Vanguard University recently hosted its third annual “Pray for Freedom” event to pray for victims of labor and sex trafficking. The prayer vigil was held in honor of the more than 45 million people living in slavery during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Each year Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice partners with the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking, a strategic alliance of Christian organizations dedicated to combating slavery and ending human trafficking.
“I felt the impact was profound,” said Dr. Sandra Morgan, Director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice. “Prayer is so important. I wish more people understood what a difference it makes. Some of the victories we’ve had this year are a direct result of prayer. We have some resources for victims who’ve been rescued but who don’t have family support. But we need more resources; there simply are not enough. We’re excited that Orange County will soon open a home for minors who are victims in Orange County, but it’s taken years to put together, and it still isn’t finished. It’s a collaboration between government and faith-based organizations to make it happen.”
“People keep talking about awareness of the problem, which is obviously important, but people know about the issue now,” she continued. “We need to think through what to do with those rescued and how to best help them once they are rescued. If not, they will just become victims again. ‘Pray for Freedom’ is more than just another faith based awareness event. It is an authentic cry for God’s wisdom. It’s my passionate plea.”
Speakers for the event included Sara Catalan, Deputy Chief of Staff for Representative Ed Royce; Lance Skiles, Local Engagement Pastor of Mariners Church; Jason Pope, Technical Advisor of Anti-Human Trafficking and Livelihoods for The Salvation Army World Service; Stephanie Struck, Director of Strategic Partnerships at World Relief; Phil Robinette, Vanguard University Board of Trustee Member; Dr. Morgan; Dr. Jacqueline Parke, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Vanguard; and Dr. Julius Agbor, Assistant Professor of Finance at Vanguard.
Dr. Morgan said the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force has served over 500 victims of human trafficking, which includes labor and commercial as well as sexual exploitation of children and adults. She said the Global Center works to end human trafficking and the cyber-exploitation of women and children in Orange County and worldwide. She also explained the importance of working with governmental agencies.
“Some faith-based groups don’t want any connection with government,” she said. “But if I have governmental resources, if I am working for my community’s good, that validates what I’m doing. I’m being salt and light. I’m all about getting to work with the authorities, even if I don’t agree with them on everything. We can do more together than through our isolated efforts. We are seeing more and more victims being rescued. I spoke with the police chief in Irvine recently after they’d taken down a brothel in Irvine and rescued 29 victims.”
“Prayer brings together our Orange County partners, they get to know each other through prayer,” she said. “We also had a live simulcast and I got text messages from friends in Washington D.C. during the event. It was inspiring to feel connected so far away. We prayed for the abolitionists, the vulnerable, and for prevention. I’m going to keep doing this every single year because we have to call God’s people to pray. Prayer isn’t a ritual; it’s much more than just saying grace before dinner.”
For further information, visit vanguard.edu/gcwj.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].