FMI holds events throughout the year that increase awareness of the injustices that exist in our region, our country, and the world. Issues, facts, and current events are discussed at hosted conferences, Watch of the Lord vigils, and 24/7 prayer and worship celebrations.
Freedom Cry is an anti-human trafficking awareness and action day sponsored by Redemption For Life to increase awareness and action in our local community.
Freedom Cry Conference 2021 was an impacting day from start to finish. Local collaboration and interaction were increased, as attendees were presented with a variety of opportunities for action. A huge thank you to all our attendees for your thoughtful input and interaction during our two question and answer sessions.
Special thanks to our amazing speakers who are on the front lines of this worthy fight!
Rachel Larson and Attorney Michelle Hay, leaders of RFL (Redemption for Life, the anti-human trafficking organization within Frontline Ministries International), opened the day with an introduction to human trafficking and understanding the problem. They offered the unique differences between labor and sex trafficking and the ways of identification for each.
Sergeant Dana Hess shared her knowledge, experience, and invaluable insight as the Director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, under the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission and in collaboration with Attorney General Dave Yost’s Human Trafficking Initiative. She gave excellent examples of the red flags of human trafficking, and provided boots on the ground information into what Ohio is doing to serve the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
Frontline Ministries Intl. Director, RFL Director, and Pastor Bill Gokee shared an international perspective on human trafficking, and how it plays out in different regions with varying laws and cultural mindsets. He provided some examples of Frontline ministry to human trafficking victims and perpetrators in Singapore, China, and others countries. He also shared how, even recognizing the magnitude of the intensifying global need, God provides direction, hope, and equips us in the battle to eradicate this global atrocity.
Detectives James Lile and Hollis Burkes from the Canton City Police Department shared about their work in assisting juvenile and adult victims of sex crimes, giving us their personal perspective on holding on to hope while encountering sexual abuse situations. Additionally, they provided practical steps from a community perspective on how we can each increase our individual involvement and effectiveness.
Attorney Amber Zwick from the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office shared her perspective on human trafficking and at-risk youth in Stark County. She has served at-risk juveniles and is now taking adult felony domestic violence cases. She bridges the two populations as she can see the potential trajectory for the juveniles and how they can become tomorrow’s adult cases. She shared thoughts on how we can be used in the lives of young people to bring awareness and prevention.
Frontline Ministries Intl. Director, RFL Director and Pastor Mary Pat Gokee spoke on how we can be used in the fight against human trafficking with collaboration and the social, judicial, and law enforcement realms, along with the church. She also spoke on how we can intervene in the lives of individuals to recognize, respond, rescue, and restore those who have no voice. She also spoke on how each of us can access real and lasting freedom, and then release that freedom into our own sphere of influence.
Jonathan Hacker and Kris-Lynn Williams, both from Florida and previously victims of sex trafficking, shared the progressively tragic events of their early years from an overcoming perspective, and from a place of humility and dependence on the Lord. They painted a truly beautiful picture of God’s unconditional love and redemption, that has taken them from hopelessness to confident living. They are now living as overcomers and are using their lives to boldly stand in the fight.
We also thank our community partners – Canton Chair Rental, Chick-fil-A, Coaches Burgers, Texas Roadhouse, and Sam’s Club- for their contributions to our delicious lunch!
Thank you Lord Jesus for Your Presence shedding light and grace on the crucial issues involved in anti-human trafficking, leading us forward in this battle, and empowering us to join You in this fight against darkness.
So glad you could come, and we are already anticipating next year’s Freedom Cry!
Pastors Bill and Mary Pat Gokee