“Freedom Matters,” the theme for Bryan’s 2013 conference on human trafficking, touches both the spiritual and physical/social aspects of modern-day slavery, conference speakers told members of the college family Monday through Wednesday, February 18-20.
Katherine Chon talks with Dayton Police Chief Chris Sneed, center, and investigator Darrell Bell during her visit to Bryan.Dr. Ken Turner, professor of Bible, and Katherine Chon, senior advisor on trafficking in persons in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, examined different sides of the issue in their remarks. Their chapel talks bookended presentations by groups involved in the fight against trafficking and informational sessions about the international problem.
Dr. Turner elaborated on the biblical foundation for the concept of “social justice.” “‘Justice and righteousness’ are used 52 times in the Old Testament,” he said. “Those uses are focused on protecting the most vulnerable in society. We err if we don’t see that social justice is critical to the work of the church.” Victims of human trafficking fit the category of the most vulnerable, he added.
Even in the face of the evil of human trafficking, “The one thing Christianity can offer that this world cannot is that there is hope and redemption for perpetrators as well as victims of human trafficking,” he said.
Ms. Chon said she was struck by the conference title, “Freedom Matters.” “Most of us take that for granted in our day-to-day lives, she said. “For victims of trafficking it’s not that freedom matters, but that family matters, that love matters.” The desire to provide for family or to find love and meaning often are the very things which enable traffickers to ensnare their victims.
“Traffickers use the natural desire to belong. We can use the same thing to help victims of trafficking. ‘Freedom Matters’ is intellectually tied to love and compassion. That is the core of what can lead to healing victims.”
She encouraged students to continue learning to better confront the problem, and to promote use of the national trafficking hotline – 888.373.7888 – to report suspicions of trafficking.