By Maya Butler | Reporter
The Baylor chapter of IJM participates in campus events, hosts documentary screenings and serves local organizations in Waco all to help the national organization’s mission to eliminate the slave trade everywhere.
Tulsa, Okla., senior and vice president of fundraising Evangelina Grace Wiens based the idea of hosting such an event on the Auburn University chapter, which hosted a similar event called “Waffles for the World.” From there, she decided to reach out to Mission Waco due to its mission statement of seeking social justice and its previous partnership with the chapter at IJM.
“We had partnered with Mission Waco before and October is International Fair Trade Month, so I just called to see if we could collaborate because we needed a space to do it,” Wiens said.
Ticket 2 End It featured live music, free pancakes, coffee and informational pamphlets about trafficking. IJM members sold T-shirts priced at $15 with the message “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly” etched on the back. Posters with words like “Shine a light on slavery” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” were scattered throughout the room while attendees browsed the assortment of products that advocated fair trade.
Shannon Williams, a fair trade manager, explained the idea behind fair trade.
“Fair trade is actually a world idea of economy where artisans are paid a living wage upfront and anything that we make personally goes back into Mission Waco,” Williams said. “It’s not only about their working conditions, it’s also about their entire lives and making their lives better, and so part of that is the justice model of what IJM is also doing.”
This September, the Baylor chapter traveled to an IJM conference called Liberate at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco. On its webpage, Liberate markets itself as “a global gathering to end slavery,” featuring a variety of artists and speakers “that represents the cultures and stories from the many countries where IJM works.”
Frisco junior Natalie Dohmeyer explained the concept of property grabbing, where the family of the wife’s deceased husband forces the widow to vacate her home, going so far as to board up the house and light it on fire in an attempt to retrieve the property. This social issue stood out to Dohmeyer among the list of global injustices and influenced her decision to join IJM’s cause.
“That’s something that I never knew, that this was happening in our world, and so that was one thing I’ve learned that really made me stay and want to be a part of IJM and everything that they’re doing,” Dohmeyer said.
An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, according to aby Alliance 8.7, which includes victims of forced labor and forced marriage. Women accounted for 71 percent of the total while one in four modern slave victims were children.
In 2016, officers from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office arrested 61 individuals involved in sex trafficking — the largest in its history. They then arrested 44 people in about three weeks during a 2017 sting operation, ranking fourth in a national anti-human trafficking effort called the National Johns Suppression Initiative. Most recently, three people were indicted against a grand jury at the Vegas Buffet in Waco over labor trafficking. The restaurant later closed and be replaced by Ocean Buffet.
St. Louis, Mo., senior Katherine Miller, who performed at the event, explained the important role IJM plays in raising awareness to the public.
“I think IJM is doing a lot of really good and with opening people’s eyes to the realities in the world because I think once we have an awareness, then we have a responsibility,” Miller said. “Once you’re confronted with the realities of the world, I don’t feel like a person can at least comfortably sit in apathy any longer.” The members of Baylor IJM
Miller leads performances at Harris Creek Baptist Church and Baylor Chapel, and she mentioned that Christians share the same responsibility, if not to a greater degree, of bringing the topic of modern slavery to light.
“I think scripture’s really, really clear about how we’re supposed to treat others in the world, how we’re supposed to love others, how we’re supposed to care for the least of these women and children — specifically orphans,” Miller said. “I think Christians have maybe an even greater responsibility to do something if they’re going to claim that ‘I follow the teachings of Jesus.’”
Wiens said the chapter hoped to raise about $750 to send to the national IJM to help fund five rescue missions. By the end of the event, the members surpassed their original goal by raising a total of $812.
Wiens said she wanted the event to convey a feeling of hope over a global problem that has persisted into the modern era.
“I really wanted that to be Baylor IJM’s message this year, which is spreading hope that we are people who are imparting healing into a bleeding world,” Wiens said.