Prayer Walk, Artists Raise Awareness for Sex Trafficking Victims

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

bluecandel5The inaugural Blue Candle Prayer Walk Against Sex Trafficking is a unique collaboration between four artists, trafficking outreach programs, and volunteers eager to raise awareness about this insidious crime.

“During the walk itself we’ll be praying for victims of trafficking, the people who walk alongside them in healing, first responders, and for the community to become more aware of the issue,” said Mary Monsma, one of the coordinators. “We’re hoping for 100 to 200 people. We’ll carry blue candles during the walk and have a lighting ceremony at the end.”

The event begins on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7 pm at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 107 LaGrave Ave., and ends about 1.4 miles later at Ah-Nab-Awen Park for the 8 pm lighting ceremony and prayer.

Walkers will stop along the way at the installation sites or venues for four artists participating in ArtPrize whose work brings attention to human trafficking and/or domestic violence. Each will be part of the walk. Installations include:

·         Outcry (oil painting) by Gretchyn Lauer at DeVos Place Convention Center.

·         Red Cord Community: We Pray Your Prayer (installation) by Lorilyn Wiering along South Division Avenue.

·         The Scarlet Cord (installation) by Pamela Alderman at Gerald R. Ford Museum.

·         Voice of the Voiceless (2-D oil) by Katrina Case-Soper at the Grand Rapid Police Department.

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“Because it’s been shown that trafficking increases during large events, we are also praying for ArtPrize and what might be going on during the event,” said Monsma, who is associate director of admissions at Wedgwood Christian Services. She admits those who come through Wedgwood’s Manassah Project, which provides support and specialized residential treatment services for victims of sex trafficking.

Both Wedgwood and the Manassah Project are partners in the prayer walk, as are Calvary Church, Red Cord Community, and Women At Risk, International. Blue candles are carried to symbolize victims’ sadness and the hard hearts of traffickers, and refers to the Blue Heart Campaign started by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes to raise awareness about human trafficking. Estimates suggest that 2,400 people are victims of trafficking at any given time in West Michigan.

“We hope to do more collaborations such as this with the partners we’ve made through this prayer walk,” said Monsma. “I’m hoping to continue working together on other public events.”

For more information, visit www.wedgwood.org or www.warinternational.org under Upcoming Events. For more information on trafficking prevention and treatment locally, visit www.manassehproject.org.

Just the Facts:

Event: Blue Candle Prayer Walk Against Sex Trafficking

When: 7 pm Saturday, Sept. 20

Where: LaGrave Avenue CRC, 107 LaGrave Ave. SE and Ah-Nab-Awen Park near the Gerald. R. Ford Museum

Details: Free and open to the public, no registration required.

Author Information
Ann Byle
About:
Ann Byle is a freelance writer for a number of publications including Today's Christian Woman and Publishers Weekly, a literary agent with Credo Communications, and author of several books including Soul Surfer Devotions with Bethany Hamilton and The Edge of Redemption with Troy Evans. She is an adjunct writing professor, contest judge, and cofounder of Breathe Christian Writers Conference. She and her husband, Ray, have four children ages 11 to 21, and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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