Indiana Wesleyan University held a special chapel service on Friday, March 24, that marked the official launch of IWU’s new Justice Center for Human Trafficking, an initiative that will strategically use its time and resources to battle a multi-billion dollar industry that buys, ships, and sells people.

The chapel service featured guest speaker Rebecca Bender, a survivor of sex trafficking and a leader in efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery. The service was open to the public and was held in the Chapel Auditorium on IWU’s residential campus in Marion, Ind.

Human trafficking affects an estimated 21 million individuals globally. The mission of the Justice Center for Human Trafficking is to contribute research, resources, and initiatives toward the abolition of human trafficking and the promotion of human flourishing. Grounded on a biblical and theological framework of justice and freedom, the Justice Center has three primary purposes: supporting research, providing resources, and sponsoring initiatives.

To fulfill its three primary purposes, the Center has committed to several initiatives, including:

  • Providing faculty/student research incentives
  • Creating a post-doctoral fellows program that focuses on human trafficking
  • Sponsoring and/or hosting conferences that focus on human trafficking
  • Introducing students to domestic and international internship opportunities with partner agencies
  • Sponsoring efforts on and off campus to raise awareness and move people to action

“Not only does human trafficking occur outside of our country, it occurs in our country—in all 50 states,” said Dr. Kristina Currier, director of the Justice Center and associate professor, School of Nursing Graduate Division. “The Justice Center for Human Trafficking here at IWU desires to help combat this global, national, and local problem.”

Pictured: Dr. Jim Vermilya, dean of global engagement and strategic initiatives, and Dr. Kristina Currier, director of the Justice Center and associate professor of the School of Nursing Graduate Division, both serve on the Advisory Council for the Justice Center.

Rebecca Bender