This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
Leaders Seeking One Million People Committed to Pray During January 11-13 Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery & Trafficking
Published on Tue, Jan 1, 2013 (4:08 p.m.)Christian leaders are seeking to organize a million people who will commit to pray for an end to modern-day slavery during the Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking. The initiative is scheduled for January 11-13, 2013, coinciding with the Congressional designation of January 11 as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day.”
The Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking is being led by a coalition of abolitionists and prayer leaders. The Task Force’s mission is to mobilize people of prayer throughout the U.S. and to encourage awareness of the issue of human trafficking.
Tomas J. Lares of Orlando, who heads Florida Abolitionist, founded the national annual prayer initiative in 2012 and is its National Chair. Honorary Chairs include Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr. of Sacramento who heads the 14,000+ churches of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council; Sister Mary Ellen Dougherty of Baltimore, MD, a School Sister of Notre Dame from the Atlantic–Midwest Province, who previously coordinated anti–trafficking educational efforts for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); and Sister Jean Schafer of San Diego who helps operate SDS Hope House for adult women survivors of trafficking and publishes the nationally-distributed Stop Trafficking newsletter.
Rev, Michael Bartel of Las Vegas, who with his wife founded FREE International, is serving as a National Vice Chair.
“Our Weekend of Prayer National Leadership Task Force and our partners believe that we can best fight this scourge of evil through prayer and wisdom from God,” said Lares. “It is essential that people of faith exercise leadership roles in this fight, the greatest civil rights issue in the world today, just as religious leaders in the nineteenth century led the fight to end slavery in their age, and religious leaders led the fight for civil rights in this country. It is morally intolerable that slavery still exists in America in the twenty-first century and we must do all that we can to bring an end to this evil. ”
Human trafficking, both for labor and sex, is among the largest and fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world, earning its perpetrators an estimated $32 billion annually. Labor trafficking dominates much of the world economy, and accounts for upwards of two-thirds of the estimated 20+ million people enslaved today. Sex trafficking is the more common form in the U.S., and the average age at which a child is forced into prostitution in America is 12-14.
A variety of events is planned for the Weekend of Prayer, including the following:
• Friday, January 11: HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS DAY
(As designated by Congress)
NOON: The Leadership Task Force encourages everyone to say individual prayers, in their homes or places of employment, at 12 noon in their own time zone. Suggested prayers will be available on the website, www.WeekendofPrayer.net The prayer focus will be for the victims, survivors and perpetrators (who are creating and feeding the demand) as well as those working to rescue and restore the victims.
• Saturday, January 12, 2:00 p.m. EST: MAJOR EMANCIPATION RALLY IN DC
At 2:00 p.m. EST in Washington, DC, just eleven days after the nation has celebrated the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Task Force will conduct a modern Emancipation Rally including both Catholic and Protestant clergy. Keynote speaker at the rally will be Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass, one of the nation’s earliest abolitionists. Morris heads the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, a national organization fighting modern day slavery. Plans are for the event to be streamed live on the www.WeekendofPrayer.net website.
CONFERENCE PRAYER CALL
9-11:00 a.m. EST: Christians are encouraged to join a national conference prayer call with clergy and lay persons, facilitated by Prayer Surge NOW. The call in number is 712-432-0075 and the access code is 6149782 followed by the pound sign (#).
• Sunday, January 13: PRAYERS OF THOUSANDS of CHURCHES
“Petitioning with one voice, we are encouraging congregations throughout our nation to dedicate their prayers to ending modern-day slavery,” Lares said. “It is our hope that through this event a million Christians will be informed about the horrors of modern-day slavery and be motivated to take action to seek justice.”
Interested churches and congregations can learn more and register to participate on the website: www.WeekendofPrayer.net
Since monitoring of human trafficking began in 2000, reports indicate that this crime may be on the rise, according to the Senate Caucus to End Trafficking, being chaired by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) & Rob Portman (R-OH). The statistics are alarming:
• Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable victims. The Protection Project estimates that 50,000 women and girls are trafficked into the U.S. each year. The Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) reported in 2010 that over 30% of sex trafficking cases in the U.S. involved the commercial sexual exploitation of a child.
• Reported cases of human trafficking are on the rise. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (HTRS) hotline received 60% more calls from victims of human trafficking and a 64% increase in call volume in 2011 compared to 2010. This follows a steady increase in reported human trafficking cases between 2008 and 2010, while the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report of 2012 listed an increase of global prosecutions and domestic convictions.
• Trafficking victims come from diverse backgrounds. The 2010 HTRS report showed that 80% of the victims in sex trafficking incidents were U.S. citizens, while more than 70% of the victims of labor trafficking were undocumented or qualified aliens. Women and girls made up 94% of sex trafficking victims, while 40% of labor trafficking victims were male. A victim may be traumatized by coercion into activities as diverse as commercial sex, selling drugs, begging on the street, or laboring in an unregulated industry.
About Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking
The Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking – January 11-13, 2013 – is being led by a coalition of abolitionists and prayer leaders. Our mission is to mobilize people of prayer throughout the U.S. and to encourage awareness of the issue of human trafficking. National partners include major anti-trafficking organizations and denominations, including National Association of Evangelicals, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, Shared Hope International, and Trafficking in America Task Force. For a complete updated list of endorsing organizations, visit http://www.weekendofprayer.net/About-a-Weekend-of-Prayer.html
In addition to the leadership of Lares and the Honorary Chairs, there is a prestigious group of national leaders serving as Vice Chairs, including Jeanne Allert, Founder and Executive Director of The Samaritan Women; Rev. Kevin Austin, leader of the Free Methodist denomination and the Set Free Movement; Rev. Michael Bartel, Co-Founder of FREE International; Nita Belles, Regional Director for Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH); Patrick J. Carolan, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network; Mark Gonzales, Founder of the U.S. Hispanic Action Network and the U.S. Hispanic Prayer Network; Tim Gratz, Strategist with the Keys Coalition; Dr. Tomi “TL” Grover, Founder of TraffickStop; Kim A. Robinson, Executive Director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; and Yvonne Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Trafficking In America Task Force.