Nelson Leads Forum on Combatting Human Trafficking
Minnesota ranks among most active states.
In mid May, more than 1,500 people gathered for the annual Minnesota Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis. It’s an event where ministry, lay, civic and political leaders gather to worship and learn from each other. This year’s event included a brief welcome from Betsy Hodges, the mayor of Minneapolis and also Governor Mark Dayton.
David Horsager, best-selling author of “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships and a Stronger Bottom Line” and also a native of Verndale, Minn., served as the keynote speaker.
For the first time at the Prayer Breakfast, organizers developed 10 breakout sessions, which followed the conclusion of the event. Topics included developing small groups, fathering issues, youth leadership and combating human trafficking, which was led by Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota.The well-attended session included testimony from human trafficking survivors, information about local human trafficking issues from a law enforcement officer and a brief overview from two leaders in the movement about how to address human trafficking in the Twin Cities.
Terry told her story about years of drug use and abuse and how she found herself a victim of human trafficking before she knew what was happening to her. Eventually, she met Jesus at a church in Minneapolis and was able to break free from the grips of human trafficking.
Within 24 hours 75% of runaways are approached for sexual trafficking.
Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, talked about her organization’s role in helping the victims of human trafficking.
The organization works with 400-500 women each year; their youngest client was 12 years old. Carter talked about the practical needs of those emerging from the grips of human trafficking, including housing, job skills and child care, among others. Breaking Free has 55 apartments, where they help survivors find hope and practical training.
Finally, Ben Utecht, Super Bowl-winning football player for the Indianapolis Colts, talked about his involvement with the anti-human trafficking movement. Utecht believes God kept bringing this issue to his attention until Utecht was approached by InterVarsity and asked to speak out on the issue.
He remembers when he stepped on the biggest sports stage in the world at the Super Bowl in Miami in 2007. There were 70,000 fans in the stands, and he looked at the faces in those chairs. He realized that if you turned those faces into a child between the ages of 3 and 12 and multiplied that by the 32 NFL teams in 32 stadiums, you would have just over 2 million seats. There are 2.1 million children sold into slavery each year in that age range.
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