Human trafficking is topic of April 16 meeting at Plaza Fiesta

Special to the Fort Mill TimesApril 10, 2013 

— Mark Blackwell, Founder/CEO of Justice-Ministries, Inc., will discuss the horrors of human trafficking at the Agape Community Fellowship meeting from 6 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in room 228 of Plaza Fiesta, located at 3700 Avenue of the Carolinas, across the street from Carowinds in Fort Mill.

The Agape Community Fellowship, formally the Fort Mill Aglow Community Lighthouse, is dedicated to spreading the word of God and holds monthly meetings every Tuesday at Plaza Fiesta, said Agape member Rachel Titus.

“We try to be a good neighbor in this community,” she said.

Titus said human trafficking is a more prevalent problem than drugs or alcohol. According to Unicef’s website, 5.5 million children are forced into labor or become trafficking victims.

“Young people get trapped in this,” Titus said. “It’s something that we need to be concerned about.”

At the April 16 meeting, Blackwell will present how Justice-Ministries, Inc., a nonprofit organization, strives to provide shelter and care for rescued trafficking victims.

Titus said trafficking is prevalent in the Atlanta area and that no one place is immune. The Charlotte area, in particular, has been mentioned by anti-trafficking crusaders in recent years as a destination for traffickers looking for victims.

“It is happening everywhere,” she said. “It’s in our back yard.”

Blackwell said he found a new purpose in life during his senior year in college.

“God just really broke my heart for (trafficking),” Blackwell said in a radio interview with Titus. “I felt he was leading me to serve the victims and go to that population.”

Based out of Charlotte, Justice-Ministries works to serve victims of human trafficking. With just 600 beds available nationwide for more than an estimated one million victims, shelters are needed and that’s one of the things the ministry wants to accomplish.

Justice-Ministries is selling bricks for $150 each, according to the organization’s website. The organization hopes to sell 1,000 bricks and raise the $150,000 needed to build a safe shelter. However, increasing rescue efforts is Justice-Ministries’ primary focus, Blackwell said in the interview.

“[Blackwell] is a very wonderful young man who has a heart to help women,” Titus said.

Trafficking follows a familiar pattern: Women disadvantaged financially or otherwise in a bad situation find themselves turning in desperation to the wrong people for help.

“Sometimes they get into something they can’t get out of,” she said. “It’s a horrific problem on many different levels. It leaves people hurting and shamed,” Titus said.

Titus said she hopes the meeting will open people’s eyes to the problem and the victims involved. “We want people to walk out with the knowledge that this should be on their prayer list,” she said. “They should come with an open heart and hand.”

People can also help by working with Agape or their local church. By donating cosmetics or other goods to victims, people “help them feel that they are back in their community,” Titus said. “Anyone who has a heart for women should know about this problem.”

For more information, contact the Agape Community Fellowship at 548-6446.

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