With the social media handle Jenn at WAR, community educator Jenn Amo is on a mission against human trafficking. On November 5, Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., hosted a presentation of Amo’s “Warning Lights,” a curriculum she developed to educate vulnerable youth on the risks of being unknowingly lured into being trafficked.
“This is a big topic that always seems like it won’t affect us but it so easily can,” the church posted on its Facebook page. “She did such an amazing job teaching about what human trafficking is and ways to keep kids safe from being trafficked.”
Amo quotes the U.S. State Department’s definition of trafficking as the “recruiting, harboring, transportation, providing, or obtaining of a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion.” The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 300,000 American children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. In Canada, the most recent statistics from 2014 show a doubling of police-reported human trafficking violations from the previous year.
Amo has been the youth ambassador for Women At Risk International since 2013, a missionary role that is donor-funded. She felt compelled to combat the problem through prevention and education.
“[Youth and young adults] are so targeted, and there was absolutely nothing in regards to communication, education, or protection that was available to arm them with awareness,” Amo said. She now presents the high school and college age-focused curriculum across the U.S. wherever she is invited to speak.
Chris Dykema, a deacon at Trinity CRC who serves on the church’s safety team, discovered Amo’s work through a Christian martial arts studio. “I knew then that we had to bring her to Trinity,” Dykema said. “This topic has become very personal to me as a father of three girls. . . . I became very involved in our church safety team, [which is] developing into a ministry of service for those who enter our building.”
Dykema said just over 100 people attended the event cosponsored by the youth group and the safety team. About 80 of the participants were young people.
The team followed up the two-hour talk by showing a video from Michigan-based Manasseh Project the following Sunday. An outreach ministry of Wedgwood Christian Services, the project is “dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young men and young women in West Michigan.”
“One of Trinity’s items on our Vision Statement is to do justice,” Dykema said. “This fits right in. It is happening in our backyard. I feel we are in a Christian bubble and don’t always want to talk about the bad. But it is here and we need to help stop it.”
The U.S. operates a National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888. In Canada, the RCMP’s Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre can be reached at 1-855-850-4640. The Canadian Council of Churches has produced a resource called “Human Trafficking in Canada: A Leadership and Learning Kit for Churches.” The Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue also tracks Human Trafficking as one of its key justice issues.