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Belmont Students ‘Stand for Freedom’ to End Human Trafficking

Sophomore songwriting major MacKenzie Wilson is taking a stand against human trafficking—and dozens of Belmont students are standing with her.

Stand for Freedom event March 15, 2013From March 5-15, International Justice Mission’s (IJM) Stand for Freedom, a national anti-slavery movement, is encouraging colleges and communities across the nation to help bring awareness to human trafficking. Wilson has answered the call along with fellow students who are members in the Belmont chapter of IJM, and the students even created a YouTube video to help promote their efforts.

Beginning last night at 7 p.m., Belmont students stood  in either the University Ministries area in Gabhart or outside in the Belltower amphitheatre for 27 consecutive hours in order to raise both money and awareness for the 27 million people currently affected by human trafficking. The effort has already raised more than $1,500; the group hopes to raise $2,700 before the donation campaign concludes on March 31. All money raised will go to International Justice Mission, an international human rights agency whose founder and president, Gary Haugen, spoke on campus last fall.

Over the course of the “Stand for Freedom,” a number of events were held in order to bring further awareness to human trafficking, including a kick-off concert Thursday night and a talk from Wayne Barnard, the national director of student ministries for IJM.

Wilson was inspired to create the event by her experience at the Passion 2013 conference and her exposure to the “End It” movement. The conference encouraged attendees to help make an impact through their own communities to help bring an end to human trafficking. There was one speaker in particular who had a large impact on Wilson. “At Passion this year, Gary Haugen spoke, [and] it started a fire back in me,” she said.

After returning to Belmont, she began planning the event with her women’s bible study group, Delight. They found the idea for the 27 hour stand on International Justice Mission’s website. “We took the event and made it our own,” Wilson said. They contacted the leadership of Belmont’s International Justice Mission chapter to help organize and sponsor the event.

Based on the success of the event, Wilson hopes to replicate it in the future. “I would love to do it every year from here  on out,” she said.