Students Tackle Widespread Human Trafficking

Two college students at First Baptist Church O’Fallon in suburban St. Louis, moved by what they learned about physical and sexual exploitation of young people their age trapped in modern day slavery, have used their talents to help make a difference. Sarah Cutler and Daniel Maasen became aware of human trafficking in January at Passion 2012—a non-denominational Christian worship meeting for young people.

Cutler said she was unaware before the conference how pervasive human trafficking is in the United States and throughout the world. “I was in the dark about the realities of modern day slavery,” she said. “At [Passion 2012] where the theme was freedom, both in the literal and spiritual sense, I knew that I had to do something.”

She had already begun training for a marathon and decided to use the race to raise $1,000 for International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM opposes slavery in all its forms, rescues victims, and transforms communities at risk for human trafficking. “I couldn’t shake the connection between the number of miles in a marathon and the number of people estimated to be in slavery,” Cutler said. “A marathon has 26.2 miles; There are 27 million people estimated to be in slavery—a mile for every million. I knew at that point that I had to run the marathon for a reason other than for my own glory.” While she didn’t meet her financial goal,  the marathon provided her opportunities to talk with others about why she was running it, and to spread awareness and understanding about human trafficking.

Now, she encourages others to get involved. “No matter where you are—life-wise, location-wise, age-wise—there is a way to be involved in the effort against slavery,” she said.

Maasen heard messages at Passion 2012 that motivated him in various ways. Friends helped him produce a music CD, The Black and White Project. The title, he said, came from the idea that sometimes right and wrong are blurred to create a “gray area on the subject of sin. However, the sale of children into slavery is clearly not gray.” The CD contains five songs Maasen recorded to raise funds for Not For Sale, an agency which battles slavery by creating enterprises that provide options to those who might otherwise be trafficked. Maasen’s work is now on YouTube, continuing to bring awareness about human trafficking.

“Christians have the unique responsibility to make a change,” he said. “No other group of people has part of its mandate to be salt and light.”

Learn more at Michael R. Smith’s The Pathway article: Two First O’Fallon students tackle widespread human trafficking.

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