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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Voice for the Victims

By John W. Kennedy
Sept. 12, 2010

Soon after enrolling at North Central University in Minneapolis in 2008, Kimberly Hassebrook joined a new student organization called Release. The anti-sex trafficking student ministry immediately gripped her attention. Now entering her junior year, the 20-year-old Lincoln, Neb., native is a co-director of Release, which ended the last school year with 18 volunteers.

“God has put students in strategic places,” Hassebrook says. “Students can be empowered right now to stop trafficking. God hates it, and He is raising up people to do something about it.”

Release empowers students to use their God-given gifts to directly and indirectly impact those enslaved by human trafficking.

Hassebrook, a psychology major with a minor in international development, spent the summer in Kosovo with the European Missions Experience sponsored by AG Higher Education. It gave her the opportunity to understand some of the realities of overseas missions.

As many as 27 million people in the world — 80 percent of them women and girls — are subjected to modern-day slavery, according to the U.S. State Department.

The St. Paul-based nonprofit Civil Society reports that Minnesota ranks 13th in state activity for sex trafficking among the 50 U.S. states. The organization reports that Minneapolis is the third-most-popular city in which girls are recruited for forced prostitution.

Release works with Breaking Free, a nonprofit in St. Paul that aids women who need assistance after escaping abuse, exploitation, trafficking or prostitution. Hassebrook has had ample opportunities to help not only raise awareness among students about trafficking, but also assist former victims trying to rebuild their lives. For instance, Hassebrook and other Release volunteers have helped paint Breaking Free’s transitional housing apartments for women coming out of prostitution.

Someday Hassebrook hopes to work in Europe with children, perhaps in conjunction with youth who transition to society from orphanages. Hassebrook notes that once children grow too old for orphanages, they often are released onto the street with little vocational or lifestyle skills. They can be easy prey for traffickers.

“These children need vocational support and God’s love so that they do not fall into the hands of traffickers,” Hassebrook says. “Women and children around the world are coming out of trafficking, finding the Lord, and gaining confidence and hope.”

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.