Anti-human trafficking campaign is at heart of Olympic outreach

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Photo via The Salvation Army IHQ
Photo via The Salvation Army IHQ

As the world watches its best athletes compete at the Sochi Winter Olympics, The Salvation Army’s Olympic Outreach Team is working to increase awareness of human trafficking around the event sites.

Team members are distributing anti-human trafficking material throughout downtown Sochi. The pamphlet, prepared by The A21 Campaign includes striking facts: Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking; the average age of a trafficked victim is just 12 years.

“This is a very real issue in our part of the world,” said Lt. Colonel Wendy Walters, territorial secretary for women’s ministries in the Eastern Europe Territory. “The team hopes to raise awareness and perhaps save just one person from being caught in this terrible trap.”

Team members shared the following reflections of their outreach work:

Kira: “As we walked through the Olympic Park, people would ask us about different pins we were wearing … this gave us an opening to share about Jesus. I also found that as I stood in line to enter different buildings (sometimes for an hour or more) this was a great time to talk about why we were there.”

Anastasia: “It started with a simple question: ‘Where are you from?’ Conversations began and we were able to talk to people about why we were in Sochi.”

Andrei: “As we travel from place to place on the bus or train, two of us will have a conversation loud enough for those sitting close to us to hear, sharing about the difference Jesus makes in our lives. One day we were walking past McDonald’s and there was a group of Americans singing Christian songs (trying to sing in Russian). When we joined them, singing in our native language, the people around stopped to listen and couldn’t believe that a group of people simply walking past could join this group of foreigners and sing about Jesus.”

Maxim: “Sometimes we would share some Christian poems with each other as we traveled on public transport. We know that our culture loves hearing good poems and we found they would listen and this gave us opportunity to speak of Jesus.”

Julia: “One-on-one conversations as we have moved around the Olympic Park, using our pamphlet ‘Salvation’ have helped me speak about salvation.”

Lt. Colonel Rodney Walters, chief secretary in the Eastern European Territory, conducted several media interviews Feb. 12 with local and international outlets, raising awareness of The Salvation Army’s involvement as a church partner in the Olympic outreach movement.

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games run through Feb. 23, however The Salvation Army team concludes its part in the outreach effort as another organization arrives Feb. 13.


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