New Anti-Human Trafficking Weapons
Speed the Light, the youth discipleship mechanism that provides funds for missionaries around the world, has partnered with F.R.E.E. International to provide six different vehicle needs including a mobile command center to help eradicate modern-day slavery.
While human trafficking is often thought of as a problem in other countries, F.R.E.E. (Find, Restore, Embrace, Empower) International co-founder and director Mike Bartel says it's an ever-increasing issue in the United States. Bartel co-founded F.R.E.E. International with his wife Denise.
The mission of the organization is to abolish sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. with innovative collaborations through public and private partnerships. Assemblies of God U.S. Missions has been a strategic ministry partner since 2010, and the ministry is actually operated by a team of 20 AGUSM missionaries such as the Bartels.
F.R.E.E. International is active in many places in which the STL-funded vehicles will be used. Team members go to heavy human trafficking events such as the Super Bowl, working directly with law enforcement, churches, and schools. Those in the ministry assist in search and rescue efforts with local police for abducted children, trafficking victims, and missing persons. They have strong community-driven initiatives that help bridge the gap between churches, outreach events, and local law enforcement.
F.R.E.E. International also hosts StreetSmart Defender, a self-defense training for at-risk children and women who are prostituted. F.R.E.E. International also provides counseling opportunities for victims of trauma and hosts school assemblies to raise awareness.
The $100,000 mobile command center will have a powerful impact when placed in service. The command center will allow Speed the Light and U.S. Missions to take the lead, through F.R.E.E. International, in providing access into high-risk communities where missionaries and chaplains are needed.
"It will serve as the communication and intelligence center for proactive points of service and collaboration in at-risk areas of communities throughout the country," says Mike Bartel, who is an AG Intercultural Ministries missionary. "Also, it will serve as reactive support for such things as search and rescue operations for abducted children and disaster relief operations."
The mobile command center will provide F.R.E.E. International the opportunity to deploy quickly and station team members closer to actual search locations.
"Speed the Light and F.R.E.E. is an exciting partnership because the end goal is the same: lives saved," says Doug Witherup, North Carolina District Youth Ministries director. "Human trafficking is a key issue of our day and this partnership enables students to respond and to change the world."
The total vehicle project costs over $300,000. It includes a pair of one-ton trucks, two quad-seat UTV/ATVs, mobile command center, and mobile command trailer.