It is 11:19 a.m. on Monday morning, and we have been here all night suffering through cold temperatures and multiple security complaints, but The Gathering, a college-age ministry whose purpose it is to inspire the collegiate generation with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, is still seesawing strong. We began a 24-hour Seesaw-a-thon Sunday night at 6 p.m. Seesaws Against Slavery is a fundraiser aimed at raising awareness of sex trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery. SAS seeks to uphold the Biblical command found in Proverb 31:8-9 to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; for the rights for all who are destitute . [and] defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Although it is hard to gather accurate statistics due to the underground criminal nature of human trafficking, it is estimated that each year, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, and several million are trafficked within their own countries. The trade generates an estimated $9.5 billion worldwide, and the United States is no exception, as an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 individuals are trafficked within our borders alone. The United Nations classified the United States as one of 10 countries with a “very high” incidence of destinations for human trafficking.

The donations raised from our event are going to benefit the Agape Restoration Center in Cambodia. The center is focused on meeting the physical, educational, psychosocial and spiritual needs of girls rescued from the sex slave industry in Cambodia. The Gathering was able to team up with Agape through the McLean Bible Church. All the donations are going straight to Agape to help with financial and medical costs for the girls as well as upkeep for the house.

The Gathering was just recognized as a Georgetown University Protestant Ministry over the summer and since its affiliation with the university, has held a campus-wide. It also looks to put together domestic and international mission trips. The Gathering has ministry teams at five other campuses, and Georgetown is the latest to put together a team.

We feel very strongly about serving in this capacity, especially for this ministry, in helping girls in the illicit sex trafficking trade. Jesus Christ surrounded himself with those who were the outcasts and most ignored in society. We are hoping to raise awareness about an issue that we know is close to God’s heart. In doing our part to raise awareness, we are serving others halfway across the world. We realize that others promote such issues but we feel our difference is founded in the gospel message that accompanies our event.

Our job is not to promote our group or ourselves, but to promote the healing and redemptive power of a relationship with Jesus Christ. For the girls who have no advocates and are lost, emotionally and physically, we realize that there is a God who can work to change their lives.

We hope this event will be the first of many to help serve the campus and share what The Gathering is all about. Sometimes it seems like a lot to be out here for 24 hours, but nothing compares to what those girls are going through and we are honored to do what little we can to help them.

Sandy Roberts is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and is on the leadership team of The Gathering.

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