3:45 P.M. EST April 27, 2010 | WOODRIDGE, Ill. (UMNS)
Young people at Woodridge United Methodist Church hang a poster raising
awareness of the issues of human trafficking. UMNS photos by the Rev.
We’re all made in God’s image, and everyone has a right to dignity and
honor as a child of God, asserts the Rev. Linda Misewicz-Perconte.
That is why her congregation—Woodridge United Methodist Church—was
excited about tying Change the World weekend to Outreach Day, an event
sponsored by the Illinois Coalition to Rescue and Restore Victims of
Human Trafficking. On April 24, coalition members across the state
raised awareness about the evil of modern-day slavery.
Inspired by Jesus’ call “to proclaim release to the captives” and “let
the oppressed go free,” 25 Woodridge members canvassed the neighborhoods
around their church.
They asked local businesses and organizations to display posters that
raise awareness about human trafficking and provide the national
trafficking hotline phone number.
Teams of youth and adults went to the many strip malls in the village,
and asked proprietors if they would help raise awareness about human
trafficking by hanging a poster in their store. Canvassers were
“pleasantly surprised” at how many businesses were open to the idea.
Youth take the lead in Change the World event in Chicago suburb.
“It was a little scary at first, asking people we didn’t know for
permission to hang a poster. But the first place we went said ‘yes,’ and
it got easier after that,” said Drew Byczynski, 16.
At least 40 business owners responded positively.
“It really feels good to know we might be helping someone who is a slave
get help. I’m so glad so many stores let us put up the posters or leave
fliers,” said Amy Schweiser, 14.
Human trafficking, Misewicz-Perconte noted, “goes against what God
intends for our lives. It denies persons dignity and the choice to love
and to be loved.
“I am so proud of our young people for leading us in this effort. They
are helping us face a very ugly issue, but an issue we are convinced
God’s liberating Spirit is leading us to fight against.”
Victims ‘have many faces’
The “institution of slavery controls the lives of over 27 million
persons worldwide, including the United States,” according to the United
Methodist Book of Resolutions.
Introducing National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in
January, President Barack Obama said, “The victims of modern slavery
have many faces.
“They are men and women, adults and children. Yet, all are denied basic
human dignity and freedom. Victims can be abused in their own countries,
or find themselves far from home and vulnerable.
He continued, “Whether they are trapped in forced sexual or labor
exploitation, human trafficking victims cannot walk away, but are held
in service through force, threats and fear. All too often suffering from
horrible physical and sexual abuse, it is hard for them to imagine that
there might be a place of refuge.”
In this Chicago suburb, United Methodists strive to offer refuge and
hope. And, in the process, they change the world—and themselves.
*Buerstetta serves as Woodridge UMC’s Koinonia pastor.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5489 or email@example.com.