TRBC Ascent College Ministry hosts its own End It movement event to combat sex trafficking
Students with hands stamped with a red “X” advocated for ending sex trafficking around campus Thursday, Feb. 13. That evening they gathered at Thomas Road Baptist Church to learn about, worship and pray against sex trafficking with the End It movement.
The purpose of the event was to bring awareness to Feb. 13, globally recognized as a day to “Shine a Light on Slavery”.
The End It Movement operates on the belief that one person trapped in slavery is too many. The coalition of organizations works around the world to end modern-day slavery. They primarily focus on educating people about the issue and providing resources like awareness programs, high school curriculum and child-trafficking indicators.
Outside the church sanctuary Thursday evening, tables selling End It merchandise, advocating for The ReMade campaign and providing resources from the Liberty University Police Department lined the walkway as attendees entered.
The event, hosted by Ascent College Ministry, began with a short video showcasing what human trafficking could start as and what it may look like from the victim’s perspective. Following that was a period of worship.
The event then held a Q&A panel featuring many different voices that have experience in human and sex trafficking to speak about common misconceptions and trafficking statistics in Lynchburg.
“This is not one person’s problem,” Ryan Zuidema, the Lynchburg chief of police, said in regards to the severity of this issue. “This requires a partnership from everybody to spark change.”
Joy Cover is the CEO of Freedom 4/24, an organization that exists to bring freedom and justice to victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Cover explained that human trafficking knows no demographic and is so much more than the stereotypical stigma that comes to mind.
Questions rose about how important it is to take preventive measures, not just restorative tactics.
“If we can get to the individual before the life is shattered, that is so much easier than putting it back together,” Cover said.
Veronica Bullock is the CEO of the ReMade Campaign. It has a mission to raise awareness about sexual exploitation, educate communities on trauma, preventative measures and the challenges of this issue.
“It’s so much easier to prevent (human trafficking) than it is to restore,” Bullock said. “It all starts with showing people what a real relationship should look like.”
Andrew Childress, an assistant commonwealth attorney in Lynchburg, explained that it is difficult to charge someone with human trafficking because, typically, the case starts as a different charge. Oftentimes, Childress said, the criminal can walk away without a human trafficking charge.
Following the panel, the audience entered a time of prayer for the freedom of the enslaved, for the hearts of the captors and for those enslaved to other things in their lives.
People in attendance left the event with three ways to help end it: get educated about the issue, fight against the industry and donate to the cause.
Edmonds is a news reporter. Follow her on Twitter.