Ames Christians to raise human trafficking awareness at Super Bowl

Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking

Talon Delaney

While thousands of people are traveling to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl this weekend, a group of Ames Christians will visit the city to spread awareness about human trafficking.

It has been said grand events such as the Super Bowl generate huge spikes in human trafficking incidents. While it is somewhat intuitive that larger concentrations of people would see rises in activities of all kinds, the claims lack consistent data to back them.

The rumors have persisted since the late 1980s, and the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women released a report directly addressing the topic in 2011.

“The hype around large sporting events and increases in trafficking for prostitution is often based on misinformation, poor data and a tendency to sensationalize,” the report said. 

Nonetheless, state police forces typically assemble human-trafficking task forces to set up extra parameters against human trafficking activities. This year is no different. State police will be joining forces with local anti-human-trafficking groups to prepare for the event.

“It’s not data based,” said Bobby Dennis, young adult group leader for the Ames Harvest Vineyard Church. “There’s going to be a lot of people there, and we know [sex trafficking] correlates with spikes in population.”

Dennis and others from Ames area churches will be teaming with El Pozo de Vida, a Mexico City-based group focused on ending human trafficking. “El pozo de vida” translated in English is “the well of life.”

“We’re going to meet with people from the well and do some work at truck stops first,” Dennis said. Elevated instances of prostitution has been recorded at truck stops in the past.

Harvest Vineyard isn’t the only church sending people to Minneapolis to spread the word about human trafficking. Body of Christ Church and the Community of Christ Church will also offer volunteers.

According to Daniel Blom, senior in mechanical engineering and Harvest Vineyard member, hundreds of Christians from more than a dozen ministries in the U.S. will be there.

“It’s going to be so much bigger than what one church could do on its own,” Blom said. He stated anywhere from 600 to 700 people will also be on the streets, praying and otherwise raising awareness about human trafficking.

Dennis works for ACCESS, which stands for Assault Center Care Extending Shelter and Support. He has a passion for bringing an end to the systemic roots of human trafficking in the U.S.

“At the end of the day you have to reduce the demand, which comes from a lot of places,” Dennis said. “We live in a society that tells men they have to have sex, that they are more manly if they have more sex.”

Dennis explained how he thinks the sexualization of our culture also contributes to the demand for illegal sex workers.

“Women are hyper-sexualized in our culture,” Dennis said, pointing to film and other media as examples. “We need to create a healthier masculinity that isn’t so focused on women as sex objects, violence and gay bashing.”

Dennis also said the well will be utilizing virtual reality technology to help people feel a connection with human trafficking victims.

“On Sunday we’ll be drumming up attention about the VR, trying to get as many people to expose themselves as possible,” Dennis said. The program will put the user in the shoes of a real woman who was kidnapped and sold as a sex slave.

The Ames group will be teaming up with a group of missionaries from Kansas City, Missouri, called Youth With a Mission (YWAM). YWAM is one of the world’s largest missionary organizations with more than 1,200 ministry centers across the globe.

Churchgoers and YWAM affiliates will also use the event as an opportunity to spread the word of Jesus.

“We’ll offer to pray for people and share God’s love with them,” said Blom, who is also an aspiring missionary. Although he’s never attended an event of this magnitude with religious intent, he’s excited for the opportunity to make an impact.

“Sometimes God will say to me, ‘Hey, this person’s having a bad day, help them out,’” Blom said. “Sometimes they don’t want to hear what I have to say, but a lot of people are really grateful when I give them that opportunity.”