The McPherson branch of a national anti-slavery group will host a speaker Monday for its first large-scale event.
The McPherson branch of a national anti-slavery group will host a speaker Monday for its first large-scale event. The public is invited to hear the Rev. Kevin Austin speak of slavery around the world and its relevance to the local community at 7 p.m. Monday at The Well. Austin is a Free Methodist missionary who worked for many years with Not For Sale, a group that fights human trafficking and modern-day slavery around the world. Austin oversaw many organized efforts within the Free Methodist denomination, and most recently began the more focused Set Free Movement. “I think it’s relevant to McPherson,” Dawn Young, a founder member of McPherson's branch, said. With the city sitting near Interstate 135 and only an hour’s drive from confirmed cases, she said McPherson is at a crossroads. “We think about (slavery) overseas because we know there’s poverty and things that make people vulnerable,” she said. “The same things that make people vulnerable there are present here.” The McPherson Set Free branch began in March, and already has 20 to 25 attendees. The group meets the second Monday of every month, and is focusing its efforts on awareness of modern-day slavery and human trafficking and how individuals compound the problem unknowingly. The group’s efforts are aimed to help not only the McPherson area, but also the state of Kansas. They plan to organize an alternative Christmas, where participants can replace normal presents — where slavery might have been a contributing factor — with free-trade items that support anti-slavery efforts. The group is working to distribute and show “Dark Side of Chocolate,” a film depicting slavery in the cocoa industry. Additional speakers and reports from conferences are also on the agenda. “(Slavery and human trafficking) is closer to us than we think it is,” Young said. “It's one of those issues where it goes under the radar. It's not until you start looking for it when you realize it.” There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today, more than any other time in history, according to Not For Sale’s website. For more information, visit http://www.facebook. com/setfreekansas or www.notforsalecampaign.org.