A21 Global Freedom Summit to combat human trafficking
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Refuge Ministries, located on S. F.M. 116, will be hosting a live streaming of the A21.org Global Freedom Summit Saturday afternoon for the community to watch and learn how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Church member Megan Hansen first came across the organization, A21, and its Global Freedom Summit and approached Refuge Ministries about hosting a streaming of the broadcast.
“I began to be more aware of instances where children were being sold for sex. The news articles would show in my Facebook feed, and I would notice people talking about it especially with the #SaveOurChildren movement,” Hansen said. “I saw pictures of children in shipping containers and with horrible wounds. It weighed heavily on my heart but seemed like such an immense and untouchable issue, so I prayed that God would make me useful and found out about the Global Freedom Summit.”
A21.org is a nonprofit organization, located in 17 locations across the world, focused on combating human trafficking. The organization is “focusing heavily on fierce intervention, restorative aftercare and preventative education and awareness,” according to their website. The organization calls themselves “the abolitionists of the 21st century,” which is where their name comes from.
Saturday’s Global Freedom Summit will be the organization’s first and will be “a one-day social justice event to equip, train, and mobilize people to play their part in abolishing modern-day slavery right where they are,” according to the A21 website.
Through a one-hour long live broadcast, participants will hear from the people behind A21 about the human trafficking and then will be given action steps that they can begin taking to start ending human trafficking in their own community.
“The purpose of the event is to bring awareness to the problem that is human trafficking and provide our community with the information that they need to be able to combat it locally,” Hansen said.
A21 will be providing a broadcast, which will be airing at the Refuge Ministries’ main campus, aimed at how to identify and report human trafficking.
“This is especially important in our area with Texas being in the top three states for human trafficking and especially along the I-35 corridor,” Hansen said.
As of their latest update, A21.org reported over 1300 locations in over 60 countries to be participating in the Global Freedom Summit, including in all 50 states.
“The least that I can do is to get this information to as many people as I can to try to help the children that are victims of human trafficking,” Hansen said. “It’s a small step but it may save a child from horrible abuse, suffering and even death.”
Refuge Ministries Pastor Russ Cochran said that the Church universally has played a role in history on ending slavery, which is what human trafficking is.
“I think we as Christ followers really do have a responsibility of ending this kind of human travesty,” Cochran said. “I think we have a role to play. We’re wanting to learn more about it, where we can be involved and how and just making people aware that this actually does happen and that human trafficking even is not foreign to Central Texas as we’ve seen different arrests over the past year or so.”
The event is free and open to anybody interested, and childcare will be provided. The live streaming will be at the main Cove Campus of Refuge Ministries from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 2602 S. F.M. 116 in Copperas Cove.