lives at Ascent 121. The girls there are in a residential facility for 6 to 18 months receiving treatment. In an effort to lighten up their lives we sent them packages of coloring books, markers, pencils, as well as hand written cards from us all. On top of that, we created door decorations with flowers and lots of color. We hope that we can do something similar for different seasons or holiday events.
Restored Inc., another local non-profit that presented at our lock-in, is hosting a fundraiser 5K run/walk on April 7th. If you can join the youth and congregation that Saturday morning, your registration cost will support Restored Inc.’s work to find girls who have been trafficked, and help fund rescue operations to recover them from exploitation.
Additionally, the youth want to raise awareness here at Our Shepherd. We will be showing “Priceless,” the movie that we watched during our lock-in, on Saturday March 24th in the gym immediately following worship. This movie is a powerful story about stepping up to stop trafficking and valuing the life and dignity of women. Please join us to learn more about trafficking in our country.
William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” After the lock-in, this quote echoed within me, as I think it did with many others. So, I pray to God that awareness is spread, justice is served, and that those exploited by trafficking will be filled with God’s Grace and Love. See you on Saturday, March 24th at 7:45 p.m. in the gym to raise awareness and on Saturday April 7th, for the 5K to help stop trafficking!