With over 27 million slaves in the world today, many of those a result of human trafficking, it’s obvious that it’s important for us as Christ followers to take a stand, and this includes our students. In general, students are eager to make a difference in our world, and with a little direction, they can be powerful voices for change and freedom. Here are a few tips to help you mobilize them in the fight against human trafficking and modern day slavery.
Make Them Aware
A few years ago, when I first became aware of the extent of modern day slavery and human trafficking, I mentioned it to our youth group during one of my messages, and their responses were very interesting. They ranged from things like, “Didn’t Abraham Lincoln end that??” to complete shock that there were still slaves in our world.
At that point, I realized that there was no way our students could make a difference or take a stand in this area if they were completely unaware of the issue. At that point, we decided to do an event to help open their eyes to the reality of human trafficking and modern day slavery while also giving them an opportunity to do something about it. During a google search for awareness ideas, I came across the 24 Hour Justice Experience from International Justice Mission. The site said that it aimed to “Lead teens on a 24-hour experience to come face-to-face with injustice, explore God’s love for the oppressed, and make a difference locally and globally”. That seemed exactly like exactly like what we were looking for, so we decided to give it a try.
Prior to the event, our students got sponsor donations that would go to International Justice Mission and their fight for freedom. During this 24 Hour Event, the students watched videos and participated in Bible studies and activities that all helped show them the reality for many people in slavery around the world. It gave them faces and facts to put with the discussion we had started prior to the event. For us, it was a great starting point for taking action. If you are considering doing this event with your group, you can download the free event kit on IJM’s website here: https://www.ijm.org/get-involved/youth.
This event made our students very aware of the global issue, but I also felt that it was important for them to understand the local impact that human trafficking has had, so we made sure to incorporate some of those statistics as well. You can find specific statistics for your state by going to https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states and selecting your state.
Empower Them to Make Others Aware
Once our student’s were aware of the huge impact that human trafficking and modern slavery were having on our world, they were anxious to make others aware. We started looking for ways to help them raise awareness. We have done several things to promote awareness from PSA videos made by the students to speaking in church, but one of the easiest things we have done is participate yearly in the Shine a Light on Slavery campaign put on by the End it Movement.
Shine a Light on Slavery is a day where awareness is raised by putting a red x on your hand and posting on social media. It is a simple but super effective way to raise awareness and help students start conversations with their peers about modern day slavery. If you aren’t familiar with the End it Movement, you can find more out more here: https://enditmovement.com. Be sure to tap into your student’s creativity and get their ideas for raising awareness as well.
Besides raising awareness about the issue, it is also important to raise awareness among students about how to prevent being trafficked. Consider partnering with your school to provide programs or assemblies that help make students aware of those dangers and learn how to prevent them.
Turn that Awareness into Action
I’m a firm believer that our awareness is only truly beneficial if it ultimately leads to action. So be sure to give your students opportunities to turn their awareness into action. This can be done very simply. Any type of fundraisers that can aid organizations fighting human trafficking are a great way to take action.
Also consider participating in events such as A21’s walk for freedom, which is a powerful silent walk that pairs raising awareness and taking action. You can find a local walk for 2017 by visiting: http://www.a21.org/content/walk-for-freedom/gnkus8. Again, figuring out how your group can take action is a great time to tap into your student’s creativity. They may have some awesome ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.
I hope that these tips will help you mobilize your students to fight for freedom in the name of Jesus!!