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Waterman church works to raise awareness about human trafficking

Out of sight, out of mind is longer acceptable for Sue Hipple. 

Hipple, administrator for Women of the Word, hopes to shed light on one of the most rampant global crimes with a forum on human trafficking and the need to reach out to the victims. The program, titled “The Garden of Renewal and HOPE,” will feature expert speakers who have gone on missionary trips to Thailand, people who have experienced the trauma in their families and organizations that work to save the women. 

The event takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. at Waterman Presbyterian Church. 

“We know it’s an unusual topic but it’s also very timely,” Hipple said. “There are 1.2 million people affected every year by sex trafficking.”

Hipple said the problem is huge in areas such as Thailand, but it also happens more than people realize in the United States. A DeKalb woman will be on hand to tell her story of how her granddaughters got caught in trafficking, Hipple said.

Allison Kingsbury, children’s program director at River Valley Community Church in Aurora, also will be at the event to speak about her missionary work with trafficking victims in Bangkok.

Like the United States, Kingsbury said it can be a difficult problem to see despite its prevalence.

“It’s definitely shocking, but you can go there and completely miss it at the same time,” Kingsbury said. “They do a good job of making it seem not as bad as it is.”

Kingsbury said she does most of her work through Samaritan’s Creations – a year-round missionary based in Thailand dedicated to helping women in prostitution learn work skills and pursue an alternative form of income.

It can be one of the most frustrating missionaries, Kingsbury said, because trafficking has become part of the country’s fabric.

“It’s definitely a huge problem and you can definitely feel defeated because it is just entrenched in the culture,” she said. “It’s two steps forward and one step back.”

Residents who attend the event also will learn how they can get involved and help fight the problem. Items from Nightlight International, a missionary that gives women in trafficking an opportunity to make jewelry and other products while learning entrepreneurial skills, will be on sale and information on how to give to organizations who help victim will be available.

While it is a gloomy and taboo subject, Hipple said the event would still center on Women of the Word’s true mission, which is instilling hope for a better future with the help of Jesus Christ.

“These women struggle with guilt and so many things with the atrocities that have happened to them,” Hipple said. “But in Christ, these women have hope to come out and change their lives and have freedom in Him.”

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