USA (MNN) — Human trafficking has become the fastest-growing criminal industry in the United States. An estimated 300,000 slaves live in the U.S.
Defeating any theory that sexual slavery is a problem native only to third world countries, the State of Ohio alone is home to over 1,000 U.S.-born child prostitutes. Ohio has become the fastest-growing state in terms of human trafficking and contains the trafficked child capital of the country: Toledo.
To combat these startling figures, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship held its Price of Life campaign last week at Ohio State University.
"The monstrous nature of the human trafficking industry requires that we as Christians put our faith on the line, put our actions where our mouth is, and do all that we can. Fighting this issue requires that we engage it from an academic perspective, a political perspective, a social work perspective, a medical perspective, a legal perspective, and certainly it requires us to pray."
The Price of Life campaign sought to do exactly that–address the issue from all angles. A "Parade of Tears" kicked off the week as hundreds of students participated in a symbolic march down a piece of the Underground Railroad. Speakers from organizations like International Justice Mission and the Not For Sale campaign became guests in classrooms. A Town Hall Meeting held discussions with State Representatives and US representatives on passing legislation, and interactive proxy stations invited students on campus to explore their thoughts on trafficking and Christ's relationship to justice.
"Our goal was to literally set slaves free, to address state and federal law," says York Moore, an evangelist, a modern-day abolitionist, and a forerunner for Price of Life. "But we also want to see people set free from the slavery to sin."
The first of these two goals was accomplished as U.S. Representatives attended the week-long campaign to discuss bill HR2737, or the Child Compact Act, which provides some base level of protection for children to help quell the sexual exploitation of children.
The hope was that Price of Life might raise some support for the bill to actually get legislation. The attempt was a success as Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy signed on to co-sponsor the bill as a result of the campaign.
Other successes of the campaign came in the form of lives permanently changed on the OSU campus, as people were able to see "the relationship that Jesus has to justice," as Moore put it.
"At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What is it in the human heart that actually motivates us to commoditize people for profit, for pleasure? What actually motivates us to pay to commoditize a child?' So that's really where Jesus Christ comes in. We have to ask the hard spiritual questions if we're ever going to stem this evil before it takes root in our time again."
Addressing these questions resulted in a phenomenal response among onlookers to the campaign. As a result of the various discussions, speeches, interactive stations and conversations throughout the week, 310 students came to faith in Jesus Christ.
As the passion inspired by the campaign begins to subside, pray that these believers would remain strong in their new faith. Pray that HR2737 would soon have enough support to pass, and pray for continued headway in the fight against human trafficking in the United States.
To learn more about Price of Life and the organizations involved, visit osupriceoflife.org.