Follow Christ, Lead the Way

CIRCLEVILLE — For 24 hours straight, Ohio Christian University (OCU) students stood at the corner of Main and Court streets to raise awareness about human trafficking as part of their fourth annual “Stand For Freedom” event.

“A lot of people think of it as just a thing that happens in far-off countries but it happens right here in this county, and there have been cases in Circleville,” said OCU student Emily Swedberg.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, members of the OCU International Justice Missions (IJM) campus chapter displayed signs to raise awareness, held a worship service with songs, and every hour would gather and pray.

“We are really advocating for International Justice Missions, and they combat human trafficking in every way possible,” Swedberg said.

Swedberg explained that IJM will go right into the core of the problem and get women out of brothels, defend victims in court, and make sure their sellers are prosecuted. IJM will also help victims obtain counseling and transition back into society.

During the 24-hour campaign, Swedberg said the activists felt like they made an impact on community members. Some of the passersby had never heard of the term “human trafficking” before.

“It’s really a modern-day slavery,” Swedberg said. “A lot of it involves kidnapping women and young children and forcing them into sex slavery. Sex slavery is the biggest part of it, and labor trafficking where they are forced into 20-hour work days in construction zones.”

All funds raised from the 24-hour campaign will go directly to IJM. Last year the group brought in more than $500 dollars, and Swedberg said she expected it will be even more this year.

“Really getting involved with IJM is kind of the gold standard for combating human trafficking,” Swedberg said. She encouraged everyone to raise awareness about human trafficking “whenever you can, with whatever your outlet can be.”

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